When school resumes in a few months, there will be a new sheriff in town at Reed School.
After announcing her retirement and intent to step down from her post as principal at Reed School, Mary Jasinski will pass the leadership torch to Catherine Slee beginning July 1.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Slee said. “I met with staff, building administrators and district administrators. I visited the school, and the kids welcomed me.”
Slee previously served 10 years as principal at Oakwood Elementary School in Lemont. The new job comes at a point in her life where she is looking to trek new territories and make her mark, Slee said.
“It’s time to see what opportunities are out there,” she said. “Change is always good.”
When Slee heard of an opening for a new principal within Will County School District 92, she decided right away to apply. She went through District 92’s interviewing process and said the ease of discussion made her feel at home.
“Our philosophies align, and we’re on the same page,” she said. “As far as mission and vision, I have a good feel for the grade school.”
The duties ascribed to principals have evolved over the years with new standards and expectations put in place. It is no longer viewed as a disciplinary role, and Slee views it as a rewarding position “if one keeps what’s best for the kids at the forefront,” adding, that she is ready to work.
Jasinski shared that sentiment.
“We’re a resource in the classroom,” she said. “We’re working to help [drive] curriculum development and professional development. The role has been much more interactive than it has in the past.”
Jasinski is capping off her 23rd year as a District 92 employee.
“My favorite part was working at Reed,” she said. “It’s a place where you start your day with a hug and end your day with a hug.”
Under Jasinski’s leadership, Reed School implemented a number of measures to promote growth of the whole child.
“Some of what I put in place I’d like to see carried on is the buddy bench, where children can sit if they have no playmate,” Jasinski said. “We teach kids to invite one another to play.”
Among Jasinski’s other proudest accomplishments is starting a character traits initiative that educates students on the importance of being respectful, responsible and peaceful.
“The kids quickly grew into those actions,” she said.
Slee said she already has a number of goals she hopes to accomplish at Reed.
“I’m looking forward to starting in July, and meeting with staff, students and families to build a rapport,” Slee said.
Slee said it is essential to start a conversation with the mission and vision in mind, lay out the years to come, map out where they are and how they will get there.
Jasinski said she will miss the many connections she has made while at D92.
“When it comes to working with staff, kids and families, we have a strong community, and it’s been a place I’ve developed many memories that will stay with me,” Jasinski said.
Jasinski has some plans lined up upon retiring, as she intends to get her dog trained as a therapy dog equipped for providing comfort in hospitals and entering schools to encourage literacy among students. She also wants to explore volunteering opportunities with Gift of Hope, American Cancer Society and Make A Wish Foundation.
“Those are all things that have had an impact on our family,” she said. “We’ll be giving our time.”
Slee wants people to remember the mark she left on staff, students and families at Oakwood School.
“I hope they know I gave my heart to students, staff and families,” she said. “The things I brought, I’ll continue. I’m looking forward to that same opportunity at District 92.”