Tennison: ‘One piece’ of the puzzle


Roman Treuthart

New Principal Mr. Brian Tennison speaks to freshmen and juniors at the annual Rules Meeting Sept. 13.

By Alex Chanen, Features Editor and Business Manager

Mr. Tennison wants to shake your hand. Or at least high-five you. It is part of his goal as the new principal — to meet every student by the end of the year and shake his or her hand.

On August 18, Lane’s Local School Council (LSC) selected Mr. Brian Tennison to be the new principal of Lane. Tennison was a finalist along with Assistant Principal Ms. Thompson, and was one of the first principals hired from outside of Lane’s walls in recent history.

“It’s a big deal,” Tennison said, of becoming principal. “It’s something that I’ve wanted for a very long time.”

Tennison has over 20 years experience in education, which started with teaching. He began as a long-term substitute at a Naperville District High School, then moved over to Whitney Young. During his 18-year tenure at Whitney Young, Tennison taught World Studies, US History, AP European History, AP World History and East Asian Human Philosophy. He also served as the chair of the Social Science Department and the dean of students.

“Having been at Whitney Young, there has always been that kind of rivalry that had occurred with Lane,” Tennison said. “In all honesty, it is what inspired me to try to be better.” 

Tennison noted a lot of similarities between Lane and Whitney students.

“I’ve always found Lane students to be kind and generous,” he said. “It was the same thing that I loved about Whitney Young students.”

He left Whitney in 2012 to work as an assistant principal at Von Steuben, then as an Instructional Support Leader at CPS. He spent the next two years at Taft as an assistant principal.

Tennison’s inspiration to become a teacher came from his self described “love of learning and then seeing other people learn.” His choice to teach history came from his theatre background, since history is “full of stories.”

During the student and parent principal candidate forum Aug. 16 at Waters Elementary School, Tennison stressed his dedication to education.

“I don’t have a problem talking about what I’m immensely passionate about,” he said. “I’m immensely passionate about two things — teaching and learning.”

His passion for teaching is what pushed him into becoming an administrator.   “I wanted to be a teacher that had an impact in the administration,” he said.

Coming from outside of Lane’s walls has provided Tennison with skeptics about leading a school where he has never worked at before, but Tennison sees it as an opportunity.

“It was a chance to reboot and restart,” he said.

In his first few weeks at Lane, he is trying to make connections with the school and make his presence known. In addition to shaking hands, he’s trying to go to initial sporting events, to get out and meet the parents, and let the students know he is there.

“Showing up is more important than what sometimes we realize,” he said.

Being available to students, as well as faculty, is part of Tennison’s way to get to know the Lane community.

“I want to be able to be around,” he said. “I don’t want the very first time for you to ever see me is on the graduation stage.”

Tennison’s main advice to students while at Lane is to develop your passion and to try to foster it into something important. He recognizes the potential success of all of Lane’s students after they leave the halls.

“The students Lane has, they’re going to be shaping policy, they’re going to be impacting this community,” Tennison said. “But they’re also going to be impacting the community of our nation and I would argue probably of the world.”

In addition to the strength of the students, another aspect that drew Tennison to Lane is the community Lane has inside between the teachers, staff and students, as well as the community that surrounds it. One of the ways Tennison is trying to establish himself at Lane is by implementing a theme.

“Our theme this year is puzzle pieces, and the theme for me is how we fit together,” Tennison said. “I’m just one of the pieces.”