End of Year Message in Staff Newsletter

As our school year comes to an end, and we prepare for a summer of construction, maintenance, cleaning, professional development, study, learning – and rest and recreation, it’s nice to reflect on some amazing accomplishments, as we prepare for the next school year!

I’m sharing a column I just wrote and shared with all staff in the Superintendent’s Column of our staff newsletter.


June 2014

Provide educational experiences of the highest quality that engage, inspire and empower each student to excel and contribute in a changing world.

District 109 students will excel and contribute when they have the knowledge and skills to be:
• Lifelong, self-directed learners
• Critical and creative thinkers
• Effective communicators
• Collaborative team members
• Respectful and responsible members of society

“Do what you love and make sure that your heart is in your work.”
– Bryan Dodge

This year has been a resounding success by so many measures, and we close out gradebooks and clean out our classrooms and offices energized for even more successes together. As we reflect and celebrate on our awesomeness, I offer some highlights. This year we:

Connected: We solidified PLCs in our buildings, at Deerfield College, and online through Twitter, making us more informed education professionals who are better connected to each other professionally – and personally.
Took Risks: Our 1:1 pilot, and the ultimate approval of 1:1 teaching and learning District-wide required teachers, administrators and Board members to move out of their comfort zone and take a leap of faith. You also all took a risk to trust me as your leader, and I will forever be thankful and will continue to work every day to earn that trust.
Laughed: Family Feud at the Inaugural Teaching & Learning Conference gave us a chance to all laugh together – and every day, whether I was was in the District Center or in a classroom or hallway, I heard so many heartfelt laughs. We really do enjoy what we do, and we enjoy doing it together.

This year we also re-engaged on an organizational culture journey towards healing and trusting. We have made GREAT progress and while we still have a ways to go, we are moving in the same direction toward a successful future together. This year the Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education, a community engagement process with more than 140 stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, students, community members), met and recommended immediate changes in our middle schools. STEM and Communication Media Arts programming will become an embedded reality for all 6-8 grade students. Their future is now!

Sixty-year-old science classroom laboratories will become BRAND NEW in 2014-15 with construction that has already begun! Plans are moving forward for social emotional, fine arts, and gifted/tracking program reviews as well. And while “it all started with French” so to speak, we have a 6-8 grade French/Spanish program with plans for a complete review of 1st-8th grade world language programming on the horizon.

Architect presentation to DPS109 Board of Education Facility Development Committee outlining ideas for science lab innovations!

“Anything worth having is worth working for. Change is worth the effort. When you begin to change, you’ll discover a world of opportunity you never dreamed possible. If you resist change, you’ll find yourself living far below your potential.”
– Rob Ketterling

I know that, amidst the many changes this year, all of those things will continue next year. I have asked, “How’s it going?” You have replied, “It’s going great but please slow down!” We have been listening and your direct feedback is outstanding. Even when we do not agree or even if your input is different than the ultimate decision I make, know that you are being listened to! Next year we are committed to the Big 5 from this year – NO NEW initiatives are coming down the pike with respect to large-scale change. We must hold each other accountable.

We want 2014-2015 to be a year of implementation and review and refinement. What is working will be replicated and sustained; what is not working should be terminated and ended. Systems are in place, technology is and will be in place, training and support is and will be in place. You have spoken and we have listened and conversely we have spoken and you have listened. Our mission is to Engage, Inspire and Empower. Our purpose is for student learning and student growth. Our passion is preparing for the future!

We have done so much together to move our students forward to be the most engaged, inspired and empowered learners they can be; I know they are eager to return – but … we all do need a break! Thanks for an amazing first year as your leader – I’m looking forward to year two and beyond.

Keep Connected this Summer!

While there won’t be another issue of 109 What’s News until September, the action continues in the District over the summer! You can keep informed through Board Briefs that summarize Board of Education meetings; this blog also will include information specific to the District, as well as general news on educational leadership, teaching and learning, public policy related to education, and more. You can also follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as our Twitter hashtag #Engage109 (which I hope you’ll use, too!).

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