District 214 Ennis Award winner opens doors to new technology

Shelby Rosin, science teacher at Prospect High School, is the winner of the 2024 Dr. Elizabeth A. Ennis Innovator Award from High School District 214.

The legacy of the late Dr. Ennis, District 214’s sixth superintendent, lives on through this annual award. It is presented to an employee or team of employees who have demonstrated leadership in the development and implementation of an idea to improve student learning and achievement.

Rosin was recognized for using technology tools in innovative and engaging ways in the classroom.

In Rosin’s case, taking 10 minutes to switch how she delivered lab materials meant everything to her freshman Biology students.

Now in her fourth year at Prospect, Rosin is part of a teaching and learning cohort that works with an Apple Computer representative to find new ways to use District 214 students’ iPads in classes.

“I love technology,” Rosin said. “I realized that although we have the iPads in our district, in many cases they’re just replacing paper. Often it seems that the same work sheets are simply getting transferred to the iPad.”

When she started planning for the annual Elephant Poop Lab — an investigative lab looking at soil and seed dispersal — Rosin decided to take the worksheet questions and do something different. She created an interactive presentation in Apple’s Keynote program that included photos and links to videos, and opportunities for the students to play around with the look of the results they were reporting — shapes and colors and styles.

“The technology opened the door to the material,” she said. “Changing the output got students more engaged. Kids were taking ownership of their work, collaborating and problem-solving.”

Rosin’s Apple representative encouraged her to post the presentation on the Apple Education Forum, where it’s been viewed by more than 1,200 educators. In addition, Rosin has shared her enthusiasm for classroom technology with her fellow teachers at workshops for new teachers and at professional development sessions.

“What I have learned is that success does not always look and feel the same,” she said. “There are always issues with technology; it’s part of the process. But I’ve learned that none of us need to be perfect and understand everything when we open the tool. We can figure it out together. And I think more learning can happen when it’s messy.”

The District 214 Board of Education established the Ennis Award in 2005, in honor of Dr. Ennis’ own leadership during her 15-year tenure of creating advances, including the initiation and growth of the District 214 Vanguard School and the Newcomer Center.

Every year, each District 214 school nominates one individual or team for the award. A district committee — composed of a Board of Education member, principal, support staff, licensed educator and central maintenance personnel — reviews the nominations and selects that year’s recipient.

The other 2024 Ennis Award nominees included:

Jeanne Shin-Cooper, Buffalo Grove High School: Shin-Cooper has combined her teaching skills with her identity as an Asian American woman to create and participate in projects that educate students and the community about AAPI culture, history and religions. She says this work began as a personal commitment to address anti-Asian sentiments post-pandemic. Working with the Asian Student Association she sponsors, BGHS offered the district’s first Asian Student Association Showcase, a night of celebration for the community. She also helped organize the first AAPI Student Summit, a program that brought in Asian American professionals to speak with students. And in her role as a World Religions teacher, she has worked to build religious literacy and tolerance across the district, serving as a national leader in this area.

Kirsten Fletcher, Patricia Hartwig, Melinda Perkins, Tim Phillips, Lisa Pokorny and Julie Schroeder, Elk Grove High School: This team has put the spotlight on the importance of biliteracy in the District 214 community by promoting and expanding opportunities for students to earn the Illinois Seal of Biliteracy. With extra promotion, staff education, additional test formats and a more efficient registration system for the Seal of Biliteracy program, students this year will earn the Seal for fluency in both English and in 18 other languages, from Gujarati to Hausa. In the 2023-24 school year, more than 100 EGHS students will be recognized with the Seal of the Biliteracy or Commendation — five times the number from just four years ago. Earning the Seal can cut college costs but also helps students demonstrate the pride they feel in their heritage.

Dawn Francis, Amy Ohrt, Rob Pihl, Sam Silver, Matthew Stack and Heather Yalda, John Hersey High School: This JHHS team took the District 214 AIM (Academic Interventions in Mathematics) program to a new level. At Hersey, the AIM program serves more than 100 freshmen with the goal of significant growth in math skills by junior year. A key focus has been small-group instruction led by certified math teachers in a supportive, inviting and collaborative atmosphere. The program has enhanced these students’ foundational mathematics knowledge and problem-solving skills — to rave reviews from students and parents — and, in turn, improved Hersey\'s overall attendance and grades in math classes.

Parisa Fayezizadeh, Fernando Gonzalez, Gabriela Medina, Violeta Reyes, Sheila Rudden-Shorey and Belen Uriostegui, Rolling Meadows High School: The Latino Family Outreach Team works to engage and empower Latino students and families and ensure access to and utilization of resources and programs — to close the “opportunity gap” for these often first-generation students. The team works to connect parents with bilingual staff members who can help navigate district technology, summer enrichment programs, career discovery options and college information. This year, following the hiring of a dedicated community outreach facilitator, the team offered two events: a career pathways overview, and a program about the district’s dual-credit and internship opportunities. Both parents and students feel more informed and involved.

Kristie Allen, Megan Baker, Elizabeth Christell, Elizabeth Delgado and Natalie De Meo, Wheeling High School: REACH — Re-imagine Education and Cultivate Hope — is an alternative learning program designed for students whose needs have not been met through the traditional high school model. The goal is to serve these students in their home-school, offering them an opportunity to recover credits with a different curriculum, in a warm and supportive space and with activities that build connections and teamwork. In its first year, REACH has served 29 WHS juniors. These students, in general, have increased their attendance and are experiencing high levels of success in terms of passing current courses, earning credit in deficient courses, getting back on track to graduate on time, and ultimately finding a sense of purpose for school and their futures.

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