Thank You David Small for the Endorsement!

endorsed-300x292“Lizzy [Garlovsky] and George [Spathis] are a critical, needed addition to the District 113 Board. They are committed to curriculum innovation for 21st Century learning and a rigorous education for all students, enhancing the social/emotional welfare of students, and are dedicated to fiscal responsibility.”

                                         David Small

Adopt a Yard Sign (or two)!

The yard signs are in! The yard signs are in!  I’m trying to distribute them in pairs and asking my supporters to find a friend or neighbor that will take the second sign.

If you are interested, you can email me at spathisd113@gmail.com or send me a FB Message (but please include your address). Thanks!

17022495_1824069431191986_3894097515069686134_n

Study: Teacher Satisfaction, Collaboration Are Keys to Student Achievement

teachers-group-2-900x500socialmedia-getty-thumb-500xauto-23565“Past research has found that teachers tend to have higher job satisfaction when there is a strong, collaborative school culture.”

This article illustrates the link between teacher satisfaction and student achievement, and is why I have been such a vocal proponent of establishing a culture of collaboration for and throughout our District.

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2017/02/study_teacher_satisfaction_professional_learning_communities_keys_to_student_achievement.html?preview=1

Hey Snowbirds and Recent Grads–YOU CAN VOTE!

20150455247d5c97d6dAs early as 90 days before an election, any registered voters in Illinois can submit a request to have a ballot mailed to them, which they can, in turn, complete and return by mail. Requests can be made electronically (without a voter signature), or by signing a printed request form and mailing it to the election official.   Requests must be received by NOON on March 30, 2017.

Visit https://www.lakecountyil.gov/351/Voter-Power, then enter your name, street address and birth day, and you can make a request by email or download a form with your information already entered that you must simply sign and return to the Clerk.  Ballots start going out approximately 40 days before the election.  It could not be easier.

 

For more info, go to https://www.lakecountyil.gov/348/Voting-By-Mail

 

 

Improved Board Governance on Display

gavelIn case you missed it, at its February 13th meeting, the Board began consideration of a plan that would move first semester final exams from mid January to before winter break. Last fall, our Superintendent convened a Calendar Committee to examine an array of options for moving finals to December.  HPHS Principal, Tom Koulentes, chaired the committee and was on hand, together with DHS Department Head, Rich Grady, to present the committee’s findings.

District parents were also present, and during the comment section shared their feelings about the possible calendar reconfiguration–mostly speaking out against any change to the status quo.  To be sure there were great arguments expressed both in favor of and against a change.  The Board will vote at its next Action meeting in early March on whether or not to reconfigure the calendar.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the Board and Committee deserve praise for the their evaluation and decision making process.  The Committee conducted multiple comprehensive surveys of thousands of stakeholders–parents, faculty and students–and shared summaries all of the statistics that it had gathered.  Moreover, the Committee’s presentation was unbiased, going out of its way to acknowledge and validate many of the the same concerns that parents who were present had also expressed.  And the Board asked many questions, digging well beneath the surface of the data that was presented.

Invariably, regardless of the outcome, there will be some that will not be pleased or satisfied with the Board’s decision.  But we can all take solace that the decision making process was thorough, transparent, considerate and objective.

To learn more about the Calendar issue, check out the links below or the minutes of the Board’s February 13, 2017 meeting.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-district-113-eyes-december-finals-tl-0223-20170220-story.html

http://www.hplandmark.com/school/district-113-school-board-d113-mulls-shifting-finals-december

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” ― Joseph Joubert

10712687_464800110334918_3004277402205593519_o-1Our District’s recent history has made one thing abundantly clear–we simply cannot afford to have a Board of Education that remains insulated from its constituents, that is resistant to new ideas, and that refuses to question our Superintendent for fear of being “disrespectful” or labeled “micro-managers.” I am committed to promoting dialogue and debate of the major issues facing our District.

I believe that our Board must re-engage with all of its constituents—students, parents, faculty, administration, and the community at large. This is your District and your voices deserve to be heard. I am committed to a leadership philosophy of inclusion, and pledge to be accessible and available to you and to promote a governance model that is accountable to you.

I also believe that effective leadership starts with a decision-making process that is built on best practices in governance. The Board cannot simply rubber-stamp its way to excellence, but rather, the path to excellence begins with leadership that values and promotes dialogue, discussion and debate.

We may not always agree on the answers or the approach, but I am committed to encouraging and listening to bold new ideas and rigorous debate of the issues.

“Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.” — B. F. Skinner

11087932_466722136809382_6960415284626327423_o-1While we strive to achieve and maintain excellence in our schools, we must look beyond the conventional matrices—like median ACT scores—to measure our progress. While standardized testing has some place in evaluating the growth and development of our students in core subjects, the level and quality of student engagement is an equally important measure of excellence (and statistics would suggest a greater predictor of happiness and success in the future). Students with passions rooted in the performing arts, fine arts, applied arts, athletics, student government and technical vocations have gifts and talents that are not measured or identified by standardized testing. Our goal as a District should be to develop well rounded students, who are empowered to explore and/or discover what they enjoy most and what they do best.

As we collaborate and develop our vision and strategic plan for the schools and the District that we want to become, the conversation should begin with the aim of a high school education. We must remain cognizant that when it comes to education, one size most certainly does not fit all. We must honor student individuality, celebrate what makes them different, and foster their diverse needs to the greatest extent possible. Our ultimate goal should be to engage, encourage and support all of our students to fulfill their full potential, and be the best that they can be, regardless of the path they choose.

Register to Vote!

201504552463d716b41Historically, mid-term elections are marked by low turnout.  Literally, therefore, EVERY VOTE COUNTS.  Are you registered to vote?

You can check or verify your Voter Registration status on the County Clerk’s Voter Power page.  https://www.lakecountyil.gov/351/Voter-Power

If you are not registered, then get registered–it couldn’t be easier.

First, you can register in person at the Lake County Clerk’s office, 18 N. County St, Room 101, Waukegan, Illinois.  847-377-2410.  Registration is open all year throughout the County except the process changes during the 27 days preceding an election (for next election, that date is March 8th).  A voter who registers within the 27 day period must vote at the time of registration. Hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Second, you can register in person at your local municipal or township office and other local agencies.  Here’s a list of all the local offices  in Lake County at which you can register.  https://www.lakecountyil.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1040

You can even register by mail, but if you do, you MUST vote in person the first time you vote, either at the polling place or early voting location (no voting by mail).  To register by mail, follow this link https://www.lakecountyil.gov/364/Registration-Form

Finally, even after all of the referenced deadlines, there is still a Grace Period Voter Registration.  You can register in person (starting March 20th) at your Early Voting Site, or even register in person on election day at your polling place.

The bottom line, there is no excuse for not registering and voting.

The ARTS connect our students to school

 

arts_collageI am a HUGE proponent of the Arts, and believe that our schools’ commitment to the Fine and Performing Arts is a large part of what makes them great.  Our District’s core mission must include maximizing student engagement, and supporting every student’s passion—the Fine Arts, Performing Arts, athletics and student government all fit within our core mission and are critical to our students’ personal growth.  Each year it seems that there are dozens of kids from HP and DHS that are accepted into some of the premier film, dance, theater, choral, and music programs at among the most prestigious universities and academies throughout the country.  I believe that we have evolved well beyond the notion that the Arts are not an essential aspect of the high school experience for a significant segment of our students, and a very real career path for many of our kids.  I will tirelessly support the Arts in District 113.


Just as we seek to attract the best teachers and Department Heads for other subjects, we must find a way to serve our students who are committed to the Arts with the best band, orchestra, chorus and theater leaders.  And our goals with respect to class sizes should be the same for classes in the Arts as they are for most any subject.  Staffing and class size issues and solutions not always be easy (or optimal), but in this age of technology, we should be able to cooperate to find creative workable solutions to meet the needs of our students and still maintain our obligations to our tax payers to be fiscally responsible.  

GPA, SAT, ACT…RIP?

10313035_449274928554103_5093802268117107305_n

Here’s another interesting concise read on the topic of standardized testing by Gallup’s Director of Educational Research, Brandon Busteed. A snippet below:

“Gallup’s work on strengths development has shown that every human on the planet has a unique talent signature — like a fingerprint. And we’ve found that each person’s success is best determined by how well they leverage their unique talents on a daily basis. Not by trying to be the same as others. And not by trying to “fix their weaknesses.”

As a parent, I want my kids to be uncommon, not common. I want them to be unique, not the same. I want them to discover different solutions to the problem, as opposed to the same answer. As an education expert, I want my country to espouse the same. America’s economy is fundamentally about entrepreneurship — boldly and bravely striking out in new directions. But we have lost sight of that in our schools and colleges. We have a system that encourages the opposite — working within narrowly defined rules, teaching to the test and we are ultimately aiming at standardized answers and outcomes.

To be clear, this is not to suggest that we wholesale abandon standardized testing. These tests should be part of a much more balanced scorecard that includes many other more important measures. But we do need to greatly deemphasize the role these assessments currently play.”     What do you think?  You can link to the full article below.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brandon-busteed/gpa-sat-actrip_b_3566672.html