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"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."

- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

My vision for Sparta Community Unit School District #140 is to create a dynamic, diverse community of teaching professionals who work together collaboratively - innovating and inspiring each other and their students. While striving for academic excellence, we should seek to provide a comprehensive education that engages all students in meaningful learning. This will allow for development of the intellectual, creative, social, emotional, technological, and physical skills necessary to prepare students for life beyond high school.

4 Areas of Focused Strategic Planning

1. Communication

2. Curriculum

3. Data-Driven Decision Making

4. Technology Enhancement

1. Communication

  • A key step in assuming the role of Superintendent will be the creation of the Superintendent's Advisory Council. This council will be comprised of key instructional leaders, representatives from the support staff, parents, students, and community stakeholders. These individuals are the eyes and ears of the school environment, keeping the pulse on the day-to-day operations. By fostering an open forum for honest dialogue, my actions as the instructional leader can be targeted and proactive in nature.
  • Communication must be frequent and easily accessible. Visibility in the school and community is imperative. I plan to communicate utilizing a wide variety of methods. I am a firm believer in face-to-face communication. Information, good or bad, is best delivered in person. I want individuals to feel they can approach me and know that all situations will be handled in a fair and systematic way. I will also create a weekly podcast, one directed to the staff and one for the community. This is a way to quickly disseminate important information to large groups of people. Individuals can then access the information on their own schedule.
  • School Branding will be a top priority. If we aren't telling our own story and sharing the good news, no one else will either. The name Sparta CUSD #140 should be synonymous with Excellence in Education. That news needs to be shared continually. A strong presence on Social Media will be key. The use of a district-wide hashtag will assist in tracking this type of information sharing. All staff members, parents, students, and community members will be encouraged to use the district hashtag when sharing all information related to Sparta CUSD #140. We must be our own advocates, proclaiming the amazing educational opportunities we provide to all of our students.

2. Curriculum

  • The curriculum at all levels must be rigorous and relevant. As students progress through grade school and high school, the ultimate goal must be to expand college and career opportunities for all students.
  • Just as we structure learning opportunities within core curriculum areas, it is also appropriate to structure course-taking patterns for specialized fields. While it is important to value student choice as they pursue a wide variety of interests, it is the obligation of the high school to provide appropriate guidance along the way. The formation of learning academies would provide appropriate structures and viable pathways for students as they consider their choices in a wide variety of fields of study. Students can proceed from beginning courses through advanced study in defined academic clusters. Programs for the most advanced students could culminate in authentic experiences outside the traditional Sparta CUSD #140 classroom setting including internships, independent studies, job shadowing, dual credit offerings, etc. The possibilities are limitless.
  • The key in making all of this successful is forming partnerships. Community leaders and business officials offer a wealth of knowledge and resources. They also benefit by playing an active role in the development of their future workforce. The role of the Superintendent is to facilitate the creation and development of these partnerships.

3. Data-Driven Decision Making

  • All public schools must continue to address the achievement gap, specifically with minority and poverty students. As Superintendent, I would focus on providing an information-driven research and evaluation program that includes norm referenced, criterion referenced, and performance assessments to monitor instruction and assess student progress.
  • The program will establish a continuous quality improvement model for the District. At all times, we must monitor the curriculum and instructional programs to maintain high standards. We will continuously collect appropriate achievement data to track student progress. Additionally, I will collect appropriate data to assess school climate, program effectiveness, and other factors that influence student achievement ( i.e. differentiated instruction, engaged learning, critical thinking, etc. ). I will strengthen and develop information-driven decision-making skills among all staff members. Annually, I will provide a District Assessment Report that guides curriculum and instruction decision-making by analyzing student growth.
  • My experience in curriculum and instruction, as well as my leadership role on the District Joint Committee has given me a strong base of knowledge in leading educators, emphasizing accountability and sustained student growth. Developing trust and transparency will be key.

4. Technology Enhancement

  • I had the opportunity to attend the Future Ready Schools Summit in St. Louis, MO as part of our District Leadership Team. West Frankfort prides itself on being progressive in technology integration. The Future Ready Schools initiative focuses on the following elements: Budget and Resources; Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; Community Partnerships; Data and Privacy; Professional Learning; Technology, Networks, and Hardware; and The Use of Time. Future Ready Schools are preparing students for success in a technologically rich world.
  • Technology improvements are constantly evolving. Utilizing educational apps, live streaming programs, and virtual meeting rooms shrinks the world and provides students in Sparta, IL with the same resources available to students across the globe.
  • As Superintendent, I will model the use of technology to students and staff. At the same time, I will remind the staff that our students are "digital natives" while we are "digital immigrants." Empowering the students can create valuable learning experiences for everyone.

The 9 Characteristics of High-Performing Schools

1. A Clear and Shared Focus- Everyone knows where they are going and why. The focus is on achieving a shared vision, ensuring that each individual understands their role in achieving the vision.

2. High Standards and Expectations for All Students- Teachers and staff believe that all students can learn and meet high standards. While recognizing that some students must overcome significant barriers, these obstacles are not seen as insurmountable. Students are offered an ambitious and rigorous course of study.

3. Effective School Leadership- Effective instructional and administrative leadership is required to implement change processes. Effective leaders are proactive and seek help that is needed. They nurture an instructional program and school culture conducive to learning and professional growth.

4. High Levels of Collaboration and Communication- There is strong teamwork among teachers across all curricular areas. Everyone is involved and interconnected, including parents and members of the community, to identify problems and construct solutions.

5. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessments are Aligned to Standards- Research-based teaching strategies and materials are used. Staff understands the role of classroom and standardized assessments, what the assessments measure, and how student work should be evaluated.

6. Frequent Monitoring of Learning and Teaching - A steady cycle of differentiated assessments identify students in need. Support and instructional time is provided, both during the school day and outside normal school hours. Teaching is adjusted based on frequent monitoring of student progress and needs. Assessment results are used to focus and improve instructional programs.

7. Focused Professional Development- A strong emphasis is placed on training staff in areas of greatest need. Feedback from learning and teaching focuses extensive and ongoing professional development. The support is also aligned with the district vision and objectives.

8. Supportive Learning Environment- The school has a safe, civil, healthy, and intellectually stimulating learning environment. Students feel respected and connected with the staff and are engaged in learning. Instruction is personalized and student-centered.

9. High Level of Family and Community Involvement- There is an overwhelming sense that everyone has a responsibility to educate students, not just teachers and staff in the school. Families, as well as businesses, social service agencies, and community colleges and universities all play a vital role in this effort.