New staff welcome students
Highland Park, 8/15/12 Nina Furman, the new sixth grader math and science teacher for Northwood Junior High's special education and extended resource programs, hangs up posters in her classroom August 15. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
A new school year
ENROLLMENT: 4,346 Kindergarten through eighth-grade students plus about 160 preschool students at Green Bay School.
TEACHERS: 34 newly hired teachers, with a few vacancies remaining.
ADMINISTRATORS: Two new principals, Joey Hailpern at Braeside and Claire Kowalczyk at Lincoln; new interim associate principal Nick Demchenko; new chief technology officer John Petzke and a new student services learning coordinator.
RETIREMENTS: 13 teachers, one principal and two administrative assistants from last year.
Updated: August 23, 2012 8:17AM
HIGHLAND PARK — More than 4,500 local kids were expected to invade the 12 buildings across North Shore School District 112 when school reopened Thursday morning.
Waiting inside, 34 new teachers and two new principals were set to welcome them to the 2012-13 school year.
One of the new District 112 staff members is Nina Furman, who will teach sixth-grade science and mathematics in Northwood Junior High School’s extended resource program. Her students receive special education services more than 50 percent of their day.
Furman’s first teaching job actually marks the start of her second career.
After going into graphic design out of college, Furman had twins, one with significant developmental delays who needed the assistance of an early intervention educational program.
Furman’s son, now 8, emerged from the special education program a “totally different kid,” she said.
“He is socially wonderful, he is very smart, and he’s IEP free,” said Furman, explaining that he no longer needs an individualized educational plan. “He’s doing amazing. That experience motivated me to go get my master’s and go into special education.”
Last Tuesday, on the eve of new teacher training seminars, Furman said she is excited to help kids and their parents realize that same life-changing progress.
“I’ve seen the system work,” she said. “I’ve seen the dedication from these teachers and I’m really excited to do the same.”
Furman described her ideal classroom setting as one that fosters a sense of community. She said she’s “beyond excited” to get into Northwood and meet her students.
“First and foremost, I want to create a community where my students respect each other and feel very comfortable learning with me and their classmates,” she said. “I’m very anxious to get going. I’ve heard such wonderful things about this school.”
Another new District 112 teacher for this year is Highland Park native Matt Hollander, who will be teaching fourth-grade dual language at Red Oak Elementary.
Hollander, a graduate of Braeside, Edgewood and Highland Park High schools, already has switched his allegiances to his new school.
“Go Rockets,” he said right away during an interview after his first day or new teacher orientation.
As a dual language teacher, Hollander will be teaching half the day in English and the other half in Spanish.
His first introduction to Spanish came as a Braeside fourth-grader when he was among the school’s first students to participate in its before school Spanish club. He continued his Spanish education through high school and college, then mastered the language while living in Chile and Uruguay.
Hollander also brings four years of elementary school teaching experience from a stint in Evanston. He is among several District 112 teachers now teaching in their hometown.
“It’s funny how we have come full circle with our educational experience,” said Hollander, now a Chicago resident. “I’m nervous about the transition but I’m really excited to start something new.”
After late nights grading tests or crafting lesson plans, Hollander can still stay at his parents Highland Park home or with his aunt and uncle, who live two blocks from Red Oak.