Meet the New Principal at Cossitt Avenue School
Patch sat down with Steve Carnes, to get to know the new principal at Cossitt Avenue School.
District 102 is welcoming another new principal to the district this school year in La Grange. In addition to Pattii Waldo joining the team at Ogden Avenue School, parents, teacher and students will notice a new face at Cossitt Avenue School as well.
Steve Carnes, of Lombard, will be greeting students as they arrive for the first day of class on Aug. 21 as the school's new principal, replacing Mary Tavegia, who retired in June.
To get Cossitt families acquainted with Carnes, here are a few things to know about your new principal:
Hometown: Carnes was born in Naperville, but grew up in Aurora. Carnes has recently moved to Lombard after living in Downers Grove the last 11 years.
Kids: Carnes is a parent of an elementary student as well. Being the parent of a 6-year-old student gives him some experience on the other side of the fence as well, he said.
"Some of the same issues that parents are going through, I'm going through as well," Carnes said in his office recently. "I'm in the same boat."
Professional Background: Carnes was most recently the principal at Highland Park Elementary in District 112, in Highland Park, Ill. Prior to that he served as assistant principal and then principal in Northlake, Ill. He began his career as a 5th grade teacher in Elgin, Ill.
First Impression of Cossitt Families: "We've got very engaged parent support at Cossitt, which is wonderful," Carnes said. "It's great to work with families that really value education and a community that supports those goals [too]."
First Impression of Cossitt School (the building): "This place has a lot of history, which is really cool," Carnes said.
He's been an admirer of the building's architecture long before he knew he would one day be working in the building.
"We'd come to La Grange with friends for dinner and we'd marvel at this old building," Carnes said. "It adds a lot of character."
Personal Hobbies: Carnes is a big sports fan, and a huge Cubs fan. Keeping up with exercise is important to this principal, and he plays in a summer basketball league as well as working out at the gym.
Carnes is also into "the classics" as far as reading goes. Some favorite authors include William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but his absolute favorite is Earnest Hemmingway. He's visited Hemmingway's homes in Oak Park, Ill. and in Key West, Fla.
Leadership Style: Carnes said he's a big believer in collaboration and has an open door policy with students, staff and parents.
"Today in education, you support students to reach their full potential with a lot of collaboration between the student, parents and the community—all of which Cossitt is known for," Carnes said.
Favorite La Grange Restaurant: Carnes said he would have a hard time picking a favorite place, but his family has been coming to La Grange for meals long before he considered a job here. But, he recently tried Marconi's and loved it.
"I don't think I'll have a hard time finding lunch around here," Carnes Laughed and gestured across the street to Palmer Place.
Goals to Start the Year: When you're new, Carnes said, the best thing to do is to watch and listen.
"I'm looking forward to the first day [of school]," Carnes said. "It's a chance to start to get to know students and see how the school looks in action."
Favorite Thing About Being Principal: "I love seeing kids grow," Carnes said. "It's amazing to watch them come in as kindergarteners and watch them through their elementary years. Seeing them come back years later is always great too."
Work Philosophy: "If you're not having fun doing what you're doing, then you're probably not doing a good job," Carnes said. "I love [being an educator]. It's the best job I ever had."
Have kids going to Ogden Avenue School? Take a look at our recent conversation with Ogden's new principal Pattii Waldo here.