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Retiring Lemont principal reflects on school's accomplishments

LEMONT – When Eric Michaelsen becomes principal of Lemont High School next school year, it will be the school's first new principal in 21 years.

Retiring principal Thomas Trengove was hired for the position in 1993 after spending eight years as an assistant principal at Wheaton North High School.

Lemont Suburban Life spoke with Trengove about his career at the school and what he may be doing next.

Farnham: How have you seen Lemont High School change since you became principal?

Trengove: Obviously it's become much larger. When I came here, I think we had about 600 students in the school. Now we have in the ballpark of 1,500 students and we have put on two additions … I think the profile of the school has raised dramatically. Certainly academically and in terms of student activities.

F: What do you consider your great accomplishments as principal?

T: One thing I'm very proud of … we're into a process here called Professional Learning Communities. It's commonly called late start Wednesday. It's helped us become much more of a bottom-up planning model. I'm a firm believer that the people closest to the kids need to make many of the decisions relating to the kids … I think there's a firm belief here that every kid, relative to his education and his achievement, is as important as every other kid.

F: What will you miss about the job?

T: I'll miss the camaraderie, when you hang out for 21 years with about 100 teachers. They're a stimulating group. They're smart. They're funny … I'll miss the opportunity to do things for kids.

F: Do you have any plans about what you are going to do during retirement?

T: Nothing particular. Probably, like everybody else, I'll have the opportunity to travel a little bit more. I'll be able to write a bit, for my own pleasure. I have kids. They're adults now. I'll have the opportunity to see them a bit more.

F: What do you think are the challenges facing your successor?

T: I have complete faith in [Michaelsen's] ability to do an outstanding job. I think one of the problems, if you want to call it a problem, of having good achievement scores is you keep raising your own bar … I think that any principal now is very much the face of the school as such as the person who will often times deal with parents … I think the last thing is, in all fairness, local control of education has been chipped away over the years. I think that maintaining education that is locally relevant while maintaining a relationship with the government is a challenge.

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