Welcome to the network

How changes in Jones’ school status will affect the Jones community

Since the removal of Principal Paul J. Powers, Jones College Prep has transitioned from being an Independent School Principal (ISP) to a network school. In doing so, Jones lost certain freedoms that accompanied our ISP status, while gaining a new Administrator In Charge (AIC). 

New AIC Arthur Slater described the role an AIC plays in the school community, explaining how, “if a principal is out, you have to have someone in charge. Just like when a teacher is out yet to have substitutes…” said Slater. “We are typically like a substitute principal, but in some cases we’re a little more than a substitute. I’m there to support you so that you can continue or improve in your job.”

While Slater’s arrival came with the removal of Jones’ previous principal, he’s also accompanying the transition of Jones from being an Independent School Principal (ISP) to a network school. 

“When you are an ISP school, that means you’re not under a network, you’re not under that type of supervision. You are able to make some decisions and changes that a principal that’s in the network cannot do,” said Slater. “But you have earned that position because of the success of your school.In other words, because you’ve been successful and demonstrated, and all the data has demonstrated that you don’t need that type of simulation.”

With Jones now being under a network, many changes are coming, starting with new supervisors. 

“Now that we are part of a network, our chief is Mike Boraz and our deputy chief is Carolyn Eggert, who happens to have been my principal previously,” said Assistant Principal Yvette Gonzalez-Torres. “I know Eggert’s expectations because I’ve worked for her before and she’s really focused on the kids and getting stuff done. She does a phenomenal job in what she does so I think she’s great.”

For administrators, becoming a network school has introduced more work, such as increased teacher evaluations and more timely submission of various statistics. 

“We have all these surveys that had to be filled out so it’s just a little different than when we were an ISP. We kind of rolled with our own, in the sense that we did what we needed to do and there was no one knocking on your door,” said Gonzalez-Torres.

But along with an increased workload, Jones administration also has new support within the network that they can lean on. 

“Within a network, you get a chance to build relationships with other people and you get a chance to network with other principals. When you’re an ISP school, you don’t have that,” said Slater. 

Slater, who’s had extensive experience completing similar work at other CPS schools, noted that being in a network is especially helpful for problem-solving. 

“This is what I’ve found: When a school is in a network, the principal might be having a problem and trying to figure out how to resolve it. But in a network, the principal can come to others in my network because they’ve had that problem already,” said Slater. “In the network you have all kinds of support and we all need that support because there’s no one person who knows everything.”

For teachers, transitioning to a network school may impact curriculum planning. 

“My previous experience at a network school was that there was more accountability in terms of curriculum and instruction. Not so much that we were told what we had to do and teach, but that we had to show evidence of lesson planning and assessments and we had to look at data and all that sort of stuff,” said English Department Chair Ms. Caitlin Miller. “At Jones, there is no curricular accountability.”

Compared to teachers at non-ISP schools, Jones teachers have previously had more freedom than most. 

“At all the network schools I was at, you had to submit a unit plan at the beginning of the semester and then biweekly lesson plans,” said Gonzalez-Torres. “When I came here, knowing that I didn’t have to look at all these lesson plans for all these teachers, I thought to myself how these teachers [had it] made. They’re being trusted to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing, which is phenomenal if you are doing that.”

But for students, less accountability for teachers can translate to vastly different learning experiences. 

“Not having so much accountability in terms of curriculum instruction, I think, has allowed teachers to have a lot of freedom and autonomy in their classes, which is a good thing. However, it also sometimes leads to students having very different experiences in the same class,” said Miller.

In addition to changes for teachers and administration, students have and will continue to experience direct changes with Jones now being under a network. 

“Network schools say students have to go through the scanners and metal detectors. ISP schools sort of had the privilege of saying, ‘We don’t have to do that’,” said Slater.

In addition to changes in security, there could be changes to students’ lunch. 

“If I was at a network school, my kids would have to be in the lunchroom eating, because that’s CPS’ policy: all students should be supervised at all times,” said Slater. “You walk into an ISP school and kids are eating in the corridors, even if they’re not being supervised, and that’s not CPS policy.”

For future or current students that are struggling academically, there may also be more variety infused into the types of courses offered at Jones. 

“As an ISP school you all only offered Advanced Placement and honors courses, but we need to have classes that can meet the needs of all students,” said Slater.

For students who are great at test-taking but may struggle in the classroom, Jones’ lack of regular-paced courses could prove difficult. 

“If you teach above students’ heads, what is that going to do? What did they learn? We set them up for failure. So, we need to look at more support for the student,” said Slater.