Paul Goren, superintendent of School District 65, told School Board members on Oct. 6 that leadership development and teacher development “fall under an umbrella of what we want to be at District 65 – a learning organization.” He said the District is in the process of gathering information now to use in developing a comprehensive plan.

“From my listening tour there’s been healthy criticism that says that many times the District, instead of saying ‘On your mark, get set, go,’ we end up saying, ‘On your mark, go, get set.’ In many ways we’re not reflective about how we implement and move forward,” Dr. Goren said. “What we’re doing in moving forward in leadership development and professional development is being thoughtful and engaging in our learning process.

“This does relate to the recruitment of world class teachers and world class principals and how do we actually develop and retain such great individuals – and it does relate to day-to-day work in our classrooms.”

Leadership Development

In a memo provided to the Board, John Price, assistant superintendent of schools, cited research finding that “leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school factors that contribute to what students learn at school.

“Our purpose in the work we’re doing,” Mr. Price said, “is nothing less than to identify and recruit, support and retain and promote the very best leaders that we can.”  

He said they have started to look at “what are the pieces of a comprehensive leadership development plan that would in and of itself be one more piece of a comprehensive human resources plan.

“We’ve started to look at research we need to do, to look at best practices for leadership development, potential career ladders, and partners that we can reach out in this very important work,” said Mr. Price.

He said the process began this summer. School principals read “Leveraging Leadership,” as an anchor text, which was followed by a two-day leadership institute for principals and a one-day institute for assistant principals. “The objective is to support a framework for growth for all of our own school leaders and to really begin to focus on their learning as professionals,” Mr. Price said.

He added that he has met with all of the principals and some of the assistant principals as part of a goal-setting process. Each principal has set professional goals for themselves for the year. “That process is complete,” he said.

Mr. Price said he would begin a formal observation process in which he visits principals in the schools, observing them in their practices, and providing them feedback, “specifically related to the goals in the six competencies and standards that we have in the State of Illinois.”

In the short term, Mr. Price said, the work will be taken over in the strategic planning process and carried forward by Beatrice Davis, assistant superintendent of human resources at the District, and her strategic planning committee.

Teacher Development

Ms. Davis, said teachers are working with administrators and setting professional goals they would like to work on during the course of the school year.

She added that professional development is being provided in a variety of settings: at the District level; at the building level, formulated by the instructional learning teams; at the departmental level; and at staff meetings conducted by the principals.

She said they will consider “what additional kinds of professional development do we need to offer so that we can attract high quality educators to District 65, to retain them so they want to stay, but also to give them opportunities to grow in their profession.”

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...