Steinmetz Prep High School welcomes new school principal
by KEVIN GROSS
After working for 15 years in various capacities at Steinmetz Prep High School, assistant principal Jaime Jaramillo Jr. was chosen by the local school council to serve as the new head of the school following the resignation of former principal Stephen Ngo.
"I am committed to working with the school community to lead Steinmetz towards being the premier school of choice. We will focus on aligning curriculum to the standards, students’ social and emotional needs, and establishing trust with all stakeholders," Jaramillo wrote in a letter to parents.
"We will work diligently to ensure a safe and welcoming learning environment in which all students, parents, teachers and community members work together. We will be good neighbors and take care of the community through service projects, events and more open access. By focusing on the curricular improvements, relationships, service and communication, we will propel Steinmetz forward," he wrote.
Jaramillo said that one of his priorities as principal is "improving communication with all stakeholders."
"Effective communication is essential to establishing strong relationships with students, parents, staff and community members. We will strive to effectively communicate what is going on in our school building, important dates, events, and other things that are critical for supporting our students," he said in the letter.
Jaramillo did not respond to multiple requests seeking an interview.
Jaramillo also served as a teacher and attendance director in his years at Steinmetz and for one year at Lane Tech High School.
The Steinmetz School Local School Council unanimously voted to promote Jaramillo as new head principal of the school, where he will oversee upcoming new school initiatives and investments, funded in part by new grants and newfound stability in the Chicago Public Schools budget following a statewide school funding formula that was approved in September of 2017.
Upcoming capital improvements include upgrades to the science lab, demolition of the school’s modular classroom units, and finishing the school’s new turf field, which had been commissioned for more than a year under the school’s previous principal.
The Steinmetz projects are part of nearly $1 billion in new citywide capital investments by CPS, which a school press released described as "the largest single-year investment of its kind in decades."
Additional CPS funds will lead to the hiring of new full-time employees including a school social worker, a special education case manager and an English learner teacher to provide special education-aligned support.
For the upcoming school year, Steinmetz is one of 20 CPS schools to receive a $500,000 grant from the new Sustainable Community Schools Initiative, which creates joint partnerships between schools and community organizations that implement and run school-related programs. The initiative is part of the CPS budget, and funds are "specifically allocated for this initiative" and not allowed for regular personnel or capital costs, according to an e-mail from CPS press secretary Emily Bolton.
"The new grant is going to cover some current staff that weren’t covered, we were using general funds but didn’t have people covering (some of the) salaries," said James Rudick, executive director of partnering organization Northwest Side Housing Center. "Then we will hire additional staff for services not mentioned, which are still to-be-decided."
Rudick said that the organization had already been partnering with Steinmetz for more than 3 years.
"We run a peer mentor program, and a Steinmetz parent program where we help get them involved in school activities and to volunteer. We also run a series of parent workshops – CPR, GED classes, parent leadership classes, community organization workshops – all for parents, all free of charge," he said.
Rudick also described a satellite office they operate at the school as a "de-escalation room" for students. "Maybe they’re struggling at lunch or with peers, so we provide a safe space to have them talk with our staff that are not affiliated with CPS," he said.
Rudick said that Northwest Side Housing Center applied for the grant on behalf of Steinmetz and other Belmont-Cragin area schools including Schubert School, Camras School and Northwest Middle School, but Steinmetz was the only school to receive the funds.
"Earlier this year, the joint taskforce developed standardized criteria and invited eligible schools to apply," Bolton said. "In order to be considered, the school must be located in a primarily low-income community with 81 percent or more of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, and must be a neighborhood open enrollment school."