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Taft Principal Names High School Leadership Team

 Only one of the school's four assistant principals is returning to Taft High School.   
Taft Leadership Team Named
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NORWOOD PARK — Taft Principal Mark Grishaber Tuesday named four assistant principals to help him lead the Far Northwest Side high school.

Only one of the three assistant principals from last year, Eric Flores, is returning to Taft High School, making him the only administrator with experience at the Norwood Park high school, the most overcrowded in the city.

Taft had three assistant principals last year, with a fourth position added this year because of the school's growing enrollment. Chicago Public Schools officials did not respond to questions about the other two former Taft assistant principals.

Heather Cherone explains why the Taft principal wanted changes in his leadership staff:

Seventy-five people applied for four positions, Grishaber said in an email message sent to parents, district officials and community members.

Grishaber, who took over the school July 1, said he selected assistant principals who were experienced and successful teachers committed to the International Baccalaureate philosophy. All of them are also comfortable using data to determine the best way to teach the school's students, he added.

Flores, who has been an assistant principal at Taft for seven years, will return this fall, Grishaber said.

"I believe his institutional memory about Taft High School is invaluable as we move forward," Grishaber wrote.

Grishaber, who was an assistant principal at Whitney Young High School before coming to Taft, picked Whitney Young history teacher and Academic Decathlon assistant coach David Bell as another assistant principal.

"I chose [Bell] specifically because of his recent connection to being in the classroom," Grishaber wrote. "I have not been in the classroom for eight years and I wanted to be able to access the mind of a teacher who is fresh out of the classroom."

Assistant Principal Maria Amador, who was part of the Chicago Public Schools' principal training program at Lincoln Park High School last year, will work with Taft students who speak Spanish, Grishaber said.

Grishaber said he picked Amador to ensure one of the assistant principals would be speak Spanish to help Taft's Latino students.

Assistant Principal Brian Tennison, who taught social studies for 18 years and is a National Board Certified Teacher, served as an instructional support leader in the CPS central office last year and before that as an assistant principal at Von Steuben High School.

Tennison "loves teaching teachers," Grishaber wrote.

Grishaber has said he plans to make Taft into one of the city's best schools and to improve its less-than-stellar reputation.

"I had no problem hiring assistant principals who would not only complement my skill set but in some instances are much smarter than me," Grishaber wrote. "We know there will be growing pains and we will sometimes make mistakes but we are looking forward to the challenge. Our goal is that every Friday when we get in our car to drive home we can honestly say that this week we became a better school."

The $17 million renovation of the school that will overhaul nine science labs, patch crumbling brick, repair water damage and replace the school's lockers and clouded windows — many of which were in use when the school opened its doors — is ahead of schedule, Grishaber said.

"On more than one occasion I have seen teachers staring out the clear windows in amazement," Grishaber said.

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