On Religion, The Media and Life as a 20-something in Chicago

Here’s a little sneak peek at what you can expect of the 2011-12 school year, starting today in Capentersville-area Community Unit School District 300… HOFFMAN ESTATES — What could possibly get a roomful of teachers more excited about the start of a school year than a marching band? How about all three of Community School District 300’s high school marching bands together in one unprecedented performance? Or Dundee-Crown High School’s marching band performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” complete with dance break? Or an adorable Lake in the Hills Elementary School first-grader named Jeffrey Wojnarowski doing a crazy dance while wearing a tiny tuxedo? All of those things happened at the D300 Staff Rally Friday morning at the Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway. But the thing District 300 teachers said excited them most was the vision for the district and the 2011-2012 school year, which starts Monday, that new Superintendent Michael Bregy and his staff shared during the event. “It’s my seventh year with the district, and I’ve never been in a room with all the other schools in the district. It was exciting,” said Teresa Burger, a third-grade teacher at Golfview Elementary School in Carpentersville. All 3,000 District 300 staff members attended the rally, according to district spokesperson Allison Strupeck. Board members, substitute teachers, representatives of both food provider Aramark and transportation provider Durham School Services and other contract employees also were invited. “We haven’t done a staff rally in eight years, and we’ve grown significantly and changed since then. It’s about time we had a party,” Strupeck said. But the event was more than just a pep rally. Its purpose, Bregy said, was for the district’s educators to “reconnect, recharge and refocus.” Members of the superintendent’s new Teaching and Learning Leadership Team shared some of its priorities for the coming year. They include the district’s new education services department and its restructured special education program. Part of the idea behind that department is “every student is the responsibility of every teacher in the district,” according to Shelley Nacke, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning-education services. Other priorities include RtI and PBIS, intervention programs for students struggling with learning or behavior; aligning curriculum and testing with the Common Core Standards adopted last year by the state of Illinois; and Quantum Learning. Quantum Learning is a five-part teaching and learning methodology that addresses all learning styles many district educators already have been trained in. But even as he and his staff explained their vision for the future of District 300, Bregy said, “I can’t forget that last year happened.” Last school year, the district announced Bregy, then principal of Jacobs, would succeed longtime superintendent Kenneth Arndt. Its board also made considerable budget cuts for the second straight year, including cutting 363 teachers (since recalled) in case it could not reach $5 million in concessions with its unions. “I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I’ve gone from the best of times to the worst of times,” he said. The superintendent also said it felt like the new role “took the teacher right out of me.” That’s part of the reason Bregy said he plans to continue his involvement in the national School Administration Management program as superintendent. SAM encourages principals to get out from behind their desks and into classrooms, which Bregy did at Jacobs by adopting the role of a student once a week. As superintendent, he’ll swap roles with a different teacher at a different school once a week, he announced Friday. Meanwhile, the teacher will observe a classroom in a school very different from his or her own. That excited Lynnie Hoffman, who teaches chorus, band and orchestra at Gary D. Wright and Hampshire elementary schools, both in Hampshire. On Friday, she wore a Hampshire jersey over a tie-dyed Wright T-shirt, her hair temporarily dyed purple to show spirit for both schools. Hoffman called Bregy’s teacher swap idea “progressive” and said that teaching in different buildings is part of what’s helped her grow as an educator. It will be good for the new superintendent, too, she said, “especially if he’ll do it in elementary schools, because he was a high school principal.” “A lot of us teachers feel like at the elementary level, we’re kind of forgotten. The high schools are the big names, the big bands,” she said. Katie Nole, a second-grade teacher at Golfview, said she was excited to hear all the ideas Bregy and his staff shared — and she hopes all the district schools will adopt them. “I think it was nice to get everybody on the same page — kind of start off on the same foot,” Nole said. “Before, it felt like every building did its own thing.” Copyright 2011, The Courier-News. All rights reserved. To comment on this story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2011 at 11:06 am

D300 educators rally behind new school year (Sun-Times Media)

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