UPDATED: L-W East Music Department Head, Choral Director Resign

Citing personal reasons, music department chair Clifton Smith resigned Thursday, effective immediately, while choral director Alysia Lambert will be leaving Lincoln-Way East High School at the end of the year.

  • UPDATE (12:02 p.m. Tuesday, May 15): Bert Johnson, the music department chair, will be the new music department chair for Lincoln-Way East, said Lincoln-Way High School District 210 spokeswoman Stacy Holland. 

Two longtime members of the music department resigned recently. 

Clifton Smith, citing personal reasons, resigned as the chair of East's music department Thursday, May 10, effective immediately, said Stacy Holland, director of community relations for . Smith, who has headed the music department since 2003, did not attend East's May 10 concert, even though the band performed a piece he had written for his daughter.


Assistant band director Chris Mroczek is teaching Smith's classes, and the school is in the process of looking for a permant substitute for the rest of the school year, Holland said. Administrators at L-W East have started the process to find a new department chair, she added.

Also resigning from her post is choral director Alysia Lambert. She will be taking a position at another but will be finishing out the school year at East, Holland said. Applications are already being taken for the choral director position, and the school has heard from candidates from across the country, Holland added.


The departure of these two staff members has caused concern among some L-W East parents with children in the school's music programs. Parents plan to attend the May 24 meeting of the D210 board to make sure the board members are dedicated to "keeping the music department vibrant," said an East "music parent" who didn't wish to be named.


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Mad in LW May 15, 2012 at 01:13 PM
The destruction of the LW areas schools continues. This is just the start of the revolving door of teachers and administrators our kids have to look forward to in both elementary school and high school. Pretty soon our kids will be taught by teachers that are only a few years older than themselves with no experience at all. Hey, but they come cheap so everyone is happy. Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.
SM May 15, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I mostly agree with you here: there are certainly dangers in losing two experienced, long-time staff members, let alone in replacing them. However, I would like to point out that some very successful area music directors started at their schools only a year or two out of college. Tina Shoemaker, at LW North; Jessica Maffia at Mokena; Cary Ruklic at LW East and now LW West; Bridget Quealy who was the maternity leave substitute for Lambert for much of the current semester; etc. The "music parent" mentioned in the article seems to me to have the right idea: that is, to make it clear to those involved in the process that the new staff members will be expected to fill very big shoes and held to high standards, then support the staff who are hired and, more importantly, the students as they try to keep making progress in their programs and not be held back by these changes.
Rebecca Wharrie May 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Don't know what happened, but it's sad. Clifton Smith is such a talented man. I wish all those involved the best in their future endeavors.
Jack Connell May 25, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Perhaps it would have been better to report the resignation of the choral director in a different story rather than the story about the band director's resignation as including the choral director's resignation in the same story seems to the casual reader to impliy that her resignation somehow is involved with the band director's quitting. I suggest a retraction stating you inerrantly placed it in the news article thoughtlessly. If you talked to the choral parents or her former students they would tell you what blessing it was to have the choral director at LWE for the last ten years.
Joe Vince May 26, 2012 at 01:16 AM
@Jack Connell: I disagree. The story is as much about Lincoln-Way East's music department losing two longtime teachers as it is about the individual resignations. Their resignations came at relatively the same time and delivered a blow to the quality of the L-W East music program in the mind of many parents. Look at the comments here and on Frankfort Patch's Facebook page; parents praise both educators and express their concern about losing such talented teachers, including Smith. Remember: This story was published a week before the story about the Will County Sheriff's Office investigating Smith. The nature of his resignation was unusual at the time, but not uncommon. Officials usually resign this way—for personal matters, effectively immediately—when it comes to personal health issues or taking care of an ill family member. At the time this story was written, Smith's resignation didn't have the stigma of a police investigation hanging over it. Finally, I don't write anything on this site "thoughtlessly." We might not agree on the approaches of certain stories, but that doesn't mean I'm cavalier when it comes to what stories I publish and how they're presented. Joe Vince Local Editor, Frankfort


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