“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
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
– Ryunosuke Satoro
Since March 12, 2020, our school district has been engaged in the COVID-19 global pandemic. Our schools first closed their doors on March 13, 2020, then Illinois closed all in-person schooling on March 17, 2020. Our teachers, support staff, administrators, parents, students, community, everyone, marshaled new resources for learning, teaching, and living, and our lives changed forever. Our Teaching & Learning team met with teachers and administrators and made learning and teaching plans to get us through and ahead of each and every step of the journey we were thrust into. Schooling for the 2019-2020 school year ended on June 4, 2020, with revolutionary transformative impacts still yet to be fully understood or realized. The District pushed out online resources at a pace and scope and scale never before seen. The District pushed out devices to children and families at a pace and scope and scale never before seen – and the District’s four priorities led us through the next phases.
During this phase, the March – June phase, I was honored and humbled to be asked to join and take part in multiple interviews regarding the District 112 story, some shared below:
In July, the District ushered in its first-ever virtual summer school and the data showed effective impact! The District assembled a 50+ person stakeholder team to plan for the restart of schools with the support and advice of the DMGroup from Boston, MA. We planned last summer for the possibility of three options, fully in-person schooling, fully remote schooling, and Hybrid schooling. In September, and through October, the District implemented the well thought out plans for Hybrid Learning (full plan and many communication tools linked https://www.nssd112.org/domain/1243).
On October 21, and through today (and ongoing) the District is engaged in full remote learning. We have measured learning (using the NWEA MAP tests) we have measured Remote Learning (with our partner ECRA Group assessing teachers/staff, parents, and middle school students in May and October), we measured staff culture (with our partner Humanex Ventures), we measured family engagement and student engagement (with our partner Humanex Ventures), we take what works and replicated and improve upon it and we take what doesn’t work and fix it (example with middle school remote learning moving from all asynchronous to all synchronous).
So, when will we reopen our schools …. when will we resume the Hybrid Learning Model and even the fully in-person model? Early on in this journey, we yielded public health expertise, advice, and guidance to the public health experts. The Lake County, IL Health Department (an agency of the Illinois Department of Public Health) has taken a lead in Illinois (and in the nation) with parsimonious guidance and leadership to the schools in Lake County, IL. Our District follows their advice. Our plan has been clearly laid out and communicated since August. The hyper significant community spread of COVID 19 caused us to close the doors to our school buildings and transform learning and teaching from Hybrid to remote.
We will open our schools again when we can. There is no calendar date for reopening since the virus, hyper significant community spread, and the advice of public health experts will guide our decision making. We investigate widespread surveillance testing as an enhanced risk mitigation, we investigate how to get the vaccines to turn into vaccinations in the arms of our staff and community, as well as the efficacy of the millions of dollars in already introduced risk mitigation in our schools in an effort to get our kids and staff back on campus.
I want our kids back in school and our doors open again as soon as practical and permissible. As the winter holiday season falls upon us, I call for grace, compassion, kindness, love, and care as we bring this year of years to an end – farewell 2020 …. and as we welcome 2021 with open arms and HOPE and ANTICIPATION!
I know this to be true, our schools WILL be open again to in-person learning in 2021 – I do not know the dates for the transition, but I know we will create a new and improved learning system that innovates, inspires, and engages each child, each staff member, and each member of the community. Where we go from here is up to us. How we react to life is up to us. How we model humility, grace, resiliency to our children is up to us!
Stay tuned … our journey is just beginning!
“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.
“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
“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
June 1, 2020
An Open Letter to our Community,
The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, brings racial violence to the forefront of our country and our psyche as a nation. While our nation and local communities have made strides regarding racial equality over the years, the reality is, our nation has a lot of work to do. The current sadness I feel and that is felt around the nation and world is not sadness that should be present in our society. We are all and we are each better than this. Everyone deserves respect and honor as a human being.
Our school district takes great pride in serving families of many races, creeds, ethnicities, religions, languages, etc. While we value these as strengths of our district, we continue to look for ways to respect and engage our differences. In the days, months, and years ahead, our district will need to engage students and families in exploring their own identities and learning through a lens/perspective different from their own. We must go beyond celebrating diversity in surface-level ways. It’s time to go deeper. It’s time to raise the generation that will erase the legacies of institutionalized racism.
I recently watched the History Channel miniseries on Ulysses S. Grant, it was a three day, six-hour documentary of Grant’s life, leadership, trials & tribulations. It also chronicles the American Civil War and the Reconstruction efforts in the South. Through literal bloodshed, slavery in the US was abolished and racial equality was legislated and put forth into law. In the decades that followed the US Civil War, the evils of institutionalized racism reinstituted a 2nd class society for people of color. Each time achievements were made in our nation, there were steps backward. Perhaps this is the time for us to step forward and stay forward.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Dual Language Two-Way Immersion, Spanish-English program in District 112. The blending of race, culture, language, ethnicity, and personal family histories serve to strengthen our schools, our children, and our communities. I’m proud to oversee an ethnically and linguistically inclusive educational program.
Standards-aligned curriculum & instruction serve to support the facilitation of balanced and thoughtful learning in all grades PK-8. Flexible changes in school boundaries and attendance centers sometimes appeared to be the greatest challenges and “problems” we faced in our district. World and national events surely put all of this into perspective as we reflect on the abundance and joy in our school district. If ever there was a time for perspective — it is now!
As we reflect on recent national events (racial oppression and inequity) and global events (worldwide Pandemic bringing nations to a close), I call upon us all to rise up above the myopic views that sometimes stifle true understanding and growth. In North Shore School District 112, we are committed to educating each one of our students. We are also committed to supporting each member of the staff. We stand by equity, justice, kindness, respect, and good character. It is no longer enough to be against racism and oppression, we must become anti-racist and accomplices in the fight for equality and justice for all.
Remember our motto is Inspire…Innovate…Engage through our collective efforts and unity in kindness and good we can help to create a more just and bias-free society. While we endure the uncertainty of a Pandemic and we bear witness to the tragedy of racism and systemic oppression, it is my belief that we can unite and learn and grow in partnership for the good and right!
While we commit to embedding the tenets of social justice and anti-racism in our core, we are not there yet. We have work to do to actualize equality in both action and results. We are committed to this work and to ensuring that each child is able to grow in an educational environment that is safe and actualizes their greatness. To our students and families of color, I commit to start with me. I commit to not just reflect and discuss but to act upon injustice. I commit to acknowledge the rich contributions of Blacks and Latinos in the curriculum, to both listen and to act. I commit to using my power and privilege to fight against racist policies and practices. I commit to lead a school district that pays back the educational and societal debt that is owed to you.
With hope and respect,
Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin
With this school year coming to a close on June 4, 2020 I was reflecting on the power of a teacher, and in February 2017 I shared a similar story about one of the most impactful educators in my life. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on Dr. McFarland and share his impact on me again as we prepare to bring the most unprecedented school year to a close! Originally shared in February, 2017 I shared some thoughts about how a college professor from an undergraduate course on the American Presidency from many years ago impacted my life and my professional journey. A journey that currently has some powerful meaning/relevance with our district’s move to remote e-Learning. With this blog post, I’ll draw the connections!
As a former 6th and 8th grade social studies teacher (U.S. history, civics, law, world history, reading, etc.) I have a deep interest in our nation’s culture, history, values, beliefs, celebrations, etc. In addition, I hold a degree in political science, so I have been a “policy wonk” for many years, and to this day I follow the news, politics, etc.
While I was a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, UIC, I had some of the best teachers in my life. The late Dr. Twiley Barker Jr., Dr. Kevin Lyles, and Dr. Andrew McFarland, to name a few. During a course on the American Presidency, POLS 229, an event took place in my life that impacted my philosophies, beliefs, and actions as a teacher and educational leader over the past 30 years. In some ways it likely shaped my philosophies and impact as a teacher and as an educational leader so many years later. Right now there is a current challenging transition from the abrupt changes to remote e-Learning and how teachers have to “report progress” in this unusual time. Looking back at my personal educational history, I’m reminded of why meaningful feedback, teacher /student relationships, and the mastery of content and the flexibility of instruction supersedes any percentage grade or mark in terms of meaningful feedback and communication about learning.
With this blog post, I’m reflecting on the congruity of an impactful event in my life during an undergraduate course, and the realization that this impactful event has impacted my beliefs whether I consciously knew about it or not. This is an “aha” moment for me – this is partially why I so strongly believe the growing pains and transition are worth the time, effort, energy, and extra work involved in pupil progress reporting.
My college professor Dr. Andrew McFarland gave me a chance in the “real world” -when I was in college. Because he knew me, he knew what kind of student I was – he knew my passion for political science he treated me like I was more than a percentage or a score. Dr. McFarland also taught so that students would learn. He had high standards for each and every student and he held himself to high standards too.
So what is this all about? What is this big event that caused me an “aha” moment? Dr. McFarland called me one night while I was eating dinner with my parents; it was 5:30pm – I don’t know how I remember this fact, but I do. This event took place in 1988 or 1989 and I still vividly remember our call!
He called me that night because earlier that day when I took the final exam, I inadvertently forgot to answer one or two additional questions. If Dr. McFarland graded or assessed based on the “old” system I would have received an F. Dr. McFarland, though, was using standards based learning and instruction (whether he or I knew it or not). He called me on the phone and asked me to respond to the final exam question prompts – for 30 maybe 60 minutes. Because he cared about learning – not about percentages or “harsh” lessons, I was able to demonstrate mastery and competency of the American Presidency course (in which I did earn an A, not only because of what I learned, but more importantly, because my professor cared about discovering what his students knew).
He assessed my knowledge acquisition in an alternative learning setting because my teacher was more concerned about assessing my learning and mastery than he was about issuing a grade or a percentage. Had this caring professor used traditional methods I would have failed the exam. In my opinion and in my experiences, standards based grading, reporting, learning, and assessment actually prepares people for real life by holding them accountable to learn. Thank you Dr. McFarland!
Our district will transition through this remote e-Learning to next year (whatever that may be … ideally safe, healthy, and in person). Through this transformational experience for our schooling and for our society, we have all shown how quickly we can unlearn when we must, we have shown how we can relearn schooling, and we will show that we can learn how to create a new reality as necessary.
Dr. McFarland unlearned old school and rigid grading and assessment practices and I consider him to be remarkable and gifted, he was a leader who impacted me and my practice. Let’s use modern instructional strategies to maximize the impact and effect of learning whether we’re in person or remote, or in a hybrid combination of both. Let’s help people unlearn practices that make no sense other than to have been used in their past school experiences.
Preparing students for the future world requires teaching them content that is meaningful in learning environments that are powerfully purposeful and full of clear, regular, meaningful feedback and opportunities to learn and demonstrate learning. As we bring the school year to a close, we are reminded of the impact and power of a teacher and his or her feedback. Thank you to all educators — and thank you again, Dr. McFarland!
November 27, 2019
Sharing a note I sent to the North Shore School District 112 Community with greetings of holiday cheer and links to some recent success metrics in our District.
“You don’t owe me a thing, I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out,
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really want to pay me back,
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you” – Rory Lee Feek and Jonnie Barnett, performed by Clay Walker, The Chain of Love,1999
Dear North Shore School District 112 Community,
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I want to share a message of gratitude on behalf of the Board of Education and the leadership team of North Shore School District 112. In District 112, we have so much for which we are thankful. Each day, when I reflect on our service and work, I am so thankful. I am lucky to work with so many talented, professional and effective educators in such an engaged and thoughtful community!
We have accomplished so much in just over one year, we’re optimistic that our future is going to be bright and exciting! As you know, we are on a journey of continuous improvement. The important work we do puts our children on the path to success. Some highlights of our successful work include the following:
- Improved student performance and growth
- Improved organizational culture
- Before and after school care for all students in grades K-5
- Five-year labor agreements
- Portrait of a Graduate
- Investment in standards-aligned curricular resources
- Long-Range Plan for modernization with Northwood and Edgewood in process
To our community members who make supporting the local schools a priority and a focus – we thank you as well! We firmly believe in educating all children in a learning environment with high expectations. As the center of the community, all of the schools in Highland Park and Highwood are honored to Inspire, Innovate and Engage all students every day. We are grateful to our teachers, support staff, parents, grandparents, community members, administrators, and members of our Board of Education.
Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Students have one chance to experience whatever grade level they are in. They will be in third grade once … it’s incumbent upon we in education, then, to make that the best and most meaningful third grade experience we possibly can. This takes creative, innovative, and empowering leadership. Gone are the complacent days of the “good old days” when rote memorization and “cemetery rows” of desks and chairs in public schools were the norm. Gone is (or should be) the “paint by number” mentality governing the public school system.
Well, I hope so … I endeavor to be a leader who demonstrates creative leadership and courageous leadership in support of excellence and the development of others so that we create optimal conditions for learning, growth, and success. One way in which I do this is through attendance at and participation in professional learning conferences.
When superintendents gather at a professional learning conference, there are some expected traditions. There will be a welcome reception, we’ll get a directory of members, we’ll review the history/tradition of the organization, we’ll have sessions that are whole group, keynote presenters, small group break out sessions, work with partner organizations, local culture/history excursions and networking opportunities. These are legacy traditions that bind us together in our professional organizations in pursuit of scholarship, fellowship, and leadership development.
Although there is a rhyme and reason, and while there is a set of expectations and predictable events, opportunities and experiences, the gathering of school superintendents – our nation’s chief education officers – is anything but paint by numbers professional learning. Today’s leaders must support one another and inspire one another and help one another be better than they were yesterday! The concept of Paint by numbers can be defined as:
Adjective. paint-by-numbers (not comparable) (of a picture) Made from a painting by numbers kit. (figuratively) By rote, without thought or creativity.
From PAINT BY NUMBERS
“For critics, the paint-by-number phenomenon provided ample evidence of the mindless conformity gripping national life and culture. “I don’t know what America is coming to,” one writer complained to American Artist, “when thousands of people, many of them adults, are willing to be regimented into brushing paint on a jig-saw miscellany of dictated shapes and all by rote…”PAINT BY NUMBERS
So paint by numbers became a craze in the 1950s in America so that “anyone could become an artist”. It was part of the postwar (World War II) leisure and recreation fads in the newfound postwar American prosperity. After the Allied victories in the European and Asian theaters, the nation experienced a postwar boom of economic prosperity, educational attainment (GI Bill) and suburban sprawl out of the urban and rural areas.
Life was good. Anyone could “paint by numbers” and become an artist. Through rote, orderly rule following, in clean, linear fashion, everyone and anyone could create masterpieces that were originally created through innovation and creativity and talent.
In the period of time following World War II, and following the Korean Conflict, it can be argued that America was lulled into a peaceful and prosperous conformity where leisure, complacency, and pursuit of the American Dream was the norm. This was until the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR/CCCP, the Soviet Union (archenemy of the United States during the Cold War) successfully launched Sputnik … that started the space race, and was a starting point for the American wake up call for many things, including a focus on scientific and mathematical learning in the nation’s public schools. “History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched SputnikI. The world’s first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball…” Sputnik
Followed up with President John Kennedy’s bold, audacious goal that America would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. The palette of change and growth in America was about to become anything but “paint by numbers”.
Some argue that in the 19th year of the 21st Century, American public schools are again getting a wake-up call to create conditions for learning that resemble modern learning in response to the 4th Industrial Revolution instead of lingering traditions from the first or second Industrial Revolution. Why should our nation’s schools and classrooms still look like the image below?