There’s a new
sheriff principal in town at Jahn World Language School, 3149 N. Wolcott Ave. Stephanie Bloom, who was selected by the Local School Council in June to replace the retiring Sulma Grigalunas, has wasted no time in assembling her leadership team and crafting a new vision for the elementary school.
Bloom, a former deputy chief of schools for CPS’ Fullerton Network, introduced her top-level staff to area residents at this week’s meeting of Hamlin Park Neighbors, just one signal that she plans to make good on her promise of increased outreach. “The school should be the heart of the community,” said Bloom.
Her primary goal is to create a model public school that builds a passion and joy for learning through rigorous, enriching and exciting instruction. “Every child enters as an individual,” she said. “We’ll embrace every learner, meet them where they are and lift them.”
When asked if her approach will be influenced by her previous tenure as principal of Suder Montessori Magnet School, Bloom responded that she intends to “bring in the best of all philosophies,” with the child at the center. One departure will be to move toward “briefer moments of instructions,” allowing students more time to practice what they’ve learned and ask questions.
“What we want for the students at Jahn should be what we want for our own children,” said Bloom, adding that her 17-month-old daughter “will go to Jahn.”
Griselda Flores, Jahn’s new assistant principal, outlined a number of plans developed over the summer, including the “healthy school” initiative, which encompasses everything from offering a salad bar at lunch to gardening to a school-wide morning “peace circle.” Classrooms now boast smart boards and libraries to offer increased resources to students.
To emphasize a core commitment to literacy, Stacy Bagan is on board as Jahn’s director of literacy. A proponent of differentiated instruction, Bagan will assess the reading level of each student and create a “leveled book room” with materials of varying difficulty. She’ll also introduce book clubs for fourth through eighth graders as a way for the school “to build community around reading.”
Counselor/case manager Patsy Murphy will focus much of her attention on Jahn’s middle school students, providing individual high school counseling not only for the children but educating their parents as well. Sixth-graders will receive a three-year plan that takes into account their interests and skills, said Murphy, who will use these plans to direct students toward the “best-fit high schools for them.”
Murphy left her previous job to follow Bloom to Jahn, energized by the opportunity to raise the school’s performance. “I’ve seen her move mountains,” she said of Bloom.
The Jahn community has heard this before, most recently from former assistant principal George Chipain, who was passed over for the top spot in favor of Bloom. Attendees at the Hamlin Park Neighbors meeting clearly wished the new principal well; it remains to be seen whether they trust her with their children.