Senn High School’s Search for a New Principal

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By: Brooke Craig (Senior), Kendall Jackson Jr. (Senior), Josh Knutsen (Sophomore), Priya Patel (Senior)

Nicholas Senn High School in Edgewater is in a state of transition as it searches for a new principal with the selection process ongoing since August.

“Senn has their principal candidates so the teachers and council are working very hard,” Kathleen Bandolik, the current Administrator in Chief (AIC), said. “The three final candidates will come to a community forum and then they will choose. If all goes smoothly, they should have a principal very soon.”

Prior to this transition, former principal Mary Beck was hired in 2015 and helped maintain Senn as a Level One school in her six-year tenure. 

She left Senn at the end of the 2020-2021 school year and is currently working as Deputy Chief of Teaching and Learning for Chicago Public Schools. 

“The faculty was not happy to let Mary Beck go because they were comfortable,” Bandilok said. “It was a big change along with COVID-19.” 

As a retired principal herself, Bandolik is filling in until a replacement is selected.

“No one is really complaining since I am a veteran principal,” Bandolik said. “I basically manage the building and encourage everyone to keep the job as they have been doing it to keep a stable environment for students.”

While Bandolik’s role as AIC certainly smoothed out the transition process, Senn faculty is still having to adapt in unique ways without a traditional principal.

“Our process has always been to go to our department administrator with our concerns, so most of the time we weren’t bringing up issues directly to the principal,” Michael Meadows, math teacher and member of the Principal Selection Committee, said. “Typically, there are some things that come up that can be best answered by a principal and not a department chair or assistant principal, so it does feel as though there are a few more question marks in the air this year.”

Despite these struggles, Senn has been adept at continuing with business as usual.

“Our school does a good job of distributing the leadership and the goals of the school across our assistant principals (APs) and teacher teams,” Meadows said. “The hard work of our assistant principals and our teacher teams has helped the school continue to move forward despite our principal vacancy.”

With this uneasy sentiment felt by many throughout Senn, students and teachers alike feel the missing piece in the puzzle. 

“It does feel ever-so-slightly like our ship, even though it’s still headed in the right direction under the guidance of our APs and AIC, is without a captain,” Meadows said.

With replacement news impending, students are hopeful for some new direction.

“I am hoping for someone to make some changes in Senn,” Sophomore Taiyana Levy said. “Start informing the students on things happening in the school, some transportation for students that live far away or for students that have to travel for after school programs, some new microwaves, and maybe some asynchronous periods. Overall, [I’m hoping for] a principal that’ll change Senn for the better.”

Ultimately, the Senn community is hopeful this impactful role will be filled by a strong candidate that can implement positive change. 

“I think a [good] principal is someone who really sets the vision of a school and has the ability to move the school forward,” Meadows said. 

For more information, visit Senn High School’s website at https://www.sennhs.org 

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