Nestled in Ukrainian Village, Christopher Columbus Elementary School stands as the only Ukrainian dual language program in Chicago. At the helm of this unique school is Principal Wendy Oleksy. Her days are long, starting at 6:45 a.m. and often ending later than 5 p.m., but her enthusiasm and passion for her job never wanes.
I usually get to school around 6:45 a.m. to enjoy the quietness until 7:30 a.m. I check my to-do list and important emails. Between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m., I talk to teachers.
I have an open door policy. If my door is open, I’m available. This holds true for teachers, parents and students. A parent might come in and want an impromptu meeting. I’m always finding a way to hang out with students. I usually walk through the lunchroom or pop in at recess. Typically I have scheduled my day in light pencil. I’m popping in classrooms for 10 to 15 minutes, at most, to give feedback to the teacher or to assist with the activity the students are engaged in. I do some more administrative work starting at 11:00 a.m., but I’m available at all times because of my open door policy.
During lunch time (12 to 1 p.m.), I remain available for incidences of misbehavior or to help resolve student conflicts. During that time, I do some more administrative work. Then, from 1 until 2 p.m., I’m walking the building. I’m just popping in. I might also use the time to set up meetings with kids. I’m also looking to ensure interventions are taking place during intervention time we call Academic Enhancement.
Then, from 2 to 4 p.m., I’m dismissing kids and having impromptu conversations with kids and parents. I also meet with various committees and clubs. I take 4:30-5 p.m. to wind down the day and craft a to-do list for the next day. That’s a really good day, especially if I’m out by 5:00 p.m.