When students return to the classroom this fall at Jahn World Language School, 3140 N. Wolcott Ave., they’ll find a completely new face in the principal’s office.
Members of Jahn’s Local School Council voted unanimously Thursday night to hire Stephanie Bloom-Washofsky, who will replace retiring Principal Sulma Grigalunas. According to LSC members, Bloom-Washofsky accepted the offer over the phone, with the formal contract to be signed Friday.
LSC representative Sharon Kennelly said members of the Council reviewed 17 resumes for the position before selecting three candidates to interview. Ultimately, their decision came down to a choice between Bloom-Washofsky, deputy chief of schools for the Chicago Public Schools’ Fullerton Network, or Jahn’s current assistant principal, Dr. George Chipain.
“It was a very tough decision,” Kennelly said. “This was a huge responsibility.”
Kennelly and other LSC members told Roscoe View Journal that while both candidates were “very close,” Bloom-Washofsky’s prior experience as principal of Suder Montessori Magnet School, 2022 W. Washington St., proved critical to her selection. “Having been a principal before was a primary factor,” Kennelly said. “She’s (taken) a school that didn’t have a lot of parental involvement and made it part of the community, which is what we’re looking for here.”
Bloom-Washofsky is a product of the principal intern program at New Leaders, a national non-profit organization that develops what its website calls “transformational school leaders.” In 2008, a Catalyst Chicago article on some of the “resident principals” trained by New Leaders featured Bloom-Washofsky describing a program to improve reading comprehension in grades K-3. LSC members pointed to this work in improving literacy, along with her commitment to maintaining the diversity of Jahn, as being major strengths. For the last year, Bloom-Washofsky has been part of the leadership team for the 41 schools that make up CPS’ Fullerton Network. She has a master’s degree from DePaul University and a master’s in school administration from National-Louis University to complement her B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
It’s not clear what’s next for Chipain, who arrived at Jahn last year after working on math and science curricula for CPS, in addition to serving as a professor at DePaul. Neighborhood groups credit him with increasing the school’s connection to the community: He’s been seen at events including the Hamlin Park Advisory Council’s Easter Egg Hunt and last month’s Hamlin Park Neighbors’ Spring Social. LSC members noted that Bloom-Washofsky will select her own assistant principal, but added that it would be “great” if Chipain stayed at Jahn.