Fagel Answers: Questions and answers with the new principal


Photo courtesy of Tom Robb of the Glenview Journal

Katie Cavender, asst. news editor

Q: What was your favorite part of Glenview and Northbrook as you were growing up?

A: “I loved school. I have really good memories of Wescott and Maple and Glenbrook North. I can literally close my eyes and tell you about different teachers, the school song, I really loved school.”

Q: What do you think made the Glenbrooks so special to you?

A: “I think it’s that the bar is set really high for quality. My experience in the theater at Glenbrook North and the quality of the productions that I participated in, including the musical… you don’t see that in most high schools. We were really lucky, there were funds available to have beautiful rented costumes. The quality for everything, the standard was just set really high. The quality of teachers, the quality of courses and coursework, the quality of athletics and extracurriculars, student government, clubs and activities… there was just this really high standard.”

Q: Did you ever think that you would grow up to be anything other than a teacher or administrator?

A: “Absolutely! I had a big plan, I was going to be an attorney. I was going to have a corner office in a high-rise building, I was going to be a corporate lawyer who would try these big cases, and my vision was that I was going to walk into the courtroom and people would be like, “Ugh, darn, I didn’t know she was on the case. We’re going to lose.” That was an actual dream that I would play out in my mind. Then, I went to college, and by the middle of sophomore year, I stopped and looked around at my life and realized that everything I was doing was with young people, and with school.”

Q: What are you most excited about coming back into the Glenbrooks?

A: “I can hardly wait to be with kids and teachers every day. I miss that so much in my current role [as an assistant superintendent] and I can’t wait to get settled and get to know the building, get to know the kids, learn about the different programs in the school… it’s like walking into a new family. That’s what I miss about being a principal, is that you have this home base and it’s your family and so I just can’t wait to get there and be with kids and teachers.”

Q: Where is the most interesting place you’ve traveled?

A: “I like to be home. But, when I was in college I studied for a semester at Oxford University and I loved that. So, I mean, it wasn’t the world’s most different culture from our own, but I loved being in England. I liked the idea of having tea at a certain time of day and I love the academia at Oxford. But I’m definitely not a world traveler. Maybe when my kids are older and my husband and I have more time, I would love to do a little bit, but I really like to be home.”

Q: How do you feel about being the first female principal of GBS?

A: “I love that. That didn’t really occur to me until after it all happened. I had never felt a barrier, I don’t see us as living in a time where women don’t have the same opportunities as men, but I think that’s not entirely true. We know across the country women overall do not get paid as men for the same positions. So, we still have a ways to go. But I love that there are students in both high schools and teachers and other administrators that see that this is possible just like it is anywhere else. So, if it encourages and inspires other young women, great. It’s kind of like the icing on the cake.”

Q: Are there any major impacts you hope to eventually make on the school?

A: “I’m really passionate about equity and access, and making sure that kids have access to all types of coursework. And making sure that it’s a very inclusive environment. If I could have an impact in one area over time, that’s where I would want it to be. I tend to come into a system and look for and often find institutional barriers. One example would be the way that kids can enter into a level of a course or change levels of a course. There may be lots of steps they have to go through to do that. And so, I will often ask other people questions about that, like, why do we have that process in place? Is it encouraging students to challenge themselves in a higher level course, or is it discouraging? And if it’s discouraging, then can we re-examine that practice and think about the way we do things? So that’s where I’d like to have, over time, an impact.”

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

A: “I love coffee ice cream. And I love vanilla with a sundae. I love that stuff. I don’t know anyone who could not like ice cream.”

Q: Is there any part of your career as a principal at Mundelein that you think you can improve upon at South?

A: “Well, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to slow down a lot, and that in the role of a principal, things do happen really quickly, and a lot of things happen in a single day, and you are informed of so many different things that sometimes that fast pace leads to decision making that is too fast. That’s something I’m always working to improve on. Slow down. I have my own rule for myself which is to just sleep on it. There are some things that you have to decide in the moment, and you have to eventually make decisions, but think it through fully and make sure we’ve considered all possible consequences.”

Q: What’s your biggest fear?

A: “Large bodies of water. I am terrified. Even though I’ve been on a cruise, I do not go near the edge of the boat. I’m not a big fan of swimming. I don’t mind pools as much, but lakes and oceans scare me. A Tsunami… that’s my biggest fear.”