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Parents sorry Oswego East principal leaving : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Parents sorry Oswego East principal leaving
Lee's work with parents, students over the past year lauded

by Lyle R. Rolfe


Dr. Louis Lee's term as Oswego East High School principal was short-lived, but he won't be soon forgotten.

Lee announced last month he was leaving the district at the end of the school year to accept the position of assistant superintendent for secondary teaching and learning in the Indian Prairie School District.

Lee had served as assistant principal at Granger Middle School in the Indian Prairie District in Aurora prior to coming to OEHS last year.

He was hired by the Oswego School District last spring to fill a vacancy created when the contract of then OEHS principal Dr. Jeff Craig was not renewed.

During a school board meeting last week, several school district parents praised Lee for his work over the past year at OEHS.

Leo Rasberry of Aurora thanked the district for hiring Lee. He added that during his eight years in the district, he had not previously seen the school spirit Lee generated.

He said the parents felt that their voices "were truly heard for once, unlike times past." He added that they felt like the administration understood their needs and the needs of students of color.

Rasberry said he had several occasions to talk to Lee about this plans, which were inclusive of all students. He recalled that he was very impressed with Lee's passion, which was felt not only by the administration and parents but by the students at large.

He asked the board to look for a replacement who has a high regard for all students and shares the school spirit that is felt by students, parents and administration.

Natalie Winkfield of Oswego said Lee's character was evident by everyone during school registration last fall.

"OEHS went from a school where no one knew the principal to a school where parents and students were proud to say 'That's our principal," Winkfield said.

She added that they began to wonder what would happen to the plans Lee had discussed with them for improved student performance.

Winkfield said they realized that Indian Prairie saw Lee's continuing strive for academic excellence, support of students, parents and faculty as well as a willingness to listen and to lead. She said Lee was inclusive of everyone and representative of the diversity in the district.

"We are not aware of the criteria you used to hire a principal last year, but we have to say you picked a winner and we want you to do it again," Winkfield said.

When looking at qualifications for the next principal, it cannot be just about academics, she said. They should continue to look forward, not backward, on the question of improving OEHS, the district and diversity, she said.

"Our students felt that they had value and they hadn't felt that before," said Tenesha Pittman of Plainfield.

"So here we are today faced with a situation--with a transition," she said.

The change is a promotion for Lee, she noted, but it leaves parents and students at OEHS saddened. Pittman said they have lost a principal who took the time to know all students. She added that she and her daughter have agreed his replacement will have large shoes to fill.

Winkfield said the district before hiring anyone, there should have a priority that inclusiveness is at the top.

"And as I look at the board, and this is no disrespect to you, it's an area that we should probably improve on ourselves, but I don't see diversity on the board," Winkfield said, adding, "So therein lies a concern and a concern that we can work together to improve and build upon and enhance the way that our district looks and represents our children's education and future."

She said the PLC (Professional Learning Community) committee the board is forming will be a great asset for development of diversity, including initiatives and cultural competency at all levels.

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