Two administrators make the grade

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Two administrators make the grade

February 20, 2017 - 18:41

  Homewood District 153 Superintendent Dale
  Mitchell, center, congratulates Melanie Mandisodza,
  director of student services, and Scott McAlister,
  principal at James Hart School, on their academic
(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/
  H-F Chronicle)

They work in Homewood schools by day. But for months, they were students themselves. 

At its February meeting, the District 153 school board announced James Hart School Principal Scott McAlister had earned his superintendent’s certificate, and Melanie Mandisodza achieved the state approved special education director certificate.

Superintendent Dale Mitchell joined with the board in the surprise congratulatory announcement calling their achievements major accomplishments. Family members of McAlister and Mandisodza came to the meeting to join in the applause for the two administrators who were feted with a small party.

McAlister came to Hart in 2013. He had previously been an assistant principal at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. He already had a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, a master’s degree from Purdue University-Calumet, and a doctorate in education from Loyola University. Now he’s earned the superintendent endorsement from Concordia College.

His work included a three credit-hour internship with Mitchell.

Mandisodza, director of student services, has been with the district since 2004. Today she is director of special education initiatives that impact 17 percent of the district’s 2,000 students. 

She has a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany and a master’s from Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. She earned her director’s certificate from the University of St. Francis in Joliet.

Mandisodza is planning on participating in a special program at Georgetown University during the summer.

Mitchell said strong leadership is essential at any organization.  Although funding for training seminars is limited, the district has been able to send administrators and teacher leaders to “Leaders of Learning” sessions. The program helps strengthened skills and gives attendees new ideas with a focus on learning. 

The district has been part of the training program since 2004 when teachers and administrators faced major changes when the district transitioned from neighborhood schools to grade centers.

The district will in 2017-18 again be going through major leadership changes when the principals at Churchill and Willow Schools retire, he said.