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Tag: Inspire…Innovate…Engage (page 2 of 6)

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!

Mayan Culture and History – Guatemala

Mayan Culture and History were integral parts of our overall service, learning, culture, history, and volunteer work in Guatemala.

Iximiche and Antigua visits during our time in Guatemala in between and following bottle school construction projects enhanced the cultural immersion as well as the background of the people and the communities we were serving with.!
Aside from actual construction, building, in this case, tying in bottles as the walls/insulating and using them as “eco bricks” for ecological as well as construction, we learn with and from the people alongside with whom we are serving. Recall the details related to building a bottle school.

From the Hug it Forward Website

That’s a long-winded way of saying we immerse ourselves with the local people, culture, history, sociology etc. One such way to do this is to hear first hand accounts of the Civil War (1960-1996), learn about migration out and the causes and reasons why, and we also visited a sacred national archeological site called Iximiche, site of the first Guatemalan capital city.
Our first excursion was to Iximche (Ishimche). This sacred Mayan archeological and
cultural site representing the Kaqchikel Maya ethnic group and the first capital city of the Guatemalan Kingdom – founded in 1470 and abandoned around 1524. The second excursion was to Antigua, also a former capital city of Guatemala and a UNESCO certified world history site.
We also visited the incredible UNESCO world heritage site Antigua, Guatemala and we had a chance to explore this unbelievable city. The cobblestone roads, the colonial ruins/restorations, the beauty of the Guatemalan people and the history of the Spanish religious and archeological sites was really impressive.  We learned about cacao, chocolate, religion, jade, Mayan spiritual horoscopes, and much, much, more. If you have ever thought about visiting Guatemala – book your tickets today 🙂
Right now I am sharing images from Antigua followed by additional reflections and then imagery from Iximiche.
The visit to Antigua left us wanting to come back and explore even more!!
During our visit to Iximiche, we visited the museum where our guide explained the more than 20 Mayan ethnic groups (not tribes, but indigenous ethnicities with unique language, history, etc.). He also explained how the Spanish invaders/conquerors are described in history and points of view; he allowed us to challenge our commonly held beliefs about the Colonial Era.
During this Hug it Forward trip, we had the privilege to learn history from people directly and personally impacted by historical events. This first hand, hands on, experiential learning proved quite powerful. In addition, we learned how the Moon temple (west) the Sun temple (east) and the Mayan Cross and the various alters in the archeological site reflected the Maya understanding of the astrological principles (directions, solstice, equinox, etc.). We also were simply fascinated by the precision construction – with no power tools – of the exquisitely constructed temples and sacred areas.
We also saw the ball court and learned about sports/recreation/conflict resolution – truly the personal guide, Alex, was an amazing teacher. Walking the serene grounds of this national park was unusually serene and tranquil – again, words alone cannot describe fully – but I’ll try with words as well as images.
Alex also explained Mayan spirituality to us, he dispelled myths, he debunked some stereotypes, Alex allowed us into his culture and into his spirituality. We engaged in a fire ceremony with Alex – it was moving, meaningful, special, and truly spiritual!
No words or images can remotely approach explaining to you how powerful the Mayan fire ceremony was – from Alex’s deliberate and powerful explanation, to our participation in the actual ceremony, to our holding hands as a group and immersing ourselves literally in the culture – this was a PEAK moment for us all!!
On my LifeTouch Memory Mission in 2016 I learned the phrase “build a school, change lives”on this trip with Hug it Forward and Serve the World, with my son, we helped to build a school, I believe we will help to change lives, and I want to close by affirming that our lives have been changed for the better and I feel like Guatemala is a new friend to us!
Building the school changes lives. Working alongside the local people builds connections. Immersing ourselves int he Culture, History, Spirituality, Traditions, Food, etc. binds us to the people of Guatemala. As we travel, serve, learn, explore, immerse, engage, and build connections for life, and also help build schools, we also change our own lives, perspectives, views, viewpoints, understanding, knowledge, and world view – and more!
The images below are from our visit and immersion to the Iximiche archeological site.

Education is Life

I’m a fan of the Apple TV show “Ted Lasso” and one of the characters, Dani Rojas, has a saying “futbol is life” … so, in the spirit of Dani Rojas, “Education is Life” is the title of this blog post!
I’ve been a public school educator in suburban Chicago, Illinois, USA since 1992. I’ve been a superintendent of schools (PK-8) since 2010. Education really has been and in some ways “is” my life too!! My daughter is in college studying to become a special education teacher, my son is a park district day camp counselor, my wife taught pre-school and worked in park district recreation, so I guess it’s in our DNA as a family too!
Education, of course, is essential – everywhere.
Together with my son and our other adventurers, we’re helping construct a bottle school in the indigenous Mayan community of Zaculeu in the Tecpan region. This is our third such trip together and my seventh since my first experience on the 2016 LifeTouch Memory Mission to Constanza, Rio Grande, in the Dominican Republic. I have written on my blog about past experiences and adventures! Feel free to search the blog (enter Dominican Republic or service learning).
The father son time is priceless, the father/educator in me also finds this time affirming and spiritual on many levels. To be able to serve and share these Peak Moments with my son is greater than any words I can piece together. The opportunity to make new friends from around my country as well as from all over the world is pretty amazing too.
During this bottle school building trip and Guatemalan culture, history, and ecology trip, we are fortunate to have amazing guides and leaders. From Guatemala, we have Vivi, Andres, Lilian, Enrique, Christy & Marta, from the USA Hug it Forward team we have Adam and Jennifer. Together with veteran Gary and so many others – we are engaged in lifetime memories and incredible learning. Our team is aged 9 to 67, we hail from multiple races, religions, ethnicities, vocations, locations, and together we are now one!
Working alongside of our Guatemalan hosts, working with the children of Zaculeu, and building walls made of eco bricks to help demonstrate care for the ecological needs of our planet, we learned, lived, felt, experienced, and did each day on this incredible set of experiences.
When we arrived in Zaculeu, as the first representatives from Hug it Forward, ever, and among the very few foreigners who ever have come to visit and serve with the Mayan people of the village, we were welcomed LARGE! The assembly from the nearly 400 students in grades K-6, the teachers, the principal, the mayor and the village elders, the parent organization and many of the parents of the children – we knew we were not in Kansas anymore! The assembly with speeches, songs, dances, signs, and an unbelievably warm welcome was so energizing and so motivating, that when we got to the job site, the excitement was palatable.
I’ll share a bunch of photos as a picture is worth “1000 words” in an effort to illustrate the incredible set of experiences — words alone cannot capture the power of this experience and even the photos & videos don’t do it justice – but I’m so moved and so inspired, that I am compelled to share my story.
Feel free to follow Hug It Forward on Facebook and on Instagram to see not only our trip, but previous and future trips. Anyone with the motivation can reach out and serve.
Service, education, cultural immersion, and more is what we found on this trip. Food was prepared for us daily by cooks Marta and Christy – the food was outstanding! Enrique drove us in our bus (chariot) through city streets, highways, country/rural roads, mountains, hills, and dirt roads with angles approaching 80 degree inclines – incredible!
We also met individuals who shared their personal stories and histories regarding various timely topics including the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), migration from Guatemala to the United States, economic conditions in the nation, social history, and much, much, more.
We also engaged with local artisans who make their living creating cultural and personal effects for sale and for more than a “side gig” – for some folks, this is their primary income.
As I write these words, I realize, as best as I try, nothing can capture the power of this trip and the series of peak moments more than actually experiencing this, but my aim and my effort is to celebrate the good and highlight the hope of serving, learning, getting out of one’s comfort zone, and joining amazing people who do this all the time.
Education in Guatemala is different than education in the United States. The public school system is not always present, fully available, or even funded in the rural/indigenous areas of Guatemala where we were serving. There were classrooms from a USAAID project in 1987 and in 1993, and then there is our project in 2023! The classrooms for this village of Zaculeu serve children in grades K-5 — there are not classrooms for children in middle school, grades 7-9 (YET). High schools in Guatemala are fee based – not free.
Creating classrooms for children in grades K-6 and ultimately in grades 7-9 changes lives and changes cultural, historical, and economic opportunities and access to opportunities for generations of children. This bottle school project in which we are involved is one step to provide chances, hope, opportunities, and change for people.
Our public ambassador programming and efforts represent efforts afloat all over the world and efforts I have had the privilege of participating in in the USA (Puerto Rico), in the Dominican Republic and now, in Guatemala! In addition to the bottle school construction, the engagement with the villagers via the welcome ceremony, the artisan markets, and the community walk/hike and home visits, we also visited sacred Mayan archeological sites, learned from first hand historical accounts and engaged with the powerful beauty of this incredible country!
Sharing more images of our incredible journey to Guatemala!

Guatemala Service Trip Culture School Building 2023

Guatemala 2023
Tecpan, Guatemala July 2023

Justin (my son) and I ventured from Chicago to Miami and from Miami to Guatemala City, Guatemala. We are serving, learning, exploring, and traveling to Guatemala with Hug it Forward, https://hugitforward.org/ , on a service, mission, culture, education, and ecological trip. Hug it Forward works with Serve the World – they are two organizations dedicated to making the world a better place. The Hug it Forward Bottle School Project is what Justin and I are investing our time in during this trip. Together with about 15 other people from the US States of Illinois, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, Minnesota, & New York, plus group members from France, we are working with our Guatemalan hosts, friends, and leaders.

Hug it Forward has engaged in about 140 bottle school projects over the past decade.

From their website, describing what a Bottle School is:

Bottle classrooms are constructed using eco-bricks, which are plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. During the project process, entire communities come together to build a more environmentally responsible educational space for their future.

Bottle classrooms are built using eco-bricks, which are plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. Our bottle classrooms are built using the established method of post-and-beam construction. The foundations, columns and beams are made from concrete reinforced with rebar. Unlike cinder-blocks which are not very environmentally responsible, we use eco-bricks in our constructions. As a result, our projects are much cheaper to build when compared to the more traditional building methods and materials, they work to clean up the environment, provide the space for real discussion about local environmental obstacles, and involve the entire community in their construction, resulting in a sense of pride and ownership

The people of Zaculeu collected 10,000 (yes, ten thousand) plastic drink bottles, filled them with debris to make them stable and full, and these became the “eco-bricks” to find a home as insulation in the walls of their school’s new classrooms. If they did not collect the “trash” it would have been burned, discarded, or placed in a landfill. The community collected the bottles and the trash – they cleaned up their area, their streets, their homes – and they prepared to welcome us to help them construct the walls of their school. Private donors funded the costs via donations to Hug it Forward for the skilled laborers to construct the flooring, roofs, structure, and masonry – some other Hug it Forward groups helped the skilled laborers, the government of Guatemala funded the masonry, and our group built the walls with the students of the school and members of the community! Our bottle school project was with the community, by the community, and with our help – it’s their lasting legacy of ecological awareness, activism, and educational commitment.

Subsequent blog posts will share more details and more images!

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.

General Updates from the District March 2023 – Audio

Sharing a collection of brief updates to the Community in March 2023.

Click for a link to transcripts in English and Spanish

Busy, Focus, Internal Moves, Green Bay, Phase 2, Phase 3, Learning & Teaching, Board Updates, and more!
From the episode:

We’ve been busy in District 112 – this year, the 2022-2023 school year has been full of downs, ups, and successes, and change. We started very emotionally as part of the Highland Park community after the unspeakable tragedy at the parade on July 4. We pulled together as a community with multiple government, school, social services, private sector, and individual citizens stepping up in many ways to begin a healing process that will be a model for our nation.

The school district is in a positive, strong, and forward-looking position. With your overwhelming support, we passed a bond referendum with 72% “yes” votes – a remarkable vote of confidence for your future! We have been hard at work designing Ravinia School and Indian Trail School for summer construction. We also have a Central Production Kitchen in the mix; we’ll soon be able to provide quality hot lunch meals to each student at a reasonable price and with far higher quality than our current production capacity allows. Modernized repurposed schools, equitable food access, and support from the community – it’s a proud time in our elementary school district – we’re beyond grateful for your support.

Visit our website at https://www.nssd112.org/ for more links, updates, and information anytime.

In 2023: Unlearn, remain Unfinished, and elevate Student Voice

“What each of us must come to realize is that our intent always comes through.”
– Thurgood Marshall, First African-American Supreme Court Justice

Another trip around the sun … another year full of hope, dreams, opportunity, and possibility, another “do-over” for us all! Over time, I have written about the power of the “do-over” that we in education get each July (the new school year). On January 1st, around the world, we each get another “do-over.”

So … what will we do over? What hopes, dreams, opportunities, and possibilities should we put forward? It’s a powerful contemplation – a powerful window with which we get to look through the world. It’s pretty awesome to be able to rest, recharge, and re-do all that makes sense. In my profession, it’s all about creating conditions for educators to support and enrich youth — we teach, we create learning spaces for children and young adults, and we create the future (I know … it’s a bit lofty — but we in education work in the profession that creates all other professions, we’re at the foundation of humanity).  Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic on the first day of the new year, or perhaps I’m embellishing our impact as educators; perhaps, I’m right!

In my personal and professional career in public education, 2023 marks my 31st year of service as a public school educator (teacher, school administrator, district administrator, and I’m finishing my 13th year as a public school superintendent). In the year of my country, we’re entering our  247th year as a free nation. It’s the 13th year of the iPad … 2023 is many things to many people. From the new AI tool, when I entered the search query: “what does the year 2023 represent, I received the following machine-generated response:

The year 2023 is the 2023rd year in the Gregorian calendar. It is a common year, meaning it has 365 days in total. 2023 is the 23rd year of the 21st century and the 4th year of the 2020s decade.

I share the AI (artificial intelligence) response as an interesting “statement” as to what’s going on “technologically speaking.” I (or anyone) can enter a search query, and this new tool can generate a “Human-Like” chat with me about just about anything. So … I’ve been an educator before the internet, during its birth, before Google … and so on. In our 2017 book, The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (Rowman & Littlefield), Nick Polyak and I wrote, in chapter 1,

Times have changed. Ten years ago, superintendents and principals used the U.S. Postal Service to support communication and leadership. They used paper memos and inter-office envelopes and even voicemail. Teachers would send a paper newsletter home each week. Communication today is instant and immediate. Today’s superintendents,  today’s teachers, and today’s students are connected 24/7 and are able to communicate with blogs, audio, video, text messaging, e-mail, and any number of social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Remind, Voxer, Snapchat, etc.
The past ten years have shown significant changes in terms of consumption of information and “fingertip” access. Yes, times have changed. Communication has changed, but the importance of communication in support of leadership and innovation remains the same. Today’s superintendent knows how to leverage the power of technology to harness effective and impactful communication. Today’s teachers share learning examples in real time.

This was a reflection on communication from 2006-2016. Now, 7 years later, with exponential growth and change in technology, communication tools, “fingertip access,” and the worldwide global pandemic (and related trauma, change, silver linings – all of the above), there have been even more powerful real-time examples of how teachers and superintendents can enhance and improve their abilities to communicate and to lead.

In our 2021 book, The Unfinished Leader: A School Leadership Framework for Growth & Development (Rowman & Littlefield), Nick Polyak, PJ Caposey, and I write about Managing Change with New Information (Chapter 11 in Part V: Communication).

The most important thing is transforming our minds, for a new way of thinking, a new outlook: we should strive to develop a new inner world.Dalai Lama

If you are reading this book, we can say with near certainty that you make critical decisions and problem solve every day.  Oftentimes when we are pushed into making a critical decision there is not a singular answer that can satisfy the problem at hand. Instead, you call on  your prior experiences, the input of trusted colleagues and mentors, and the input of your affected stakeholders. 

What we are certain of is that as a leader you will be faced with problems and issues in the future that seem unimaginable right now. The world is changing at an exponential rate.  Understanding that fact is crucial, and understanding how to successfully navigate those problems and issues is what will make the unfinished leader ultimately successful.

So, as we embrace the changes, both known/predictable and unknown/unpredictable, with the dawn of the year 2023, I share a sense of wonder, excitement, anticipation, and hope for the good that we as a human race can offer, that we as educators can create, and that we as writers can share with the world! It’s always time to “unlearn”, remain “unfinished,” and embrace the “do-over” as the calendars clear for 12 more months.

End of Chapter feature in our book – To hear the voice of students, just “ask’em”!

Finally, in our 2018 book, Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable (Rowman & Littlefield), we conclude with a call to action, so as we embark on 2023, as a long-time public school educator, I suggest that the resolutions we should have in addition to Unlearning and remaining Unfinished, should be to elevate student voice and agency in your public school system. In conclusion,

This book is about one thing – building upon the kids-first mentality that all great educators have and transforming the mentality of serving kids first to serving with kids first. This book is our call to action. This book should provide a sense of urgency and a corresponding hope for the future. Our greatest asset is (and always will be) our students.


Ask: Ask students to think big and ask them to think about where their voice being heard would have the greatest impact on the school.

Support: We have taken some of the brilliance from students over time and they may not know how to react to this question. It is your job to ensure that they reach into their Kindergarten heart and mind to be fearless and to guarantee that their imagination has no bounds.

Know: Nobody knows your kids as well as you do. This is a change, and it is a change that they may not initially trust. It will most likely take leadership at the individual student level to help create student ownership as part of the culture of your building.

Empower: Great leaders set floors for performance but never ceilings. Create an environment that empowers your students to lead change and dream big.

Monitor: Giving students an opportunity to have their voice heard and not acting on it will cause significant regression in your building. It is important to understand that this process is fluid and ongoing. Change is incremental and not linear. It is necessary to monitor the level of success of incorporating student voice at every turn.

Happy & Healthy New Year!

Audio Update on Safety & Security July 22 2022 #112Leads

Sharing an audio update to the community on safety and security.

This update on safety and security is shared with thought, emotion, care, and concern. We have a board meeting coming up on July 26, 2022, at 7:00pm, we’ll meet live and broadcast that meeting live as well. This informational update is intended to preview and highlight the upcoming Board discussion and presentation on safety and security and to follow up from the July 14 communication I shared. I’m sharing this update as your superintendent and as a father of two teenagers, a husband to a wonderful wife, a community member, and a human being. 

I know that people are in different emotional spaces right now. Some can fully embrace safety and security messages and information. Others are not yet ready to fully process this information. Some focus on specific ideas, and others are somewhere between. The main takeaways are that with school opening soon. As you likely know, District 112 is fully committed to safety and security issues. Before the July 4 incident and other national incidents, District 112 had been heavily involved in its schools’ physical, mental, and emotional safety for its students, staff, and the community. In a video message, and an audio podcast, I am highlighting the focus points in place, under review and consideration, and specific actions we take regarding safety and security. Later today, I’ll post an audio transcript in English and Spanish on my blog. Thank you for your support of our schools, your interest in our programming, your outreach, and your trust in the fact that we follow and implement best practices in all domains of our work. 

Finally, please know that our efforts are done with love, care, compassion, expert advice, and excellence.

Note in Spanish

Esta actualización sobre seguridad y protección se comparte con pensamiento, emoción, cuidado y preocupación. Tenemos una reunión de la junta el 26 de julio de 2022, a las 7:00 p.m., nos reuniremos en vivo y transmitiremos esa reunión también. Esta actualización informativa tiene la intención de previsualizar y resaltar la próxima discusión y presentación de la Junta sobre seguridad y protección, y para dar seguimiento a la comunicación del 14 de julio que compartí. Estoy compartiendo esta actualización no solo como su superintendente, sino también como padre de dos adolescentes, esposo de una esposa maravillosa, miembro de la comunidad y como ser humano.

Sé que las personas están en diferentes espacios emocionales en este momento. Algunos pueden aceptar plenamente los mensajes y la información de seguridad y protección. Otros aún no están listos para procesar completamente esta información. Algunos se centran en ideas muy específicas, y otros están en algún punto intermedio. Las principales conclusiones son que con la apertura de la escuela pronto. Como probablemente sepa, el Distrito 112 está totalmente comprometido con los problemas de seguridad y protección. Antes del incidente del 4 de julio y otros incidentes nacionales, el Distrito 112 había estado muy involucrado en la seguridad física, mental y emocional de sus escuelas para sus estudiantes, personal y la comunidad. En un mensaje de video, un podcast de audio, estoy destacando los puntos de enfoque en su lugar, bajo revisión y consideración, y las acciones específicas que estamos tomando con respecto a la seguridad y la protección. Más tarde hoy publicaré una transcripción de audio en inglés y español en mi blog. Gracias por su apoyo a nuestras escuelas, por su interés en nuestra programación, por su alcance y por su confianza en el hecho de que seguimos e implementamos las mejores prácticas en todos los dominios de nuestro trabajo.

Finalmente, por favor sepa que nuestros esfuerzos se realizan con amor, cuidado, compasión, asesoramiento experto y excelencia.

Link to VIDEO messageVIDEO message

Espanol/ Spanish Transcript (English transcript follows)

– Hola, soy Mike Lubelfeld, superintendente de escuelas. Y vengo a ti hoy con una actualización sobre seguridad y protección. Y antes de pasar a los detalles, y antes de entrar en las tuercas y tornillos, quiero que sepas que tenemos una reunión de la junta el martes 26 de julio. Nuestras reuniones de la junta están aquí, en vivo personalmente, en las oficinas administrativas. También estaremos haciendo una transmisión en vivo, para que la gente pueda ver en vivo o después del hecho. Y simplemente quiero decir, al principio, que vengo a ti, no solo como tu superintendente de escuelas y como líder educativo, pero también como ser humano y como padre de dos hijos adolescentes, y marido de mi mujer, y como alguien que siente junto a todos y cada uno de ustedes, con lo que hemos estado pasando como resultado directo de los trágicos acontecimientos del 4 de julio, aquí en Highland Park y también de hechos anteriores a eso, desde una perspectiva de seguridad y protección. Me importa, siento, empatizo. También estoy aquí para hacer mi trabajo y compartirlo contigo. Pero solo quiero señalar eso, que algunos de ustedes están muy listos para escuchar los mensajes que tengo y algunos de ustedes están muy interesados y actualizados. Otros de ustedes, en este momento, realmente no pueden escuchar esto, y lo respeto, lo entiendo. Otros de ustedes están enfocados en ciertas cosas o no están enfocados. Y estés donde estés, está bien. Simplemente quiero afirmar, afirmar, validar que hay muchos sentimientos y muchas emociones. Aquí en el distrito escolar, quiero compartir con ustedes lo que está pasando. Y sé que hay mucha información que he compartido por correo electrónico y otras áreas. Así que hoy en esta actualización de video, es un adelanto de lo que vamos a hablar el martes. Digo esto con un corazón abierto y una mente abierta, y más allá de ser el superintendente, que tiene un trabajo que hacer, pero como un chico que se siente junto a ti, como padre y como ser humano. Probablemente sepas esto, pero de nuevo, a veces vale la pena repetir, la seguridad ha sido un compromiso continuo en el Distrito Escolar 112. No sólo en reacción a los acontecimientos, y ciertamente no solo en reacción a lo que acabamos de experimentar como comunidad. Pero durante muchos años. En 2014, tuvimos una auditoría. 2018, se implementaron vestíbulos de seguridad en los planteles. Y a medida que avanzamos, hacemos mejoras. En 2018, iniciamos la asociación de capacitación ALICE, de lo que hablaré un poco más. También tuvimos otra auditoría en 2018, y hemos implementado esas recomendaciones desde entonces. En junio, le pedí a la Junta de Educación para aprobar otra auditoría de seguridad. Es parte de un compromiso continuo. Preguntamos a los expertos en la materia, que saben de esto, qué es lo correcto que las escuelas, como la nuestra, ¿se supone que deben hacer para asegurarse de que estamos seguros por dentro y por fuera? De nuevo, el 14 de junio, nuestra junta aprobó un contrato con un señor llamado Paul Timm, que dirige una empresa FEA. En 2022, este verano, hemos estado haciendo otras inversiones, que resaltaré en este breve mensaje de video, y algunas mejoras a nuestra seguridad en nuestras instalaciones. Pero también quiero hablar contigo sobre una investigación, de la que soy parte de nuestro equipo, que vamos a abordar con respecto a varias soluciones. No sé si vamos a implementar estas o si las vamos a implementar tarde o temprano, simplemente quiero que sepas que estamos escuchando y estamos investigando guardias, dispositivos de detección y otras cosas. Pero realmente quiero compartir con ustedes aquí, que el trabajo que estamos haciendo no está en el vacío. Y siempre buscamos a los expertos en el campo. En este caso, en 2019, 2020, la Fuerza de Tarea contra el Terrorismo de Illinois. Y odio incluso decir esas palabras en un mensaje a nuestra comunidad, pero la Fuerza de Tarea contra el Terrorismo de Illinois tenía un grupo de trabajo de seguridad escolar. Hicieron recomendaciones a personas como nosotros, que trabajan en las escuelas públicas aquí en Illinois. Y quiero que sepas, y repasaremos esto con mayor detalle el martes por la noche, pero quería tomar el punto ahora mismo para compartir con ustedes. Y no sé si vas a obtener esto en video, en audio o forma escrita, estamos tratando de obtener la mayor cantidad formas de comunicación que podamos. Pero los expertos en seguridad escolar hablan de tres maneras de ver esto, evaluación del comportamiento, y eso va con las auditorías que hicimos en 2014, 2018 y la auditoría que estamos comenzando inmediatamente ahora mismo en 2022, el concepto de endurecimiento de las instalaciones, la seguridad física de la que les hablaré, y luego algo que no sé que he hablado contigo bastante, y ese es el protocolo de respuesta. Así que en el mensaje de video de hoy quiero compartir contigo recomendaciones de expertos. ¿Cómo lo maneja el distrito 112 ahora? y ¿qué podemos hacer en el futuro? Es posible que sepas que contamos con equipos de evaluación del comportamiento. Dra. Holly Colin, nuestra asistente del superintendente, en el extranjero y lo dirige. Puede que no sepas que tenemos cerca de 30 miembros del personal de salud mental, trabajadores sociales, psicólogos directamente dedicados a brindar apoyo socioemocional en el distrito escolar. Este año, estamos aumentando la equivalencia de tiempo completo para los trabajadores sociales en todo el distrito. Y estamos agregando un medio tiempo, en todo el distrito, persona en todas las escuelas. Esto es nuevo. Tendremos al menos un trabajador social a tiempo completo y no necesariamente alguien compartido entre campus. Además, tenemos en los libros, acuerdos intergubernamentales, IGA, con la Policía de Highland Park, la Policía de Highwood. También trabajamos con el Sheriff del Condado de Lake y la Dirección Regional de Educación. Puede que sepa que tenemos un oficial de policía de Highland Park, un oficial de recursos escolares, asignado al Distrito 112. Algunas cosas que no sé que compartimos lo suficiente contigo, y quería aprovechar el tiempo aquí para compartir con ustedes, también tenemos estrategias para toda la escuela, prácticas restaurativas, desescalada, también la construcción de relaciones. Usamos cosas como Second Step, Calm Classrooms, Sembrados para Crecer, capacitación CPI o prevención de crisis. También tenemos PBIS, intervenciones y apoyos conductuales positivos. Tenemos Líder en Mí. Tenemos Tiger Stripes, Panda STARS, Champs y otros programas diseñados para ayudar la relación socioemocional con los estudiantes, para que se sientan seguros y cómodos compartiendo con nosotros cómo responder. También tenemos Text a Tip y Safe2Help Illinois. Estas son herramientas de reporte, confidenciales 24/7. En este momento, en tiempo real, estamos investigando STOPit. Tendremos más información para ti en las próximas semanas. Y el Distrito 112 tiene una línea de información. Y cuando obtenga un enlace a estas diapositivas, puedes tener un enlace a estos recursos y te alentamos a que lo compartas con tus hijos. En cuanto al endurecimiento de las instalaciones, a la Fuerza de Tarea contra el Terrorismo de Illinois se le ocurrieron varias capas, cinco capas. Hay diferencias para los primeros años de primaria, hay diferencias para primaria, secundaria, secundaria, universidades, etc., etc. Pero quiero compartir contigo, la capa uno que habla de agregar videovigilancia, señalización para mensajería y comunicación, estamos mejorando nuestro trabajo en ese sentido este verano, a través de las escuelas. Segunda capa, cerraduras dobles de puertas exteriores. Así que tanto las puertas exteriores como las interiores requerirán un zumbido, eso está de vuelta en todos los campus. También vamos a trabajar con nuestro personal de primera línea para asegurarnos de que hagamos una pausa y nos detenemos para asegurarnos de saber quién viene y entendemos cuál es tu negocio, cuando entras en la escuela. Nos disculpamos de antemano por las molestias, pero sabemos que nos vas a apoyar. También disponemos de un sistema de gestión de visitantes donde comprobamos DNI o nombre y fecha de nacimiento. Esto es parte de la seguridad para los niños y nuestro personal. Tenemos vestíbulos de entrada segura, es la capa tres. La capa cuatro tiene múltiples componentes. Tenemos cámaras de vigilancia dentro y fuera, en todos los campus, con acceso remoto a la nube. Estamos haciendo actualizaciones en este momento. Tenemos un oficial de recursos escolares dedicado, un oficial de policía de Highland Park, especialmente entrenado, dedicado al Distrito Escolar 112. En áreas selectas, por obvias razones de seguridad, no te diré donde pero en áreas selectas tenemos materiales a prueba de balas y resistentes a las balas. Es simplemente un hecho de la vida. Nivel cinco, tenemos BluePoint Security. Entonces, al igual que tirarás de una estación si hay un incendio, aquí puedes sacar una estación si hay necesidad de la policía. También hemos mejorado completamente la seguridad en Northwood y Edgewood, como parte de la fase uno de nuestros planes de seguridad a largo plazo. ¿Qué otra cosa? Durante el año pasado y este verano, hemos invertido cerca de 2 millones de dólares para actualizaciones, para estandarización. También estamos considerando actualizar nuestra actualización de megafonía de intercomunicación. También estamos buscando expandir nuestro sistema de acceso a las puertas. Gente que estamos investigando, en este momento, Soluciones de Detección de Armas, seguridad armada, seguridad desarmada, vallado, cabinas telefónicas exteriores, cerraduras electrónicas de puertas. Con la planificación de la fase dos, del plan a largo plazo y el posible referéndum, contamos con planeamiento arquitectónico para seguridad y protección. Escribimos sobre esto en el Highlander de junio y julio que va para todos los residentes de Highland Park. Y también tenemos un compromiso continuo para asegurarnos de que estamos haciendo esto en nuestra planificación en este momento. Nos reunimos regularmente con los representantes policiales de Highland Park, Highwood, Deerfield, Riverwoods, Bannockbum. Todos los departamentos de bomberos, también, que alimentan al Distrito 113. Incluye personal del distrito escolar. Nos vemos en persona, nos vemos por zoom. Revisamos nuestros procedimientos de seguridad y nuestros planes de acción de emergencia. Algunos públicos, otros no. Hablamos de simulacros y protocolos. Recientemente, el 28 de junio, hubo una interdisciplinariedad regional reunión de seguridad del edificio. Y la última semana de julio, me reuní con nuestro consultor de seguridad de seguridad escolar, subjefe de policía en un área vecina y algunas otras personas. Estamos viendo un programa global de respuesta a la violencia. Estamos viendo el programa ALICE, alertar, bloquear, informar, contrarrestar y evacuar. El programa que tenemos corre, escóndete, lucha. También estamos buscando capacitación en trauma. EStás consciente, a través de las comunicaciones, he dicho que acabamos de recibir un entrenamiento reciente. Lo que puede o no saber es, hemos planeado el entrenamiento Stop the Bleed para nuestro personal este verano. Realizamos RCP, reanimación cardiopulmonar y DEA, formación en desfibrilador externo automático, está en curso. Acabamos de programar la capacitación del personal informado sobre trauma este verano, antes de que comience la escuela. Te envié una nota completa en julio y lo entiendo de nuevo, algunas personas pueden leerlo y entenderlo. Algunas personas no están listas para leerlo. Algunas personas quieren ciertas cosas. Sé que estamos en diferentes etapas y me importa. A todos nos importa. Por favor, comprende las escuelas estarán abiertas pronto. Tenemos nueva orientación para el personal, 15 de agosto. Tenemos otra reunión ordinaria de la junta escolar el 16 de agosto. Tenemos a todo el personal regresando con un día de instituto del psicólogo escolar, Dr. Doug Bolton el 22 de agosto. Tenemos a nuestros estudiantes regresando el 24 de agosto. Amigos, antes de cerrar, quiero recordarles, el martes 26 de julio, este próximo martes, tenemos una reunión de la junta escolar. Realizamos nuestras reuniones en vivo en persona, aquí en el Centro de Administración de Green Bay. Puedes verlo en vivo. Quiero aprovechar el momento, en tantas formas de comunicación como puedo decir, somos conscientes, escuchamos, nos importa. Tenemos un corazón, somos parte de nuestra comunidad. Estamos orgullosos de ser parte de nuestra comunidad. Estamos orgullosos de dar la bienvenida a casi 4.000 estudiantes en menos de un mes. Tenemos mucho tiempo, energía e inversiones y recursos financieros en seguridad y protección. Estamos escuchando sugerencias, miedos e inquietudes. Estamos investigando. Tendremos una actualización y una discusión el martes por la noche. Esto está en curso. Te agradezco tu apoyo del Distrito Escolar 112 de North Shore. Y gracias por contactarme a mí y a la Junta de Educación. Nuestro lema es inspirar, innovar y comprometer y continuaremos haciéndolo con amor, cuidado, compasión. También seguiremos recibiendo asesoramiento de expertos y hacer todo lo que podamos en este día y época para asegurarnos de que estamos dirigiendo las escuelas en un entorno seguro y ordenado. Muchas gracias. Mantente en contacto.

English Transcript

– Hi, this is Mike Lubelfeld, superintendent of schools. And I’m coming to you today with an update on safety and security. And before I go over the details, and before I get into the nuts and bolts, I want to let you know that we have a board meeting on Tuesday, July 26th. Our board meetings are here, live in person, at the administrative offices. We’ll also be doing a live broadcast, so people can watch live or after the fact. And I simply want to state, at the beginning, that I come to you, not only as your superintendent of schools and as an educational leader, but also as a human being and as a father of two teenage children, and a husband of my wife, and as someone who is feeling alongside of each and every one of you, with what we’ve been going through as a direct result of the tragic events of July 4th, here in Highland Park and also of events prior to that, from a safety and security perspective. I care, I feel, I empathize. I’m also here to do my job and share that with you. But I just want to point that out, that some of you are very ready to hear the messages that I have and some of you are very interested and up to date. Others of you, right now, you really can’t listen to this, and I respect that, I understand that. Others of you are focused on certain things or uni-focused. And wherever you are, that’s okay. I simply want to state, affirm, validate that there’s a lot of feelings and a lot of emotions. Here in the school district, I want to share with you what’s going on. And I know there’s a lot of information that I’ve shared via email and other areas. So today in this video update, it’s a preview of what we’re going to talk about on Tuesday. I say this with an open heart and an open mind, and beyond just being the superintendent, who’s got a job to do, but as a guy who’s feeling alongside with you, as a father and as a human being. You probably know this, but again, sometimes it bears repeating, security and safety has been an ongoing commitment in School District 112. Not just in reaction to events, and certainly not just in reaction to what we’ve just experienced as a community. But for many years. In 2014, we had an audit. 2018, there were safety vestibules implemented at campuses. And as we go on, we make improvements. In 2018, we started the ALICE training partnership, that I’ll talk a little bit more about. We also had another audit in 2018, and we’ve implemented those recommendations since then. In June, I asked the Board of Education to approve another security audit. It’s part of an ongoing commitment. We ask experts in the field, who know about this, what’s the right thing that schools, like ours, are supposed to do to make sure that we’re safe inside and outside? So again, June 14th, our board approved a contract with a gentleman named Paul Timm, who runs a company FEA. In 2022, this summer, we’ve been making other investments, that I’ll highlight in this brief video message, and some upgrades to our security in our facilities. But I also want to talk with you about some research, that I’m part of with our team, that we’re going into regarding various solutions. I don’t know if we’re going to implement these or if we’re going to implement them sooner or later, I simply want you to know we are listening and we are investigating guards, detection devices and other things. But I really want to share with you here, that the work we’re doing is not out in a vacuum. And we always look to the experts in the field. In this case, back in 2019, 2020, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. And I hate to even say those words in a message to our community, but the Illinois Terrorism Task Force had a school safety working group. They made recommendations to people like us, who work in public schools here in Illinois. And I want you to know, and we’ll go over this in greater detail Tuesday night, but I wanted to take the point right now to share with you. And I don’t know if you’re going to get this in video, in audio or written form, we’re trying to get as many forms of communication as we can. But the experts in school safety talk about three ways to look at this, behavioral assessment, and that goes with the audits we did in 2014, 2018 and the audit we’re actually starting immediately right now in 2022, the concept of hardening of facilities, the physical security that I’ll talk with you about, and then something that I don’t know that I’ve talked with you about enough, and that’s the response protocol. So in today’s video message I want to share with you recommendations from experts. How does district 112 handle it now and what might we do in the future? You may know that we have behavioral assessment teams. Dr. Holly Colin, our assistant superintendent, overseas and runs it. You may not know that we have nearly 30 mental health personnel, social workers, psychologists directly devoted to providing social-emotional support in the school district. This year, we’re increasing the full-time equivalency for social workers across the district. And we’re adding a halftime, district wide, person in all schools. This is new. We’ll have at least one full-time social worker and not necessarily someone shared between campuses. In addition, we have on the books, inter governmental agreements, IGAs, with the Highland Park Police, the Highwood Police. We also work with the Lake County Sheriff and the Regional Office of Education. You may know we have a Highland Park police officer, a school resource officer, assigned to District 112. Some stuff I don’t know that we share enough with you, and I wanted to take the time here to share with you, we also have school wide strategies, restorative practices, deescalation, also relationship building. We use things like, Second Step, Calm Classrooms, Sown to Grow, CPI training or crisis prevention. We also have PBIS, positive behavioral intervention and supports. We have Leader in Me. We have Tiger Stripes, Panda STARS, Champs and other programs designed to help the social-emotional relationship with students, so they feel safe and comfortable sharing with us how to respond. We also have Text a Tip and Safe2Help Illinois. These are reporting tools, confidential 24/7. Right now, in real time, we’re researching STOPit. We’ll have more information for you in the next few weeks. And District 112 has a tip line. And when you get a link to these slides, you can have a link to these resources and we encourage you to share that with your children. In terms of hardening the facilities, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force came up with various layers, five layers. There’s differences for early elementary, there’s differences for elementary, middle, high school, universities, so on and so forth. But I want to share with you, layer one that talks about adding video surveillance, signage for messaging and communication, we’re upping our work in that regard this summer, across the schools. Layer two, exterior door double locks. So both the exterior and interior doors will require a buzz in, that is back in place at all campuses. We also are going to work with our frontline staff to make sure that we pause and we stop to make sure we know who’s coming in and we understand what your business is, when you come into the school. We apologize in advance for the inconvenience, but we know you’re going to support us. We also have a visitor management system where we check ID or name and birth date. This is part of safety for the children and our staff. We have secure entry vestibules, it’s layer three. Layer four has multiple components. We have surveillance cameras inside and outside, all across the campuses, with remote cloud access. We’re making upgrades right now. We have a dedicated school resource officer, a Highland Park police officer, specially trained, dedicated to School District 112. In select areas, for obvious security reasons, I won’t tell you where, but in select areas we have bullet proof and bullet resistant materials. It’s simply a fact of life. Level five, we have BluePoint Security. So just like you’ll pull a station if there’s a fire, here you can pull a station if there’s a need for the police. We’ve also completely upgraded security at Northwood and Edgewood, as part of phase one of our long range security plans. What else? Over the past year and this summer, we’ve invested nearly 2 million dollars for upgrades, for standardization. We’re also looking at upgrading our Intercom Public Address Upgrade. We’re also looking at expanding our door access system. Folks we’re researching, right now, Weapons Detection Solutions, armed security, unarmed security, fencing, exterior call boxes, electronic door locks. With phase two planning, of the long range plan and the potential referendum, we have architectural planning for safety and security. We wrote about this in the June, July Highlander that goes to every resident of Highland Park. And we’re also have an ongoing commitment to making sure we’re doing this in our planning right now. We meet on a regular basis with the police representatives of Highland Park, Highwood, Deerfield, Riverwoods, Bannockbum. All the fire departments, too, that feed to District 113. It includes school district personnel. We meet in person, we meet on zoom. We review our safety procedures and our emergency action plans. Some public, some not. We talk about drills and protocols. Recently, on June 28th, there was a regional interdisciplinary building safety meeting. And last week in July, I met with our school safety security consultant, deputy chief of police in a neighboring area and some other folks. We’re looking at an overarching violence response program. We’re looking at the ALICE program, alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. Run, hide, fight program that we have. We’re also looking at trauma training. You’re aware, through the communications, I’ve said, we’ve just had recent training. What you may or may not know is, we have planned Stop the Bleed Training for our staff this summer. We do CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED, automated external defibrillator training, it’s ongoing. We have just scheduled trauma informed staff training this summer, before school starts. I sent you a comprehensive note in July and I understand again, some folks can read it and understand it. Some folks are not ready to read it. Some folks want certain things. I know we’re at different stages and I care. We all care. Please understand, schools are going to be open soon. We have new staff orientation, August 15th. We have another regular school board meeting August 16th. We have all staff coming back with an institute day from school psychologist, Dr. Doug Bolton on August 22nd. We have our students returning August 24th. Friends, before I close, I want to remind you, on Tuesday, July 26th, this coming Tuesday, we have a school board meeting. We hold our meetings live in person, here at the Green Bay Administration Center. You can watch it live. I want to take the moment, in as many forms of communication as I can to say, we’re aware, we’re listening, we care. We have a heart, we’re part of our community. We’re proud to be part of our community. We’re proud to welcome our nearly 4,000 students back in less than a month. We have significant time, energy and financial investments and resources in safety and security. We’re listening to suggestions and fears and concerns. We’re doing research. We’ll have an update and a discussion Tuesday night. This is ongoing. I thank you for your support of North Shore School District 112. And thank you, reaching out to me and to the Board of Education. Our motto is inspire, innovate, and engage and we’ll continue to do so with love, care, compassion. We’ll also continue to get expert advice and do everything we can in this day and age to make sure we’re running schools in a safe, orderly environment. Thank you so much. Stay in touch.

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