On Thursday, Feb. 2 the Consolidated School District 158 board members and administration held their regularly scheduled meeting at the district office. The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by middle school cheerleaders, followed by a short Q&A by President Donald Drzal.
The main topic on the agenda this evening was the Professional Learning Community (PLC) framework, led by Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Erika Schlichter. The PLC is an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in cycles of inquiry and active research to achieve better results for CSD158 students.
Part of the PLC includes a Systematic Pyramid of Interventions, which is designed to help students who are advanced or behind in certain subject matters.
“When we look at those components of our PLC, those are designed to be pillars of what we do,” Schlichter said.
After going through an outline of the framework, principals and administrators from each school shared their celebrations using PLC.
“We have our teachers at the K-8 level meet in data teams to talk both about interventions and what is needed in all of our classrooms,” Conley Elementary School Principal Rhonda Maciejewski said. “Teachers are looking at the data and seeing that ‘these kids are getting it, they need to soar!’”
According to Heineman Middle School Principal James Litchfield, the goal is to use the results from assessments and determine “how we [will] know if they get the skill and what we [will] do if they don’t get the skill.”
CSD 158 is in the middle of an education revolution between the technology, blended courses offered at the high school, and enrollment sizes.
With this change in learning, Marlowe Middle School Principal Henry Soltesz had a different approach.
“Our common theme is getting to know our students,” Soltesz said. “That’s what our focus is on when we’re doing things in the classes.”
Heineman and Marlowe middle schools have implemented #observeme into their everyday schedules. #observeme is exactly what it sounds like; teachers going into the classrooms of other teachers and observing their teaching styles, student response, and how certain students are handled. There are no limits, so physical education teachers can observe a math class and literacy teachers can observe an art class.
“[It creates] a willingness to try new ideas, [which is] ultimate professional growth,” Soltesz said.
According to Huntley High School Assistant Principal Shelly Kish, HHS is “shifting focus from teaching to a focus on learning.”
After celebrations, Schlichter shifted to aha! moments from the different schools after implementing their PLC.
Kish shared that at the high school, the U.S. history courses were having the highest level of failures. The reading level of the test was lowered, however, the same history skills were being tested. The lowering of the reading tiers saw a drastic improvement in test scores.
“[It was] a huge success for [teachers] as it is a required course for graduation,” Kish said.
The session was opened to public comments and then Schlichter began to discuss summer school.
A proposal was made to increase the high school fee from $100 to $125 because, from a marketing perspective, CSD 158 prices are lower than that of other districts. At the high school level, summer school is usually taken to get ahead of classes, whereas it is taken for remedial/recovery purposes at the middle school level.
Because there is a significant decrease in middle school enrollment, summer school prices will be reduced to $25 per course for remediation.
Lastly, the international field trip to China in June 2018 was discussed by Huntley High School history teachers Brad Aney and Anne Sharkey. Board member Kevin Gentry was concerned about potential trouble getting a student back into the U.S. at the end of the trip.
According to Aney, “with [that] new situation coming up,” he does not believe it will be a problem.
The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at the district office, where literacy review and learning implementation will be focuses.