WEST ENGLEWOOD — About 20 parents welcomed Demetrius Hobson as the new principal of Earle STEM Elementary School at a Thursday meeting.
The 33-year-old Washington Heights resident said his goals for this semester include improving academic performance, building stronger teacher collaboration, hiring an assistant principal and improving school and community relations.
"Parents want to be a part of what we do here at the school and I welcome that enthusiasm," Hobson said. "I know what it takes to run a school and it takes participation from teachers and staff to parents and students."
Hobson was named principal last month after Ketesha Melendez was abruptly removed and reassigned as the acting principal of Crispus Attucks Elementary School, 5055 S. State St. Previously, Hobson was acting principal at Woodlawn Elementary School, 6657 S. Kimbark Ave.
"I admire what [Melendez has] done here. I know what she had to do to make this happen, and I am here to continue the work she started," he said.
During the meeting, parents expressed their concerns about the school.
Jacqueline Davis said a lack of communication exists between parents and the school, while Alonzo Williams said his fourth-grade son "has yet to come home with a book." Instead, Williams said his son brings home worksheet assignments.
Hobson said a $10,000 book order already had been placed to address that concern, and he pledged to work harder to get more resources for the school at 2040 W. 62nd St.
Joining Hobson at the meeting were Debbie Blair, chief of staff to 16th Ward Ald. JoAnn Thompson, Phillip Hampton, the school district's chief of community and family engagement, and Liz Kirby, chief of the school system's Englewood-Gresham network.
"I am here to beg [parents] to work with Principal Hobson to make this happen," Hampton said. "Everyone has to get involved for us to move forward."
Some parents, though, talked about concerns they had under Melendez's leadership.
Blair urged parents to focus on the future and not the past.
"All of you have a burning passion for your children, so let's move forward," Blair said.
Melendez was unavailable for comment.