Superintendent's Message, 9.27.19

As Superintendent of District 96 schools, I enjoy a unique opportunity to experience our District from varied perspectives.

When I step into a classroom, I find engaged students and laser-focused instruction of learning targets in progress. Across the hallway in a team meeting, I hear faculty discuss our students’ strong growth data and hone strategies to challenge and improve it. In our boardroom and in meetings with parent volunteers, I see unwavering determination to maximize growth opportunities for every child in every District 96 school, every day. 

Julie SchmidtWe’re a committed learning community. We pour our hearts into the work we do. And so, I’m elated–and eager!–to share the following news of some prestigious and well-deserved recognition, as well as plans for continued excellence and growth:
• District 96 Ivy Hall Elementary School is named a 2019 USDE National Blue Ribbon School
Spokesperson Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on Sept. 26 that the United States Department of Education will honor 312 public and 50 private schools for their academic excellence with their most distinguished recognition. Public and private elementary, middle, and high schools receive National Blue Ribbon School recognition in one of two categories: exemplary high performing and exemplary improving. Ivy Hall–one of twenty-five Illinois schools honored–is recognized as an exemplary high-performing school, as measured by state assessments. 

Ivy Hall has earned the District’s eighth U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon. It is the second National Blue Ribbon awarded to Ivy Hall. 

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program was founded in 1982. District 96 schools received National Blue Ribbon recognition in 2007 (Twin Groves Middle School), 2008 (Ivy Hall Elementary), 2009 (Woodlawn Middle School), 2012 (Kildeer Elementary), 2013 (Twin Groves Middle School), 2016 (Woodlawn Middle School), and 2017 (Prairie Elementary).

In mid November, Ivy Hall Principal Bob Hanrahan will join an Ivy Hall faculty member (to be named) in accepting the school’s 2019 National Blue Ribbon award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., honoring nationwide leaders in academic achievement. Likewise, school staff and students will plan a local celebration to occur later this fall at Ivy Hall, including students, families, faculty, administrators, Board of Education members, and community dignitaries.

Ivy Hall Elementary School

• Distinguished recognition for District 96 staff: Those Who Excel
The Illinois State Board of Education has announced the recipients of 2019 Those Who Excel recognition. This distinguished recognition is even more meaningful because their peers nominated these District 96 educators and support staff for their extraordinary devotion and contributions to their field. We are truly proud to celebrate:

Grace Cao – Community Member – Award of Excellence
Head Custodian Team – Team – Award of Meritorious Service
Hanna Lee – Classroom Teacher – Award of Meritorious Service
Pamela Kupsco – Educational Service Personnel – Award of Meritorious Service
Jordan Myers – Early Career Educator – Award of Special Recognition 
Maria Reichert – Student Support Personnel – Award of Meritorious Service
Kathryn Sheridan – Administrator – Award of Meritorious Service

Each of these recipients has made a positive difference in our classrooms, our schools, and our learning community. Next month each will be honored at the Those Who Excel banquet in Normal, IL.

• Board of Education Approved Goals for 2019–2020

At their meetings in August, the District 96 Board of Education considered and approved goals for the 2019–2020 school year.

Three broad areas of focus include:
• High levels of student growth and achievement for all Elementary students
• High levels of student growth and achievement for all Middle School students
• Continue building capacity and engagement levels across the organization

Goals addressing growth for elementary students include a focus on social studies, literacy, physical education, and fine arts learning standards. Middle school goals for growth include examining literacy learning standards and problem-solving processes and procedures. Goals for building capacity and engagement include social-emotional learning reporting and expanded opportunities for student leadership.

For more specifics on these three goal areas, see on our District website the 2019–2020 goals approved by our Board of Education. 

All evidence confirms that, indeed, a great year of learning is well underway. How exciting it is to watch and listen as our students and faculty seize opportunities to grow, discover, and lead–it’s going to be a rewarding year!! 

In appreciation,
Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools