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Brief from the Board Meeting on May 3

Discussion – Positive Psychology Implementation and Social-Emotional Learning Update:

Monitoring and improving school culture has been a focal point for District 54 for many years. Shawn Achor’s research on positive psychology has been a focus in District 54, starting with administration in the fall of 2016, continuing with all-staff training in 2017 and as a vital piece of the social-emotional learning curriculum developed by the district this year.

The focus on positive psychology was adopted to accomplish three goals:

  1. Deepen student, family and community development;
  2. Create a happy, healthy and engaged learning community; and
  3. Improve performance and fuel success.

This school year, the Social Emotional Learning Task Force developed essential outcomes and weekly lessons based on the core principles of positive psychology, resilience research findings and Illinois’ social-emotional learning standards. Staff training have been ongoing this spring, so teachers can be prepared to implement the new social-emotional learning curriculum in the fall.

To enhance the connection between social-emotional learning at school and at home, pending Board approval, each District 54 family will receive a copy of the Orange Frog parable along with a family study guide to support deeper learning.

District 54 employees will also continue their training and examine Shawn Achor’s new book, Big Potential, for a greater understanding of how teamwork fuels success and how positive psychology principles can improve the work of teams. Employees will receive a copy of this book and an invitation to a full-day workshop before the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Discussion – Cultivating Innovation in Learning Space and Instructional Design, Year One:

In April, District 54 adopted a new strategic plan, outlining four key areas of focus for the next five years. Area 2 involves cultivating innovation in learning space and instructional design. Priority action steps within this focus area include the following:

  • Reconfiguring and updating existing learning spaces to align with a shared vision of 21st Century classrooms;
  • Implementing an instructional technology plan that includes 1:1 digital connectivity for all students and technology integration that enhances the teaching and learning experiences provided; and
  • Establishing “Innovate 54” teams of teachers and administrators from each school who will work to deeply embed progressive pedagogical approaches and foster a culture of innovation across the District 54 community.

In support of this work, District 54 is recommending the following projects related to learning space design for the 2018-19 school year.

  • Establish Makerspaces at each elementary school by August 2018.
  • Convert junior high and Lincoln Prairie learning media centers into Creation Studios with Makerspaces and audio and video production labs by August 2019.
  • Equip junior high schools and Lincoln Prairie with 21st Century classroom furniture by August 2019.
  • Create fitness centers and renovate locker rooms at junior highs and Lincoln Prairie by August 2019.

The district is also recommending these projects to better leverage instructional technology to enhance student learning and creativity.

  • Conduct a third- and fourth-grade Chromebook pilot and a kindergarten through second grade iPad pilot beginning in September 2018.
  • Establish virtual and augmented reality labs at junior highs and Lincoln Prairie by August 2018.
  • Replace junior high and Lincoln Prairie overhead projection systems with interactive monitors beginning in December 2018.
  • Establish Innovate 54 teams at each school to cultivate cultures of innovation and pilot the use of teacher iPads.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

FOIA Requests:  One request was received and replied to since the last report to the School Board regarding the bid tabulation for the summer 2018 site improvements.

Consent Agenda: The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • Minutes of the regular and closed-session board meetings on Thursday, April 19, 2018
  • Resignations, leaves, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated April 13, 2018
  • A proclamation recognizing Tuesday, May 8, 2018 as National Teacher Day

New Business:

  • The Board appointed representatives from the community to serve on the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee for the 2018-19 school year.
  • The Board approved the dates for regular board of education meetings for July 2018 through June 2019.
  • The Board appointed Michelle Rhodes as the assistant principal for Hanover Highlands Elementary School for the 2018-19 school year.
  • The Board appointed Kelly Pietryla as the assistant principal for Lakeview Elementary school for the 2018-19 school year.
  • The Board appointed Kari Frederick as the assistant principal for Aldrin and Fairview Elementary Schools for the 2018-19 school year.
  • The Board appointed Laurie Mandarino as the assistant principal for Dirksen and Dooley Elementary Schools for the 2018-19 school year.


  • Board members congratulated Fairview Elementary School on the celebration of its 60th anniversary this spring.
  • The board commented on the passion and poise of the 24 students who competed today in the annual Spanish Speech Contest at MacArthur.
  • Board members attended last night’s first STEM Showcase in District 54 and were amazed at the creativity demonstrated by the young scientists and engineers.
  • The board also praised the Aldrin Multicultural Night for celebrating the diversity of our community; and the safe schools presentation last week for sharing with parents the procedures the district follows to keep protect students and staff.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 8:24 p.m.