The COVID-19 Impact on District 112 – #112Leads

“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:

Learning Through Leading Podcast   Edmentum – Video Interview Anchored In Education – Podcast Chip Southworth – Podcast Interview NLU Video Webinar Blog Talk Radio Interview  

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!

 

Impact of a Teacher – #112Leads

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.

 


Change is hard (I’ve written a lot about the change process) – Unlearning is hard (I have also written about this concept).

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!

Renewed focus on Student Learning #112Leads

“Success is not a result of what we do occasionally. Success is a result of the little things we do EVERY SINGLE DAY. Habits are a choice!”
– Alan Stein

This blog post is a reflection post as well as a foreshadowing of my personal professional focus for the coming year. Many of these notes have been jotted down over a period of time and I’m putting them all together while in the air on the way home from San Juan, Puerto Rico where my son accompanied me on a service trip organized by a fellow superintendent Jim McKay. Jim organized a similar trip last year, and based upon momentum and growth, he’ll be organizing more trips in the future. The service is powerful – the lasting legacy of service and respect for fellow educators and fellow students makes a deep mark in my heart and mind. The fact that I had the opportunity to share this with my son makes this year’s journey that much more powerful. In addition to service, my son and I had the good fortune to explore one of the United States’ oldest and longest lasting territories and people. The history of Puerto Rico is inexorably linked to the history of the United States.

So July 1st marks my 10th year as a public school superintendent, my 27th year as a public school educator, and my 2nd year at the helm in North Shore School District 112. As mentioned, I’ve recently returned from a service trip to a high school outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico with Relief Through Leadership; this was a follow-up to service that started last year in an elementary school outside of San Juan. I often write about “my why” or that which keeps me called to service, leadership, and community. In this blog post, I’ll share some reflections as well as some foreshadowing for the year ahead in my personal, professional, and District leadership roles! My “why” is to facilitate opportunities for leaders to support student voice and engagement.

Mission and service work is not only altruistic and ‘feel good ‘ work, it’s a humbling way to physically give and do for others so that I can show respect and goodwill through actions beyond words. That I can share this passion for service with my son is beyond humbling and honoring as well.

To watch my son sweep, scrape, clean, paint, help, serve, respect, and give simply for the purpose of giving and serving, not for any extrinsic reward, makes me beyond proud as a father and as an educator. Sharing this part of my world with him and further allowing me to explore my inner workings and my “why” and my purpose make me a better father and leader (I hope).


My personal educational philosophy statement is and has been:

Our society is complex enough to present many challenges to people as they pass from childhood to adulthood. It is my firm belief that a strong foundation in educational preparation will support a person’s quest for success and prosperity. My philosophical foundation holds that young people are our windows to the future; working with them has given me a unique vantage point to assess their goals, needs and abilities. I have been, and I remain committed to preparing our young citizens, and those who teach and support them, for their futures – and ours.

This year, like so many of my School Year New Years, will be focused on enhancing student learning and education in general. Since the mid 1990s when I first started teaching middle school social studies at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville (IL) Elementary School District #2, the foundation for my view of learning and teaching has been centered around student input, voice, choice, and engagement. In another blog post I have written about my why, what a superintendent actually does, and multiple metrics and measures for success. I firmly believe public schools owe a report on ROI (return on investment) to the public. I also firmly believe that taxes and other public monies that support public schools should be looked at as investments and not as costs.

Back to my “why” … in 1997 the Illinois Council for Social Studies published an article about an instructional model/unit planning guide I wrote for 8th grade U.S. history. In it, I shared the overall student outcomes (listed below):

Student Outcomes

The main outcomes include the following:

Actively engage the students in history.

Allow the students to work on teams and be accountable both individually and collectively.

Teach the students to view social studies critically and maturely (as more than just names and dates).

Permit the students to express themselves and communicate, according to their unique gifts and talents, up to their capabilities.

Apply higher order thinking skills.

Use research skills in a meaningful context.

Leave the unit with intrinsic motivation for the students to continue their inquire into their past.

This U.S. History workshop and those student outcomes (applied to various situations) would find its and their way into my career and various leadership posts over and over again, not just for the purposes for which it was designed (teaching students U.S. history) but for leading other educators and systems of educators to focus on outcomes for students (with students) at every juncture in their education.

In 2018, with fellow authors and superintendents Nick Polyak & PJ Capsey, we wrote Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable (2018 Roman & Littlefield) and this year that book will be published in Mandarin Chinese and sold throughout the Chinese speaking world thanks to a partnership between Rodman & Littlefield and Hohai University in Nanjing. My commitment to student voice is deeply embedded into my why as a leader.

The point here, though, is not to reminisce so much as to forecast and telegraph this year’s focus and energy. Student engagement. My leadership focus on student engagement is not a fad (that’s the main point I aim to share with the detailed background and description of 1990s-2018 examples). This year one of my aims is to facilitate leadership that elevates student voice and amplifies student engagement.

In our School District we are embarking on a much needed and long awaited facilities project to modernize both of the District’s middle schools. The design, the input from staff, community, parents, professional experts, and students is being built with the student in mind first and foremost. The social emotional learning needs and the social engagement and interaction needs drive the design process and decision making as we get closer and closer to construction.

Over the past few years, in my District some on the outside, and perhaps, on the inside too, have offered criticism at the administration’s focus on “bricks and mortar”. On the surface my administration’s focus on the bricks and mortar might seem to imply that the bricks and mortar are the focus. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bricks and mortar exemplify the student focused learning environments that react to modern learning environments designed to support modern learning. It’s an exciting time indeed in North Shore School District 112. I’m leading a modernization effort in concert with community input, the Board’s vision, and the needs of the students and staff in the communities we serve.

This year will be off the charts (in terms of success metrics) in our school district – please stay tuned in to our various modes of communication as I continue to share my why as a leader and where we continue to support learning and teaching as the #1 priority for our work on behalf of students, staff, community, and one another.

#112Leads is our hashtag and leading is what we all do regardless of title or role or position.

An Interview with Dr. Kevin Ryan – Podcast Episode #2

“For our own success to be real, it must contribute to the success of others.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sharing podcast episode 2, an interview with Dr. Kevin Ryan, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning!

Podcast Episode 2 – An Interview with Dr. Kevin Ryan, the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning. In this episode, we’re going to learn more from Dr. Ryan about the top initiatives in the Department of Teaching & Learning as well as a preview of a major recommendation he’s about to make to the superintendent and the Board of Education regarding instructional coaches.

This podcast is from the superintendent of schools in the north shore school district 112; a Pk-8 public school district in northeast Illinois. It is a source of information about the school district, its leadership, its teachers, its students, and its community. It is another source of updates and an additional source of news regarding the changing narrative of public education. Inspire…Innovate…Engage

 

The podcast is available on multiple formats:

On Spotify

On Stitcher

On Radio Public

On Pocket 
Casts

On Breaker

 

Launching a Podcast: Lighthouse 112 – #112Leads

“Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation.”
– Unknown

In North Shore School District 112, we’re committed to changing the narrative of public education to one of despair to one of distinguished excellence. In our historic school system, we’re proud of our mission, motto, and current reality.

Our mission is: The Mission of North Shore School District 112, a community partnership committed to a world ­class education, is to nurture every child to become an inspired learner, a well ­rounded individual and contributing member of a global community by striving for excellence within an environment that fosters innovation, respect, engagement and intellectual inquiry.

Our motto is: Inspire…Innovate…Engage

Our Current Reality is: Excellence in Education! The Future Starts NOW.

One of the main ways we can get our messages out is finding out where people are getting their information and meeting them there. We use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now we’re launching Lighthouse112, a podcast! in this blog post I’m sharing a video promo about the Podcast as well as an embedded link to the first Podcast Episode.

With effort, commitment, courage, joy, appropriate risk taking, modeling the way, and inspiring a shared vision for excellence and innovation, we show the world that what we do matters on behalf of ALL students, staff, and one another.

We enter 2019 confident of our past, present, and future success! Success in financial prudence, fiscal responsibility and responsiveness. With a focus on guaranteed & viable curriculum, enhanced instructional methods, construction projects with insights and input from experts within the district and within the community – – and so much more!

North Shore School District 112 is back on the block as an Inspired, Innovative, and Engaged place to raise your children and educate our youth!

Please listen, share, offer feedback, and share the stories of education — the narrative of public education is positive, powerful, and here to stay!

Check a brief video promo for the Podcast, then take about 10 minutes and check out the Lighthouse 112 Podcast’s first episode.

Happy & Healthy 2019 to one and all!

Listen to the first Podcast Episode here:

End of Year Highlights from D112 – #112Leads

“Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.”
– Marva Collins

2018 was a big year for North Shore School District 112! With this blog post, I’m thrilled to share some highlights of 2018 as we look back on many exciting accomplishment with an eye on our future. The Future is NOW in North Shore School District 112.

  • The Long-Range Plan Phase I for the renovated and modernized middle schools in the District
  • All schools rated commendable or excellent by Illinois
  • Establishment of a guaranteed & viable curriculum for all children in all schools (new training, materials and expectations)
  • Renewed focus on communication and publicity of the changing narrative of the school district – The Future is NOW!
  • Reaching a five-year collective bargaining agreement with our North Shore Support Staff Association recently was a “win-win” for both parties! (all non-teaching and non-administrative staff)
  • Continuing our 1:1 journey by being able to provide iPads for Kindergarten – 2nd grade students!  It’s been so nice to see how iPads have helped achieve facilitate high levels of engagement and success for teachers and their students.
  • Upgraded safety and security internally and externally at all school sites, including a Visitor Management System and safety vestibules.
  • We implemented Too Good for Drugs, a youth substance use prevention program, at all schools in grades 3-8.
  • We trained all mental health professionals in the school district on a threat assessment protocol to keep our schools safe.
  • We attained a AAA bond rating from S&P Global Ratings. A AAA bond rating illustrates the exceptional degree of creditworthiness and fiscal aptitude of the district.
  • We have continued our excellence in transparency, financial reporting and budgeting; winning awards such as the ASBO Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting, for twenty-two successive years, the GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for twenty years, the ASBO Meritorious Budget Award for the past seven years.
  • Fiscal Sustainability –  We have maintained a 4.0 Financial Profile Score from the Illinois State Board of Education – every year since the fiscal year 2012.
  • We have engaged with the award-winning K12 architectural firm, Wight & Company to develop our long range facility plan.
  • We successfully transitioned to a new food service contract with OrganicLife at Northwood, Oak Terrace and Red Oak.
  •  We joined the Northern Illinois Health Insurance Program, a health insurance cooperative made up of over 30 Illinois school districts.
  • Highland Park Community Foundation awarded Northwood Social Studies teacher, Mr. Jon Mall with the Highland Park Golden Apple Award.  The selection committee considered nominations for middle school educators and the finalists for the award also included Northwood teachers Margaret Delligatti and Sarah Holsen.  All teachers were honored at the North Shore School District 112 Board of Education meeting May 15th.
  • Northwood hosted the 8th annual Day of Giving event including an inspirational assembly featuring Mr. Angel Roman from the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County.  Mr. Roman encouraged the young people in the room to give back to their community; and told them they could make a meaningful difference. Following the assembly, the students got to work setting up the Northwood gym for the Day of Giving on December 1.  Students organized clothes, toiletries, food and other necessities donated by families across District 112. Other students made blankets, cards and gift bags for local families. The 112 Education Foundation is proud to support this service-learning program.  We extend our thanks to Northwood teachers, Constance Cunningham, Ida Fiore and Caitlin Lucci, for their tremendous effort to bring this opportunity to students at Northwood and Edgewood.
  • Northwood Junior High School is the proud host of the District 112’s annual Robot Revolution Tournament and Northwood teacher Bill Steinbach is the Robot Revolution Grant recipient.
  • The Green Bay Early Childhood Center began implementation of the Math Learning Center Bridges Pre-K Program. This program directly aligns with the kindergarten programming, and will allow for Green Bay students to begin kindergarten familiar with both the format and content of math in kindergarten.
  • Jolly Phonics, a multi-sensory phonics program, was introduced in all monolingual sections of preschool. The program was paced with the intention that students will begin kindergarten with an understanding of the letter sounds. Students in Dual Language programming are focusing on sounds that are the same in both the English and Spanish languages.
  • An academic enrichment program was launched in the spring of 2018, allowing additional intervention outside of the school day for children identified as below age expectations in mathematics. In the spring of 2019, the enrichment program will include intervention in both pre-literacy and mathematics.
  • Successfully integrated Dual Language students, staff and families from Sherwood Elementary and Red Oak Elementary to form the new Red Oak Dual Language Academy.
  • Made the Top Ten in Lake County for attendance in the annual Lake County Attendance Week competition.
  • Applied for and received a Title I grant to support our struggling learners. We used these funds to begin an after school Academic Extension program. We also purchased the Imagine Learning math, Spanish and English intervention programs that are used during Academic Extension and also during the school day.
  • Successfully implemented our Student Success Block, a daily 30-minute intervention and enrichment program for all K-5 students.
  • 44% of Red Oak students exceeded national norms for growth in reading and math as measured by NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) winter assessment.  
  • Implemented a new Student Leadership group. Students initiate multiple service projects and have a voice in school spirit days and celebrations.
  • The proportion of students meeting or exceeding standards jumped from 65 percent to 84 percent in one year at Ravinia School as measured on PARCC.
  • Implemented a 5th grade Leadership program. Students participate in mentoring K-2 students within our school; Junior Coaches program for  5th graders that focuses on leadership and facilitating recess for  K-2 students. (Indian Trail & Wayne Thomas).
  • Based on the NWEA Map assessment, student growth on ELA and MATH at all grade levels, was at the highest level in school history at Wayne Thomas.
  • The 4th annual Braeside STEAM Night was fully conceived and produced by students. There were nearly 40 stations of child centered exploration from a dog dryer to elephant toothpaste to a variety of robots. The STEAM community has expanded over the years and now includes former Braeside students who return from Highland Park High School and Edgewood Middle School to share in the fun, lend a hand, and let our little scientists drive their robots.
  • Successfully transitioned to a 50/50 Dual Language allocation program model in grades K-5 (OT & RO).
  • At Oak Terrace, focus on guaranteed & viable curriculum led to increased the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards in English Language Arts from 24% to 33% and in mathematics from 18% to 24% as measured by the PARCC assessment.
  • Developed and led a summer school program specifically for at-risk students in our Title I Dual Language program which led to growth in reading and math for nearly 70% of all participants (OT).
  • Edgewood maintained a focus on giving back to the community by participating in and/or leading various successful philanthropic events. Some examples include collecting over 1,600 books to donate to Bernie’s Book Bank, collaborating in the planning, donating, and implementation of the Day of Giving at Northwood, and fundraising to provide 45 children with holiday gifts through the Phyllis Santullano Gift Drive.
  • Edgewood also hosted the first annual Grandparent Night, providing grandparents the opportunity to take a student-guided tour of the school, ask questions to a student panel, and learn about life as a middle school student from the building’s administrators and teachers.
  • In a continued effort to provide opportunities for each student to be involved and feel connected at school, Edgewood issued a survey in which students voiced their interest in various clubs and teams and proposed new ideas for activities. The results of the survey informed the introduction of various new programs at Edgewood. A few of the new offerings include Ping Pong Club, Climbing Club, Improv Club, the Fall Play, Philanthropy Club, Reach for Change, and Yoga Club.
  • Indian Trail developed a new learning community with additional students and families from the closing of Lincoln School. The merge started in the spring of 2018 and the work has continued into this school year. Students have developed new friends and families have opportunities to participate and volunteer. We are Indian Trail and looking forward to a great 2019!
  • Indian Trail celebrated the opening of our Greenhouse and Garden with a ribbon cutting ceremony that included all IT students and staff, school board and community members.
  • Students participate in fun activities such as Green Growers Garden, Coding, Robotics, Chess, Boys/Girls Sports, Books and Cooks, STEAM, Chorus and Drama (IT).
  • Indian Trail Green Growers Club donated pounds of fresh vegetables to the Moraine Township Food Pantry.

Survey Says — Ask, Listen, Plan, Engage, Monitor — #112Leads

Team effort goes vain when individual effort is in the wrong direction.”
– Ram Mohan

https://goo.gl/images/AVZPDW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog post content is also published in the Highland Park Neighbors magazine December 2018 issue on page 11 (Best Version Media)

Survey Says …

In North Shore School District 112 we take community engagement and stakeholder input very seriously!

As part of the Long Range Planning process, the District worked with a telephone research partner (Fako group) as well as with an online community engagement service called Thought Exchange to solicit community input and thoughts. People are encouraged to visit the District’s Long Range Planning Web page for more information: https://www.nssd112.org/Long-RangePlanning Those efforts in addition to the 25 member Superintendent’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) gathered for several months to review, refine, draft, question, and advise the superintendent of schools.

In addition to community engagement for facilities and finance, we seek input on a regular basis to learn and grow as an organization. We believe that what you respect you inspect. We respect input and voice and we take action on an ongoing basis.

In addition to the statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions, 5Essentials Survey, we also conduct additional engagement surveys. It is essential for the leadership team to know what families think, what students think, and what teachers and support staff members think about the school district.

This year we conducted an INSIGHTeX organizational survey of all employees, and we have set goals by school and administrative department to act on and improve culture. The image shows that 72.41% of the 438 employees who took the survey indicate they are completely engaged and satisfied in the work they do in the school district. That survey measures culture on 15 dimensions (including communication, pride, growth, mission, quality, communication, recognition, etc.)

Starting in December, the District will be sharing the results of the student and family engagement surveys. Student voice, in addition to teacher and parent voice, is instrumental in leading the district on behalf of and with the people most impacted. Sometimes school districts overlook the voice and input of students; in our District we make it a priority to engage and involve students in our leadership. To that end, any facilities upgrades or improvements will include student and teacher voice (as well as community input) as part of the refinement process.

In addition, the District will also share the results of the Bright Bytes innovation and creative practices survey. The results of these surveys continue to drive change, improvement, and quality in our local school system. The Bright Bytes survey asks questions related to four major areas of technology impact: Classroom, Access, Skills, Environment. By learning what our stakeholders perceive, we’re able to see if there are gaps between perceptions, reality, and desired outcomes. Using survey data and the voice of the people so to speak, allows the District to lead in an inclusive and open manner.

District 112 sent information to students, teachers, and parents for completion of the Illinois mandated 5Essentials survey during the first week of December. The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environment
  • Ambitious Instruction

From the U Chicago Impact site: Twenty years of research at the University of Chicago in more than 400 schools has shown that schools that were strong on at least three of the 5Essentials were 10 times more likely to make substantial gains in improving student reading and math than schools that were weak on three or more of the Essentials. Those differences remained true even after controlling for student and school characteristics, including poverty, race, gender, and neighborhood characteristics.

The survey was deemed an important component to balanced accountability under the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by stakeholders, which resulted in state legislative changes requiring the survey annually. Principals and superintendents will receive 5Essentials Reports in March 2019. Survey results will also be reported publicly on the 5Essentials reporting site in Spring 2019 and on the State School Report Card website in Fall 2019. On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, UChicago Impact is providing Illinois 5Essentials to schools statewide.

Superintendent’s Thanksgiving Note – #112Leads

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”– Napoleon Hill

Dear North Shore School District 112 Community,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to share a message of thanks 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 my service and work, I am so thankful for my job. I am lucky to work with so many talented, professional and effective educators in such an engaged and thoughtful community!

Teachers and staff: This year, especially: Thank you. You have been faced with change this year, and you continue to rise to every challenge on our journey of continuous improvement. The important work you do puts the children of our communities on the path to success. We are also thankful for your emphasis on kindness and caring. You help your students learn and grow into kind, caring, compassionate people who can work collaboratively to resolve problems and challenges. Kindness is perhaps the most important quality you teach.

Parents, thank you for raising children who come to us ready to learn, and do so with kindness for each other and respect for the adults who teach them. Thanks, too, for your never-ending support of our schools. You generously and continuously give your time and energy so our schools are happy places.

A special thanks to grandparents. You have modeled the way for your children to be excellent parents, and your unconditional love for your grandchildren stays with them throughout every school day.

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 each and every person to the best of their abilities each and every day.

With warm regards,

Mike

Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


“No esperes El tiempo nunca será justo.”

– Napoleon Hill

Estimada comunidad del distrito 112,

A medida que nos acercamos a las vacaciones de Acción de Gracias, quiero compartir un mensaje de agradecimiento en nombre de la Junta de Educación y el equipo de liderazgo del Distrito Escolar North Shore 112. En el Distrito 112, tenemos muchas cosas por las que estamos agradecidos. Cada día, cuando reflexiono sobre mi servicio y trabajo, estoy muy agradecido por mi trabajo. ¡Tengo la suerte de trabajar con tantos educadores talentosos, profesionales y efectivos en una comunidad tan comprometida y atenta!

Maestros y personal: Este año, especialmente: Gracias. Se han enfrentado al cambio este año y continúan superando todos los desafíos en nuestro viaje de mejora continua. El importante trabajo que realizan pone a los niños de nuestras comunidades en el camino hacia el éxito. También estamos agradecidos por su énfasis en la bondad y el cuidado. Ayudan a sus estudiantes en aprender y convertirse en personas amables, comprensivas y compasivas que pueden trabajar en colaboración para resolver problemas y desafíos. La amabilidad es quizás la cualidad más importante que enseñan.

Padres, gracias por criar a los hijos que vienen a nosotros listos para aprender, y lo hacen con amabilidad y respeto por los adultos que les enseñan. Gracias, también, por su apoyo interminable a nuestras escuelas. Ustedes generosamente y continuamente dan su tiempo y energía para que nuestras escuelas sean lugares felices.

Un agradecimiento especial a los abuelos. Han modelado el camino para que sus hijos sean excelentes padres, y su amor incondicional por sus nietos los acompaña a lo largo de cada día escolar.

A los miembros de nuestra comunidad que hacen que el apoyo a las escuelas locales sea una prioridad y un enfoque, ¡también les agradecemos! Creemos firmemente en la educación de todos los niños en un ambiente de aprendizaje con altas expectativas. Como centro de la comunidad, todas las escuelas de Highland Park y Highwood tienen el honor de inspirar, innovar y comprometer a todas y cada una de las personas de la mejor manera posible cada día.

Cordialmente,

Mike

Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D.

Superintendente de Escuelas

China Bridge Delegation 2018 – #112Leads

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

China Journey 

On my first trip to the People’s Republic of China, 🇨🇳, as a delegate in the 2018 Chinese – American Principal Delegation, I was nervous, excited, proud and open minded. I was nervous about o leaving my family for an extended period of time, and  I was excited to learn about an ancient and respected culture, and I was open minded as I was about to represent my school district with the hope of bringing Mandarin language and Chinese culture into the North Shore School District 112 curriculum & instructional programming.

In this blog post, I’ll share some background, purpose, images, and perspective from this amazing professional learning  mission.

Over the years, I have visited Mexico, Germany, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and other foreign nations as part of educational and cultural exchange, exploration and leadership development.

Each trip and set of experiences makes me a better leader who can view the world and its beauty and challenges through lenses beyond those I normally see the world through. In addition, my service to the leaders who work for and with me as well as to the community as a whole become enhanced and improved by these global experiences.

With respect to this trip, the flight to China from Chicago  was a non-stop plane ride from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Beijing, China.  We literally flew around the world in about 14 hours. I was traveling with a group from the College Board. There were educational leaders, board members, teachers, and others in the groups traveling on this K12China Bridge Delegation. In conjunction with the Confucius Institute (Hanban), leaders like me visit China’s schools, cultural sites, and business & economic zones on a mission of public diplomacy and educational exchange.

All in all, our delegation had about 150 educational leaders from all over the United States. Once in China, after initial meetings and orientation in Beijing, we were organized into 6 groups to visit 6 provinces around China. Our hosts in Beijing and in the provinces our groups visited rolled out the red carpet in terms of warmth, welcome, pride, and intensity.

The intensity that the Chinese support education is impressive. Teachers are highly honored professionals in the nation and in the culture overall. The schools I visited took such great pride in their founders, former principals, and teachers, made an impact on how we present our schools in the US. For example, it was normal and typical to have extensive physical space allocated for teacher offices and collaboration, school history museum areas, and student art galleries.

In addition to the many school visits and the educational forums with colleagues in China, we had opportunities to visit, explore, engage, and learn at some of the most famous and important cultural sites in the world. These included parts of the Great Wall of China as well as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, as well as additional sites in the provinces. From the sights, sounds, overall experience of traveling abroad and feeling like a newcomer to our country must feel, it was exciting, overwhelming, stressful, and rewarding at the same time. We were engaged from early in the morning to late in the night every day we were on the delegation. We visited elementary schools, high schools, and we also spent a full day of observations, interactions  and seminar work at Beijing Language and Culture University. We really got to glimpse and experience the full range of Chinese educational programming.

The American educators in the large group as well as the smaller groups shared common bonds of education leadership vision. Whether we carried the professional title of superintendent, director, principal, assistant principal, etc. we all shared the common bonds of care for the future of our nation through education. We all shared the common bonds of passion for leadership through open minded and open hearted global exchange and learning. We all shared the common bonds of becoming travelers instead oftourists. We were traveling to China to meet with and form and sustain people to people relationships on behalf of a larger global purpose beyond our individual and local objectives.

There are incredible opportunities to embrace globalism and global partnership in support of diplomacy, education, economics, and the overall future through education explorations and missions like this one.

The sights and sounds of China gripped us and impacted us from the moment we landed in Beijing’s airport. The historic Chinese language of characters was all around us as was the bilingual nature of English transliteration as well as English audio and visual translation. The world is bilingual and trilingual, and in many parts of the world, multi-lingual (beyond 3 languages). As Americans, we sometimes fall into a complacent state since “everyone learns English” — but language is far more than the ability to get from point a to point b. Language is the windows into one’s culture — it’s a personal connector; through partnerships and learning we can join various cultures together.

As part of the 2018 Chinese-American Principal Delegation, we were met by enthusiastic and able tour guides and representatives of Hanban, & the College Board. We American delegates were eager to dive in and get started on thisamazing, life-changing set of adventures. International travel is challenging in and of itself with time, distance and time changes, it’s also a challenge when you are entering a culture different from your own with unknown opportunities and plans and food, etc.

The Chinese hosts treated us like “rock stars” with local news coverage (TV, other media) as well as “paparazzi” like photographic documentation of the visits. In addition, at the Chongqing international forum, we were joined by Yong Zhao, famous author, speaker, and professor at the University of Kansas. Zhao student taught at the high school where we were gathered and he joined us to provide a keynote presentation as well as moderatea set of speeches from several of us from the USA and China.

I applied for this leadership opportunity because a few months ago, with the American Association of School Administrators, the AASA, we hosted a delegation of principals from China in North Shore School District 112 and Leyden High School District 212 and we began to form professional relationships withmembers of the Chinese delegation. In addition, one of my charges, or aims, as the superintendent of schools, is to share an inspired vision for the district beyond current realities.

The current realities of our school district are untapped potential for excellence through paralyzing “in fighting” and aversion to change and progress. Therefore, it’s highly energizing for me to see the future reality in the current opportunities. One of the many realities involves a world class education system emerging fromthe current one with enhanced language and culture offerings beyond and in addition to the current English and Spanish offerings. By expanding the current language and cultural offerings, we’ll take our school district to higher and more appealing heights. As the chief learner (so to speak) it’s my job to model the way by seeking additional challenges and experiences on behalf of students and staff. By joining the delegation, I became a global ambassador from my community in and with my Chinese counterparts.

My delegation group of 25 went from Beijing to Chongqing; Chongqing is a special economic and government area, like a county or municipal zone, that reports directly to the central government (like Shanghai, and a few other large and significant areas in China). Chongqing has a population around thirty million people; China, as you may know, has a population of more than 1.4 BILLION people. To say that the scale of buildings, roads, and the country as a whole isimpressive is an understatement. The campuses of the K-12 schools we visited were like US community college campuses or even university campuses in terms of physical size and scope. In my delegation, we had representation from Utah, Illinois, Florida, Texas, California, Ohio, New York, and Nevada.

Our individual experiences and sharing helped enrich the dialogue among us as well as with our Chinese hosts. Some inthe delegation, like those in Utah, have more than a decade of deep Chinese language and culture programming K-12. Others, like me, were on their first journey into the People’s Republic of China and into the possibility of adding Chinese language and culture to our local school districts and school communities.

In the US, it’s typical to have a K-12 classroom with 25 students (18-30); in China,it is far more common to have class sizes of 40-60. The Chinese and American political systems, histories, cultural norms, and lifestyles have many differences yet both cultures place high value and importance on education and child development (in parts of the US, the value has ebbed and flowed and perhaps my declarative should be more aspirational). But both nations invest in educational growth and progress. The system of education in China is centralized while the system of education in the US is decentralized.

The education system in China is following a group/national set of expectations while in our country, the education system is highly individualized and locally controlled. This adds to the fascination for a visit of this scope. I’ve visited other centralized educational systems in the Americas and in Europe; like with everything, there are pros and cons, opportunities and limitations in bothsystems. The key for delegation visits like this is not to compare and contrast, but instead, to integrate and learn. Like Confucius said: “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step”, the goal of this delegation visit is for many miles (figuratively and literally) and this first visit of mine represents the first steps toward the journey and the collaboration between our new Chinese friends and the district I represent.

At the end of the day, and to start, as a result of my journey, whether we start to have one classroom teacher engage with one of the Chinese teachers with whomI met, or whether we create and offer sustained and long term Mandarin language programming, the trip and this formal visit will positively impact my personal leadership and the improvement of my school district. After visiting multiple schools, classrooms, formal settings, and cultural and historic sites, I can clearly see a long-term, sustainable educational partnership emerge between the North Shore School District 112 and schools I visited in Chongqing, China. The beautyof Chongqing was impressive; mountains, rivers, bridges, high rises, lights, food (“hot pot”), historic locales, and so much more, enhanced our education focused mission.

As our Board of Education gets ready to make a historic vote to approve the Long Range Plan Phase I recommendation on November 27, I’ll share more insightsinto this experience and the overall vision of growth, improvement, change, and leadership for my administration in the District.

We’ll be sure to share updates on the Long Range Plan webpage, district communications (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as well as at our live-streamed video and archived video system.

Sharing excerpts from a Board Presentation I made on Nov. 27 highlighting elements of the Journey to China! See video on slide 4:

HARMONY

Doing what I said I would do — leading for ALL –#112Leads

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
– Zig Ziglar

So on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at the Regular Meeting of the Board of Education, I have the opportunity to publicly, formally and officially recommend the first phase of our school district’s new Long Range Plan.

I said the Future is Now and I mean it! Our future depends on us taking the first steps toward modernization and equity. We used Thought Exchange for Community Engagement and we asked for input on configuration, scenarios, needs of the school districts. We then asked about specific examples of 9-8-7 school models with various moves and changes. Exchange 1 yielded clear input and guidance for us (see image below):

The community — even those divided on opposite ends of issues — came to common ground on the fact that the school district needs to focus on Equity, Instruction & Curriculum, Teachers & Staff, 21st Century Facilities, and Consistent Curriculum. This data set is shown below:

We also engaged with scientific telephone polling as well as a second Thought Exchange. In addition we held multiple meetings, in public, live streamed, and video archived, with questions and answers and with a great deal of thought and analysis. The process for Long Range Planning since July 1st has been a great example of community engagement, leadership, planning, and now, recommended action.

On October 30, 2018, the state of Illinois will release the Illinois School Report Cards. This expansive data, on all 852 public school districts in Illinois, will share student performance, new quality ratings as per federal law, as well as other data to inform the public as to the school district and the individual school performance. We are committed to improving every score and every measure, from attendance to math proficiency and growth, for all of our students.

This Long Range Plan as well as ongoing curriculum & instruction efforts all support and complement the efforts and vision for North Shore School District 112 and its current 10 schools and its ultimate configuration of “X” schools to Inspire Innovate and Engage each and every child and staff member in a responsive, responsible and authentic manner!

The story of our District is exciting and the narrative is about to change for the better! Please follow along at #112Leads on Twitter for examples of our excellence and our return to the clear, coherent, consistent, and focused mission of equitable access to excellent educational opportunities for all; and the vision of high quality growth and learning for all children every day.

On Tuesday, I’m recommending that the Board of Education approve (at its meeting on November 27) a $75,000,000 investment in the complete and total upgrade and modernization of both middle schools in the district.

Like I pledged to the community at my February 2018 Meet and Greet, I am leading a process designed for equitable access to excellent educational opportunities for all children at all schools. We are starting with the first steps of change that will move the district and the communities it serves forward. Below I share excerpts from a local newspaper article highlighting my incoming messaging and vision about leading for equity:

From: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-lubelfeld-outlines-d112-agenda-tl-0222-20180214-story.html

“…He reminded Lubelfeld about the divisiveness that previously existed over perceived or actual inequities between schools on the north and south ends of the district. “That perception, if not reality, has reared its ugly head over the past year or so,” said Henry, who asked Lubelfeld about his ideas to address that.

Lubelfeld said that once the district upgrades its facilities and implements its facilities plan, all buildings will be fresh and modern, and a school on one end of town will feel like a school on another end of town.

The schools also will offer the same learning opportunities for students, and the curriculum – whether in English or Spanish – will be uniform across the district and not specific to individual schools, he said.

“When you see equity of educational opportunity, and you see upgraded facilities that don’t break the bank – or anybody’s bank – things are going to be better,” the future District 112 superintendent said.

“We are not going to have any perceived losers or winners,” he said, adding, “We are all going to win.””

The Long Range Plan recommendation is posted on the District website: https://www.nssd112.org/Long-RangePlanning (https://www.nssd112.org/cms/lib/IL02217852/Centricity/Domain/1018/Long%20Range%20Plan%20Recommendation%20Oct%2023%202018.pdf)

Excerpts from the Long Range Plan Recommendation are shared in this blog post for reference:

“This Long Range Plan Phase I Recommendation is focused on equitable access to educational opportunities for all students in modernized learning facilities designed to support academic and social-emotional learning and growth. This is the first set of steps designed to improve education in North Shore School District 112 (NSSD112).

…our number one priority is to ensure that students achieve academically, socially, and emotionally. To achieve this goal, we have been focusing on our motto: Inspire…Innovate…Engage.  …This year’s intense focus on providing a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students in all schools every day is the result of the district losing its way and steering into non-educational focus areas over the past 7+ years. … Phase I will impact all students in the school district since every child will attend Northwood or Edgewood before matriculating to high school.

We proudly serve the people of Highland Park, Highwood, members of the United States military on Ft. Sheridan, and residents of the the Town of Ft. Sheridan in Highland Park.  … Together with the Board we will lead the district back to a position of greatness and leadership. …

This first phase can be done without a tax increase to residents. We are quite proud that this first phase moves us ‘light years’ ahead of where we are; we are mindful that learning from past history, we cannot repair in one fell swoop that which has been broken over time. …

This first phase, to address long overdue needs at the two middle schools, will address and affect and impact long overdue improvements to educational quality, facilities, equity, student learning needs, and overall community growth at the middle schools. …

Even after spending around $75 million on both middle schools, the financial realities and needs will exist in terms of the district needing more than $70 million in remaining facility needs in the K-5 and PK school sites. With phase I, we are dedicated to creating the best middle school experience possible for our students by impacting the two facilities that will serve all of our students. …Right now we want to make significant investments into the middle school facilities where all children in the school district will attend prior to completion of their elementary school careers.

The revised, updated, draft Long Range Plan Phase I (to be formally recommended for approval to the Board of Education at the November 27, 2018,Regular Board meeting) calls for the following:

  • Major renovations at Northwood Middle School at a cost of approximately $40 Million (build out for up to 600 students)
  • Major renovations at Edgewood Middle School at a cost of approximately $35 Million (build out for up to 950 students)
  • Use $20,000,000 of the $49 Million fund balance
  • Use of $55 Million in Alternative Revenue Bonds 
  • Option Areas & Dual Language Potential Boundary Proposals
  • Plan to save/spend $3,500,000 a year on school upgrades, repairs, and modernization.

 

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