Assistant Director of Student Life Candidates
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 10:44pm
In early April, the job search for a long-term Assistant Director of Student Life began. The position is one that was created this year in conjunction with two other "Assistant Director" positions, and was temporarily occupied by Math Department Head Craig Russell.
In the last six days of school, Uni hosted six candidates for administrative positions: three candidates for the Assistant Director of Student Life position, two candidates for the Associate Director position, and one candidate for both positions. This article contains profiles of each candidate for the Assistant Director of Student Life position, based on their candidate biographies and the meetings they attended at Uni. The candidates are listed the order that they came to Uni. The Assistant Director of Student Life's job description is listed at the bottom of the article.
Candidate Bio: Debby Willard received her B.A. in Microbiology with a minor in Zoology from DePauw University. After she graduated she spent two years as a Research Technician for the S.I.U. School of Medicine in Springfield. She then earned her teaching certificate from Sangamon State (U of I-Springfield). Debby has taught at the Junior High and High School level for 11 years. In 2005 she earned her M.S. in Educational Administration and her Type 75 Certificate from E.I.U. In addition to her teaching duties at Monticello High School, she was the Freshman Volleyball Coach and Junior Class Sponsor. Willard is currently a Learning Specialist at the University of Illinois and works with the student athletes providing academic support and acting as the liaison to DRES. Her passion in her career is interacting with the students and watching them grow and mature.
Willard feels strongly about student discipline, and she believes that it is important for students to learn that “life has rules and whether we agree or not, we have to follow them.” She emphasizes consistency and being aware of consequences, and she says that she would not be lenient regarding frequently broken rules and minor infractions.
Her attitude toward working with students is to push them. She believes in challenging students to do things they think they are not capable of. But ultimately, she says that “you have to remember that they’re still kids.”
If hired to the position, her office would have an open-door policy and would be a place where students can drop in. Willard also envisions getting out and talking to students during lunch, popping into classes, and seeing what’s going on.
With respect to her day-to-day duties, she envisions resolving conflict by discerning the complaint, listening, seeing both sides and then making a clear, logical decision. She believes problems need to be addressed promptly so that they do not fester. Willard wants things to go smoothly, and wants to act as a liaison between students and administration, while acknowledging that she thinks students may need help communicating because they may not have the foresight to anticipate various outcomes.
She identifies one of her strengths as getting to know kids and developing a rapport with them. She believes one of her weaknesses is wanting to do everything herself to get it done right.
Willard says that during her first year at Uni, she would make no major changes until acclimating herself to the Uni environment and getting the lay of the land.
Candidate Bio: Karl Radnitzer is a school counselor at Uni. He has a B.S. in psychology from North Park College, M.S. from the University of Illinois, C.A.S from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in education from the University of Illinois. He has endorsements in School Counseling and School Administration. His interests are emotional intelligence, leadership development, career assessment, gifted students with learning disabilities, and developing a self-directed senior project for students. He taught school at Oak Park School District 97 and the University of Chicago Lab School. He served as principal at Leal School in Urbana and before joining Uni in 2010, he was program coordinator and academic advisor at Millikin University. Karl and his wife Crystal have three children: Isaac (Uni class of 2008), Hannah (Centennial class of 2010) and Abigail (Uni class of 2012). Karl and Crystal are also foster parents for three children.
Karl Radnitzer is an exception to the otherwise unfamiliar list of candidates. A Uni guidance counselor and father of two Uni alumni, Radnitzer is the only internal candidate for this position. This close association has certainly given him some unique ideas for Uni’s future.
Radnitzer is highly qualified for this position, as evidenced by his previous experiences as a teacher, counselor, and administrator.
Radnitzer emphasizes “looking to other schools for ideas." He provides an example by pointing out that he thinks senioritis is a problem at Uni.
“Some schools have senior projects… or community service activities to supplement classes,” he said.
One of Radnitzer’s main concerns is the “disconnection” he sees between students and regulations.
“Students are required to say they’ve read [the handbook] when we know almost none have.” He also hopes to “make student confidentiality a priority.” In answer to a question from a Uni parent, Radnitzer says the responsibility he is least looking forward to is “overseeing school construction and renovation.”
Candidate Bio: Dr. Jasmine Johnson earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2003. She became interested in educational policy, and student achievement and equity issues after participating in a student research program during her junior year. As a result she decided to pursue a M.Ed. (2005) and Ph.D. (2010) in Educational Policy, Leadership and Organization from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Johnson's fondest memories are intertwined with Champaign-Urbana, including teaching undergraduate students at the U of I for a few years, as well as working with the College of Education to create programs for both undergraduates and high school students in Champaign-Urbana.
Jasmine Johnson attended a large high school in Chicago that she says was drastically different from Uni. She was impressed with the open environment at Uni, noting open lockers as an example, and she also talked about how she feels as if there is a lot of trust in the Uni community.
Johnson sees this as a position where she can connect with students more than she has in the past. One thing she continually emphasized is the fact that she wants to be involved and be there for the students. She also said that if the got the job that she would try to listen to everyone, and do what was best for the students. She is passionate about listening to students while using the resources she has to create the best environment for the students. She would like to manage everything while staying calm, and being approachable.
When asked what she would change, she says that she would make changes to the bullying policy in the handbook to somehow make it more specific as to what punishments would result from certain kinds of bullying. She says that if she had to make changes she would do all that she could to see that those changes were completed, even if it means being assertive and confronting a stubborn teacher.
Johnson believes that the student publications should have complete freedom. She believes that if there is something students are facing they should be able to talk and write about it at school.
The main point that came across during her presentation was that she wanted students to be able to voice their opinions and be heard by the administration--and that she would be willing to listen to those opinions and make changes where she saw best.
Candidate Bio: April Warren-Grice, the second associate director candidate to visit Uni, earned a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Education from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. While earning her master's degree, she taught Language Arts to complete her teaching internship at Bad Aibling High School, a Department of Defense school, in Bad Aibling, Germany. After teaching in Germany, she taught Language Arts at Ritenour High School in St. Louis, MO. While teaching at Ritenour, she also coached the girls' varsity basketball team and created and directed an after-school program geared to help raise the the academic achievement of Black and Latino/a students. In 2007, Ms. Warren-Grice received the National Teacher's of Excellence Award. Upon leaving Ritenour, she enrolled in the Educational Policy Studies PhD program at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Warren-Grice aims to complete her PhD in May 2013.
Warren-Grice holds the peculiar position of being the only candidate running for both the Associate Director and Assistant Director of Student Life positions. She applied to both positions, she says, because she was encouraged to do so.
Warren-Grice began her talk by talking about "the loves of her life" - her niece and 2.5 nephews (one is on the way).
"They remind me of the infinite possibility of humanity, and I talk about them incessantly,"she said.
After momentarily going through some personal details, such as her love of food and travel, she invited people to ask her questions.
Her experience includes being a Hall Director at Truman State University, which included running a building of more than 350 students, employ[ing] more than 80 staff members and 12 residential advisers. In this role, she managed the building's budget and coordinated training and professional development with other departments at Truman State.
She is currently a counselor at the University of Illinois, working with first-year students to help them get acclimated to the U of I; she also performed that same counselor role at Truman State. In addition, Warren-Grice is also a life coach, and individually managed the schedules of, at a minimum, 120 high school students.
She had a great deal of character and charisma, as became clear with her expressive and animated speaking style, and Grice was very diplomatic in her answers.
On the issues of excellence, Grice said, “Sometimes what we have to do is rethink, reconsider, what we consider excellent. What does excellent really mean? Is excellence only, is it only, if you win this award?”
She was an easy person to talk to, and seemed to be a great advocate of students, frequently talking about getting students to the "next level." She obviously cared a lot about helping and advancing students as much as she could.
“If there are two other candidates that were great for [the other positions], I’m in the best interest of the students, so even if I did not get this position and two other people were hired because they were really qualified and they really could do what it is that Uni needs, I applaud them, because it doesn’t diminish who I am,” she says.
Assistant Director of Student Life Job Description
Job description: This position is a 100% full-time benefit eligible Academic Professional position. The salary is commensurate with experience. The Assistant Director's primary responsibility is to support the Associate Director in all aspects of the operation of the school, with special emphasis on student issues and act as a kind of ombudsman to mediate between student and faculty concerns.
- Perform daily supervision and discipline of students, including attendance and tardiness
- Implement disciplinary and academic probation plans
- Administer and oversee the school's co-curricular program and other student activities
- Oversee communications to parent body on student life matters
- Approve various forms-anticipated absence, independent study, student event, etc
- Supervise hallways, including 7:30-8:00 and end of day until 4:15
- Open and close the building for special events with the help of other administrators and faculty
- Ensure chaperones for special events such as dances and plays. Share presence at dances and plays with other administrators
- With the Associate Director and the Student-Faculty Advisory Council, coordinate the development, revision, and distribution of the student-parent handbook
- Supervise building maintenance
- With other personnel, coordinate graduation ceremonies and Awards Day
- Help sponsors with senior end-of-year activities as necessary
- With other personnel, work on scheduling. Serve as point person for student issues about schedules
- Address instances of plagiarism and other academic misconduct
- Help Parent-Faculty Organization with school events
- Work with sponsor to assure effective functioning of Agora Days special classes’ week
- Exhibit a positive and calm attitude and maintain integrity even in difficult situations
- Use sound decision-making skills, accepts responsibility for decisions, and accept constructive criticism when necessary
- Maintain currency in regard to new laws and instructional issues in communication with the Associate Director
- Manage conflict in a professional manner, with an emphasis on conflicts between students and student-faculty conflicts
- Work professionally with families
- Maintain confidentiality
Bachelor's degree in an appropriate field of study required and a minimum of five years of teaching experience
- Master’s Degree
- State of Illinois administrative certification
- Demonstrate true love of secondary school students
- Ability to speak and write well in communication with students and families
- Possess excellent organizational skills