Welcome Ms. Hendler


Melissa Hendler working on developing a rubric with a coworker. Photo by Karolina Kraj

Karolina Kraj, Reporter

  Taft added a new member to administration in the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Melissa Hendler, a former elementary school teacher, became Assistant Principal who oversees specific areas such as diverse learners, bilingual/ESL program and the freshman success team.

       Before becoming a part of the Taft family, Hendler taught first grade at Brentano Math and Science Academy, a neighborhood school in Logan Square. The school was on a list to close five years ago because of the major budget cuts at CPS.

“[At Brentano] I got to see how school leadership really impacts the culture and climate of the school, but really the success of the students and the staff and that is kind of what drove me to become an administrator,” said Hendler.

       While being motivated to help the school and specifically its students, she focused on giving students the education they need, instead of worrying about transferring to a new school.

“I was a MTSS coordinator at the school which basically means that I helped our school come up with systems for supporting students who were struggling at different levels,” said Hendler.

       Other leadership roles that Hendler had at Brentano included helping students and organizing community events to improve the failing school. “I felt like I had a lot of opportunities to practice before going into a formal Assistant Principal position,” said Hendler.

       Hendler assisted student teachers and taught them how to become the best educators. Her advice includes helping student teachers get full-time jobs. One of her goals was to raise the school from being rated level 3, to a level 1.

       After her experience at Brentano, Hendler decided to become an assistant principal. She applied for a program at Loyola University that focused on teaching professional administration. Hendler said, “It is a Master’s program that usually takes three years but I did it in two.”

        Hendler also took a CPS program that prepared her for challenges encountered as an assistant principal. Chicago Leadership Collaborative is a pipeline for school leadership. “It is a program that prepares incoming school leaders to be administrators in CPS, so I did a year-long residency at Northside College Prep before I came to Taft,” explained Hendler.

       At Northside College Prep, Hendler learned how to help special education kids and freshman succeed. She focused on improving the quality of IEP plans and worked with the students in the Severe & Profound program.

        During her three months at Taft, Hendler said, “Taft is a growing school and I’m excited to be a part of the upward trends that the school is showing.”

Hendler now leads a freshman success team, of which the freshman on-track rate has increased. Principal Mark Grishaber said, “Our freshman on track last year was at 88% at this time right now it is 94.5% because she is doing a kick-butt job.”

       Hendler brings her administrative skills to the Eagle family. She is available in room 164 for any assistance.