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Goal-Setting Process Begins With Facilitated Workshop March 17

The District 202 School Board will begin discussion of its 2012-15 goals with a planning session on March 17 facilitated by Barbara Toney, a representative of the Illinois Association of School Boards.  The workshop will be open to the public and will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Room N-112. 

According to the draft agenda developed by Board members Jonathan Baum and Gretchen Livingston and reviewed by the full Board on March 12, the Board will begin deliberations by discussing its mission and vision statement. This will be followed by an analysis of the District’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Categories such as student achievement, programs/services/curriculum, facilities and physical plant, District financial condition and community/District relations may frame the discussion. 

After a lunch break, according to the agenda, the Board and other attendees will reconvene to define priorities and set broad-based goals.

Board President Mark Metz reminded his colleagues at the March 12 meeting that “this is just the beginning” of the Board goal discussions.  According to a tentative six-month agenda will be reviewed again at least on March 26 and May 7, with no date yet set for final approval.

The Evanston Township High School website indicates that people interested in the workshop should contact Assistant to the Superintendent Lisa De La Fuente to make a reservation.

Nutrition Services: Bye-Bye Mystery Meat, Hello Local and Organic

ETHS Director of Nutrition Services Kim Minestra told the D202 School Board that she wants to add more locally and organically grown and produced food to the District’s cafeteria offerings while still staying within strict financial guidelines. 

Ms. Minestra said that some of the food now served in the cafeteria already comes from a very local source, ETHS’s own Edible Acre. The 5,000-square-foot garden across the street from the high school last year yielded over 800 pounds of produce and saved the District about $5,000.

This year, Ms. Minestra has given the students of the horticulture class, who manage the Edible Acre, more direction about what vegetables to grow, “so we make sure it’s all usable in the food service.”

Nutrition Services provides breakfast to students attending Wildkit Academy, the academic support sessions that meet on Saturday, and also during summer school, when lunch is also served.  This provides increased revenue for the District, as well as further showcasing the Nutrition Services’ offerings.

Superintendent Eric Witherspoon pointed out that Nutrition Services is not a profit center for the District, but “it has to be self-supporting.”  He explained that increasing volume and developing catering opportunities with outside groups and District 65 help keep the department solvent.

Ms. Minestra presented some other initiatives already in the works and planned for expansion next year:  salad bars in all three cafeterias, guidelines for a la carte, and vending machine items that indicate which foods are healthier. 

Board member Gretchen Livingston remarked that it would be very difficult to find a nutritious meal for the amount of money that the Federal government reimburses to the District: approximately $2.75 for students receiving free lunch.  Nutrition Services charges about $3.25 for a full-price lunch, according to the department’s website  Ms. Livingston praised the department for doing so much with so little.

“I wish more students thought that way,” said Ms. Minestra.  “We would be doing better and the students would be eating better.  Hopefully at the end of the day we balance out.”

‘World History for Us All’ Curriculum Debuts

“This curriculum recognizes each student’s identity and helps them make sense of the world,” history teacher Elizabeth Gutstein told the D202 School Board.  “It takes us on a journey, a spiral through a variety of cultures.”

Beginning this past school year, 1 Humanities teachers have been using a curriculum called “World History for Us All,” the “majority of which is online and free,” said Ms. Gutstein, who discovered the curriculum in 2007 when she began looking for “new ideas about teaching world history.”

The curriculum was developed at San Diego State University in cooperation with the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA.  “It was created by people who understand how adolescent brains understand history,” said Ms. Gutstein.  “It’s a very agile tool.”

The curriculum divides history in to nine “Big Eras.”  According to the curriculum website, “each Big Era deals with a chronological period on the global scale. Each successive period is shorter than the previous one. For example, Big Era One considers the very long epoch of history up to the emergence of homo sapiens. Big Era Nine is concerned with second half of the 20th century and the dawn of the 21st.”

“What kind of content is included that otherwise would not be part of [a standard] World History curriculum?” asked Board member Deborah Graham.

“The material is much richer,” said Ms. Gutstein. “There are lots of primary source documents that illuminate the lives of people who would otherwise be anonymous. This helps students connect to the history.”

Although the particulars are still under consideration, History Department Chair Jennifer Fisher told the Board that in the future, Freshman Humanities students will study “Big Eras” One through Five [300 – 1500 CE] or Six [1500 – 1800 CE] and sophomores will study Seven through Nine. 

Dr. Peter Bavis, associate principal for Teaching and Learning, said that completion of the curriculum would enable students to sit for the World History AP exam in the spring of their sophomore year.

“That’s very exciting,” said Board member Jonathan Baum.  Board member Gretchen Livingston said she thought it was “important that the public understand this opportunity.”

More curriculum information is available at