Lynn Owens will never give up her former roles as social worker and director of special education when she begins her new job as assistant superintendent of learning and programs at Golf School District 67 in Morton Grove.
“I love working with families and students in any capacity,” said Coleman, who takes office July 1. “My favorite days have been working in the classrooms and helping with behavioral needs. I may have a better connection than anyone else. I love being the ‘secret’ reader, the surprise guest reader (in a specialized class).
“I was barely at my desk. I was active and engaged (in class).
Coleman’s job isn’t an entirely new position in a district that’s grappling with steadily increasing enrollment amid space limitations and dealing with the long-term aftermath of COVID-19. The district has two schools, Hynes Elementary and Golf Middle School.
A former colleague of Superintendent Dr. Susan Coleman at School District 95 of the Lake Zurich Community Unit, Coleman will have increased responsibilities over more programs than the original position of Director of Special Education for District 67.
“The director position didn’t encompass all the needs, the holes that we had to fill with someone with knowledge and expertise,” Coleman said. “We needed to expand that role into student services, STEM, curriculum development, English services.
“We are enhancing the intervention, which is additional support specifically designed for a child who is late or at risk. Look at our global approach to the child. If we see a student falling behind in growth, let’s intervene. Lynn is also an early childhood (programming) expert. »
Owens will help oversee a myriad of programs at Hynes Elementary School, which serves kindergarten through fifth grade, and Golf Middle School, which serves students in grades six through eight.
If Coleman wanted a right-hand man in his administration with a background in social work, then Owens, a Decatur native, has a multi-generational background in the profession.
“Throughout my life I’ve had a connection with special education,” Owens said. “My grandmother was an old school social worker. I watched her do her job. My whole family had a passion for giving. My parents were foster parents. It was rooted in us where you can help your community.
Owens earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in microbiology from Western Illinois University at Macomb.
“When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I started working at a social service agency,” Owens said. “I was caring for mothers and babies (and) foster children. Many children had cognitive and physical disabilities. Part of my job as a social worker was to go to court and get to know the whole child. »
Owens received a master’s degree in social work from Aurora University and in education from Loyola University. Prior to Lake Zurich, she worked at schools in Schaumburg and Glenview, as well as the sprawling Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.
Although working with Coleman at Lake Zurich was crucial to his hiring at District 67, Owens will evolve into a new relationship with his boss.
“We will get to know each other in a new capacity,” she said. “It will be a growth in learning. I am a lifelong learner.
One of the most immediate tasks for Coleman and Owens at the top of the administrative chain will be to mitigate the disruption to classroom instruction and the emotional effects of COVID-19.
“We will see the effects of this pandemic for a long time,” Coleman said. “The smallest kids missed kindergarten or first grade.”
“That’s where my background in social work helps me,” Owens said. “Right now it’s affecting us a lot, but will become shorter over time. But good has come out of the pandemic. Families have learned about life from teachers. And teachers have learned about families.
Enrollment in District 67 has steadily increased as families have purchased homes in the district. This made social distancing a challenge as classroom learning resumed amid the pandemic.
But Owens isn’t fazed by more students in the same space.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always had space constraints,” she said. “As an administrator, you learn to work with what you have and grow it, make the most of it. I tell people, I work in any space.
“It’s not about physical space, it’s about expanding your mind with the students.”