Mike Lubelfeld's Blog


Tag: Equity (page 1 of 3)

Holiday Greetings – Multi-Lingual Video – Supt Message

“When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek, American Poet

December 2023

Dear North Shore School District 112 Parents/Guardians and members of the Community, 

Happy Holidays! As the calendar year ends and we prepare for a well-deserved winter break starting after school on Thursday, I’m sharing a note of gratitude, information, and a fun video animation. To create the festive and inclusive video, Enrique Castro, our coordinator for ESL and Bilingual Programs, recorded “happy holiday” greetings from our students representing each of the 30 home languages spoken by our families. Thank you to our families, students, Mr. Castro, and the EL teacher team!

As you may already know, in District 112, we take great pride in supporting diverse cultures, languages, and backgrounds. 



As we take time to reflect on our time in District 112, we are proud to acknowledge that we have accomplished a great deal this year.  We are optimistic that our future is going to be bright and exciting. The important work we do puts our children on the path to success. Some highlights of our successful work include the following:

  • Historic construction projects continue with support from the community
    • Completion of Phase 1 of the Long-Range Plan (Edgewood opened April 2023)
    • Indian Trail and Ravinia School Construction is underway and ongoing
  • Sixth-year of staff, student, and family culture/engagement data collection & growth
    • Even with some “survey fatigue,” we are getting great feedback on what we are doing well and what we need to work on – thank you!
      • Top rated item from the Family Survey, “Teachers treat me with respect” 4.64 out of 5.00
      • Top rated item from the Student Survey, “I have friends at school who care about me” 4.45 out of 5.00
  • Improvements in PK-8 Learning
    • Last year’s state assessments showed our students were in the 81st and 90th percentiles in English and math, respectively, compared to all students in IL
  • Increased mental health interventions
    • Wellness webinars with the Cook Center for Human Connection

We look forward to a fantastic year in 2024! 

With regards,


Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Part 1 of 4 – Forty Years Since “A Nation at Risk” – Education Reflections

There is no comfort in the growth zone – but there is no growth in the comfort zone – this was a quote shared with us at the start of the National Superintendent Roundtable national convening in the summer 2023 conference in Los Angeles, California.

Nearly 40 of us convened to remember the education “reform” document and call to action called A Nation at Risk, and to contemplate the 40 years since – where we have been, where we are, and most important, where we are going!

With powerful presentations (some excerpted and summarized here in the blog and in subsequent posts) and with a visit to the President Ronald Reagan national presidential library & museum in Simi Valley (shared via images in the blog), the convening was awesome! Great dialogue, great, courageous conversations and questions and recollections, civil discourse with folks who have differing political views, and a whole lot more took place in our compact, concise, and short but powerful conference.

Often, people ask me, “What do I do as a superintendent” Part of the purpose of this blog is for me to illustrate just that. What “do” I do? 🙂 – A LOT … The role is diverse and rewarding, the opportunities to develop leaders are the most powerful and impacting legacy, and the power and honor to share and extend HOPE is a true gift.

In this blog post, I reflect on, share, and describe superintendent professional development. Leadership convening at a high level. History, politics, government, sociology, education, journalism, and more are covered in this experience and blog post.

40 years ago, A Nation at Risk was presented to the nation. It was a flawed report (as I will share), but it did raise PK-12 education to the forefront as a presidential issue – which can be a good thing. It started a four-decade pathway towards educational “reforms” and an obsession with standardized testing that we still grapple with today.

So …. What do I do?

I learn I gather with national and global experts, I engage in dialogue to make my thoughts known and clearer, and when challenged with new ideas, I may change my

I am facilitating a discussion with one of our presenters

mind! I am a leader and a learner, and a lead learner. My attendance at and participation in professional development is part of what I do as a superintendent of schools. Each day I aim to be better, do better, and lead better for the thousands of students and staff, and community members I have the honor of serving.

40 Years Since a Nation at Risk … What have we learned … I will be sharing thoughts from the many pages of notes I took during our amazing and challenging presentations as well as during our incredible visit and guided tour at the President Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. As a former social studies and US

Me at the podium! The backdrop is the inauguration – pretty cool!!

History teacher, this was AMAZING. A whole bunch of peak moments were had during this short but powerful trip across the country!

The National Superintendent Roundtable (NSR) is a membership association of superintendents from around the USA. Currently, there are about 91 members nationwide. In partnership with its sister organization, the Schlecty Center, there are about 180 superintendents in total between the two organizations. Both are mission-driven to support leadership and growth.  We are all in favor of and stand by “Strong families, strong communities, with strong schools” as a mantra or “calling card.” We’re here to honor the 40th anniversary of A Nation at Risk and truly digest and dissect – what we have learned and where we are going.

James Jim Harvey – incredible speaker, scholar, writer, one of the authors of A Nation at Risk & Founder of the National Superintendent Roundtable

Our keynote presenter, Jim Harvey, founder of the NSR and one of the writers of A Nation at Risk was outstanding!! Jim reminded us all that public education is one of the major foundations of the United States society. Supporting American ideals and progress is our mission. Jim also reminded us of President Reagan’s inaugural address in 1980, where he stated that essentially, “…government is the problem.”. President Reagan ran on a platform that included eliminating the US Department of Education. His first Secretary was Terrell, Ted, and Bell.

Subsequent blog posts will detail more of the content and “What do we do now?”.

Reflections from Bottle School Trip – Guatemala 2023 July

Bottle School Project with Hug it Forward

Reflections from  Tecpan, Guatemala

July 2023
Wrapping up an incredibly meaningful experience with my son in Guatemala! We finished tying up the 10,000 bottles filled with inorganic trash in the three classrooms we helped complete in the elementary (K-6) school in Zaculeu, Tecpan, Guatemala! The 400 students in grades K-6 now have three more elementary classrooms for education. One day we or someone will build a middle school, grades 7-9, so that these kids can continue their education. Currently, about 15-20 students are able to continue to middle school from the community.
Think about that for a minute or two……. Trips like this, service like this, and experiences like this help to illustrate how education, economics, politics, geo-global politics, etc., all intersect to create or stifle opportunity. Trips like this give me context, perspective, hope, and love.
Thanks to Hug it Forward and Serve the World Today, my son and I got to join some amazing people from across the United States and from France and Guatemala to make change in our world – to do good with other good people – to build a school alongside people in a community who seek partnership, support partnership and work alongside in partnership! The bottle school project confronts many challenges, including trash/environment, community development/involvement, investment in often forgotten people, education – space, opportunity, function & hope, economic development, and migration policies (and more).

From the Hug it Forward Website

From their materials:
“Hug it Forward works to support and empower communities in Guatemala to build Bottle Schools: schools built using plastic soda bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. Entire communities come together to make the dream of educational opportunity a reality by upcycling “waste” to build their own bottle school.
  • This school infrastructure project will be accomplished thanks to funds provided by Hug it Forward’s donors and with the collaboration of community members. The municipality and the PTA (parent-teacher organization in the community) work jointly with students’ families in order to provide all the manual labor required for the construction, as well as a three-classroom bottle school requires over 10,000 bottles—children in the community are responsible for collecting the majority of these and stuffing them with trash to make “eco-bricks.” This gives them pride and a true sense of ownership in the school.
  • The school is built in Zaculeu, located in the municipality of Tecpan, Guatemala, Chimaltenango. Zaculeu means “White Land.” People in Zaculeu grow their own corn, beans, coffee, and a lot of different kinds of vegetables and fruits, especially snow peas, corn, and beans. This project of which we are a part, will benefit 386+ students, 13 teaching staff members, and 600 families in the area.
  • The members of the community are indigenous Mayan people who speak Kaqchikel.
  • The signs are in their mother tongue, Spanish and English.
We built walls out of bottles in three classrooms. We expanded the educational footprint in the community and we supported ecological awareness and recycling on a grand scale. We played with the children, we spoke with the community elders, we visited homes of the members of the community.

Before bottle walls are constructed

A bottle wall before it’s covered with plaster and used as insulation – construction in process

We immersed ourselves in Mayan culture, Guatemalan culture, we learned Guatemalan and Mayan history and politics and immigration perspectives first hand.

Park of the Cross, beautiful view of Agua Volcano (dormant)

We learned, we served, we experienced, we helped, we hugged, and we leave better people than when we arrived as we have new friends, new world views, and we now have a community with greater educational opportunities.
As I have stated, words and even pictures alone cannot fully illustrate the power and intensity of this trip and its set of experiences. I encourage you to consider attending a Hug it Forward service trip. Thanks for reading, as always, I welcome comments!
It is an honor to try to make the world a better place through service, family, spirit, and hands on learning. We leave Guatemala mentally, spiritually, emotional fulfilled. We brought good, we received good, and our little efforts will lead to generational change.
As we come home, we aim to extend the learning, feelings, doings, beings illustrated herein and live as best we can sharing good wherever we can.
As I prepare for another school year, I am recharged, refreshed, revised, and wholly energized to support and facilitate change. I am committed to supporting administrators so that they may create optimal conditions for teachers and staff, so that they may create the environment for “each child every day” where all means all and where, in North Shore School District 112, #112Leads, we inspire, engage and empower every day!

Audio Excerpts of National Presentation – Supt and Principals – Impact on learning in #112Leads

In this episode, learn how an initiative and partnership called DMBreakthrough Teams implemented last year at the District 112 Dual Language elementary schools positively impacted student growth & achievement!

Over spring break, I went to New York with Oak Terrace Principal Lilli Melamed and Wayne Thomas Associate Principal Colleen Goodrich. In addition to learning at the conference, we were invited to present the results from an initiative implemented last year at both dual language schools, DMGroup Breakthrough Teams.

Having the opportunity to share, and specifically, hearing from Lilli and Colleen about the impact of last year’s DMBreakthrough teams 10-week program on multi-lingual learners in grades K-5 at their respective schools is incredible and made me very proud of our work, our students, and the District. Our session was titled “Learn how North Shore School District 112 (IL) supported their multilingual learners and achieved a higher percentage of students meeting their MAP growth goals after the Breakthrough Results experience.”

Our work with DMGroup to implement their Breakthrough Teams programs at our Dual Language schools last year was driven by that commitment to continuous improvement in learning. We are committed to creating conditions for equitable access to educational opportunities for each child every day. We are committed to creating conditions for teacher support and excellence every day. We are on a journey and proud to be focused on results.

En este episodio, aprenda cómo una iniciativa y asociación llamada DMBreakthrough Teams implementada el año pasado en las escuelas primarias de lenguaje dual del Distrito 112 impactó positivamente el crecimiento y el rendimiento de los estudiantes.

Durante las vacaciones de primavera, fui a Nueva York con la directora de Oak Terrace, Lilli Melamed, y la directora asociada de Wayne Thomas, Colleen Goodrich. Además de aprender en la conferencia, fuimos invitados a presentar los resultados de una iniciativa implementada el año pasado en ambas escuelas bilingües, DMGroup Breakthrough Teams.

Tener la oportunidad de compartir, y específicamente, escuchar a Lilli y Colleen sobre el impacto del programa de 10 semanas de los equipos DMBreakthrough del año pasado en estudiantes multilingües en los grados K-5 en sus respectivas escuelas es increíble y me hizo sentir muy orgulloso de nuestro trabajo, nuestros estudiantes y el Distrito. Nuestra sesión se tituló “Aprenda cómo el Distrito Escolar 112 (IL) de North Shore apoyó a sus estudiantes multilingües y logró un mayor porcentaje de estudiantes que cumplieron con sus objetivos de crecimiento MAP después de la experiencia de Breakthrough Results”.

Nuestro trabajo con DMGroup para implementar sus programas Breakthrough Teams en nuestras escuelas de lenguaje dual el año pasado fue impulsado por ese compromiso con la mejora continua en el aprendizaje. Estamos comprometidos a crear condiciones para el acceso equitativo a las oportunidades educativas para cada niño todos los días. Estamos comprometidos a crear condiciones para el apoyo y la excelencia de los maestros todos los días. Estamos en un viaje y orgullosos de estar enfocados en los resultados.

What are DMGroup Breakthrough Teams Results in D112? #112Leads

In the 2021-2022 school year, we chose to implement a robust planning and results-oriented project at both K-5 dual language (Spanish/English) schools in the District, Oak Terrace and Red Oak. Our main work has always been to create conditions that support student growth, learning, and teacher collective efficacy. In this post, I’m sharing some images that show graphically how incredible the student growth, learning, and performance was in this 10 week initiative last year.

The results focused approach, led by a team from strategic partner DMGroup (from Boston, MA), helps teams of leaders, teachers, and educational support staff refine their sense of urgency and target professional efforts to impact student growth and learning. We worked with DM Group on a number of challenging projects over the past few years (reopening in COVID, Student Services/EL audit, MTSS planning and implementation).

Firstly, in District 112, our motto is Inspire, Innovate, Engage; and we firmly believe each child can learn and grow – every day. We stand firmly for equitable access to educational opportunities for each child every day. We take pride in the excellence of our teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, and Board.

 When we learn how to do better – we do better. When we make a mistake, we own it – explain it – and learn from it (and take efforts not to repeat it). After the devastating impacts of the COVID global pandemic (on society, learning, social connection, etc.) we reached out to experts in strategic leadership to see how we could improve and enhance our impact on learning to help our students emerge successfully.

Student success and district success are measured in multiple ways.  Pleasesee a previous blog post to get a sense of how I measure “success” (culture, engagement, service, assessment, etc.). Search Results for “Measure succes” – Mike Lubelfeld’s Blog

The point of working with the DMGroup on Breakthrough Teams comes from their motto: “Successful Change Programs Begin with Results”. The focus of the initiative is to focus on results – not barriers; not challenges; not the “why nots;” not the “yea buts;” but results.  Let’s make an impact.

 They acknowledge psychological, organizational and cultural (org. Culture) barriers such as: “I’m doing all I can;” “It’s overwhelming;” “It’s not MY problem;” etc… .  And then share a team of strategic consultants to support the existing organizational structures and  help guide questions to and for student learning/growth and teacher learning/growth to work around, through and over those barriers to ultimately bring them down.

The cool part about working with the DMGroup on Breakthrough teams is that we had the opportunity to take existing structures (teacher team planning/group thinking time) student learning (using assessment tools), instructional coaching (District teacher leaders), administrative collaboration (co-designing and considering solutions) all to help us do our work better.


The DMGroup Breakthrough Teams program is focused on 10 weeks of intense, targeted, focused planning, ideation, succeeding, failing, learning, and re-ideating. The District, the School and the Teams work together to make the best decisions with the information at hand in real time on behalf of the learning. It’s an amazing professional experience – and, in D112, it yielded groundbreaking results for kids (and teachers) last year at Red Oak and Oak Terrace Schools.

We focused on our dual language schools with multi-lingual students in the District’s historic and long running magnet/choice instructional program. English Learners in the District have traditionally had challenging performance on standardized assessments, and the focus on their learning and needs, first, with this innovative program, proved that every child (regardless of “box to check”) can learn and grow in the proper conditions. We helped our teachers create the proper conditions and focus, and we co-created professional planning space to establish a results orientation.  And the results justify and support this effort.

As mentioned, in this post, I’m sharing some slides that show graphically how incredible the student growth, learning, and performance was in this 10 week initiative last year.

On April 11, at an upcoming school Board meeting, I will share a detailed presentation with two of my colleagues, Lilli Melamed (Principal at Oak Terrace School) and Colleen Goodrich (Associate Principal at Red Oak School last year and Wayne Thomas school this year).

 In June, we’ll share this year’s results from this year’s Breakthrough Teams experience at the five K-5 schools with traditional (English only) education, in grades kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.

Thanks for reading the blog! Check out the podcast, our upcoming board meetings, and general District communications as we share our journey of leadership, experiences, learning, growth, and results oriented focus.

Reflections from National Superintendent Summit – #112Leads

DMGroup Superintendent Strategy Summit


March 29-31, 2023

New York City, New York

As a longtime member of a professional organization for superintendents, District Management Council (DMGroup), I am attending a conference—the DMGroup Superintendent Strategy Summit.

This conference focuses on how to leverage best practice strategies in educational leadership and management – we’re in it for students, staff and communities. It is a convening of leadership. I am one of 45 superintendents at this conference. In addition, there are 43 district and building leaders, 25 sector leaders (state chairs, etc.), representing 18 US states in 50 school districts. Conference sessions focus on sharing new insights into student supports, accelerating learning, strength leadership and strategic budgeting. This includes reviewing a Harvard Business School case study focused on the Chilean Mine Crisis to enhance our abilities to impact the communities and schools we serve.

Over the last few years, I have reached out to DMGroup for strategic consulting advice. For example, our ability to remain open during COVID was supported by very clear, direct, strategic, and thoughtful collaborative processes and planning based on DMGroup insights. As you will recall, in September 2020, NSSD112 was able to open with half-day in-person schooling, which proved to be a lifeline and far better for our students and community than being fully remote at that time.

NSSD112 is committed to continuous learning and improvement. This includes regularly reviewing our programs, services and processes to ensure that we are utilizing best practices in teaching and learning, as well as operating efficiently and cost-effectively. Over the past few years, we have conducted audits of our cybersecurity protections, technology service, equity, student services and internal financial controls. We proudly accept the findings from these thorough reviews, “warts and all”, as we lead with purpose, passion, and professionalism.

Our work with DMGroup to implement their Breakthrough Teams programs at our Dual Language schools was driven by that commitment to continuous improvement in learning. We are committed to creating conditions for equitable access to educational opportunity for each child, every day. We are committed so creating conditions for teacher support and excellence every day as well. We are on a journey and we’re proud to be focused on results.

This year, I am proud to have two members of the NSSD112 leadership team joining me to present about the results of our DMGroup Breakthrough Teams Results implementation last year at the District’s two K-5 Dual Language (Spanish/English) schools—Oak Terrace Principal Lilli Melamed and Wayne Thomas Associate Principal, Colleen Goodrich. As you will recall, Ms. Goodrich was the associate principal last year at Red Oak School and, this year, she was named Illinois Assistant Principal of the Year! As a superintendent, one of the greatest job roles is the development and support of other leaders.

Hearing from Lilli and Colleen about the impact of last year’s DMBreakthrough teams 10-week program on multi-lingual learners in grades K-5 at their respective schools is incredible and made me very proud of our work, our students and the District. Their session was titled “Learn how North Shore School District 112 (IL) supported their multilingual learners and achieved a higher percentage of students meeting their MAP growth goals after the Breakthrough Results experience.”

In an upcoming blog post, I’ll share more details about those student achievement results, including data and infographics from our presentation and process details, as well as updates on this year’s DMBreakthrough Team experience in grades K, 1, and 2 in five of our District’s elementary schools.

Students as Leadership Partners – #112Leads

From the Board room to the community, and into the classroom Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable, gives practical examples of how to leverage student voice in our schools and districts. It is alive with insights and ideas that school leaders can easily implement to engage students in the operations of their schools and districts. If you are interested in student voice, this is a must-read. — Chris Gaines, EdD, AASA past president; superintendent, Mehlville School District – Review written in support of Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable (2018 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)

At North Shore School District 112, students are lead members of the Modern Learning Committee. To this end, they are active partners and decision-makers in the aspirational vision, Portrait of a Graduate, and innovative practices in the District. Director of Technology Mr. Jeremy Wickham and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Lubelfeld made a “virtual” presentation that includes video clips of students, teachers, principals, and highlights the journey of the Modern Learning Committee and the Portrait of a Graduate in D112. Learn more: https://www.nssd112.org/domain/1230

This presentation was part of a month-long national conference from TCEA & IDEACon, learn more about the conference here: https://youtu.be/OEYreJyiwo8

To listen to their presentation, please click on the Podcast Player below:

Welcome Back to School – AGAIN – 2nd First Day – #112Leads

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”
– Fredrick Douglass

Welcome back to school – AGAIN – it’s the first day of school in our district for the 2nd time this year. Since March 12, 2020, our lives have never been the same. This enduring and seemingly unending Pandemic gets weirder and stranger and more complex by the day. Last June, with the help of the DMGroup out of Boston, MA, our district formed five leadership teams (steering committee, operations, resources, communication, instruction & sel) to guide the coalition needed to get operating and educating in the 2020-2021 school year. We will not let perfect be the enemy of good and we have iterated, reiterated, and reiterated again as we learn how to do schooling in the midst of a pandemic.

I’m beyond proud of the leadership team in D112, the Board of Education, the teachers, educational support staff, parents, students, and the overall community for incredible unity around continuous improvement and unity around safety, learning, and communication.

We will share the story of CAN DO from as many venues as possible – the superintendent is the Chief Storyteller and Chief Cheerleader of the organization. I’m proud of the shoulders on which I have the honor of standing as we all lead for the kids, support staff, teachers, and each other. Education is a team sport and a contact sport. Education has shown its agility and ability to adapt, pivot, change, endure, and inspire. We may be getting to the other side of this pandemic but we have just started the new era of public educational excellence.

Please join us on our journey and our processes of massive organizational change and shift as we eliminate opportunity gaps as we eliminate inequity and as we create anew and refreshed new models of doing what we do best – educating children, supporting staff/teachers, and inspiring communities for now and forever!

We are the public schools and nothing can stop us from excellence for each and every child each and every day.

Thanks for following our journey of aiming to be the best organization on our block!

As we prepare to open in Hybrid for the second time this year—first time 9/3-10/20 and now again on 2/1–we do so with improvements and tweaks to all elements of our operations. I share some information in a recent podcast (shared below) as well as a recent interview on Friday with the NPR Chicago radio station, WBEZ (link below the podcast). I’m also sharing an interview I had with Silas Knowles of Pushing Boundaries Consulting.


Podcast – Perspectives and Context to the journey we are on!

Link to recent Radio Interview – Opening our Schools in the midst of controversy in the region

I’m also sharing a video of a recent podcast/”vod”cast interview I had with a local teacher and national education consultant! We’re spreading the messages of continuous improvement, excellence with no limits, and Inspire/Innovate/Engage on multiple platforms across our universe of edleadership!

Superintendent Community Update – Audio Dec 3 – #112Leads

“Embrace the pace of your own journey.” – Unknown

Dr. Lubelfeld is checking in with the community on the “running of the schools” in a Pandemic. Reminders of the challenges we’re facing in this public health crisis along with reminders and clarifications about the D112 plan, communications, and science behind decision making. Tune in for a quick 15-minute update! Visit https://www.nssd112.org/domain/1243 for ongoing updates on the reopening of schools in District 112.

Spanish Transcript (English follows)
– Escuchan Lighthouse 112, el podcast del superintentende del distrito escolar correspondiente al Distrito Escolar 112 de North Shore. Somos ocho escuelas preescolares públicas del distrito en el Northeast, Illinois. Este podcast es una fuente de información sobre el distrito escolar, sobre su liderazgo, su profesorado, sus estudiantes y su comunidad. Es otra fuente de información actualizada y una fuente adicional de noticias sobre el cambio de narrativa en la educación pública. “Inspira, innova e involúcrate”.

– Hola, este es el superintendente Mike Lubelfield y tengo una actualización y un mensaje para la comunidad con relación a la educación en el Distrito Escolar 112 de North Shore. Hoy es jueves 3 de diciembre, el distrito 112 ha permanecido en una pausa de adaptación con relación al aprendizaje a distancia desde el 21 octubre debido a la tasa de incidencia de casos de COVID-19 y a la recomendación que hace el Ministerio de Salud Pública del Condado de Lake sobre la educación a distancia. Así que hoy vamos a revisar algunas de las razones de por qué estamos aquí. Y también hablaremos un poco sobre lo que estamos haciendo y hacia dónde vamos. Y les daremos una actualización. Además, el 15 de diciembre habrá una transmisión en vivo de la reunión del consejo escolar, en la que daremos una actualización oficial al consejo y a la comunidad. Ésta es una revisión general de lo que se verá ahí y daremos información. Regresemos a la primavera pasada. La pandemia y los cambios educativos comenzaron en marzo. Llevamos casi 10 o 11 meses en cuanto a la experiencia con el coronavirus, COVID-19. Hay cinco retos clave que hemos identificado, reconocido y comunicado con relación a la reapertura del otoño de 2020. Y estamos muy orgullosos de que, de hecho, reabrimos de forma exitosa un modelo de aprendizaje que tenía aquí a los niños y al profesorado solo por ocho semanas. Y, de nuevo, desde el 21 de octubre hemos cambiado al aprendizaje a distanca. Pero nos enfrentamos con un reto de salud pública, no es un reto educativo, no es un reto económico, a pesar de que la educación y la economía han sido puestas a prueba. Se trata de un desafío a la salud pública. Y falta mucho por aprender sobre el virus del COVID-19, su transmisión, su forma de manifestarse; su tratamiento y su cura aún son una incógnita. Hay una falta datos científicos revisados por sus pares, porque esto continúa, es en tiempo real. Los distritos escolares, como el nuestro, han estado preparados para responder a varios escenarios. Respondimos con actividades a distancia híbridas y con actividades completamente realizadas a distancia. Ahora estamos analizando los datos, las cifras y cuáles son nuestras opciones para seguir adelante para lo que queda del año escolar, claro. Otro desafío ha sido la falta de acuerdos. Desafortunadamente no existe un precedente. Desde 1918 no se había dado un acontecimiento de esta magnitud y a esta escala. Por lo que ninguno de nosotros ha recibido orientación con datos científicos y médicos revisados por pares, meditados y aprobados. Esto está limitado y en cambio continuo. Se ha interpretado de muchas formas distintas, tanto médicamente, como políticamente y de otras formas. El resultado es que las decisiones han sido cuestionadas e interpretadas, y, desafortunadamente, han sido polarizadas a través de la realidad política de nuestro país. Además, no ha habido tiempo suficiente. Estamos realizando estos cambios y tomando estas decisiones en tiempo real. Nos ocupamos del liderazgo mientras enfrentamos el reto de la salud pública y la falta de acuerdos. Estoy muy orgulloso de nuestro consejo, y estoy orgulloso de nuestros maestros; estoy orgulloso de la administración, de los padres de familia, de los estudiantes, de la comunidad; estoy orgulloso de nuestro personal de apoyo educativo, porque hemos trabajado juntos y hemos hecho cosas que no habíamos hecho antes y que no sabíamos que podíamos hacer. Asimismo, otro desafío relacionado con la reapertura y el desarrollo son que las decisiones se adoptarán por escrutinio. Todos nuestros planes, no sólo en el distrito 112, sino también en los distritos vecinos, como Illinois, que para bien o para mal tiene 853 distritos escolares públicos. De alguna forma, nos han dejado solos y hemos tenido que hacerlo por nuestra propia cuenta y nuestras decisiones han sido escrutinizadas y estamos realizando el escrutinio de nuestras propias decisiones. Esta es una versión radical de la antigua decisión de cierre por nieve. Cuando todos estaban mirando distintos pronósticos meteorológicos y tenían retos en aquella época. Hace un año, unos de mis colegas diría que la decisión de cierre por nieve era como desvelarse y sacar una D-, porque sin importar lo que hacías, se hacía el escrutinio. Hoy no es distinto, y lo comprendemos. Uno de los grandes desafíos que seguimos enfrentando es que las circunstancias siguen cambiando, pero estamos trabajando en ello. Lidiamos con el desafío de la reapertura, y por eso reabrimos. Determinamos nuestros principios rectores que ahora ya saben cuáles son: la comunicación segura y el aprendizaje. Seguimos transmitiendo datos de información de casos que recibimos, porque dimos nuestra palabra de comunicarnos de forma transparence. En lugar de enviar una carta cada vez que existe un caso, cada día hemos enviado una sola carta cada día cerca de las 3:00 de la tarde con la información que tengamos disponible. También hemos estado trabajando con el Ministerio de Salud Pública de Illinois, con el Consejo de Educación del Estado de Illinois, etc. Estamos haciendo lo posible por aprender lo que podamos. El distrito 112 ha invertido millones de dólares para reducir el riesgo, para crear medios más saludables y seguros; y también da cuenta de las necesidades curriculares para trabajar durante de esta pandemia. Hemos invertido recursos en los planes de estudio, en la enseñanza y en los materiales de aprendizaje desde casa. Los hemos estado encuestando, y por eso les damos las gracias por darnos sus opiniones, las necesitamos. Recibimos sus opiniones, trabajamos con ellas, y luego compartimos con ustedes lo que aprendimos de ellas. Y seguimos invirtiendo para hacer el aprendizaje lo mejor que podamos. Nos importa completamente lo que aprenden nuestros niños. Nos importa completamente el concepto de “pérdida de aprendizaje”. Recuerdo, y se lo recuerdo a todos, que la pérdida de aprendizaje se da a nivel internacional y nacional. Por lo que nadie quedará rezagado. Todos vamos a trabajar juntos para recuperar lo perdido. La lectura de nuestros datos iniciales muestran que no tenemos, necesariamente, pérdida de aprendizaje y de lectura. Sí hay una pérdida de aprendizaje matemático y estamos trabajando en ello. Estaremos realizando algunos exámenes adicionales y seguiremos informando sobre esto mientras seguimos trabajando hacia adelante. Le recuerdo a todos que tenemos un comité con más de 50 personas interesadas que nos ayudan con nuestros programas. Los programas y la programación son increíbles y complejos y han dado como resultado la realización de un modelo de aprendizaje de forma coherente y consecuente. Tenemos cinco horas de enseñanza. Algunas horas se dan en vivo, y otras se dan por medio de deberes en casa. Y seguimos aprendiendo, nos informamos de lo que hacen otras personas, somos oportunos con ello, y lo replicamos, aprendemos de los éxitos y los fracasos de otros. Lo que hacemos y funciona bien, lo replicamos. Lo que se hace y necesita reelaborarse, intentamos rescatarlo, arreglarlo y cambiarlo mientras lo mejoramos. Tenemos una oficina virtual dedicada al aprendizaje emocional y social. Y si no sabían de esto, les pido que contacten al trabajador social escolar en su escuela, al psicólogo educativo de su escuela, al maestro de su escuela, a cualquiera que pueda brindarle ayuda para conseguir los recursos sobre cómo ayudar a su hijo, cómo ayudarle a su familia durante esta etapa. La salud mental emocional es de gran importancia y contamos con recursos sobre esto. Si no saben cómo pueden encontrarlos, por favor, contáctenos y les ayudaremos. Con respecto al modelo de aprendizaje a distancia, los estudiantes realizan el 100 % del aprendizaje a distancia. Este modelo se da cuando las escuelas están físicamente cerradas. La consecuencia ha sido que los estudiantes están aprendiendo cinco horas al día desde casa. Si presenta algún problema o necesita ayuda, contacte al maestro de su hijo, contacte al subdirector, al director o la oficina distrital. Estamos aquí para ayudarle. Nuestro profesorado trabaja desde casa o en las instalaciones escolares. Llevamos a cabo censos cada día para saber cuántas personas están en las instalaciones y en cualquier momento podríamos tener el 20 o el 30 % de nuestros trabajadores en las instalaciones. Hemos mencionado que es posible que miembros importantes podrían regresar a las instalaciones durante este giro del aprendizaje a distancia. Y actualmente contamos con algunos psicólogos, ortofonistas y estudiantes que trabajan mediante evaluaciones cara a cara y en grupos reducidos. Observamos las métricas y somos un organismo de aprendizaje que se basa en la ciencia. Seguimos las directrices de salud pública de los expertos de la salud pública. Con una tasa de 14 contagiados o menos, podemos realizar el modelo de aprendizaje híbrido Con 7 o menos, se puede asistir a al escuela. Ahora mismo, con esa escala, tenemos 58.3. Por eso necesitamos que las métricas cambien, que la propagación en el comunidad cambie. Asimismo, observamos el Ministerio de Salud de Illinois y tenemos un tasa de positividad de 12.8 %. La ciudad de Nueva York cerró con 3 %, y algunas personas están regresando de nuevo. Illinois tenía un umbral de 8 %, y ahora es de 12 %, y estamos a 12.8; y el CDC en 5 %. Repito, estamos observando todos los datos lo mejor que podamos, lo más rápido que podamos y de la forma mejor examinada antes de permitir el regreso de la gente. Si ven Highland Park, con el código postal 60035, está a 33.2/100,000, según un punto determinado en el tiempo y Highwood, C.P. 60040, tiene 85.2. Repito, el Condado de Lake está a 58.3, y necesitamos estar a 14. Todas estas cifras son muy negativas, y estamos tratando de reducirlas, como todos los demás. Usen cubreboca, guarden la distancia, lávense las manos. Una noticia alentadora y grandiosa, es que están aprobando las vacunas, y pronto estarán a disposición de la gente, de forma literal. Primero se podrá vacunar a los adultos y así ayudará a bajar las cifras, lo cual será útil. Una de las razones por las que no establecemos una fecha del calendario para decirles cuándo regresaremos al modelo de aprendizaje híbrido es porque el virus no sabe leer ni conoce un calendario. Hay una evaluación que se realiza. Si hay una forma de traer de regreso a otras personas, es algo que estamos trabajando con nuestro equipo. Estamos viendo la posibilidad de realizar ensayos de vigilancia pero todo esto se está investigando febrilmente de forma alterna. No hay una fecha del calendario que prediga cuándo regresaremos. Seguimos con el aprendizaje a distancia. Estamos trabajando con el grupo director del distrito para poder conocer, modificar, validar y ajustar, para ejecutar y supervisar. Y nuestro principal interés, mientras seguimos con el aprendizaje a distancia es revisar el aprendizaje y el compromiso de nuestros estudiantes. Les agradecemos que sean nuestros padres auxiliares y nuestros socios desde sus casas. Les agradecemos que todos puedan ver que en unos meses hemos cambiado todo el sistema de aprendizaje. Estamos haciendo un excelente trabajo y lo estamos evaluando. Y lo que no estamos haciendo correctamente, estamos trabajando para cambiarlo. Es difícil realizar rápido los cambios, pero lo hacemos lo más rápido que podemos.. Nuestro objetivo, mi objetivo personal, mi deseo, es es que regresemos de manera física a la enseñanza tan pronto que podamos. Por ahora el COVID-19 aún sigue con nosotros. Lávense las manos, usen cubreboca, guarden la distancia. Gracias por ser una comunidad increíble a la que puedo servir. Gracias por comprender la situación no es sencilla. Comprendemos, reconocemos y sentimos empatía por los cambios en nuestras vidas. Por favor, visiten nuestro sitio web: www.nssd112.org y vayan a la información que está de nuevo disponible para ver todas las presentaciones del consejo y los videos. Por favor, vayan a “Long Range Planning” y vean el increíble éxito de la escuela secundaria de Northwood que abrirá al inicio del 2021. Por favor, reconozcan y celebren la primera premiación del National Blue Ribbon School que se le da a Indian Trails School. Y, por favor, sepan que nuestro lema “inspira, innova e involúcrate” se realiza cada vez que estamos presentes, bajo el modelo híbrido o de forma remota. Estamos comprometidos con ustedes. Regresaremos para mostrarles una presentación completa el 15 de diciembre. Y les repito, por favor, comuníquense con nosotros si tienen preguntas o algún problema. Cuídense y que tengan salud. Gracias a todos. Gracias por escuchar Lighthouse 112, el podcast del superintentende del distrito escolar correspondiente al Distrito Escolar 112 de North Shore, para las escuelas preescolares públicas en Northeast, Illinois. Este podcast es una fuente de información sobre el distrito escolar, sobre su liderazgo, su profesorado, sus estudiantes y su comunidad. Es otra fuente de información actualizada y una fuente adicional de noticias sobre el cambio de narrativa en la educación pública. “Inspira, innova e involúcrate”. Este podcast se puede escuchar en Anchor, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Cast, RadioPublic, Stitcher y todo el tiempo se agregan otros recursos. Por favor, vuelvan y suscríbanse con nosotros para mantenerse actualizados con lo que sucede en el Distrito Escolar 112 de North Shore. También visiten nuestro sitio web www.nssd112.org. Muchas gracias por escucharnos y por su interés.


– This is Lighthouse 112, the podcast from the superintendent of schools in North Shore School District 112. We’re a pre-K through eight public school district in Northeast, Illinois. This podcast is a source of information about the school district, it’s leadership, it’s teachers, it’s students and it’s community. It’s another source of updates and an additional source of news regarding the changing narrative of public education. Inspire, innovate, engage.

– Hello this is a superintendent Mike Lubelfeld with an update and a message to the community with respect to schooling in North Shore School District 112. Today is Thursday, December 3rd district 112 has been on an adaptive pause to remote learning since October 21st due to the instance rate of cases of COVID-19 and the recommendation of the Lake County Department of Public Health for remote learning. So today I’m going to review some of the reasons as to why we are here and also talk a little bit about what we’re doing and where we’re going to give everybody an update. In addition, on December 15th there’ll be a live broadcast school board meeting where I’ll provide a formal update to the board and the community as well. This is a snapshot or a preview to that with some information. So, let’s go back to the spring. This pandemic and the changes to schooling started in March. We’re going on 10, 11 months now in terms of this experience with COVID-19 coronavirus. There are five key challenges that we’ve identified, acknowledged and communicated with respect to the reopening in the fall of 2020. And we’re very proud that we successfully did in fact, reopen on a hybrid learning model that had children and staff here for just under eight weeks. And again, since October the 21st we’ve pivoted to remote learning. But we’re dealing with a public health challenge, it’s not an education challenge, it’s not an economic challenge though education and the economy have both been challenged, this is a public health challenge. And much that’s remaining to be learned about the COVID-19 virus, its transmission, its manifestations and its treatment and cure are unknown. There’s a lack of vetted scientific peer reviewed data because this is going on now, it’s in real time. School districts like ours have been ready to respond in a variety of scenarios. We responded in hybrid learning and we responded with fully remote. And now we’re exploring the data, the numbers and our options moving forward for the remainder of the school year obviously. Another challenge has been the lack of agreement. Unfortunately there’s no precedence. It’s not been since 1918 that a public health event of this magnitude and scale has occurred. So none of us have been guided by vetted and thought out and peer reviewed medical and scientific data. It’s limited, it’s constantly changing, it’s being interpreted in many different ways, medically, politically and in another ways. The result is that decisions have been questioned and interpreted and it’s been polarized through the political reality of our nation sadly. In addition, there’s been lack of time. We’re making these changes and making these decisions in real time. We’re doing the leadership while we’re being faced with a public health challenge and lack of agreement. And I’m very proud of our board, I’m proud of our teachers, I’m proud of our administrators, proud of our parents, I’m proud of our students, I’m proud of the community I’m proud of our education support personnel because we’ve banded together and we’ve done things we’ve never done before we never realized we can do. In addition, another challenge that has been related to the reopening and its ongoing is decisions will be scrutinized. All of our plans and not just in district 112 but in neighboring districts, Illinois has 853 public school districts for better or for worse. We’ve all sort of been left to lead on our own and these decisions have been scrutinized and we’re scrutinizing our own decisions. This is an extreme version of the old calling a snow day when everybody was looking at the different meteorological forecast and being challenged back in the day. A year ago, colleagues of mine would say calling a snow day it was like pulling an all nighter and getting a D- ’cause no matter what you did it was scrutinized and this is no different, we understand that. One of the greatest challenges that we continue to face is that the circumstances keep shifting, and we’re working through that. So we dealt with the challenges to reopening, we reopened. We’ve established our guiding principles that you know by now, our safety communication and learning. We continue to communicate case information data that we receive because we’ve pledged to communicate transparently. Instead of sending a letter each time there’s a case, we’ve reduced that to one letter every day around 3:00 PM with whatever information we have. We also have been working with Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Board of Education, so on and so forth. We’re doing all we can to learn what we can do. District 112 has invested millions of dollars for risk mitigation to create safer, less unhealthy and healthier environments and also account for the curricular needs of working through this pandemic. We’ve invested resources in curriculum in teaching and learning materials at home. We’ve been surveying you ongoing and thank you for continuing to give us input. We need the input. We take that input, we work behind the scenes and then we share with you what we’ve learned from it and we continue to invest in making learning the best we can make it. We absolutely care about what our children are learning. We absolutely care about this concept known as learning loss. I remember and remind everybody that learning loss is international and national. So no one is going to be behind. We’re all gonna work together to recoup that. Our initial reading data indicates that we do not have reading learning loss necessarily, we do have mathematics learning loss and we’re working on that. We’re gonna be doing some additional testing and we’ll continue to report back as we continue to work forward. Reminder everyone, that we have a 50 plus person stakeholder committee that help with our plans. The plans and planning are really awesome and complex and have yielded a coherent and consistently implemented learning model. We have five hours of instruction, some of it is provided live, some of it is provided as homework. And we’re learning, we’re finding out what other people are doing and we’re appropriate, we’re replicating it and we’re learning from their successes and failures. What we do that works well, we replicate. What we do that needs help, we try to help it and fix it and change it as we improve it. We have a virtual office for social and emotional learning. And if you’re not aware of this I beg of you to contact the school social worker at your school, the school psychologist at your school, your school’s teacher, anybody in the school that can help you get the resources for how to help your child, how to help your family through this. Emotional mental health is of the greatest importance and we’ve got resources. If you don’t know how to access them, please reach out and we’ll help you. On the remote learning model students are experiencing 100% remote virtual learning. It’s been used when the schools are physically closed. Our impact is students are at home learning for five hours a day. If you’re concerned or you need help, contact your child’s teacher, contact the associate principal, the principal, contact the district office. We’re here to work with you. Our impacted staff members are either working at home or on campus. We take a census each day as to how many folks are on campus and at any given time we may have 20 or 30% of our workforce actually on campus. We’ve mentioned that possible cords can be brought back on campus during this remote learning pivot. And currently we do have some psychologists, speech language pathologists, students working through evaluations one-to-one and in small groups. We are looking at the metrics and we’re a science-based learning organization. We follow the public health guidance of the public health experts. At 14 or less we can do the hybrid learning model. At seven or less we can have full in person. Right now on that scale we’re at 58.3. So we do need metrics to change, community spread to change. In addition, we look at the Illinois Department of Health and we’re at 12.8% positivity rate. New York City closed on scale at 3%, they’re bringing some folks back. Illinois had an 8% threshold, now it’s a 12% threshold and we’re at 12.8 and the CDC at 5%. So again, we’re looking at all of the data as best we can, as quickly as we can and as best vetted as we can before we can bring folks back. If you look at Highland Park, zip code 60035 33.2/100,000 at a snapshot given point in time and Highwood 60040 85.2. So again, Lake County is 58.3, we need 14. So all of these numbers are pretty bad and we’re trying to mitigate this as everybody is. Wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands. Encouraging news, great news is that vaccinations are being approved and soon we’ll they’ll get into people’s arms, literally not figuratively. And we can get adults vaccinated first and then that’ll help put the numbers down and that’ll help. One of the reasons we don’t use a calendar date to tell you when we’re going to pivot back to hybrid learning is because the virus doesn’t know how to read and doesn’t know a calendar. We’ve got evaluations going on. If there’s any way to slowly bring back others, we’re working with our staff, we’re working with the possibility of surveillance testing but all of these things are being researched feverishly behind the scenes. There is no calendar date to predict when we’re coming back yet. We’re still educating in remote learning. We are working with the district management group to learn and modify, validate and adjust, and act and monitor. And our first major focus while we’re in remote learning is to check the learning and the engagement of our students. We appreciate you being our adjunct faculty parents and our partners at home. We appreciate that everybody realizes we change an entire learning system in months and we’re doing very very good work and we’re measuring it and what we’re not doing well, we’re working to change. It’s hard to quickly scale change so we’re changing as fast as we can. Our aim and my personal goal desire philosophy is to get back to fully in person schooling at such time as we can. Right now COVID-19 is still with us. Wash your hands, wear a mask, watch your distance. Thank you for being an amazing community to serve. Thank you for understanding that this is not easy and we understand and acknowledge and empathize with the changes to our lives. Please visit our website at www.nssd112.org and go to the reopening information for all of our board presentations and videos. Please go to long range planning and look at the incredible success of Northwood Middle School which will be opened early in 2021. Please acknowledge and celebrate the first ever National Blue Ribbon School, Indian Trails School. And please know that our motto of ‘inspire, innovate, engage’ is whether we’re fully in person, in hybrid or remote, we’re committed to you, we’ll come back with a full presentation on December 15th and as always, please reach out with any questions or concerned and stay safe and healthy. Thank you everybody.

– Thank you for listening to Lighthouse 112, the podcast from the superintendent of schools in the North Shore School District 112 for Pre-K public school district in Northeast Illinois. This podcast is a source of information about the school district, it’s leadership, it’s teachers and students and its community. It’s another source of updates and an additional source of news regarding the changing narrative of public education. Inspire, innovate, engage. This podcast can be listened to and heard on Anchor, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Cast, RadioPublic, Stitcher and other sources are being added all the time. Please check back and subscribe to us to stay current with what’s going on in North Shore School District 112. Please also visit our website at www.nssd112.org. Thank you so much for listening and for your interest.

Don’t Let Perfect be the Enemy of Good – #112Leads

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Schools in North Shore School District 112 are poised to welcome students and staff in less than one month. The first day for staff members is August 31 and the first day for students is September 3. This is not a normal back to school situation. Folks are not excited like they usually are. Folks are not eagerly awaiting the happy return to “normal”. Thanks to the novel coronavirus/COVID-19, there is no return to normal, and while we make every effort to be upbeat and optimistic, we’re not really “happy” right now.

In March 2020 our world changed in public schooling. The places where we facilitate learning, brick and mortar school buildings, were shut. Closed to students and staff, closed to learning and socializing. Closed to one of the foundational and fundamental cores of American culture. In-person learning and teaching is what we were all trained for. In-person schooling is all we have known since the one-room schoolhouses of the pioneer days. We know school … we know “normal”. We know our routines. Actually, we knew our routines. Nothing is like it used to be.

Just like that in March 2020, we stopped going to school. We stopped holding classes, clubs, sports, plays, musicals. It all just stopped. From March to June we just sort of hobbled through the crisis with society shutting around us. With jobs vaporizing. With socializing coming to an end – we just sort of “locked down”. Just like that – all that we knew came to a crashing halt. An end with little clear explanation. An end with little understanding. An end with little normalcy.

The school year ended in June. Then summer came and we as Americans are usually an optimistic lot … we looked for fun … but the 4th of July was pretty much canceled. Camps were scaled back. Recreation was frowned upon. Summer school was remote. Uh, what happened to our world? What happened to our society? Summer was not really summer … again, where was the happy recreation that we knew so well? It was gone too – just like normal schooling.

The fall back to school is always a fun, exciting, invigorating, and economy-boosting time … but not this year. This year it’s anxiety-provoking, uncertain, defeating, scary, and anything but normal. Not that we want to be normal or return to normal anyway … but what is happening? We close the schools in March – we’re opening again in September – right? Well, sort of. Not exactly, you see, the virus is still here. National leadership is absent, state by state leadership is mixed, we’re pretty much like we were as a people like we were during the Articles of Confederation. A fledgling nation with a rudderless ship and no real agreements at all. What happened?! We the people … in order to form a more perfect union — wait, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good …

I’m not even writing about the revolutionary call for an end to racism and a call to arms for anti-racism. The brutal murder of George Floyd in Minnesota roused to anger, despair, and energy of our nation and the world against injustice. This was all going on with the pandemic in the background.

I’m not writing about the complete and total failure of national leadership on putting forth a coherent plan or strategy to combat COVID-19/Coronavirus. I’m not writing about the begging that leaders like I have to engage in so state and local health officials will release/share/explain science and metrics. Public school leaders making community-based decisions about public health should expect – no should demand – no should be entitled to – guidance, coherence, and leadership from public health leaders – right?

At least we have local control in Illinois. School districts are governed by seven community members — UNPAID volunteers — who oversee the public trust, public funds, and professional staff in facilitating learning and teaching. In our local district, we have an excellent board.

In this post, I’m writing about an excellent planning process leading to a good plan for the restart of schools in my local school district, North Shore School District 112. The consulting group with who we engaged started our meetings with them using the quote that serves as the title of this post: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. We are taking the reality of a dangerous and uncertain virus and public health response to it and we’re weighing the needs, rights, and contractual obligations we have to do our jobs in these uncertain times.

Even though we had more than 50 teachers, administrators, educational support staff, union leaders, parents, board members, students, & more engaged in planning, dialogue, discussion and review, we do not have a perfect plan. We have a very good plan. We do not have perfect answers. We do, though, have answers. We do not eliminate risk, but we do a heck of job in mitigating and reducing risk. Our board remains committed to the safety, health, and general welfare of its employees and its students and its community.

As a superintendent of schools, I cannot cure coronavirus – I cannot declare safety and all clear in this pandemic. I cannot fix the void in national and coherent strategies in global pandemic mitigation. I can, though, instill pride and care in the community I serve to the Board I serve and for the students and staff, I serve. In my slice of the world, with around 4500 people in my direct sphere, I can lead, plan, collaborate and implement a good set of plans that mitigate risks and bring some sense of enhanced normalcy to kids, their families, and our staff. Our plan is very good, it’s not perfect.

For the good of our calling as educators, we have students who only get one chance to be in X grade. In our system, it’s PK-8th grade. We must facilitate learning for them. It’s not ideal to be in the middle of a global pandemic. There is no easy choice to potentially put anyone in harm’s way. We have a moral obligation to teach and learn. We have contractual obligations to teach, work, and serve the community that supports us.

We can do this! We’re not perfect. We are very good. But we’re the public school. We have fire drills so we do not die in fire or smoke. We have severe storm drills so we do not die in tornados or severe storms. We have ALICE training so we do not die if a bad guy comes in to cause us harm. We mitigate risk through investments in safety and training. We practice drills so we can survive and thrive. We do not let fear close us down. We do not let a pursuit of perfect shut us down. We persevere. We lead. We serve. We honor our commitments.

We are a public school. We feed the hungry. We call the department of child and family services when we suspect abuse or neglect. We teach everyone. We serve the public. We deal with whatever comes our way. We love our students and we help them become resilient and strong leaders of tomorrow. We protect one another from the challenges of serving the public.

We are a public school. We are planning the reopening of schools in this most uncertain time with our chins up in this evil pandemic. We are outfitting our teachers and staff in masks and face shields. We are requiring face coverings for all students – no ifs, and, or buts. We are hiring specialists in cleaning and sanitizing. We are reducing the density of people to 50% or less at any one time; we are setting up 6ft social/physical distancing. We are investing in indoor air quality enhancements. We are doing anything and everything we can do to mitigate risk, reduce risk, and keep our staff and students safe. We may be afraid of the virus, but our calling is higher than fear. We may wish for a perfect plan, but we will not let perfect be the enemy of good.

We are the public school. We may have anxiety and concern and worry. We may hope that the public adheres to risk mitigation and tells the truth with the self-certification of their children. We may even be scared. We are essential, critical care workers. We shape the future. We teach children. We serve the public. We demand that everyone takes this virus and the need for risk mitigation seriously. Wear a mask. Maintain physical distance. Wash your hands. Protect us!

I’m proud of our Board of Education, our return to school planning teams with union leaders, teachers, staff members, parents, board members; input from students and local partners. We forged collaborative and inclusive planning where perfect has not been nor will it become the enemy of good.

We are the public school. We work, we serve, we educate. We are called to action and even in the darkest of times, we open the doors, we turn on the lights and we provide safety and consistency for the children we are employed and honored to serve.

We are about to start schooling in the most uncertain of times. I’m grateful to our courageous staff of more than 500, our student population of nearly 4000, and our communities who entrust us to fulfill our mission and vision. It’s not easy — nothing worthwhile ever is.

Learn more about our Return to school planning (at https://www.nssd112.org/domain/1243)

Learn more about Back To school on the Podcast Pages: Back To School Podcast #112Leads


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