District 207 named to League of Innovative Schools

Digital Promise recently announced 37 districts, including Maine Township High School District 207, will join the ranks of the League of Innovative Schools for the 2021-2022 school year. The new cohort extends the network's reach to 125 districts across 34 states, and expands its cumulative impact to 3.8 million students served over time.

"We are honored to join the League of Innovative Schools and be able to share our innovation journey and learn from other top school districts across the country," District 207 Superintendent Dr. Ken Wallace said in a news release.

"The students in District 207 are the beneficiaries of our innovative approaches in many key areas. Our students' lives are literally being impacted in a positive way due to our efforts to rethink the mantra that 'we have always done it this way,' and instead think about what is possible in our schools and classrooms."

Over the past 18 months, innovation has taken on a whole new meaning. The COVID-19 pandemic upended nearly every aspect of life. How school districts leveraged technology, engaged students in powerful learning, and supported learners and their families fundamentally shifted.

Lines between school and the home became blurred, and in that haze new forms of innovation emerged at local, national, and individual levels across the education landscape.

According to Digital Promise, this year's League of Innovative Schools cohort represents high level innovation. This year's districts were selected based on the following factors:

• Vision and key achievements;

• Potential for impacting student learning and educational leadership;

• Openness to networking and knowledge sharing;

• Demonstrated commitment to racial, digital, and educational equity.

As part of the announcement of the new members, six schools were featured, including District 207. The information released included the following:

"Maine Township High School District 207 (Illinois) - the first district in the country to leverage cloud computing - was well-positioned for the shift to remote learning in 2020, so they focused their efforts on real-time coaching and adult learning to support teachers.

"The district's Adult Learning program regularly convened teachers around 'Problems of Practice' topics to strengthen their learning culture and provide a trusted space for sharing challenges and questions. To grow this learning culture beyond their district, Maine Township High School District 207 made all of their e-learning resources available to the public. Their trainings and materials were used across the country."

The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools was launched at the White House under President Barack Obama within the U.S. Department of Education in 2011.

As a national coalition connecting the most forward-thinking leaders in education, the league's mission is to design, validate, champion, and scale effective, innovative learning opportunities to advance equity and excellence for every learner.

To best meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population in the United States, and to strengthen the composition and reach of the network, this year's highly competitive application cycle prioritized districts meeting at least one of the following criteria:

• The district's free and reduced-price meals rate is 50% or greater;

• The district's student body is 50% or greater students of color;

• The superintendent identifies with a demographic identity that is underrepresented in national superintendency statistics;

• The superintendent leads a district that is located in a geographic area currently underrepresented by the League of Innovative Schools (defined as a region in a state lacking significant league representation or a region and/or state where there is no League member district).

Working at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and developers, Digital Promise and the League of Innovative Schools provide an environment for superintendents and district leaders to share and learn from best practices; leverage research and participate in continuous improvement models; engage in research and development projects to tackle challenges with peers across the country; and implement new technologies and innovations.

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