South welcomes new dean, basketball coach


Ella Underwood

South gives a warm welcome to Howard, who has an extensive background that is, “almost the ideal background for being a dean of students,” said Bill Bicker, assistant principal.

Ella Underwood, Editor in Chief

To be a dean of students, administration may look for someone with an unbreakable school spirit, strict disciplinary methods, and strong student connections. With the recent teacher shortage across the country, some schools are finding it difficult to hire someone who satisfies traits and even harder to find someone that exceeds the criteria. The summer search for the new dean ended with Jeffery Howard, who arrives with years of experience in social work, coaching, and education.
“When we were going through this process, I was looking for somebody that I thought could be not only a great basketball coach for us, but also someone who could be a mentor and role model,” said athletic director Chet Lines.
About thirty candidates were interviewed over the phone and eleven were brought in for an in-person interview. Out of the candidates, Howard was at the top of everyone’s list, according to Lines.
William Bicker, assistant principal of buildings and operations, believes Howard will add an “upbeat positive personality, a smiling face in the hallways also somebody who will take the dean’s job very seriously,” to Plainfield South’s staff.
Before arriving in Plainfield, Howard lived in Indiana and built his resume in social work and education.
“I applied and I honestly didn’t think I would hear back because I’m a guy from Indiana. They have guys right here in their own area that are qualified,” said Howard. Yet, he was called in and he knew it was a perfect fit.
Within Howard’s experience, he has worked well with students from all aspects of life.
“When I finished college my first job was working in a children’s home (foster care), then I worked my way up to teaching kids who were in trouble with the law and they went to school on grounds so that job combined both teaching and my background in counseling and I did that for 9 years,” said Howard.
His background in social work helped reduce the disciplinary actions for the troubled youth Howard mentored.
“When I worked at a youth care center, I wrote the fewest referrals of any teacher,” said Howard.
He takes pride in his ability to understand students well and keep their best interest at heart.
“I knew already that kids were going to come in and not have a great day or I wouldn’t really overreact if a kid had issues settling down,” said Howard.
Over the summer, Howard took his time to coach the varsity basketball team to prepare for the upcoming season.
“He has had open gyms with us, practices a lot all over the summer, talks with us on a personal level trying to get to know us, and that’s how he’s tried to build relationships with us and get closer,” said varsity basketball player Nolan Gerdich.
Plainfield South seems to be looking forward to a great year with Howard.
“I’m really happy he is with us. I think he is a tremendous asset to our staff,” said Bicker.