District 65 Board of Education meeting on Monday night.

It’s still unclear where the Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies will ultimately end up physically, but at least there is now someone in the principal’s office.

And the assistant principal’s office, too.

At Monday night’s board meeting for Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Interim Superintendent Angel Turner named Charlise Berkel as interim principal at Rhodes and Elisa Lopez as assistant principal.

From District 65 announcement.

Both currently hold other positions in the district. Berkel is a coordinator in the bilingual (Spanish/English) TWI program. Lopez is an assistant principal at Haven Middle School

For Rhodes families, it’s about time. The K-8 bilingual magnet school has been in flux for weeks.

The previous principal left after the last school year, and the assistant principal has been on leave.

At a recent board meeting, a Rhodes parent asked “if we could just have one interim principal in lieu of having seven different rotating leaders.”

Now, they do have that one interim principal, or will as of Jan. 8, when the appointments take effect.

Central office administrators on loan to Rhodes will still be in charge until then.

In a statement, Turner said that she “heard the community’s desire for more stability, added support, and increased communication.”


Turner also said that she recognizes that the “lengthy search process was somewhat challenging” for the Rhodes community, but she’s confident the right leaders will be taking over.

However, just having new leaders does not resolve the larger issue of what happens to the bilingual TWI program and global studies curriculum in a few years.

The school board dropped plans to move Rhodes to the new 5th Ward School when that opens, presumably in 2026, in order to save money.

But the board still wants to sell the Rhodes building, so the issues still remain: Where will the Rhodes school ultimately go, and will it remain K-8 instead of K-5?

Rhodes parent Brandon Utter told the board on Monday that with so many Spanish-speaking migrants moving into the Chicago area, a bilingual school like Rhodes is primed for growth.

“Bessie Rhodes is a flagship, K-8 TWI community,” Utter said.

He also said that community is more interested in keep Rhodes as an intact, K-8 TWI program than going to any one specific part of town.

“Bessie Rhodes families want a contiguous K-8 TWI school under one roof,” Utter said.

“That’s of paramount concern. The location is secondary.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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