A year of firsts

By Deananne Surratt

I recently had the pleasure of meeting and talking with a man beloved to this community. It didn’t take me long to understand why. Tim Chipman, the principal of South Jacksonville Elementary School, in my opinion, lived up to his reputation. What a genuinely nice guy!

For Mr. Chipman, this is a year of firsts. This is his first time to work in an elementary school. His experience in a grade school went back to when he personally attended grade school. When drawing from his memories, he added that handwriting was his favorite subject. Chipman described himself as blessed and grateful for the opportunity he’s been given, adding that he is excited to work with the younger children, because he considers elementary school as the very foundation of education.

The opportunity to be a school principal, is also a first for him. He has spent the past six years at Jacksonville High School, four of those as assistant principal; being named Illinois Assistant Principal of the Year in 2017. Though he loved that position, he is looking forward to what he can bring to South Jacksonville Elementary and the opportunity to work with such gifted educators. He praise for the way everyone came together and made the new building ready for the first day of school. They didn’t begin moving in or setting up classrooms until Thursday, August 5, 2018, which left only four days until they greeted children into the newly renovated building. Along with the amazing team of educators and staff, Chipman gave high praise to Chief Tim Mann and the South Jacksonville Police Department for their daily support and for being such a positive influence on the children.

Chipman believes a positive school experience involves the 3 C’s in Education: first C is Climate – the feel of the building. If the climate of the building is good, it brings a positive experience. The second C is Community – Having a sense of belonging and fitting in. When you have the first two in place you bring in the third C, which is Content – Quality Education. If you have good Content without a positive atmosphere in the building or sense of belonging, it will fall short of a full education experience.

Beth Jones, retired teacher and first grade helper, shared with me that she walked out into the hallway recently to see Chipman kneeling down, to put himself at the same level as the children, giving them hugs and high fives. She said, “he creates such a positive tone in the building!” Very similar sentiments were echoed by both Les Allen, school custodian and Rachel Jones, school secretary.

They both have worked under numerous principals over the years and are enjoying the smooth, positive transition. We wish Chipman all the best in his first year as Principal of South Jacksonville Elementary School!

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