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posted: 2/17/2014 1:01 AM

District 54's community supports the schools

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By Superintendent Andrew DuRoss

In Schaumburg Township, it is true that "It takes a village to raise a child." This African proverb, made popular by former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, embodies the interdependent efforts of many people that help our students learn at high levels and also become able, caring, resilient adults.

District 54 is fortunate to have an extremely supportive community. Our parents provide support to their children at home and to the staff at our schools. Many local businesses and organizations support District 54 through donations, partnerships and involvement in our schools. We have an active senior volunteer community that works directly with our students and staff.

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This month, the focus of my article will be on our district's vision related to Family and Community, as identified in the District 54 Mission, Vision, Commitments and Goals document. We value our relationships with our families and the community at large, and we thank you for all you do to support our students.

The Family and Community vision statement reads as follows:

As the District 54 community, we will

• Openly communicate essential information, successes and goals in multiple formats;

• Create an open and friendly environment that welcomes and respects all cultures in our community;

• Encourage and support families by providing resources and family education;

• Collaborate with the community and families in decision-making processes;

• Seek opportunities for schools to partner with community businesses and organizations;

• Encourage and support volunteers; and

• Continue to provide open enrollment schools to meet individual family goals.

Communication is an important part of any relationship, including the relationship District 54 has with the people we serve. We are committed to delivering accurate and timely information through a variety of methods.

• Our award-winning website -- http://sd54.org -- has information about the district, as well as a link to websites for each of our 27 schools.

• You can follow us on our social media channels -- www.Facebook.com/D54schools and @D54schools on Twitter. A few of our schools, teachers and PTAs are now using social media as well.

• The rapid communication system allows District 54 to call the primary guardian for each child in a variety of weather and emergency situations.

• Anyone interested in receiving our bimonthly e-newsletter can sign up at http://sd54.org/email-signup. Each school, in conjunction with the PTA, also emails a newsletter to parents at least once a month.

• Parents can access the Infinite Campus Parent Portal to view their children's grades, absences, assignments, etc.

Although we have many tools in place to communicate information to the public, the best form of communication is two-way. While community members can send us comments through the above-named communication tools, we gain valuable feedback from face-to-face conversations.

Our teachers and other staff members are encouraged to talk to parents, to listen to their concerns and to try to anticipate possible questions and conflicts. In return, we ask parents and students to reach out to their teachers and other school employees when they have a question or concern.

Our vision goes beyond simple communication. We seek input from community members in a variety of ways. Surveys are routinely sent to families asking for feedback on new textbook adoptions, our technology plan and more.

In addition, we have community members who serve on a variety of district committees including the Budget Review Committee, the Advisory Council for District Initiatives and the District Citizens' Advisory Committee. Members of these groups listen to presentations about district initiatives, ask questions and offer feedback through surveys and discussion.

We also routinely reach out to parents through our connections to the PTA. Our principals and assistant principals work closely with the PTA at their schools and I meet monthly with the PTA Council that represents all 27 schools. These relationships foster two-way communication.

The PTAs have long supported District 54 with other aspects of this vision statement. They offer parent education through newsletters and special events. They encourage and support volunteers in our schools and often help us connect to businesses and other organizations for partnerships. They have also been instrumental in welcoming new families to our schools, starting at kindergarten registration in February and School of Information Day in August.

We truly appreciate all of the support we receive from our parent community and from everyone who works with us to ensure student success in District 54. We know that we need this support to provide the best education for our families.

I personally receive calls and emails from parents and community members every day. While I can't always grant the requests I receive, I do appreciate the feedback and am happy to speak with you. If you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me at (847) 357-5036.

Also, don't forget to visit our Mission and Goals website at sd54.org/board/mission to view a video in which I further explain this vision statement.

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