Meet Elm's New Dean of Students: Q&A with Michael Goodman

Michael Goodman

Mr. Michael Goodman is Elm Middle School's second dean of students, a position created when the school expanded to include 6th grade in addition to 7th and 8th. He succeeds Mr. Kevin Seibel, who retired at the end of 2020-21. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

As Elm Middle School's new dean of students, Mr. Michael Goodman has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve.

"It is my responsibility to ensure that students feel supported and welcomed while at school," he says. "I am here to support students, teachers and families in making sure that Elm is a safe learning environment."

Mr. Goodman comes to Elm after three years as an English teacher at Round Lake Middle School in Lake County.

His experience also includes several positions in Chicago Public Schools, including three years as an English teacher and a year as dean at Foreman High School, and two years as a counselor at Epic Academy Charter School.

A native of Chicago, Mr. Goodman moved to Buffalo Grove in the Northwest suburbs when he was in 8th grade and went on to graduate from Buffalo Grove High School.

He earned his bachelor's in English from Eastern Illinois University, his master's in teaching from National Louis University and his master's in educational leadership from North Park University. He currently lives in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and daughter.

Shortly after arriving in Elmwood Park, Mr. Goodman did a virtual Q&A with District 401’s Dave Porreca. We invite you to read on and learn more about the new Elm dean of students!

Interview with Mr. Goodman

Welcome to Elm Middle School and District 401, Mr. Goodman! Could you tell us a little bit about your most recent position prior to becoming Elm’s dean of students?

I worked at Round Lake Middle School for the past three years as an ELA teacher. In this position, I also served as the ELA department chair. During the three years, I spent time on our discipline advisory committee, PBIS, and led the student council. In my first year at RLMS, I served as dean of students for about three months in a leave of absence role.

I would say my proudest moment came in my second year at RLMS while leading student council. Our student council designed stylist pens in honor of one of our students who had been diagnosed with cancer. We raised over $1,000, with all proceeds going to the family!

What attracted you to your new position here in District 401?

First, the role of dean has always held a special place in my heart. I love the idea of supporting a school with culture and climate, and being a role model for students in this role.

As far as Elmwood Park, a lot of things drew me to 401. First, it is a community district. Coming from Round Lake, I love the idea of all students and families being a part of the same neighborhood. Also, living in Chicago, Elmwood Park was attractive being so close to my home and my growing family.

For those who might not be familiar with the job, what are the responsibilities of the Elm dean of students?

The role of dean is to lead the school’s culture and climate. It is my responsibility to ensure that students feel supported and welcomed while at school. I am here to support students, teachers and families in making sure that Elm is a safe learning environment.

Why did you become an educator? What attracted you to education as a career, and why move into administration?

I always knew that I would go into education. I love the idea of being a role model, a mentor and a leader of youth. I have always had a passion for working with people, and am inspired by the idea of supporting the growth of children and teenagers.

As far as becoming an administrator, I feel that as I continue as an administrator, I can support more of the school. In this role, I will support every single student and family at Elm, and that is an exciting opportunity!

What keeps you going and inspired as an educator, especially given the unprecedented challenges of the last 18 months or so?

Young adults and children will always need great role models, no matter what year it is or what is going on in the world. With that being said, our students more than ever need great educators and leaders. As we transition back into full in-person learning, students will need as much support, guidance and love as possible. 

If you could summarize the philosophy that guides you as a professional, what would it be?

I believe a strong educator does so much more than teach content in the classroom. We lead, we inspire, and we teach life lessons. I’ve always felt that the greatest compliment I can receive from a student is one that comes years later, after they recognize the lessons I tried to instill. That’s what it is all about.

What are you most looking forward to in the new school year?

Obviously, being in this new leadership role is super exciting. Joining an awesome leadership and district administration is also exciting. I am probably most looking forward to helping our students transition back into full in person, and being the best role model I can be.

When you were starting out in your career, what was some of the best advice you received and from whom?

A piece of advice that has stuck with me since student teaching goes something like this: "Whenever working with students, make sure that there is a lesson learned." This may sound simple, but it has gone a long way. Whether it is in the classroom, the hallways, an office, students should walk away with a lesson learned. This may be an academic lesson, or a life lesson. But keep them thinking about what you shared with them.

What are the most important things parents can do to help their student(s) succeed in school?

Take part in their student’s learning. Have an understanding of what they are doing in school, as well as the expectations at school. Communicate with their teachers and school administrators if they need additional support.

Building on that, what are the most important things students can do to get the most out of their schooling, especially when they encounter difficulties and obstacles, as most students do? 

This year is going to be a difficult year for everyone, especially as we continue to navigate this pandemic. Students should not be afraid to ask for help, lean on teachers and friends, and focus on continuing their growth as lifelong learners. We will get through this together!

Is there anything you would like to share about yourself outside of your job?

I live in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago with my wife and 1 ½-year-old daughter, Edith. I love spending time with family and friends, exercise and golf (when I find the time). My first teaching job ever was in Costa Rica, where I taught English for six months. I am a Chicago sports fan by nature, as painful as it is.

Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Goodman. Welcome again to Elm and District 401!

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