Our New Strategic Plan – #engage109

“If you want extraordinary results you must put in extraordinary effort.”
– Cory Booker

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the Board of Education of the Deerfield (IL) Public Schools District 109 approved the 2017 Strategic Plan! This new plan is the outgrowth of focus groups, interviews, surveys, studies, analysis, and leadership. More than 1700 voices have been heard as part of this process.

We have a Portrait of a Graduate, a mission, vision, guiding principles, goals and objectives.

This is the District’s Guiding Document! All actions, plans, initiatives, plans, programs and reviews will be aligned with and measured against this plan and its components.


From my letter to the community in the Plan:

On behalf of the Board of Education, I am proud to present the 2017 Strategic Plan. We developed this plan with input from more than 1,700 people in our community through interviews, focus groups, surveys, data analysis and student performance.

Those 1,700 people included representatives from the following stakeholder groups: teachers, parents, students, support staff, community members, business leaders, government leaders, administrators and members of the Board of Education.  The plan lays out the mission, vision, portrait of a graduate, guiding principles goals and objectives. This plan will guide our work on behalf of the children we serve. The three broad goals to which the objectives are aligned clearly share that which we value: Limitless learning experiences for ALL children.

The 2017-18 school year will mark the first year of implementation of this plan.  I look forward to working with our entire community as we embark on shaping the future of education in the Deerfield Public Schools. Thank you for your continued support as we continue to Engage, Inspire, Empower our students, each other, and our entire community.

We take the concept of limitless learning experiences for ALL children very seriously. We do believe that the current, 19th Century structures serve many of our students and families (it’s familiar and it’s a system that is not completely broken). But, there are more and more students for whom the current system simply does not work. There are more and more students for whom the current structures block their growth and potential. Just because the systems have worked for more than a century does not believe we have to continue them blindly with no options.

This current Strategic Plan allows us to move beyond the 19th Century structures. We can move beyond our 20th Century accomplishments and struggles. We can move forward in this current 21st Century with vision, mission, “the end in mind” and options!

The three goals form the umbrella of the driving forces toward our future – a future where we design, create, implement, and evaluate Limitless learning experiences for ALL children.

Tied to these goals we have six objectives each for a total of eighteen objectives. The objectives were vetted by members of the Board of Education, our research partners ECRA Group, and the Leadership Team (assistant superintendents, principals, associate/assistant principals, executive directors, directors coordinators, etc).

Tied to these eighteen objectives we have formulated eighteen action plans! We’ll tie our work to this plan. We’ll align our work to these objectives. We’ll report more throughout the next few years. In three years we’ll review the entire plan to see what is still relevant. Annually we’ll report on progress, planning, and evaluation. This will be a LIVE plan – not a plan that sits on a binder.




The Big 3 …The countdown to school has started … #ENGAGE109

“When you know better, you do better.”
– Maya Angelou


In 31 days we welcome our staff back for another school year of Engage, Inspire, Empower! And two days after that we welcome our students back to the next adventure on their educational journeys. The summer is not the “104 days” that Disney’s Phineas and Ferb sing about … the summer for teachers and downloadadministrators is full of reading, conferences, webinars, planning, meeting, and growing professionally in anticipation of our awesome responsibilities. A little R & R is in order of course, as well! Some of our teachers and staff have gotten married, others have had children, there are many wonderful milestones staff have enjoyed this summer too.


In addition to “life,” many of our teachers have also been hard at work on curriculum, instruction, assessment, resource review, and planning for the best school year possible. This upcoming year marks the fifth year of a five year strategic plan as well as the third year of our Big 5 and the announcement of our Big 3.

The ‘Big 5’ have aligned our work for the past two years as it relates to the District’s Strategic Plan:
Common Core State Standards, Teacher Evaluation (evidence based), Technology, Organizational Culture and the Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education

The Big 3 are macro concepts under which the Big 5 and Strategic Plan operate:

Innovation – Engagement – Personalization




As we prepare for another wonderful school year we focus forward on the future lives our children will inherit and create. As we prepare for full day kindergarten, new and improved furnishings in those kindergarten classrooms, new science labs (link to a 360 degree view of the prototype labs) for our middle school students, new science materials for all students in grades K-5 … just to name a few highlights we are gearing up for an amazing year!

The Departments of Teaching & Learning, Student Services, Finance & Operations, Technology, Human Resources and the Office of Superintendent of Schools continue to put forth great plans of action so that each and every child in our District can get a high level of educational excellence from some of the finest educators in the land. This year we plan to roll out some innovative professional learning ideas as well as personalized and digitized learning ideas!


“…With respect to the concept of personalization, this past year we visited some schools to our north in Wisconsin. At West Allis we visited Hoover Elementary school where we observed personalized learning practices in multi-age and straight grade classroom settings and at Waukesha we visited the FLIGHT Academy at Horning Middle School.

(Please take some time to visit the “FLIGHT” Academy website: http://www.horningmiddleschool.com/flight-academy.html)

During our visit we discussed and reflected on the differences among current educational topics known by these common terms:

  • Differentiation

  • Individualized Instruction

  • Personalization/Personalized Learning

Differentiation and Individualized Instruction are teacher directed and teacher centered and Personalization/Personalized Learning is student centered. In terms of effective instruction, and in an ideal setting (the settings we are creating) we support learning environments with all three concepts embedded and in place.

The trends educationally are leading toward what we call scaffolded personalized learning pathways. There is a lot of work and a lot of learning that will take place before we have widespread personalized learning.

The transformative 1:1 digital learning environment entering its 2nd year in DPS109 is designed to change/transform instruction into highly engaged and motivating learning environments where student needs and interests are met.

We continue this exciting journey as this is the work that motivates us and inspires us! Stay tuned as we re-create learning in the formats demanded by the 21st Century and the Future Ready Movement!

  Personalize Chart

The chart above holds a creative commons license. Click here or here to access the chart on the web.

District Progress on Strategic Plan – Ties to The Big 5

“Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.”
– William Arthur Ward

In our school district, like in many around the country and world, a strategic plan of action guides our work. The current plan was enacted in 2011 and we’re in the fourth year of its implementation. When I took office as superintendent of schools I considered the number of goals in that to be excessive and so our leadership team synthesized the plan that had been in effect for two years into a more manageable “Big 5” to keep it real, on everyone’s minds and to keep it actionable. We greatly respect the energy and time and great work of the multi-representative stakeholder group! Our Big 5 is directly mapped and related to the strategic plan. In this blog post I am going to share how our work of the past year and a quarter relates to and reflects progress on the big picture planning document that guides and governs the work of our fine District.

The Plan: Priority Areas and Goals
 Priority Area: Student Growth and Achievement
 Goal 1: Continually empower and support each student to reach his/her highest potential.
-Big 5 – Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Teacher Evaluation, Technology, Supt. Task Force
During our time here we have implemented MAP testing K-5 (it had already been in place 6-8), STAR testing, we’re working on CCSS aligned district curriculum assessments (DCA) and we updated and upgraded curriculum, instruction, and facilities at the middle schools. In addition, we have an elaborate professional development implementation plan that includes voluntary development (i.e. Deerfield College, TechCampNS) and choice-based institute day work (i.e. EdCamp, Teaching & Learning Conference). In addition, we have supported teacher developed curriculum maps for each grade level and CCSS subject area! Measures include satisfaction surveys, MAP standardized test data, CoGat test data, soon to be administered PARCC data and DCA measures.

 Priority Area: Learning Environment/Climate
 Goal 2: Provide an engaging, safe, and respectful learning environment for all students.
-Big 5 – Common Core State Standards, Teacher Evaluation, Technology, Organizational Culture, Supt. Task Force
The continued focus on social emotional learning (Board Policy 6:65) through in-place work in the district as well as through the Social Emotional Sub-Committee from the Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education demonstrate high value and attention to the social needs and emotional needs of our students. This fall we implemented the Rachel’s Challenge and Rachel’s Legacy programming at the middle schools. Measures include the multi-dimensional assessments as part of Rachel’s Challenge, the Bright Bytes 1:1 roll out measures, culture survey data as well as climate survey data.

 Priority Area: Teaching Environment/Quality Staff
 Goal 3: Attract, retain and support a superior staff by providing a positive, collaborative work environment.
-Big 5 – Teacher Evaluation, Organizational Culture
Each of the last two school years we have administered culture surveys and they show upward trending culture in the school district! In addition we have a mentor program for new staff and we have implemented the evidence based teacher evaluation program as required by Illinois law (SB7) and our training and supports continue with union/administration collaborative planning and review and monitoring.

 Priority Area: Community Connections/Family Partnerships
 Goal 4: Partner with families and members of our community to foster a shared responsibility for educating our students.
-Big 5 -Organizational Culture, Supt. Task Force
We have doubled our social media imprint and overall media footprint using Twitter (#Engage109) as well as Facebook, blogs, articles in the Deerfield Review, etc. We have reached out to the community with the Superintendent’s Task Force For Middle Level Education as well as the Parents and Professionals for Success (PPS). In addition, administrators are members of local civic organizations (Rotary, Optimists Club). We are proud members of the community and we are reaching out all the time to share our proud messages!

Priority Area: Resources: Fiscal, Facility, Planning
 Goal 5: Manage resources efficiently and effectively to achieve the mission and vision of the district and be
accountable to the community.
-Big 5 – Technology, Organizational Culture, Supt. Task Force
Under outstanding financial management, we enjoyed our 10th consecutive surplus/balanced budget after experiencing 13 deficit years! We implemented a multi-year, multi-million dollar air quality and air conditioning project. We have better LED lighting in many parts of the district, we have generators, enhanced security systems, and many other updated and upgraded facility enhancements! An example of another HUGE project conducted on behalf of the taxpayers – with NO BOND ISSUE OR TAX HIKE – but from EXISTING FUNDS invested prudently can be seen in our world class science classroom/lab upgrade. We took 1961 facilities and transformed them into 2014 and beyond!

We are proud! We measure our work! We Engage Inspire Empower each and every day!