School district to invest in strategic staff support programs

District 57’s new strategic plan focuses on four key areas, including staff growth and support

Plans are underway in Mount Prospect District 57 to significantly grow teaching and learning opportunities for its staff, according to a new five-year strategic plan launched during the opening days of the new school year. Among the four strategic goal areas of focus identified during their strategic planning process, providing impactful professional development was high on the list.

“So many insights came out of the yearlong strategic plan process,” said Dr. Mary Gorr, superintendent for District 57. “We heard loud and clear from participants with differing stakes in our district: there is a significant need to invest in staff growth.”

District 57 took a major first step toward this goal in August when it welcomed Aaron Wilkins, its new assistant director for Professional Learning. This new position was created to address the need for a dedicated staff support resource in the district. Wilkins’ responsibilities include providing professional learning opportunities for staff, overseeing the district’s New Educator Induction and Mentoring Program, and supporting staff with curricular implementation, among other things.

“It's been fantastic jumping right in with this amazing District 57 team,” said Wilkins. “Exciting curriculum projects are already underway at every building, and each of those brings immense learning opportunities.”

Wilkins has extensive experience in curriculum development and implementation, a skill essential to success in his new role. Most recently he worked in curriculum development and coaching at Glenview Public School District 34.

“By supporting our educators through impactful professional learning and partnership in the implementation of curriculum,” said Dr. Kristin Vonder Haar, assistant superintendent for Teaching and Learning, “Aaron will play a crucial role in supporting high-impact student outcomes.”

This needed support comes during a time when the US continues to face growing teacher shortages and fewer students pursuing the profession.

“Our teachers work long hours and face many of the same pressures as their peers nationally,” said Dr. Gorr. “By investing in their professional growth, we hope to make their work more effective and efficient, freeing them up to be there for their students both academically and emotionally, while also avoiding burnout.”

District’s 57’s other strategic plan goals include providing outstanding student experiences, growing family and community partnerships, and prioritizing fiscal responsibility and facilities planning. The district is planning community outreach events throughout the year to educate its stakeholders on the importance of the strategic plan, its goals, and its progress.

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