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Boreal Community Media

Introducing Rachael Lehman, new Director at Great Expections School

Sep 07, 2021 08:19PM ● By Editor
Submitted photo

Exclusive to Boreal Community Media - September 7
, 2021

Welcome to your first year as the new Director at Great Expectations School! 


Can you tell us a little about your background? 

I grew up in Southeastern Wisconsin/Northern Illinois. Summers and holidays spent “Up North” and on relative’s farms created my love of nature and respect for the environment. I headed to Minnesota for college and earned both my Bachelors (Elementary Education) and Masters (Educational Administration and Leadership) degrees from St Cloud State University. After receiving my Bachelor’s degree I moved to Northern Minnesota to begin my teaching career. 

As an educator my passion has always been about empowering tomorrow’s leaders through high standards, strategic instruction, and intentional relationships. I have been actively involved in providing best practice programming in both traditional and alternative settings for over 20 years. First as a teacher-leader and most recently as a Principal. In 2019 I lost my father unexpectedly at the same time of becoming an official “empty nester”. I decided to take time off to focus on helping my mom settle into her next phase while reflecting on what I wanted my next chapter to be. 

What attracted you to moving to Cook County? 

Last spring I was excited to see the posting for Director of Great Expectations because of its positive reputation in the Alternative Education community and, of course, the opportunity to live and work in Cook County is a nature lover’s dream come true. I am thrilled to have been chosen to be part of the Great Expectations team! 

You are coming in at a tough time when COVID case numbers have just exceeded 200 positive cases here in Cook County. What advice do you have to ease the minds of worried students and parents? 

We are ALL in this TOGETHER. Great Expectations School is committed to providing safe in-person learning. Our staff developed guidelines with consultation and guidance from Cook County Public Health, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education, and the Centers of Disease Control based on the information available through August 31, 2021. These guidelines will be updated as guidance changes. 

How are employment positions looking at your school this year? Do you have some left to be filled? Any new staff members on your team this year? 

Our mid level team has two new members: Terri Poe, who is teaching Science, and Jonathon Hedstrom is teaching math to our Otters Class (grades 7 and 8). Emma Adams has joined GES in a dual role of Environmental Educator and paraprofessional. Somi Seyoung Park has also joined us in the role of paraprofessional. Currently we still have openings for 2 Special Education and 1 General Education paraprofessionals. We are also seeking an additional Special Education Teacher. 

What are your long-range goals now that you are the Administrator at GES? 

Our school is starting its 19th year this year. Our programming has matured, we are developing a mid-level program, and there is a building expansion in the near future. With all of those changes on the horizon, I think it is important to keep an eye on our foundational values of “growing hearts and minds” as we move onto our next stage of development. 

What is the best part of coming into GES each day? 

Great Expectations truly is a community built to serve children. I feel so fortunate to be part of a team that lives its values in everything we do. 

What do you do in your spare time to relax? 

I am a nature lover at heart. Hiking is my favorite activity followed by water and snowsports.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with Boreal viewers!

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