By Emily Gonzalez ’21 and Yadira Lopez ’21
For the next school year, four administrative changes will take place in order to fill in empty positions and provide new experiences for administrative workers and students at Pritzker.
For the 2019-2020 school year, there will be 4 people in new positions; current Geometry teacher Chris Biddix will become the Assistant Dean of Culture; current Assistant Dean of Culture Jasmine Guy will become the Dean of Culture; current Dean of Culture Pam Johnson will become the Dean of Students; and the current Dean of Students Paige Moran will become the new Assistant Principal of Academics.
When the availability of a new position the entire Pritzker staff is notified, and if interested, they proceed to apply. The application process for a new position in the Administrative system consists of a written portion, an interview, and panels. The final decision involves a debrief of the interviews and different opinions being voiced.
Biddix will be entering a whole new realm when it comes to working with students; he will go from being a Geometry teacher to becoming the Assistant Dean of Students. Current AP European History teacher Matthew Jewell will be taking Biddix’s place as Geometry teacher for incoming sophomores. This new change excites Biddix. “[Students] know I always give motivational speeches and like to give life advice, and I really care about students’ experiences at school, [so] I’m excited about this job because a lot of my time gets to be focused on that,” explained Biddix.
Although adjustment will be needed, he would not be looking at an impossible task. “Learning something new takes time and I can learn a lot [from my co-workers], and I think every time you go into a new experience you have to go as a learner. You have to be curious and you have to learn from people who have already done it before, so I’m excited to learn from everyone who’s already on the team,” Biddix said. Biddix is currently attending meetings with Guy where he is practicing the job’s position to get a better feel of what he is stepping into.
“I was excited. Excited for a new opportunity and the opportunity to gain new skills and bring more to our school community [while] also feeling a sense of nervousness and pressure to do an awesome job,” Guy said. For preparation, she is planning to “[ask] the current Dean of Culture about her role and her previous experiences” while also planning team building activities for the “disciplinarians and the person who is going to become the new assistant Dean of Culture to create a very strong team.”
Outside of Pritzker, she plans on “connecting with other Deans of Culture across the Network.” She is looking forward to “seeing [her] visions come to life” and being “[innovative] and creating new systems and policies for culture and discipline here at Pritzker.”
Johnson was also excited about the news, although she does love her current job. Johnson has already started preparing for her new job position. “One of the things that I have been doing to prepare for this job is that [Moran] and I work together, and having conversations with students about their grades, GPA, and enrichment” which falls under her new position. Johnson explained that she has been helping Moran with students’ new schedules and is learning about all the requirements that need to be submitted to PowerSchool regarding this information.
As for challenges, Johnson will struggle with “trying to come up with a system, structures, and support systems to help students” with their grades instead of dealing with detentions. “I think this will be tough for me, to take a backseat.” It will be tough for her to not interfere with Guy’s job when she sees “a student in trouble,” because it means letting go of her current position; she believes that Guy will be amazing at her new job for next year and is confidently letting her take the lead in the culture and policies at Pritzker. Overall, she is looking forward to “the challenge of something new” and “being able to design structures for students to become reflective of their grades and bringing up their grades is really exciting.”
Moran mentioned that when she first received the news about this new position, she was excited about the new challenges to come; she had been working as the Dean of Students for the past four years. From this job, she stated, “I got really good at doing a lot of the student intervention side, and in the past two years, I have started working a lot with teachers. So, I think those two things together help prepare me.” She is excited about this new job due to the new challenges she will encounter, and she wants to make sure she is “continuously on [her] feet.”
Moran explained that one challenge that might arise is the fact that she will have to manage “people and systems [rather] than executing tasks.” She added on, “I need to empower other people and help develop them […] and that is harder.”
Other changes in teaching and school policies have been occurring as well. Within the teaching side, junior English teacher John Planisek will be leaving Pritzker this school year. Within the school policies, a trial run is being conducted where students in their electives are allowed to go to the bathroom without an escort after following specific procedures. The 2019-2020 school year will be a year full of new learning experiences for everyone.