Many Taft HS teachers seen as a ‘trusted adult’ by their students and that could lead to more of them taking advanced classes
by BRIAN NADIG
Nearly 240 staff members at Taft High School have been identified by one or more student as a “trusted adult” who they feel comfortable talking to about a variety of issues in their life, and the school hopes those relationships can lead to more students taking advanced classes.
“I know when I was (in high school) I had that trusted adult,” principal Mark Grishaber said at the Feb. 9 virtual meeting of the Taft Local School Council.
The school recently identified the teachers through surveys that were conducted in connection with Taft’s three-year partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools, an initiative aimed at ensuring “historically marginalized students” have equitable access to a school’s most rigorous courses, according to Taft assistant principal Jenny Greenblatt.
About 80 of the teachers identified in the surveys will be reaching out to those students not enrolled in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Diploma classes but whose test scores or grade point averages indicate they would have success, Greenblatt said. Students taking those classes are eligible to earn college course credits.
The teachers underwent training on “how to focus the conversation (and discuss) how IB and AP can be beneficial” to getting into college, Greenblatt said.
Remote learning has been “beyond challenging” for the school community, and these efforts to maximize academic potential speaks volumes about the staff’s commitment to their students, Greenblatt said.
Also at the meeting, LSC members briefly reflected on the fact that students have been out of the school buildings for almost a year due to the pandemic.
LSC parent member Chris Raguso said that it is possible that juniors next fall could be stepping onto the varsity campus, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., for the first time given that their first year at Taft was at the freshman campus, 4071 N. Oak Park Ave., and that there is no set return date for high school students.
Elementary schools opened for all students in March, but Taft’s Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center students will not be returning until high schools open for all students.
Grishaber said that student orientation programs, such as “freshman connection,” will be more important than ever next school year given the length of time students have been away.
It also was announced that the graduation fee will be $75 instead of the typical $110. Last year no fee was charged due to the pandemic, but the school cannot afford to do so again, Grishaber said.
The school is planning on a drive-up graduation at the Rosemont Theater, 5400 N. River Road, similar to the 2020 ceremony. The theater rental is typically $25,000, but the fee is reduced to $15,000 since the festivities will be in the parking lot, Grishaber said.
It also was reported that the Taft Parent-Teacher-Student Association is looking to reorganize itself as “Friends of Taft,” whose responsibilities would include fundraising for the school.
The school recently hired the Smith Group, a design firm, to formulate cost estimates and renderings for infrastructure improvements. The information will facilitate efforts to solicit donations for the projects, which include a concession stand at the varsity sports field and decorative signage around the varsity campus, Grishaber said.
“If we are going to go to alumni, they need to see what it is going to look like,” Grishaber said.