Kaneland plans to ‘unleash the awesome’

By on October 12, 2013

KANELAND—Moments before the second annual Kaneland State of the District presentation on Monday evening, students virtually took center stage on a big screen in front of the red curtain in the Kaneland High School Auditorium.

The High School Musical tune “We’re All in This Together” played as numerous pictures of students flashed across the screen—a teen posed next to a whiteboard; students crowded together on a staircase; another teen using colorful math shapes; students looking at their tablets.

Many attendees in the audience included district employees, including principals and community leaders, and Kaneland School Board members such as President Cheryl Krauspe, Board Secretary Gale Pavlak, Vice President Teresa Witt, Veronica Bruhl and Peter Lopatin. Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels was also in attendance.

The State of the District event highlighted numerous recent “celebrations,” or accomplishments, within the district, as well as additional information.

“We had a really successful year last year,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said.

District employees took to the stage, passing microphones around to review data, such as students making improvements in grades 7 through 10 and meeting college readiness benchmarks in math, reading and science. Additionally, 11th-grade students who took the Prairie State Achievement Exam and ACT showed improvement.

A “current focus” noted during the presentation was the need to keep expanding and implementing a kindergarten-through-12th-grade bullying prevention plan that focuses on “proactive social emotional support structures.”

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, Kaneland’s assistant superintendent for business, announced during the presentation that the School District’s budget has been balanced three years in a row, and how operating revenues have exceeded operating expenditures last year.

“We do everything we can not to spend more than we’re taking in,” she said.

Erika Schlichter, Kaneland director of Educational Services for 6-12, announced that less than 5 percent of certified staff leave the district for similar jobs.

Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of Educational Services for K-5 for Kaneland School District, suggested the idea that as students change, so should the district staff.

“Ultimately, when we make the staffing decisions, we try to look for diversity in our candidates to make sure that we can make the best fit for our student population,” Mumm said following the presentation. “Ideally we would want diversity in our role models for our staff—diversity in educational experiences, background, ethnicity, previous work experience—to really try to model our student population with our teaching staff.”

Schuler at one point during the presentation challenged the audience with a single question.

“What’s going to be your awesome this year?” he asked.

A video clip followed, displaying a pep talk from a little boy known as “Kid President.”

Kid President, sporting a suit and red tie, big eyes and chubby cheeks, implored those in attendance to follow his message.
“We’ve got work to do,” Kid President said. “We were made to be awesome. Create something that will make the world awesome.”

Schuler then brought that idea closer to home.

“That’s our challenge this year.” Schuler said. “It’s really that we unleash the awesome every year.”

Phil Lockhart, Sugar Grove resident and parent of two McDole Elementary School students, expressed skepticism regarding the presentation.

“I want a clearer picture of what we’re actually doing,” he said. “Just like the video at the very end—that’s great and it makes you feel real good. But how does that translate into graduating students that are going to do better in life?”

Susan Buerke, a Kaneland district parent, enjoyed the Kid President clip.

“It was a nice way to help lift everybody after the presentation,” Buerke said. “It was a good way to end with everybody on a smile.”