After only one year as co-principal at Saratoga Community Consolidated School District 60C, Shannon Hamm has requested and received a leave of absence for the 2012-13 school year.
She and the Saratoga "family" are hopeful Hamm will be ready and able to return to the school the following school year, but only time will tell.
Hamm is taking the time off to home-school her youngest son, currently a kindergartner at Gardner Grade School. Hamm wanted to make it clear, however, that the teachers and staff at GGS have done nothing wrong.
"The school has done everything they can," Hamm said. "He's just over-stimulated."
Hamm said her son's teacher is amazing with him, but he is just not where Hamm and her husband want him to be. She believes the large setting is overwhelming for him and may be causing behavioral issues that have developed.
She said she has never home-schooled before, but is hoping that by taking her kindergartner out of the public school setting, he will become excited about learning again.
Hamm's kindergartner is her youngest of five children. She also has a seventh-grader at GGS who will remain at the school next year.
Saratoga's principal also has a student getting ready to graduate from Gardner-South Wilmington High School this year and two children who live in Shelbyville, Ill.
"I need some time with my youngest child to ensure that he has a passion for education just like I do," Hamm wrote in her letter to the board of education and District Superintendent Kathy Perry.
The board approved the leave of absence Monday, April 16.
"It was approved because we're hoping she wants to come back in a year," Perry said.
Hamm originally thought she would have to "cut all ties" and leave Saratoga, but once she spoke with the superintendent, she was relieved to know she could take a leave of absence instead.
"I'm grateful the district offered this option," Hamm said. "I wouldn't have been looking for a job (last year) if I knew a year from then I'd be pulling out."
Hamm will be taking her leave of absence, but she will not be completely leaving Saratoga. She will be working at the school one day per week next school year for up to 50 days. Her primary role will be curriculum and teacher evaluations.
She said the odds are at about 50/50 right now for her full-time return to Saratoga in 2013-2014. She and her husband will have to see how their son does in this next year before that decision is made.
The board also approved a 200-day contract for an interim assistant principal to assist with the day-to-day responsibilities next school year. The opening was to be posted on the Illinois Association of School Administrators job bank website until Monday, April 30.
"It is very important that taxpayers understand that administration expense will not increase for the 2012-2013 school year," Perry wrote in a press release. "The assistant principal salary and Mrs. Hamm's salary for curriculum work will not exceed Mrs. Hamm's current salary and benefits."
The new interim assistant principal will hopefully be focusing on discipline and public relations with parents, Perry said.
Hamm said it was with teary eyes that she told the staff at Saratoga her decision for next year. She said everyone has been extremely supportive since her announcement.
Perry said the family-like atmosphere at Saratoga is amazing to her. There is a "great feeling" in the building.
"Mrs. Hamm is an outstanding principal and is a great asset to Saratoga School. The staff, administration and board of education are hopeful that she will be back working full-time as co-principal for the 2013-2014 school year," Perry said.