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First General Session

Conference opens with aspirations, expectations

“If everything you do works, you’re not pushing the envelope enough.”

So spoke David Schuler, the keynote speaker at the First General Session of the 2018 Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), and Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO).

Osmond The session was opened and the attendees welcomed by IASB President Joanne Osmond of Lake Villa CCSD 41. Presenting the colors were members of the Phoenix Military Academy, with the National Anthem sung by student Emma Aleckson, also of Lake Villa CCSD 41. Thomas Gentzel, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, brought a national welcome to the proceedings before the introduction of the keynoter. Schuler is the 2018 Illinois and National Superintendent of the Year and superintendent of Arlington Heights-based THSD 214.

Schuler opened his talk with asking attendees to “Focus on our why. Reflect on the ‘why.’ What drives you? The answer to that will make you much better at what you do.”

Schuler encouraged his audience to “Tell stories, we need to paint pictures” of what is going on in our schools.

SchulerSchuler peppered his advice with anecdotes from his experiences in THSD 214 and in building the nationwide “Redefining Ready!” program, which calls on educators to manage the responsibility they have to ensure high school students are “college ready, career ready and life ready.”

“In 2001, No Child Left Behind … was well-intentioned,” said Schuler. “But what it did was it sucked all the joy out of learning and teaching.

“We need kids to learn how to read, do math, and love school.”

Schuler noted that when people push – towards compliance and reliance on test scores – we have to push back.

“We make the decisions,” Schuler says. “We can compare ourselves to our neighbors and criticize and throw people other under the bus, or we can talk about the things that important to our communities.

“The new school report card is better,” Schuler said. “But we know that our kids are more than a score they earn on a standardized test. When we devalue our children down to a single test score, we devalue their teachers, their parents, their communities, their school boards, and their school administrators.

“We have a moral obligation,” Schuler said. “To broaden the definition of student success.”

THSD 214’s programs, from culinary arts to aviation, from teacher preparation to entrepreneurship, were noted in Schuler’s talk to illustrate his words, “We want our students to dream beyond their current dreams, for them to dream beyond high school, the earlier the better.”

In challenging the audience of educational leaders to create opportunities for their students, Schuler ended by saying, “Your kids will raise or lower their expectations based on the expectations of the adults.”

Bum Bums The First General Session also saw the David Binotti Award for risk management. The 2018 award was announced by Gary Kelly, superintendent of DuQuoin CUSD 300 and chairman of the Illinois School District Agency and awarded to representatives from Dixon Unit SD 170 for crisis management of a school shooting took place May. Lives were saved in the incident by the actions of Mark Dallas, school resource officer; Andrew McKay, physical education teacher; and Mike Grady, Dixon High School principal. Also at the first General Session, awards were announced for the Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments.

Morton CUSD 709’s talented singing group, The Bum Bums, performed to an appreciative response prior to the opening of the First General Session.


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