At Jefferson Elementary School, new principal Christina Podraza turns the dreaded phone call home into an opportunity for connection.
Roosevelt alumna Christina Podraza (EdD ’14) was appointed principal of Jefferson Elementary on July 1. Since then she has prioritized building relationships in the Tigers community. Each week Podraza asks teachers to nominate students for a positive phone call home, celebrating in-class contributions like helping others or making sure everyone feels included.
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to be the principal of Jefferson Elementary School,” said Podraza. “I look forward to getting to know the entire community of educators, students and families and learning from them as well. As a leader, I hope to build upon the many successes and traditions of the school as well as create new ones together.”
Podraza earned her doctorate in educational leadership and organizational change from Roosevelt while working as a learning support coach. Her dissertation research explored what motivates children to learn and how it differs for each student. As an administrator in Elmhurst School District 205, Podraza remains passionate about exploring new ways to make an impact on student learning. She served as assistant principal and interim principal before embarking on her new role at Jefferson Elementary School.
"Dr. Podraza has done a terrific job in her role as interim principal at Emerson and the past two years as the assistant at Hawthorne and Lincoln,” said Elmhurst superintendent David Moyer. “She has built excellent relationships with teachers, is student-centered, has a deep knowledge of instruction, and was instrumental in helping the District implement standards-based reporting.”
To get children excited about reading, Jefferson Elementary recently hosted an Arctic Adventure–themed book fair. School staff decorated the gym with stuffed penguins, paper ice floes and stacks of books. Podraza read to students in costume as Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, with a crown of braids and a blue dress.
On Instagram, one mother described how much her son was looking forward to the book fair. The student said, “I love my principal. She just makes me smile!”