We are on the cusp of opening our doors again for what promises to be another great school year. This time of year is always exciting for our staff members, who truly look forward to seeing faces both familiar and new on the first day of school.
We also know that it can be a nerve-racking time of year, especially for our new students and families. I strongly encourage anyone who has a question or concern, big or small, about their student's upcoming experiences at school to reach out—to your teacher, school, or the District. We're a big school district, but we pride ourselves on maintaining the personal and friendly tradition our community has always been known for, and it remains our commitment to serve the needs of ALL STUDENTS ALWAYS.
What's Been Happening
You may notice some improved pavement, roofs, and other important projects that were completed over the summer by our outstanding operations and maintenance department.
At the high school, we are putting finishing touches on a renovated space to house the new INCubator program, in which students will be working on developing real-world businesses this year with the help of community business partners. In addition, we will soon be sharing details about our planned fine arts addition for Huntley High School, anticipated to begin construction this fall.
In our elementary schools, staff members have been trained and students are gearing up to take part in our new Explore special. This new program, offered as a special alongside existing music, art, and PE classes, will enable our K-5 students to explore the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math in a project-based setting that encourages collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
We've also been working to transform our staff to meet the evolving needs of our students and community. As we announced last year, we have added administrative leadership dedicated to enhancing educational equity for all students.
Dr. Rocio Del Castillo has joined our administrative cabinet as assistant superintendent for special services. The Special Services Department has been reorganized to work in tandem with our curriculum team to form our Center for Learning and Innovation. This reorganization will help provide all of our students with the access, opportunity, resources, and personalized supports needed to succeed.
We also are pleased that Sue Waughon has joined the department as director of special services for elementary, and Rafael Martinez Ortiz has joined us as director of language acquisition. In this role, Mr. Martinez Ortiz will support our Dual Language program as well as other programs and services for our growing multilingual community. It's one example of success in our long-term process of enhancing educational equity for all students.
Another new development is that each of our campuses is now served by a dedicated Campus Resource Officer (CRO) providing safety, security, and educational support to our schools. Officer Sarah Barham of Lake in the Hills Police Department is the new CRO serving our Reed Road Campus schools, and Officer Andrew Dykstra of Algonquin Police Department is the new CRO serving our Square Barn Road Campus schools. Officer Ryan Gregorio of Huntley Police Department will continue his role as school resource officer at Huntley High School while providing expanded support to neighboring Leggee Elementary School.
What's Coming Up
There are a number of reasons to feel good about the state of the District. While not a measure we pay close attention to, we continue to advance upward in a variety of national and statewide rankings of quality school districts. In addition, we continue to receive a stream of recognitions within reputation-enhancing media and within the education field as invited presenters at a number of distinctive conferences.
Still, we are excited to move forward on our pathway to providing excellent and personalized education for all students. In that vein, we have just launched our new strategic planning process. With the assistance of Unicom ARC, a leading strategic planning firm, we have formed a facilitating team of 25 District stakeholders to guide this process. You will be hearing frequently from this team throughout the process, including a number of to-be-announced community engagement sessions over the coming year. We strongly encourage your participation in these events, which will be key to understanding the needs and desires of our community as we plan for the future.
We’re also working closely with the community to advance our mutual goals. We have formed partnerships with more than 25 local business leaders to provide direct support for students in the INCubator program. In addition, we recently ratified a statement of shared mission with the Huntley Area Administrative Roundtable (HAART). This group represents a commitment to collaboration, joint planning, and fiscal responsibility among the governmental agencies serving the Huntley community.
One fun and timely way to get involved with us is to participate in the upcoming Huntley Hootenanny Glow 5K. The Huntley 158 Education Foundation held the inaugural event last year to rave reviews. The 2nd annual event will take place September 7 in Downtown Huntley. Race registration is capped at 2,500, so if you haven't yet, please head to www.district158.org/5k to complete the online signup. Even if you don't care to run or walk the 5K, you are still invited to sport your glowiest gear and head to the Square to enjoy the music, fun, and food. Proceeds from the family-friendly event will benefit the Foundation, supporting teacher grants and student scholarships.
Thank you for all you do in supporting OUR students. Here's to the start of another school year. Let's make it a great one!
Scott Rowe, Ed.D