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updated: 8/2/2014 7:32 AM

Teachers doubling as administrators for more personalized service at Grayslake charter school

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  • Tony Zamiar

    Tony Zamiar

  • Kelly Smith

    Kelly Smith

  • Geoff Deigan

    Geoff Deigan


In what officials say is an effort to provide more personalized service, a Grayslake charter school will break from tradition and have two teachers double as top building administrators for the 2014-15 academic season.

Prairie Crossing Charter School Executive Director Geoff Deigan said the new administrative structure will be in place when classes for kindergarten through eighth grade start Thursday, Aug. 14. The environmentally focused public choice school has a 432-student enrollment cap.

Teacher Tony Zamiar will be dean and handle administrative duties in the morning at Prairie Crossing's Carson building. Instructor Kelly Smith will be the dean and handle administrative duties in the afternoon at the Comstock building.

Deigan said school officials have received positive feedback about the two-dean plan. He said the expectation is parents, students and Prairie Crossing employees will have access to the deans "to make sure they are getting what they need when they need it."

"With our unique approach to education, the dean structure for our school helps promote that small school personalized care that our parents deserve and expect for their child," Deigan told the Daily Herald.

Until now, Prairie Crossing officials assigned one top administrator to be in charge of the Comstock and Carson buildings.

Andrea Koeniger, who resigned after the last academic season, had been dean of faculty and students overseeing the two buildings since June 2012. Prairie Crossing's most recent principal was Gail Worrell, who was hired on an interim basis in January 2012 about a month after Brian Greene was fired from the job.

Deigan said Zamiar and Smith are well respected by colleagues and have a long record of high performance in their dedication to Prairie Crossing.

Open since 1999 and authorized by the state board of education, Prairie Crossing is within the boundaries of Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79 in the Mundelein area. Fremont and Woodland children may be sent to the small school, which determines enrollment by lottery.

District 50 is challenging a state agency's decision in April allowing Prairie Crossing to operate another five years.

Woodland contends in a lawsuit filed in Cook County circuit court that Prairie Crossing should not have received Illinois State Charter School Commission approval to remain open because it violated its last renewal in 2009 by failing to "bridge the demographic disparity."

About 2 percent of Prairie Crossing's students are low-income.

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