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Notes from the D215 Board meeting – teacher pinning, school updates, public comments

Public comment focuses on minority-related issues

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (September 27, 2023) – The September 26 District 215 Board of Education meeting formally recognized new teachers, highlighted updates from district schools, and included public comments about flag displays and a plaque honoring a past principal.

New teacher pinning

New teachers and staff — or teachers and staff in new positions — were recognized at the meeting. Though not all of the the new teachers and staff were present at the meeting, those who were invited to stand and have their photo taken. The full list is included below:

  • Matthew Bugajski, teacher at TF Center
  • Samantha Cravens, truancy officer at TF Center
  • Brandy Briggs, teacher at TF North
  • Joseph Faron, special education teacher at TF North
  • Centrese McGee, physical education teacher at TF North
  • Rosalind Scaife, early college program coordinator at TF North
  • Diana Muhammad-Hayden, teacher at TF South
  • Gregory Rizzo, special education teacher at TF South
  • Monica Townes-Hudson, dean at TF South
  • Armando Urbina, social studies teacher at TF South
D215
Samantha Cravens (center) is a new truancy officer at TF Center. She’s pictured with D215 Interim Superintendent John Robinzine (right) and TF Center for Academics & Technology Principal Ray Williams. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Brandy Briggs (center) is a new teacher at TF North. She’s pictured with D215 Interim Superintendent John Robinzine (right) and TF North Principal Brian Rucinski. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Centrese McGee (Center) is a new physical education teacher at TF North. She’s pictured with D215 Interim Superintendent John Robinzine (right) and TF North Principal Brian Rucinski. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Rosalind Scaife is a new early college program coordinator at TF North. She’s pictured with D215 Interim Superintendent John Robinzine (right) and TF North Principal Brian Rucinski. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

School updates

During the meeting, school principals gave updates about their respective schools.

TF Center for Academics & Technology Principal Ray Williams’ report included the following updates:

  • TF Center won first place in the LowRide Chicago Automotive Super Show on September 2.
  • The Virtual Success Academy is performing well in getting “students back on track.”

TF North Principal Brian Rucinski’s report included the following updates:

  • Four students are semi-finalists for the prestigious Posse Scholarship.
  • Meteors football is 5-0 and had a successful homecoming game.
  • Cinderella will be the first drama production to break in the new TF North stage. The production will take place November 16–19.
  • North will host a Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta on October 11.

TF South Principal Jake Gourley’s report included the following updates:

  • The new TF South football field is not going to be ready for the Red Wolves’ October 6 game. The field’s debut was already pushed back from its original late September date. The October 6 game will likely take place at TF North.
  • Mr. Jones, an English teacher at South, will be featured as a WGN “Teacher of the Month” after being nominated by a student.

During the meeting, the District 215 Board also agreed to pass a 2023-2024 budget.

Public comment

Two public comments were made during the meeting. The first was from Elvis Slaughter, a paraprofessional in District 215. Slaughter had submitted a written public comment to the board, and encouraged them to read it and ask him any questions. A copy of the comment given to The Lansing Journal pertains to former TF South principal Robert Maxiener, who Slaughter says openly promoted imagery of the Confederacy during his tenure in District 215. Slaughter suggests removing a plaque at TF South in honor of Maxiener, who died in 2010.

The second comment was made by Lansing resident Connie Simon, who referred to the Board’s September 13 Committee of the Whole discussion surrounding the notion of flying a LGBTQ pride flag on district flagpoles.

“Sexuality is not a nationality,” Simon said. “We’re here to educate not to teach or to display sexual preference.”

Simon made reference to the cost of adding new flagpoles, as well as to future difficulty in choosing which other flags to fly or not fly.

District 215 Regular Board meetings are generally held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m., and Committee of the Whole meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. Meetings are held at the TF Center for Academics & Technology, located at 1605 Wentworth Avenue, Calumet City, Illinois.

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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.