Placements Elm Street
educational & therapeutic consulting
A Split-Second Decision
FRAN SCHLENOFF’S COMPASSION PUSHES HER BEYOND THE CLASSROOM S ome of my favorite memories from my childhood are when I would join my dad in his classroom. While the math he was teaching never appealed to me, the connections he made with his students motivated me to pursue a career in education.
Initially, I considered teaching at an elementary level, but I ultimately landed in my first classroom as an eighth-grade social studies teacher. From there, I moved into varying grade levels — from fourth grade to college — before switching to a school counselor position. Yet, I still wasn’t building the relationships I knew students needed, so I pursued a doctoral degree in educational leadership. This allowed me to become the director of guidance at a school district, and, eventually, I moved into a principal position. Throughout my education career, the kids who stole my heart were the ones who were trying and struggling to find their way. I wanted to do so much for these families and kids, but, with a limited budget, dwindling resources, and untrained staff, it was nearly impossible. I was heartbroken to know we were failing these kids, so I made the difficult decision to retire and find an opportunity to help them elsewhere.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine kept pestering me about meeting with Lucy Pritzker because of our shared interests. So, I met with her, and it turns out, my friend was right. Near the end of our conversation, Lucy said to me, “I like your perspective and your background. Would you be interested in working with us?”
I will always love education and my family’s connection to it. (My son is
Without a second of hesitation, I said, “Oh, my God, I would love to.”
continuing our tradition and started his first teaching position this fall. Just like his mom, he’s teaching eighth-grade social studies!) But the drive to help every child find a classroom and learning style that fits their needs and meets them where they are will always be my passion. I want to find the program, school, or organization that helps families become whole again, and every day at Elm Street Placements, I get to do just that.
My husband teased me about how fast I made this decision. I take an agonizing amount of time to make decisions, but I knew this is what I was meant to do. This time, I was right. For the past year, I have spent my time traveling across the country, meeting with unbelievable people who care deeply for their students and connecting children and families to programs that will help children find their full potential.
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