Author: spathisd113

Transparency = Trust

11041784_450654938416102_8946766637045027180_nAlthough the District 113 School Board has certainly made progress over the past two years, changing the culture of any organization takes sustained effort and committed leadership.  There is still substantial work to be done to make sure the Board becomes more engaged, communicative, collaborative and transparent.  Improved transparency at the District level is absolutely critical for regaining the trust of our teachers and community so that we can begin working together to make our schools the best that they can be.   Let’s get to work!  #SpathisForD113

Hey Recent District 113 Grads and HS Seniors: IT’S YOUR TIME TO VOTE!

MarchElectionJ14cHEY! Recent #HPHS and #DHS grads—are you planning to VOTE?

HEY! Members of the #Classof2017 who have already turned 18—are you prepared to VOTE for the first time?

As recent or soon to be graduates, you should care as much as anyone about the future of your Alma Mater!  The upcoming #District113 School Board election is important, and EVERY VOTE COUNTS!   Make your voice heard! 

If you are or will be home between now and Sat., April 1st, then you can go to the HP Police Department (Mon-Sat) where you can register AND vote at the same time.  Easy right?

Even if you are away at school, you can still vote by mail (but only if you are registered).  If you are registered, you can request a ballot by mail by completing the form following this LINK:

Or you can request a ballot by email by following the link below, entering your name and house number (street address without the street name), and then clicking on the box titled “Request a Ballot by Mail.”

But don’t delay…Your request for a ballot must be received by NOON on March 30th and your completed ballot must be mailed (post marked) no later than April 4th.

OK, maybe voting by mail is not so easy, but it’s a breeze compared to Honors Physics or AP US History, right?  Bottom line, there’s no excuse not to #VOTE.

HP Mayor Nancy Rotering endorses GEORGE SPATHIS for District 113 School Board

endorsed-300x292I am extremely honored to have earned the public endorsement (see below) of Highland Park’s Mayor, the Honorable Nancy Rotering, whom I respect and admire immensely, and who has done a fantastic job as our Mayor.  In her words:

” I believe effective public servants are: professional, constructive, collaborative, transparent, focused on the community as a whole, and engaged in issues relevant to the offices they seek. These are the qualities of the candidates I am endorsing. Here are my recommendations:

Township High School District 113

Lizzy Garlovsky
Julie Starkman Gordon
George Spathis

Early voting begins this coming Monday, March 20 and runs through April 1 at the Highland Park Police Station (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 2pm). You can early vote at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan through April 3. Election Day is April 4 (6am – 7pm) and you must vote at your assigned poll. .

You may print and take this sheet with you into the poll. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Not sure where to vote on Election Day or need more information about early voting? Click here.
Thank you for your consideration,
Nancy Rotering”
THANK YOU MAYOR!  For Mayor Rotering’s complete list of endorsements in the upcoming election, click on the link below:

The need for more Interdisciplinary Studies: “Monolithic learning doesn’t prepare students for our complex world”

v36-24-op-4-300x250-gettyTake a few moments to read this commentary in Education Week titled “The Unmet Need for Interdisciplinary Education.” (link below)  When I have spoken to teachers in our District, many have passionately echoed the same sentiment, but have been frustrated when they have tried to make it happen because the incremental costs associated with interdisciplinary studies presents challenges, unless the class size is large enough (but not too large) to justify the expense.    

I firmly agree with the author.  In my view, interdisciplinary studies is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity for a 21st century high school education.  I cannot say it enough–we need more collaboration, both with our teachers and between our teachers.  And if this is what ignites the passions of our teachers, then we must find ways to say “yes” to more and more interdisciplinary studies (and I have ideas about how we can do so within our budget).   Simply stated, passionate teachers are critical to promoting student engagement, achievement and personal growth.  This should be the foundation of our District’s education mission.

District 113’s New “21st Century Learning” Lab a Product of Vision & Collaboration


In case you missed it, check out the article in the Daily North Shore (see link below) about the renovations at HPHS.  In addition to pragmatic infrastructure improvements that were absolutely necessary (“We took a 1914 footprint and traded it for a 2017 footprint”), there are “new spaces to emphasize 21st century learning with collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving.”   The FUSE Lab, pictured above, represents the future of learning and will engage and inspire District 113 students to rethink STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) education options and careers.

If you have not taken a tour of the new facilities at HPHS and/or DHS, I urge you to do so.

Every vote counts (Trust me…I know).

Vote-Counts1In local elections (particularly mid-term local elections), EVERY vote truly counts. That is not just a cliché.  In the last District 113 School Board election, the winning margin was a mere eleven votes.

This means that EVERY vote truly matters. The people that you elect in local elections will be entrusted to make important decisions that will directly impact your schools, parks, local government…and your property taxes.  This is your chance to be heard and to directly frame meaningful changes that you want to see in your community.  Do not sit on the sidelines–VOTE!

And if you feel strongly about a candidate or an issue, then take it upon yourself to encourage others—your spouse, your neighbors, your friends, your parents, your co-workers and even your kids (18 yrs.+)– to also vote.  Everyone should VOTE!

Voting could not be easier.

Early voting begins on March 20, 2017–exactly one week from today—and it will continue for two weeks, until April 1st. All early voting is at the Highland Park Police Station (1677 Old Deerfield Rd.) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday.

If you prefer the old fashioned way, Election Day is April 4, 2017 at your traditional polling place.

Snowbirds and kids at college can vote by mail (but you need to request a ballot soon). There simply is no excuse not to VOTE!

Regardless of who you support–although I certainly hope that you would chose to cast a vote for me—PLEASE VOTE.

Sometimes, you need to do more than just think “outside the box”—sometimes you need to get rid of the box

Come next fall, we will have an entirely new leadership team at the Dishow to think outside the boxtrict Administration level, and new (or newish) principals at both DHS and HPHS.  With that wholesale change at the top comes a real and unique opportunity to challenge the status quo on many levels.  We need to ensure that we have elected a School Board that will guide and empower our District’s new leaders to think boldly and creatively about the future of our District and our schools, rather than tether them to stale conventions, and stagnant philosophies of yesterday.

District 113 must learn from the past, not live in the past.

Make no mistake about it–changing any organization’s culture and engrained behaviors is not easy. It takes committed leadership to reject conventions and norms, to look past “the way we’ve always done it” and identify a better way towards being the organization that we want to become.

I am committed to innovation and a leadership style that will find ways to say “YES” to the best and brightest ideas and ideals.



District 113 begins search for new HPHS principal

ct-hpn-koulentes-hphs-jpg-20170303This is a significant loss for our District, as Dr. Thomas Koulentes has done a wonderful job at the helm of HPHS. The most moving and fitting tribute to his tenure was the large number of Spanish speaking students and their families who attended last Monday’s Board meeting to publicly express their appreciation for his effort and dedication towards making them feel safe and welcome in the building and in our community. To those folks, Dr. Tom was a GIANT in so many ways, and his shoes will not be easily filled.

We should all take a page from Dr. Tom, and do our part to see that the diversity in our schools and community is truly celebrated.  Best of luck Dr. Tom, and thank you for your service to our kids and community.   You will always be a GIANT.

You can read more about the meeting by linking to the Tribune story below.


Numbers of AP Test-Takers and AP Test Scores Continue to Rise


The link below is to an article in Education Week about the rising number of AP test takers, fueled in part by the surge in low income students taking AP exams.

What is especially encouraging is the fact that the average scores on all AP exams has held steady or improved even as more students have taken the tests.

But the article cautions that those numbers could drop among low income students based upon uncertainty in federal funding.  The dedicated federal grant program that had been developed specifically to subsidize AP tests for low-income students was replaced in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by a block-grant program that allows but does not require that those funds be used to subsidize tests.

As a  District, I believe that we owe ALL of our students the opportunity to achieve, and will fight to make sure that we continue to subsidize AP tests among other programs for our students.