New Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School Principal Nicole Leggett hopes her enthusiasm for learning rubs off on staff and students. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Ever since she was a little girl, Nicole Leggett wanted to be a teacher.
Her parents recall her “teaching” the family dog when she was 2 years old.
Thirty years later, Leggett is in charge of about 1,000 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School. She started her new job as principal on July 1 and recently reported that things were going well.
Before her arrival, she was an assistant principal the past four years at Prairie Junior High School in Alsip. She has spent 10 years in education, teaching the first six of those.
“They provided me with a rich variety of experiences there. I was able to work with teachers, do some interviewing,” she said.
“I’m excited to be here. We’ve had a great start,” she said. “Our staff is amazing, our students have been delightful from the second they walked in. The community has been so nice. A number of parents have stopped by to introduce themselves.”
She enjoyed the family atmosphere at Prairie Junior High and said she “felt it the first time when I walked into OLHMS.”
She wants the teachers to help students think school is “a home away from home.”
“We have a family here. We may not always agree with each other, but we love each other and we look out for each other,” she said.
Much like a football coach new to a team, Leggett has ideas for her new team, the staff at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School.
“I don’t want to say ‘new ideas’ as opposed to building on a great foundation. What I bring to the table is a natural enthusiasm for teaching,” she said. “Through that and the passion I have for my job makes the children want to work harder, makes the staff know they are supported and are more willing to try new things.”
A graduate of Stagg High School in Palos Hills, she graduated from Loyola University and did her graduate work at Concordia.
The idea of teaching middle school students, some with raging hormones, has caused some people she’s told of her job to wrinkle their nose at the notion. Not Leggett.
“I love them. I wouldn’t picture myself anywhere else. You get the best of both worlds. They’re still young enough to be kids, but they’re also at the peak of their pre-adolescence where they’re trying to exercise their autonomy. They want a little bit more freedom,” said Leggett, who has a 6-year-old daughter.