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posted: 5/22/2013 12:01 AM

District 54's success is thanks to cast of characters

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By Ed Rafferty
District 54 Superintendent

Disney World is called the "Magic Kingdom." "The Happiest Place on Earth" is the tagline for Disneyland. School District 54 is known for being "A Magical Place Where Incredible Learning Happens."

Providing exceptional educational programs while being extremely prudent with the resources that we receive has brought well deserved national recognition to District 54.

Student achievement remains at an all-time high. We are one of only a small number of school districts that is debt-free, works within a balanced operating budget and has Moody's highest rating, which is AAA. High levels of student achievement and living within our financial means are the magic that occurs in our district every day.

Walt Disney knew he needed more than Mickey Mouse to make real magic happen. An elite team, better known as a cast of characters, was necessary. Many characters, including Aladdin, Jiminy Cricket, Snow White, Tinker Bell and Woody each played a significant contributing role. Like the Disney Corporation, the year-after-year success students experience in District 54 is attributed to our talented cast of characters.

As I wrote my final article as superintendent, it again to hit me how blessed I have been to spend my entire career working in such an amazing school district. It has been a privilege getting to know and work with so many outstanding people. Thank you for your unending support and for making our district the best.

District 54's elite cast of characters includes many special individuals who deserve recognition and my heartfelt thanks. Our 14,000 students come to school eager to learn and challenge us to constantly grow as professionals. We are fortunate to work with extremely supportive parents, hundreds of dedicated volunteers and a community that values and appreciates great public schools.

Our highly passionate and dedicated team of 2,000 certified and support staff members do whatever it takes to ensure student success, the real magic of our work. In collaboration with our staff and union leaders, we have successfully implemented many instructional and structural changes that have enabled our students to consistently reach new heights.

The District 54 administrative team encompasses a unique group of creative leaders who play both a lead and a support role. They are enthusiastic champions of continuous improvement and making certain that excellent learning opportunities are provided for every student.

A successful organization is governed by a board of directors, which in our case is a seven-member school board elected by the community. I have had the pleasure of working for an extraordinary board that sets high goals and standards for accountability.

Special thanks to current and former board members Peggy Brothman, Bill Harper, Barbara Hengels, Teresa Huber, Melissa Hutchison, Charlotte Kegarise, Steve Marcis, Mary Kay Prusnick, Phillip Stewart and Karen Strykowski for visionary leadership, unbelievable support and countless hours of volunteer service, making our district a great place to learn.

The District 54 School Board has always been committed to doing what is right, while keeping students at the heart of any decision. Choosing Andy DuRoss to be the next superintendent once again reaffirms this commitment.

The board's decision ensures that District 54 will continue to be a "Magical Place Where Incredible Learning Happens" and students are prepared for a lifetime of success!