LSC picks principal for Palmer
by BRIAN NADIG
La Shawn Ray, who attended high school on the Northwest Side in the mid-1980s, has been named the new principal at Palmer School.
The Palmer School Local School Council selected Ray at a meeting this summer, and he began his new job on July 16. Marty Ryczek had been serving as Palmer’s acting principal since Don Anderson, who became Palmer’s principal in 2009, retired last January.
The 42-year-old Ray, a former emotional behavioral disorders teacher, has spent the past 10 years as an administrator at elementary schools in Minnesota, most recently serving as the principal of Marcy Open School in Minneapolis. He grew up on the Southeast Side of Chicago before moving to the West Side, where he traveled by bus to Schurz High School and later Taft High School.
Ray’s mother died while he was in high school, and he was named a ward of the state. He eventually was allowed to move in with his older sister, who was attending Iowa State University, and he finished high school in Iowa.
Ray said that his childhood prepared him well for his career as an educator. "My passion is kids," he said. "Kids are why I’m here. I want to make a difference in their lives. If we hit 90 percent proficiency, we won’t stop until we’re at 100 percent."
Ray, who is married and has four children, hopes to find a home in the Mayfair area and to have his younger children attend Palmer, which last year had an enrollment of more than 900 students.
Ray said that he is confident that he will see improvement at Palmer in large part because he is impressed with the school’s faculty. "It’s a veteran staff," he said. "The staff definitely cares about kids."
Ray said that he will formulate a plan for his first 90 days as Palmer’s principal and that part of the plan will include soliciting suggestions from parents and the community. The plan will be posted at www.palmerpride.org.