LANSING, Ill. (March 17, 2023) – Jennifer Hartmann was recognized by the Illinois Principals Association as the 2023 South Cook County Assistant Principal of the Year.
The award is one of six awarded by the IPA, and recognizes assistant principals who have met the criteria, including demonstrating positive impact on education, advocacy for children, involving the community in the life of the school, and using community resources for students.
Hartmann’s career journey began as a sixth and seventh grade social studies teacher in Sauk Village and then Chicago. As an administrator, she served in Kankakee and Flossmoor before coming to Lansing.
Now in her second year as Assistant Principal at Memorial Junior High School, Hartmann attributes her success to helping establish the transitional plan for elementary students into the junior high school.
Previously, fifth graders could visit Memorial for a few hours as a preview, but Hartmann wanted to do more to help students and families.
“I spent a lot of my time last year trying to create some opportunities for our fifth-grade students and parents to have a more formalized transition process,” said Hartmann.
During the 2021-2022 school year, Hartmann and her sixth-grade team leaders went to each elementary school in the district during the month of March. They gave an introductory presentation to the students, answering their questions about Memorial Junior High School.
In April, parents of fifth graders were invited to Memorial, where they were given an introduction.
In May, a student orientation was organized, allowing fifth graders meet their teachers and get familiar with the school. During the summer, parents were given tours of the school.
According to Hartmann, the plan received positive feedback from teachers, students, and parents, and has helped bring Memorial Junior High School closer to the community of Lansing.
Commitment to community
Hartmann had a previous connection with Memorial Junior High School before she became Assistant Principal. She was a student at St. Ann School, which was down the street from Memorial.
At the time, District 158 had an agreement where students in local private schools could participate in the Memorial’s school band. Hartmann remembers walking from St. Ann during fourth period to band rehearsal in the former band room of Memorial.
From the perspective of being raised and living in the community, Hartmann gets to see students and families in a unique way. Now, as a school leader, Hartmann is filled with a “double sense of pride,” as students get excited about learning and bring that excitement to the community.
“It’s really important to me to inspire my future neighbors to be productive citizens,” Hartmann said.
As her career continues, Hartmann sees the field of education placing an increased emphasis on problem solving, with soft skills such as collaboration, time management, and organization being essential to the workplace.
“We work and live in a complex world and we’re really going to have to move in the direction of teach kids how to solve problems,” she said.
Hartmann views diversity as Lansing’s strength, and community involvement as a way of empowering students and families.
“We’ve always had a strong relationship between our schools and our community. I would really encourage everyone to get involved,” she said.
Memorial Jr. High School is located at 2721 Ridge Road in Lansing.
- District 158 celebrates award winners Korey Ziemkowski and Michael Earnshaw (February 3, 2023)