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Superintendent Mitchem: Valley View must “fight the good fight” to help children achieve

BOLINGBROOK – Valley View School District Superintendent Dr. James Mitchem addressed more than 150 district teachers, administrators and staff members Wednesday at the opening session of the Valley View Summer Leadership Academy.

“In order to continue to make progress in its ongoing battle to make sure every child is prepared for college and a post-education career, Valley View must give its educators every support possible to help them succeed in the classroom,” Mitchem said.

“It cannot be done without you,” Mitchem said, adding that the problem plaguing education nationwide is not the educators themselves, but the support educators are given and the systems in which they work. “Nothing matters except for what happens between the teacher in the classroom and the kids. Everything else we do must be designed to support that notion. That is our goal, our mission, our passion.”

Wednesday and Thursday's Summer Leadership Academy yielded an opportunity to build the capacity of instructional leaders, reflect on data and research and outline a plan to support teachers and staff for the 2013-14 school year, according to Valley View administrators.

The two-day collaborative group effort provided multiple rigorous professional development opportunities for both individual and organizational growth focusing on one goal: supporting increased achievement by Valley View students and supporting teachers to reach this goal, Mitchem said.  

“We have to move with light speed because we don’t want to lose one student,” Mitchem said to the audience. “I encourage you to fight the good fight because it will pay off for our children.”

The academy sessions began with a look back of the accomplishments of the 2012-13 school year, including the development of the district’s first-ever Strategic Plan, as well as a look ahead as Valley View strives to prepare every student for college and a career.

Following conversations about the importance of not only gathering, but also interpreting, data on each individual student’s progress, attendees were able to review best teaching practices and learned about the significant impact of understanding and applying research-based best practices to promote student learning.

Armed with their new-found knowledge about how to interpret building-and district-level data, as well as an understanding of the relationship between achievement and growth, the Leadership Academy team developed specific principles for instructional leadership which will serve as the foundation for the district’s short and long range professional development plans.

“I challenge you that at every turn, with every decision we make, we ask ourselves, is it truly best for kids?” Mitchem said. “If every teacher in every classroom and every administrator in every school makes every decision based on what is best for kids, then all of our kids will achieve.”

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