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The vision of the V.I.T. School District is to empower students, staff, and community through the integration of technology in educational programs: (1) to become lifelong learners of the 21st Century; for career, family, and community responsibilities, and (2) to gain higher order thinking skills to achieve optimal intellectual, physical, social, emotional, and moral development.
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I hope everyone is heading into the new year having enjoyed a wonderful holiday break. As I write this post, I am listening to an NPR report on the teacher shortage that the country is facing today. I would recommend you take a listen to the report:
This shortage is not just a national or statewide concern, it is major issue in west central Illinois. As many of you are aware, at VIT we have been unable to find a qualified science teacher for our high school - we are not the only district in this area facing this issue. Additionally, we recently had to find a replacement for our Spanish teacher. Our previous Spanish teacher has been given an outstanding opportunity to take on leadership duties in an area ELL program. I support her move and wish her the best.
Many students and parents were worried that we would be forced to use a virtual Spanish program. While, this option would not be ideal, it is the path that many districts in this part of the state are using or exploring. We were able to find a qualified candidate who was willing to work ½ days. This will impact access to other classes as some students will be forced to change their schedules to fit into a morning Spanish class.
When we examine the science program, there are benefits and negatives associated with the use of an online science curriculum. Students have mixed feelings, parents have mixed feelings, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, the content is rigorous and available whenever the student wants to access it. On the other, there is no “teacher” to ask questions of. For some students this is real hang-up. For others, there are other avenues to find answers to their questions...fellow students, Google, science textbooks, etc.. An additional concern is that some students are falling behind on their target progress. The science program requires more than just 45 minutes per day to stay on target. When people think of homework they think paper and pencil assignments, this program requires some students to work on science after school - like a true high school science course would as well. Students have every opportunity to stay after school and work on our devices and wifi. Also, students can take Chromebooks home to use if they have wifi at home. We have extended the semester through the Christmas break in order to allow students to complete the semester course. When our students go to college, they will experience the concept of online coursework. The science program is a precursor to their experience with higher education online coursework.
I do want to impress upon our community that we are doing all we can to recruit a quality science teacher: Job search websites, networking, reaching out to area universities etc..
Two of the biggest factors we are facing are 1) we are in competition with higher paying parts of the state and 2) teachers of science, math, foreign language and other content areas are in limited supply. We have so many staff members who love this district and have been here a very long time. We have several former students who teacher here - and that is an amazing fact. The goal is to get a QUALITY candidate to the interview and share the positive attributes of our school.
Finally, teaching in general has become a less attractive job for young people and their parents (who often help pay for college). http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/03/30/teacher-prep-enrollment-continues-to-decline.html
The new pension requirements, retirement age, the high cost of a bachelor’s degree vs. the starting salaries for many districts, the increased academic requirements for young people to become teachers, and the negative view that some parents, social media bullies, legislators, and shock media outlets put teachers under are all reasons why we and the rest of the nation will be looking for teachers for a long time to come.
While, this post may not be a light-hearted read, it is a fact we must all realize exists in our district, around the state, and throughout the nation as a whole.
In order to end on a positive note, I offer this:
We have an outstanding staff who care deeply about our students. These people work hard everyday to provide an effective, caring, and supportive learning environment for the students of our community.
Enjoy the break,
As many of you may have heard, the train wreck in K-12 education has been averted in typical Illinois Legislature fashion. K-12 education received a budget that will allow schools to operate normally in the coming year. I feel for the higher education and social service sectors for continuing to worry if the stop-gap is a band-aid, a drop in the bucket,or a bridge to real funding. We will continue to make prudent financial decisions and provide the best educational opportunities for our students. Thank you for your continued support of the VIT District.
2016-2017 Superintendent's Message:
Superintendent's Message 2016-2017
We are well into the 2016-17 school year and it has been amazing thus far. The district installed new windows in the elementary school. This update allowed for the installation of air-conditioners in both buildings. For the first time, all of our students were provided with a learning environment in August and September that was conducive to learning. The positive gains were great: our students were ready to learn and our staff was able to get further in their lessons and planning than ever before. Kids were not tired and worn down from day after day of oppressive heat. The students and staff will all agree -the A/C was an amazing upgrade.
Another great upgrade happened in our Jr./Sr. High School library. If you have not been to our school since August, I highly recommend that you stop in for a tour of our 21st Century Digital Commons and Library. The space has been transformed to give our students a feel for what current colleges now provide to their students.
The district as also invested in two 3-D printers, a high definition video enabled drone, and received a vinyl cutter as a donation. Our computer maintenance students are/will be using all of these technological advances. Additionally, the district continues to increase its digital footprint by adding to our Chromebook numbers.
This year we have a few new faces in the classrooms serving as a teachers and support staff. If you see someone new - introduce yourself and tell them something positive about YOUR district.
As always, you are all welcome to stop by my office to visit regarding YOUR school district. School board elections are coming up - if you want to get involved - now is the time. I hope you have seen the positive changes that taken place in our district - in person, if not - please do so.
Have a great 2016-17!
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Links to Educational Associations
Illinois State Board of Education:
Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools:
Illinois Association of School Boards:
Illinois Vision 20/20
V.I.T. CUSD #2
We are READY for an exciting 2016-2017 school year