Supporting a Culture of Educational Innovation

Meeting the Needs of Families

AVID. High School Academies. IGNITE Gifted Program. Modified Learning Program. Dual Language. Like many U-46 families, we’ve taken advantage of some of the many programs available to our students. These programs offer a myriad of ways to customize education in our district according to the needs of each individual child. But the work to make sure we are offering the best programs is never done. Academic programs must meet the demands of our modern world, and contribute to the skills necessary for lifelong success. And even in our most successful programs, continued review is necessary to ensure that those programs are delivering on their goals.

School District U-46 has a long history of bringing innovative approaches to classrooms, from our Instructional Learning Program for students on the Autism spectrum to our play-based curriculum for kindergarten students. I am committed to promoting a culture of innovation in the district, one that meets the needs of our entire student body. Some particular areas of innovation that interest me are below. 

21st Century Learning

21st Century Learning encompasses the skills and knowledge students should acquire to succeed in further education and in the modern workforce. Going much further than one-to-one technology or specialized equipment, classrooms that support 21st Century Learning often focus on creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration as essential learning skills.

As much as possible, the “4 C’s” of 21st Century Learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, should be integrated into our classroom instruction. Collaboration and communication, especially, are skills highly valued in the workplace. Academic programs that include project based learning and inquiry based learning offer a way to develop these skills.

I support curriculum development that integrates these skills, and ongoing professional development for our teachers and staff members.

Click here for more information on 21st Century Learning from Edutopia. 

Dual Language and ESL

U-46 already is a national leader in Dual Language, with our earliest Dual Language English/Spanish students now moving into middle and soon high school. My family has first-hand experience with the district’s ESL (English as a Second Language Program), which provides transitional language support for students learning English. While the ESL program was instrumental in my son’s early academic success, I would support expanding our Dual Language program to at least one more partner language, as language immersion instruction offers students the benefit of becoming bilingual and biliterate, something that transitional ESL programs do not.  

Career and Technical Education

District U-46 high schools all have Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, although every high school does not offer the same programs across the board. Recently the district has initiated an audit of our CTE programs in an effort to better serve our students. As Chairperson of the CAC, I have supported efforts to assist the administration with the CTE audit where applicable. 

According to a recent report by the Fordham Institute, CTE programs offer benefits to all students. Among their key findings:

  • Students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.
  • CTE is not a path away from college: Students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers.

Please visit The Fordham Institute for more information.