New principal at home at Hampshire High
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com August 23, 2013 5:46PM
Brett Bending, the new principal of Hampshire High School, poses with the school's Whip-Pur mural on the first day of classes Aug. 14. | Emily McFarlan Miller~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 27, 2013 6:05AM
HAMPSHIRE — On the first day of class last week at Hampshire High School, Brett Bending jingled a large set of keys in his hand as he made his way through the hallways. He wasn’t entirely sure what each of them opened, he admitted.
He popped his head into classrooms, repeating teachers’ names aloud as he walked by, still memorizing them. He had been offering to help freshmen find their classrooms all morning, too — as much for himself as for them, he said.
The bell rang, the hallways filled with students, and he laughed as he overheard snippets of conversation and realized he’d been found out: “That’s the new principal.”
Bending is one of four new principals this school year in Community Unit School District 300. He replaces Chuck Bumbales, who returned to his former position as assistant superintendent of operations at Superintendent Michael Bregy’s request.
The new principal comes to the tight-knit high school — the district’s smallest, at 1,288 students — from Round Lake High School, where he had been assistant principal of curriculum, instruction and assessment since 2006, according to District 300.
“I’m just so excited to be here. I’ve been walking around with a smile on my face all day,” he said.
Previously, the Lake County native was an English teacher at Lake Havasu High School in Lake Havasu, Ariz., and at his alma mater, Grant Community High School in Fox Lake. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Aurora University and his doctorate from National Louis University.
It had been a tough summer, moving from Lake County to Algonquin over the summer with his wife and two school-age children, Bending said.
Day One ‘like home’
But, he said, “When I walked in the door on Day One, it felt like home here.”
Even during his first 15-minute screening interview for the principalship, he said, “I could tell you there was something different about District 300. There’s a very positive attitude.”
Most important to Bending, in the weeks before school started, was getting to know the staff at Hampshire High, he said. There are about a dozen new staff members at the school, mostly because of growth, he said.
“It’s good to know the past and know the history, especially when we have so many new faces,” he said.
And then, he said, “The Whip-Pur culture is definitely embedded in the Hampshire community.”
Now that the school year is off and running, the former football, basketball and baseball coach especially is looking forward to cheering on the Whip-Purs at games, he said.
He’s excited to join the school’s “rich tradition of athletic success” and its “excellence in arts,” things he said he definitely wants to build on and expand. He’s also excited about the work that’s been done to meet students’ social and emotional needs through its PBIS (Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports) program.
Also, Bending said, “With growth comes challenges, as well. We are still seeing academic growth. We want to continue that focus because that’s the most important thing.”
Hampshire High had 73 new students on the first day of school, he said. Of those, 22 had transferred in just the week before class started.
Other new principals
Perry Elementary School in Carpentersville also got a new principal this school year: Kristin Sainsbury, who has deep roots in District 300.
Sainsbury both completed her education and started her career in the Carpentersville-area district. She has worked at Lakewood School in Carpentersville since 2004; first as a fifth-grade teacher, then as a certified adviser, it said. In 2009, she became assistant principal.
She replaces Leo Ortiz-Sanchez. Ortiz-Sanchez was principal just one year before the district said he decided to return to teaching.
Other new principals include Jack Melfi at Meadowdale Elementary School and Asia Gurney at Lakewood School, both in Carpentersville.