It has been a long while since the Forest Park Review interviewed a superintendent — permanent, acting or interim — of the Proviso Township High Schools.

Last week, though, our Amaris Rodriguez talked with Bessie Karvelas, the acting superintendent of District 209, following the welcome departure of James Henderson. The conversation was thoughtful, candid and smart.

Here’s the money quote:

“My goal is to put the pieces back together again. The district needs to heal; a lot of departments have been fractured. I want to help heal and build and start a new beginning,” said Karvelas.

Pitch perfect. 

A simple but direct acknowledgment that the chaos management approach that Henderson brought to the district during his three-year tenure resulted in, well, chaos. It was divisive and it was a perpetual distraction from a singular focus on students, their learning, and their growth as young people.

After enduring a brutal strike which reflected a fully adversarial relationship with the teaching staff, it is refreshing to hear Karvelas say, “I want teachers to know we are a family — we are a team.”

Now families and teams can have hard discussions and actual disagreements. There remain issues that are going to need resolutions and hard decisions. But restoring a level of trust is the essential first step. And Karvelas is teeing that up.

School starts on Sept. 5. Both Karvelas and Amanda Grant, president of the school board, have rightly emphasized that opening the doors of the three schools, with the buses running properly, with students having class schedules in hand and an ID badge in place, will go a long ways toward reassuring students and their families, teachers and staff, that there is competent and caring leadership back in place in D209.

Let the healing begin.

Sprucing up Madison

A bit shocking to be reminded that it has been 24 years since Madison Street got the full streetscaping treatment — new lighting, new curb bump-outs, new signage. It was a dramatic upgrade for what had become a very tired main corridor.

Since then, as our Igor Studenkov reports this week, there have been some modest fixes plus a full repaving of the street in 2016.

Now the village council has OK’d a somewhat more ambitious upgrade that will begin this fall. Street poles painted, damaged benches, bike racks and garbage cans replaced. There will be some sidewalk repair and attention paid to the trees along the street.

And it will end with a new, very long-contemplated, welcome sign on the Chipotle corner at Harlem and Madison. 

This is a good investment in Forest Park’s main street. Kudos to the village for making it happen.