Principal Paul Belzer begins his day by waking up in the early hours of the morning. Currently, his house is being remodeled because the house was last remodeled in the 1990s and needed an update. The only appliances still “living” in his kitchen, as he phrased it, are the stove and coffee maker. In the morning, Belzer drinks his coffee in his Green Bay Packer mug while watching his dogs, Dori, a Spaniel mix, and Jessie, a labrador retriever, in the backyard to make sure that Dori does not jump the fence. Then, he lets the dogs into his bedroom during the day due to the ongoing construction. His wife, a 4th grade elementary school teacher in the Ravenswood district, must leave early and Belzer and his daughter, a junior at Aragon High School, make sure to lock the house before they leave. Belzer then drives his new blue Infiniti G35 coupe to school.
“I like to start my day, if I can, being at the front of the school or someplace because I really enjoy seeing the students and I like to be there when they are coming in,” Belzer said.
His mornings consist of meetings with teachers and other staff members, checking emails and returning phone calls. On October 15, Principal Belzer, Assistant Principal Arbizu, the wellness counselors, and head counselor, Mrs. Renzi met with the district office to review the multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to ensure that the student support program is aligned with the needs to the students. There are three different tiers in the system: tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3. Tier 1 includes support for all students such as office hours and provides students with help if needed. Tier 2 is for students who need more help in order to succeed such as guided studies, wellness counseling and 504 plans which ensures the academic success of students through accommodations. The highest tier, tier 3, provides students with an IEP, Individualized Education Plan, which is developed for students in need of special education.
“Students who are struggling are not necessarily all struggling with the same thing and there are a variety of different reasons. So, we are looking at how to support students both academically and socially,” Belzer said.
During lunch, Belzer helps supervise the students and either eats his lunch, cafeteria food, sandwiches, or leftovers, in his office or in the faculty lounge.
In order to facilitate interaction with the students, he has an open door policy in which students are able to talk with him in his office about any issues or problems. This policy also applies to staff members. Belzer wants to create a safe environment in which students and staff are able to express their concerns and thoughts.
“A big part of my job is to set policies, expectations, and directions which can feel very top-down, so I try to have an open door policy to allow me to engage with students and staff to discuss our goals and how they see their roles in the school,” Belzer said.
Additionally, he attends student athletic competitions and is very involved with school activities such as school dances and sports games.
“I like being engaged with students and teachers and helping facilitate their learning. I also like the fact that no two days are the same and that I am a part of something that is constantly growing and moving forward,” Belzer said.
Most of Belzer’s meetings are after school at around 3:30 pm. After, he often stays at school until 5:30 to 6 pm checking emails and connecting with teachers. Finally, when he arrives home, he walks his dogs, has dinner with his family, and either watches TV or reads his current book, The Scarlet Letter, which is also being read by his daughter at Aragon.