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Meet Mr. Lesinski, CG’s next principal

Alexa Jurado, Staff Writer

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As we bid a tearful farewell to our beloved Mr. Sargeant, who stepped down from the role of Cary-Grove’s principal after ten years, we will be introduced to a new face. Over 50 people applied for the position and the District 155 Board of Education approved Neil Lesinski as Cary-Grove’s principal-to-be.

Mr. Lesinski, or “Mr. L” as he introduced himself, grew up in Grayslake and attended Grayslake Community High School. In high school he played tennis, and went on to play tennis at Western Illinois University where he studied English Education.

“Out of college I actually landed a job in District 117, which is Lakes High School and Antioch High School,” he said. “I started there as a varsity tennis coach for the boys and girls teams, and then an English teacher.”

He was an English teacher for several years until he became the department chair for the Career-Tech Ed department, which parallels the Industries and Careers Departments in District 155. Mr. Lesinski then went on to become the English department chair at Lakes Community High School.

“During all those years I also met my wife and she was a teacher at Lakes High School. We have a 19-month-old son, Leo, and we have a little girl on the way, coming in June,” said Mr. Lesinski. “That’s kind of my story in a nutshell. I come from a community similar to Cary-Grove, with a close-knit, family feel, where everyone kind of knows everybody to a certain extent. I feel very at home in this environment.”

Mr. Lesinski will be coming from the district office where he was the curriculum director. He expects there will definitively be a difference between his current job and future job, largely due to the change in environment.

“I miss being in the building a lot, and the biggest component of that is probably the energy that you can feel in the building from the students and the staff, and the excitement that surrounds just being here on a day-to-day basis, and the athletics and activities, and the fine arts, and all the incredible things that go on throughout the day. I miss being involved in that,” he said. “I’m really excited to get in the building and start to feel that energy, and start to meet people and get to know them and get to know students.”

When talking about the transition process, Mr. Lesinski emphasized listening and learning. He understands that with these, it will make it as easy and painless as possible. He spoke a lot to the importance of maintaining Cary-Grove’s culture.

“I’m making sure to support the things that are going on, and that we continue providing students with […] excellent opportunities, and so it’s really a lot of learning for me. Learning about people and where they feel we’re at, and then how I can help us continue to improve and move forward,” he said.

Many members of the community question what changes will come from the introduction of a new principal. Mr. Lesinski comes in with an open mind, which makes it hard to say how the school will change and stay the same. Mr. Lesinski expressed his enthusiasm about meeting with students, teachers, and parents regarding what changes they believe will be beneficial to the school.

“I don’t come in with already an idea of what I want to do. I’m coming in trying to become a part of the team that’s here and see where I can help lead them in certain directions, depending on what their feelings are,” Mr. Lesinski said. “What I want to keep the same is just the incredible culture that’s here, you know, the supportive culture for students to be involved in many different activities and be well-rounded, as well as supporting our teachers in becoming better, especially as we think about technology and the one-to-one initiative, but supporting our teachers so that they know that they can make mistakes, get messy, and we can continue to learn and improve together.”

Mr. Lesinski also understands that he will, at least for a little while, have to live in Mr. Sargeant’s shadow. It has been a difficult process to replace a member of the school and the community who is so deeply loved. He explained that despite this, he and Mr. Sargeant have a good relationship, and are working together during this phase of transition.

“There are definitively some big shoes to fill,” Mr. Lesinski said with a smile. “But that being said, it is a good position to be in to follow a great leader because he has done some incredible things here at the school. He’s really worked hard with his team to establish this culture that’s built around supporting students, and that is something that I want to continue, and so I feel very fortunate to step into this role after Mr. Sargeant and hopefully provide the same level of support to students and staff that he did.” Although he plans on continuing Sarge’s work, he also assured that he would be his own personality, and bring forth his own ideas.

Mr. Lesinski said that he is most excited about is meeting new people and becoming a part of Cary-Grove. He praised the school for being “an incredible place to work and learn.”

“I’m really excited about just kind of embedding myself in what the culture is here, so for me it’s just the relationships,” he said. “I know a lot of people in the building just being in the district, but there are others that I have yet to meet, and so that’s what I’m looking forward to the most, especially getting to know the students.”

Mr. Lesinski will prioritize listening to the needs of both the students and the faculty and providing for those needs, and, as previously mentioned, upholding Cary-Grove’s culture that supports teachers and students.

“This is a place where many people spend the majority of their day, and I want to make sure that they are happy and fulfilled when they’re here,” he said. “We’re here for each other.”

Mr. Lesinski also wants to be extremely involved, not only in extracurricular and after school events, but also day-to-day activities.

“I want to be in the cafeteria talking to students, I want to be visible in the hallways, I want to step into their classrooms and learn with them and alongside them, and see their experiences a little more through their eyes. Also, I want to involve them in our decision making by creating committees of students to sit with me and other administrators and talk about what’s going on in the school, how are they feeling, what are things they’d like to see happen and how can we support those things moving forward,” Mr. Lesinski said. “The biggest component is being a part of what happens day-to-day, as well as the extracurriculars, but also then involving students in that decision-making process that we have as a building, because they’re, a lot of times, more creative than we are as adults, so I’d love to hear their perspective on that.”

At the end of the day, although Sarge will be sorely missed, we should welcome our new leader with open arms.

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Meet Mr. Lesinski, CG’s next principal