At the urging of Chairman Meeks - Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), board members are being encouraged to get out and visit schools in their respective areas. Board member Dr. Kevin Settle has taken the initiative to contact AIRSS and together, Dr. Settle and AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey have set out to visit a number of rural and small schools in the downstate region.
The first of these visits took place on Jan. 24, 2018 with a full day visiting three schools. The morning started with an early breakfast at Lick Creek CCSD 16. A wonderful K-8 district situated in the Shawnee National forest in deep southern Illinois. A strong tightknit faculty and staff that carry the load of many and diverse responsibilities, it is clear this school is solely focused and committed to the success of the children who attend, a testament to the leadership and each individual on staff.
Mid-morning on to Dongola USD#66, an old railroad stop community for the Illinois Central Railroad. The Dongola School is a PK-12 district, committed to providing high quality programming to its students. One program that stands out at Dongola and is often absent from some of our small rural districts is a strong and developing band/music program. A reminder that finding and hiring the right person and fit is critical in the success of all programs.
On to lunch with Annie Evers Superintendent of the Cairo School District #1. An extensive visit to the elementary, middle and high school buildings reveals amazing work with an equally amazing staff and even more amazing students. What stood out on this visit was not the significant use of technology (Apple School designation), and the use of i-pads, but the peer teaching that was occurring – students helping students of all ages. As evidence by the two photos of AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey learning to count using the i-pad and taught by a 4 year old, and Dr. Settle schooled by two young mentors on the use of the i-pad.
I would like to thank the staff and students of each school for allowing us to visit your incredible schools. As well to each of the Superintendents, Mr. Brent Boren, Dr. Paige Maginel and Dr. Andrea Evers – thank you for your commitment to your rural schools, the community and most of all the children and families your serve. As always for me, the best part of these visits is the engagement with students, it reminds me why we do, what we do and how important it is.
David Ardrey AIRSS Executive Director