ROGERS PARK — In what he called an "exciting" but "bittersweet" move, New Field Elementary Principal Carlos Patiño has announced he and his family will pack up that at the end of the school year to take on new opportunities in the suburbs.
Patiño sent a letter home to parents Friday announcing his resignation from Chicago Public Schools. He also alerted his local school council and staff, and has begun the difficult task of talking to his students about the change this week. That, he says, will the "the hardest part" of leaving.
The local school council held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon with the head of the local CPS network of schools to discuss the upcoming principal selection process, as well as to thank Patiño for his leadership.
Assistant Principal Conrey Callahan said it had been her "greatest professional experience" to work with and learn from Patiño.
Added parent Deanne Straughn: "What an honor it is to know you, sir."
By the time he leaves this summer, Patiño will have headed the 1707 W. Morse Ave. school for just less that five years as either principal or assistant principal.
Now his family is ready to take the next step outside of Chicago in one of its surrounding suburbs, he said, something that was "the right move" not just professionally, but for his wife and two young children.
Patiño said he would "continue to be a cheerleader" for the school.
"It's been a great four years, but it's also been a tough four years," he said. "I'm unbelievably proud of what we've done here as a community — this community, Rogers Park, the parents, the families have been so supportive of the things that we're doing here at New Field so it is very bittersweet."
"I'm excited for the new opportunity, but I'm also incredibly sad to leave a community that's always had my back."
He will stay on as principal throughout the remainder of the school year until June 30 and help the local school council through the process of searching for his replacement.
With "continuity" a top priority, Patiño, Cesario and members of the community all spoke up to advocate that Callahan be given the next principal contract based on relationships she's already established with the students and community, her ability to speak Spanish, skills and more.
Patiño said he would shout his support for Callahan to take over as principal "from any mountaintop."
Those who spoke at the meeting expressed a desire for the school's upward trajectory to continue, especially amid turbulent times for CPS.
"It's been a tough year across CPS," Patiño said. "I think any teacher, any parent, any staff members can tell you that. I think it would be wonderful to have some continuity, some stability."
Cesario said he would support whoever the LSC ultimately chose, but endorsed Callahan as "a great choice" as well.
Though by law the LSC must open the position up for a period of several weeks to allow other contenders to apply, Callahan said she would happily take the role if offered.
"I'm really excited at the opportunity to continue if the school wants ... that's my sincerest wish," she said first in English, then Spanish. "I look forward to the opportunity to show you that I'm ready to be the principal."
In the coming weeks, the LSC will continue to meet and then post the open principal position online.
After reviewing applicants, the group can decide to hold interviews and conduct forums, or simply select a candidate directly after the application and review time is over.
Assistant Principal Conrey Callahan speaks fluent Spanish and has filled in as a translator for Spanish-speaking parents. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]