Administrative Staff Spotlight: Amanda Hughes

Administrative Staff Spotlight: Amanda Hughes

Kelly Wang, Features Editor

The new school year in 2020 has brought new faces over Zoom panels, and these changes have extended beyond the student body and the teaching staff. In fact, 2020 has introduced new personnel to the administrative staff at Fremd high school as well. Amanda Hughes joins the Fremd administration, bringing change as one of Fremd’s new assistant principals.

Having grown up in Brookfield, Wisconsin, Hughes attended a high school she described as reminding her “a lot of what Fremd feels like.” She studied to become a high school English teacher at Augustana College and taught in Iowa then in Illinois. Hughes then decided to get a degree at Northern Illinois University for school counseling and worked at a high school in Iowa City after moving there. Returning to her home state, Hughes received her degree in Educational Administration and was a middle school principal before coming to the Chicago suburbs and joining the Fremd administrative team.

While in school, did you know you wanted to enter the field of education?

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher of some kind. Even when I was in high school, I think I was interested in learning what it would be like to be an administrator too. I just wanted to see all the different ways people could be involved in schools. There was never really a question that I would be involved with school somehow with my jobs.

Do you have a favorite book you taught as an English teacher?

I liked teaching anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne mostly because it was a challenge for some of the students I worked with to unpack the way that he wrote. If I could kind of help them get past the rhetoric, then we could get into all the levels of allegory and symbolism he had. It really was chock-full of literary elements and I really enjoyed teaching a lot of [Hawthorne’s work] because it was ripe with those examples. 

How would you describe your transitions from English teacher to school counselor to assistant principal?

When I was starting out, I loved finding ways to draw connections to the books with students. In that process, I started to see that there were personal reasons why they would connect to books and I wanted to know them more individually as a person. This lent itself to being a school counselor trying to understand students’ backgrounds. As a counselor I started to notice that schools would do things the way they’ve always done it, so I was thinking, “How could I help to identify those spots, and get people talking and coming up with new ideas?” That lent itself to studying what school leadership would be. It was neat to find out the impact of each different role, and for me, I think it really matched where my passions were as I went through that journey at the time of life.

Have you enjoyed being socially distanced? 

I really enjoy being around people and being social, but there are also sometimes when I like to have a little more of a personal bubble space where it’s not too intense. But I will say, I’m feeling like this is getting harder and harder to be isolated so much. And in our homes, too, personally, in terms of seeing family or friends, I’m looking forward to when we don’t have to think of the extra steps of now, with “How are we going to set everybody up? What if somebody doesn’t have a mask?”, et cetera. 

Could you describe some tasks you carry out as assistant principal?

I usually work with our other assistant principals, Mr. Mehreioskouei and Mrs. Serafini, and our dean, Mr. Newmark. we’re trying to figure out how to make sure everyone’s connected – we’ve tried to get people hotspots if needed, we’ve tried to help with internet problems. We think through how we think proactively for when we have a lot of people coming to the building, how we make it super smooth and not very stressful when students get here, among other things. We think through a lot of those processes and systems to make sure students don’t need to focus on that stuff – just focus on learning, and being with teachers and friends.

Are there any improvements you think our administration can continue to make?

If you’re in school, you’re kind of a captive audience so we can bombard you with all sorts of communications via announcements on the loudspeaker or we can say, “At this point in time, everyone’s got to do this one thing” if there’s a survey or something. So now we’ve been thinking of a lot of ways to communicate effectively and in enough ways and clearly enough & with enough variety so everyone gets what they need. We need to make all of our communication really accessible because we don’t have [students] in our four walls to make sure it’s seen in that moment.

What about the Fremd community do you appreciate the most so far?

The first thing that comes to my mind is intense creativity and great ideas. One thing I’m really impressed by is all of the different ways that teachers are being creative to come up with ways to engage students using technology or ways to reach out. That makes me excited because if I can see that so much is happening remotely, I know 1000% that it’s gonna be incredible when we’re all back.

Is there anything you’d encourage Fremd students to keep in mind as we go forward?

Number one – keep being flexible and know that the staff is working very hard so that we can respond to all the different things that change. We get new information about what to do just about everyday, so sometimes things that we might share end up changing because of new information. We’re not trying to hide things or make it confusing, but as we work through these details, we’re trying to be responsive and be responsible for everyone’s safety. Another thing is at the same time, advocate for yourself. If there’s something you’re concerned or worried about, let us know. Reach out, get the help that you need, find the answer, or if something’s not working right, or if you’re concerned about something, just continually let us know so we can try to make it better with whatever parameters we’re given at the time. We’ll do our very best.