By Andrew D. DuRoss
School District 54 by Superintendent
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Last school year, a representative committee of District 54 teachers, parents, administrators, support staff and community members came together to redraft the district's mission, vision, commitment and goal statements. The work produced by this committee set a clear course of action for the School District 54 learning community as we strive to ensure the success of each of our students.
In developing our shared vision, or desired future state, this committee worked collaboratively to identify five critical areas for systemwide focus: Student Learning; Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Professional Learning Communities; Family and Community; and Fiscal Responsibility. The first key area of our vision, Student Learning, reads: "To realize the true potential of each student, we will enhance the academic growth, cultural understanding, and social and emotional development of all students. As a result of this collaborative effort, our students will meet college- and career-readiness standards to excel in a global society."
In order to take purposeful and strategic steps toward making this portion of our vision statement a reality, the committee identified 10 specific actions the District 54 learning community will take to support the success of our students including:
• Set, monitor and surpass rigorous, specific goals for achieving individual growth. Students take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment three times each year. Within a week of taking the test, our students meet with their teachers and set personal targets for growth. We believe all of our students can grow academically, and that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that this growth takes place.
• Take ownership of their learning by engaging in timely interventions and enrichment. District 54 has taken purposeful steps to provide students with daily opportunities for differentiated instruction intended to accelerate learning for all. In each of our 27 schools, students in need of additional time and support to master grade-level appropriate skills and concepts are provided daily small-group instruction, while students who have demonstrated understanding of core curricular content are provided daily enrichment experiences. The goal-setting process all of our students engage in, coupled with the instruction provided during daily acceleration periods, enable our students take ownership of their academic growth.
• Develop critical and creative thinking through inquiry-based learning. As District 54 works to equip each of our students with the skills needed to be successful in college and careers, a focus has been placed on designing learning experiences which require students to solve complex, real-world problems. Our inquiry-based science curriculum is a good example of this. In addition, the various Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs operating in the district, including the pre-engineering program Project Lead the Way; FUSE; Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) and the rocketry clubs all require our students to ask questions, to think for themselves, and to challenge information that they receive.
• Challenge themselves to advance their leadership skills. Every student has an opportunity to be a leader either during the school day or through extracurricular activities. It is our goal to empower each of our students with enriching learning experiences that will equip them to provide successful leadership at the college and career level.
• Cultivate effective communication skills. Children in District 54 classrooms are taught to communicate effectively through both written and oral communication. With District 54's full implementation of the Common Core State Standards for English language arts, these communication skills take on an even heightened level of emphasis in our curriculum.
• Engage in cooperative and service-learning opportunities. Each school offers opportunities through clothing drives, food drives and other events that support people in our community, our nation and even the world.
• Use evolving technology as a tool to compete in a global environment. District 54 classrooms are equipped with computers, tablets, whiteboards, video projectors and many other technology tools. Students are learning how to use the technology and, more importantly, how the technology can enhance their learning.
• Embrace and highlight the value of diversity. District 54 is a minority-majority district, meaning less than 50 percent of our students are Caucasian. In this way, our school district reflects the world in which our students will live and work. One of our jobs in District 54 is to teach students the value of this diversity and how much we can learn from different cultures.
• Treat everyone with courtesy, dignity and respect by demonstrating ethical and responsible behavior. District 54 schools all follow the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports framework. Although the exact words may vary from school to school, all students are taught to Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe whether on the bus, in class, in the hallway or in any other situation at school.
• Practice a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness. District 54 is a partner in Schaumburg CAN, which stands for Community -- Activity -- Nutrition. Through our health curriculum, physical education curriculum and many clubs and activities, we encourage students to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
I am proud of the District 54 students who are committed to student learning and to the teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and community members who support them. Together we can and will help our students reach their full potential.
If you have any questions about the Student Learning vision statement, please don't hesitate to call me at (847) 357-5036. Also, please visit our Mission and Goals website at sd54.org/board/mission to view a video in which I further explain our Student Learning vision.