Dean Canchola accepts new position at GBS after long career in Evanston

Mack Jones, Staff Writer

Aracely Canchola, the Dean of Students at ETHS for the class of ‘23, was named the new Assistant Principal for Student Services at Glenbrook South High School (GBS) during a District 225 board meeting on April 10. She will start in the new role on July 3, after more than 16 years at ETHS.

Canchola began her time at ETHS in 2006, through a one-year internship. She started as a social worker, a job she had wanted since her sophomore year as a student at ETHS. After a successful first year, she was hired full-time to begin the ‘07 school year.

“I was definitely given a lot of little leadership opportunities during my tenure as the school social worker, and then a lead social worker,” said Canchola. “I was very lucky that I was given the opportunity to join committees. And then, after 10 years of being a social worker, there was an opportunity to become department chair.”

After the position opened up, Superintendent Marcus Campbell asked Canchola about building more restorative practices in the dean’s office. She accepted the offer and began implementing new ideas for the role of dean.

“Some challenges have been changing or convincing others that we are not just here as disciplinarians. I believe I’m more of a teacher and a coach for young people so that they can make positive choices in their lives,” Canchola said.

Her work at ETHS caught the eye of the administration at GBS only a few years after starting as a dean. Still, when the position opened up last year, she hesitated to apply. Students in the ‘23 class were still only juniors, and Canchola felt that leaving them partway through their time at ETHS would do them a disservice.

“But now, the seniors are leaving,” she said. “I interviewed the week of our spring break, and [GBS] offered me a position. It wasn’t a position I could turn down. I’ve been here 16 years, so I’m very comfortable here, but I wanted to take the opportunity to also challenge myself.”

Canchola hopes to implement the same restorative practices she currently uses in her new job at GBS. Some applications include building relationships between teachers and students, having restorative conversations instead of detentions and fostering honest dialogues when conflict arises between students. Those practices can make a big difference in the lives of her students.

“I was going through some of my files,” said Canchola. “And I have what I call the ‘feel-good’ folder, where you can look at all the beautiful messages people have sent. I was just cleaning files out, and I have letters from students over the years. In 2010, a student wrote me a letter her senior year, a three-page letter. Those are the memories where I feel like I made a difference. Sometimes, the job is hard, and you think you don’t make a difference. And [then] that one student tells you, ‘Yes, you made a difference in my life.’ That’s worth it.”