In addition to accepting the two police officers to serve as School Resource Officers, the intergovernmental agreement signed by both City of Evanston and Evanston Township High School officials last week provides that ETHS will continue to employ a “post-secondary career counselor to work on training and outreach to ETHS students.”

This provision has been a part of the agreements between the City/Police Department and the high school for several years. At District 202 School Board’s April 8 meeting, Board member Gretchen Livingston said it is important to distinguish between this ongoing position and a new one created by Mayor Stephen Hagerty.

Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said earlier forms of the agreement called for a “community liaison” or “job coach. … And that did OK, but we found that wasn’t where the work and emphasis would be done.”

Dr. Witherspoon said Michelle Vasquez, the post-secondary counselor, “has just done an amazing job. We always had a college and career center but there was a huge college emphasis. Michelle has put together partnerships with employers, career counseling, career planning, reached out to students with an IEP, helping them do resume and interview preparation for those who want to go directly into work, into careers – to launch in to those first entry level job.”

Dr. Witherspoon noted the school’s new emphasis on showing student opportunities for jobs after high school that do not involve college and, “So, when it came time to renew this agreement it was pretty clear that we wanted to stick with that aspect of the agreement for ETHS but we felt have a much more effective tool.”

Dr. Witherspoon also noted that Mayor Hagerty had allocated $100,000 of the $1 million Good Neighbor Fund donated to the City by Northwestern to hire a second counselor for two years. Funding for the job would be handled by the Youth Job Center, who would also hire the counselor, “so we can at least get a two-year project started.”

This counselor will work with Neil Gambow, chair of the Mayor’s Business Advisory Council, so there will be direct access between ETHS students and potential local employers.

“We’re very excited about this, because this is actual job placement … Michelle will do a lot of plans and skill development and career exploration … and now we’re going to have this pool of employers and jobs and will be able to dovetail that with this onsite person who will literally be charged with connecting students to employers and jobs.”

He added the synergy with the City, Oakton Community College and the communitywide Cradle to Career effort, “we have something very, very special going on.”

At the Feb. 11 meeting, District 202 Board members approved an agreement with the City of Evanston describing the use, and limitations, of body-worn cameras on school property.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...