Cass Junior High Welcomes New Principal Christine Marcinkewicz
A Q&A with the new administrator.
Marcinkewicz comes to Cass from Hadley Junior Highin Glen Ellyn, where she served as assistant principal for the past three years. Before that, she taught seventh- and eighth-grade English at Jefferson Junior High in Woodridge.
Patch: How’s the transition going for you so far?
Christine Marcinkewicz: It’s been a really nice transition. Everybody’s really friendly. Teachers are stopping by. Some students stopped by because they had basketball camp. I was lucky enough to go to the golf outing a couple of weeks ago, so I was able to meet a lot of parents then. It’s been a very nice reception here.
Patch: What was the last day of school like at your old school, Hadley Junior High?
Marcinkewicz: It was very sad. At my old school, it was a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade building. Each administrator had a grade level, and we looped with the grade. I went into my old school with the sixth-graders—they were brand new to Hadley and so was I—and then they graduated and I was leaving.
On the last day of their graduation practice, I got to talk to the whole class and give a little speech: “I came in with you guys, I’m leaving with you guys, and you guys are going on to new horizons and I’m going to go do the same thing.”
I think that little group of kids will always be so special to me, just as I’m sure the first group here will be. There’s always that kind of group you remember and has a little place in your heart.
Patch: What do you think it’s going to be like to work with fifth-graders?
Marcinkewicz: I’m really not sure what to expect. I’m really excited about getting to know them at a younger age and seeing them mature and prosper, and being able to have a hand in their maturity for a longer period of time. I really anticipate understanding them better and knowing them better because I will have them so much longer.
But I have to remember that they’re fifth-graders, so they’ll need a little bit more support socially and emotionally. I look forward to getting to know them at the developmental stage they’re at.
Patch: Has anything surprised you about Cass so far?
Marcinkewicz: Not a whole lot because I went to Gower, which is just on the other side of town. I knew what to expect—the small family feel. I was excited about that. The difference for me is that in my old district there were multiple administrators in one building. Here I’m kind of all by myself.
I’ve gotten a lot of support from Dr. [Kerry] Foderaro and Dr. [Laura] Anderson. They’ve invited me out to lunch, and if I have any questions I can pick up the phone and call. But it’s different to be here as the only one by myself. It’s just a different type of administrative role. I’ll adjust and I’m really looking forward to a small family feel rather than such a large school like where I was before.
Patch: You grew up in Willowbrook and went to Hinsdale South High School. How does it feel to be coming back to the community?
Marcinkewicz: It’s a very warm feeling of coming home. I really feel a sense of accomplishment because I feel like throughout my career it was always my goal to get back here. I’m really proud to be able to say I was chosen as a principal in a nearby district because I feel like I grew up with such a great education.
I’m so happy to be able to come back and feel I can be part of this for the next generation of students. Some of the students here are children of friends of mine. Some are people I haven’t seen in 20 years and some are people I keep in closer touch with, but I feel like people are starting to reach out and say, “Hey, remember me?” or “I know your sister, I know your mom.” So that’s a neat feeling too.
Patch: What are you looking forward to about when the students come back in the fall?
Marcinkewicz: I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better. My understanding is there’s a lot of character building that goes on in this building. I’m really excited to get involved in that. It seems students really buy into that and really enjoy it—the T-shirts and the different activities. I look forward to getting to know them in a way that’s not just academic—more of a whole child.
I think the parent involvement in this community really helps that. I get to know the parent, I get to know the child, I get to know the situation of the family, and I think understanding the whole child is the key to helping that child academically.
Patch: What is your school leadership philosophy?
Marcinkewicz: To first and foremost do what’s best for kids and also to have collaborative leadership. I feel like it’s important to listen to all the different points of view. I feel like it’s important to listen to parents in the community. It’s important to listen to what teachers think. As a person in the school who has a global view of everybody’s needs, it’s important to be able to help to make the decisions that will be most helpful to everybody.