Edgebrook School LSC selects interim principal for school year
by AGNES CONNOLLY
Camille Unger will serve as interim principal of Edgebrook School, 6525 N. Hiawatha Ave., in the upcoming school year.
Unger, age 46, replaced former principal Chad Weiden, who resigned on July 7. Weiden was the school’s principal since 2013 and will head a new charter school in South Carolina next year.
Unger said that she has an agreement with the local school council and the chief of schools for Network 1 to serve as interim principal until June 30, 2018. Unger said she does not know the timeline of the principal selection process but that she would work with "whatever happens" regarding the new principal and will work to ensure a smooth transition.
"I want the community to understand that the decisions that I’m going to have to make aren’t always easy. When I have to make difficult decisions, they are with the best interest of the student’s at heart. If people have questions about decisions I am making, I have a willingness and an open door to talk to them to explain why I am making that decision. I want to be transparent," Unger said.
Unger said she wants to continue the important work the school has already done around social and emotional learning.
"I think it is important as we are trying to help grow productive, engaged citizens. When children feel safe, secure, and happy, they learn to their best ability."
"I want school to be fun," Unger said, "I want a culture that encompasses student learning first and foremost and to support students in their growth and wondering."
Unger said she started working this summer by reviewing the school improvement plan, checking schedules and reviewing individual education programs.
"I have met with the LSC to keep them involved and met with both Alderman Laurino and Alderman Napolitano to connect with them and explain what my work is." Unger also said she has made connections at Taft High School.
Unger grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and studied marketing at Waukesha County Technical College. In her early twenties, she moved to Chicago to Andersonville, where she currently lives with her husband and two dogs.
She was asked to volunteer at Stone Academy in West Rodgers Park, in a special education room, and it was there, Unger said, that she "fell in love with teaching and learning." Unger expressed admiration for the school’s then principal, Denise Winter. "She knew every kid’s name, and she had a relationship with every single one of them. She was a really courageous leader who had a belief around every kid achieving and succeeding. She has really become my beacon."
Unger graduated from Northeastern Illinois University and got master’s degrees from the American College of Education. She had taught at Saint Margaret Mary School, which closed in 2016, and then Belding School in the Mayfair and Old Irving Park communities, where she taught seventh and eighth grade science, social studies and language arts.
After 2 years, she moved to Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in Lake View where she taught fifth grade for a number of years. Unger said that at Hawthorne, she came to believe in the importance of "teaming" as she formed a positive relationship with her co-teacher.
"I really see the benefits of it. I recognize how important and how cohesive teams are and how they change instruction. It moves people forward." She later worked at Network 1 of Chicago Public Schools.
At Edgebrook, Unger plans to work on resource management. Unger said she and assistant principal Mary Clancy have gone through the school a number of times, examining how the space is being utilized. She said they have created a master list of all the students’ emergency contacts to be available in a number of locations around the school.
"It’s important to be a part of the community and watch to see what is the Edgebrook culture and to best celebrate the children," she said.
Unger said she is still in contact with former principal Weiden and tells him about her positive experiences at Edgebrook so far.
"He was highly affective in relationships. He was such a listener. One of things I was so struck by was he checked in with every staff member every day. He would do a walk-in and greet people to check in. For me, I want to make sure I keep in mind that this job is about people. We are growing people. We are growing children, growing adults, and we are growing families and communities."
"I’m a mom who has been down the CPS path. I know the stress that families are under, and I want the community to know that as a mom with my family, I know those same responsibilities. I’m keeping those kids in the front of my mind," Unger said.