Huntley Middle School staff basketball team

Holy Rudolph, the end of the 2022 year arrived quickly! I wish you all the best in this brand new 2023 year!

 

This is the time of year I hunker down and do a lot of reflecting. I think through all the successes we have had, the areas where we are getting better, and where we still need to do more. After all, we are an educational institution. Getting better at learning is what we do, and what we love. I’d like to share some of those reflections.

 

The District – Each one of our schools received data from the culture and climate survey conducted by HumanEx right before Thanksgiving. Feedback from the school leaders is that it went well and is productive in terms of making adjustments and improvements. We will begin to see updates to school improvement plans and strategic planning processes for pivots occurring at the building levels as a result of this data. District-wide data will be shared with school leaders and cabinet members on January 10, with time to discuss options and possibilities for improvements from the Ed Center and my office. Once conducted, I will develop a set of goals that will be added to my evaluation plan that will be approved at the Board meeting in January. They will be shared publicly in my February memo.

 

The Cabinet – Our leadership team is currently going through a growing period because of the demands of some priorities that will support and grow the District. Two big examples are the DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) contract negotiations and the consideration of adding a new building to the District.

During the last couple of months, cabinet members have been researching and preparing presentations for the Finance Facility Advisory Committee (FFAC) and Board to approve the acquisition of the current NIU nursing building. We are excited to put forth a plan to develop a new school where 30% of our elementary students currently live, but, instead of having a neighborhood school they can easily walk to, have to be bussed to schools several miles away. We had two community conversations and two FFAC meetings solely targeting this topic. More information to come soon on this exciting opportunity.

 

In regard to contract negotiations, which begin in late January, we will have research-based, student-centered, and taxpayer-friendly discussions with negotiation teams to ensure equity and stability for the District. We wish every side of these conversations well.

 

As for me – I have had the best time getting to know DeKalb. Not just the schools (staff and students) but DeKalb as a city, a culture, and a way of life. Being here has helped me to slow down in a way that makes me more centered on the values of DeKalb. I am excited about all the work and potential that this community has to make it a North Star of Education. We have an amazing staff, great families, and eager students who are curious, engaged, push our buttons, hungry to learn, and help us know how to serve them better. Nothing great comes easy, and everything happens for a reason. The work (and lift) at times is heavy, but the outcomes, when they come, will be phenomenal. I thank ALL of the STAFF of D428 for their hard work and dedication.

 

I do wish for a couple of things:

 

  1. Let’s stick to facts. Let’s avoid getting into things that take us away from an already difficult job.

  2. Let’s center decisions on how it affects the climate and culture of learning for students and staff.

  3. If you see something, know something, hear something – say something. My office (Jackie and I) are here to listen and assist in any way we can. I do recommend that your school leaders be first in the communication chain (if not, I will add them). When we have issues, please know we take every concern seriously and we are working on them together.  Making decisions and implementing changes takes time, and so does seeing results. I will try to keep you as up-to-date as possible if possible.

 

Again, I wish everyone a bright and healthy year in 2023!

 

In gratitude,

Minerva Garcia-Sanchez, Ed.D.

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