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Barrington 220 New Year Message

BARRINGTON – When I was a child, my mom would tell me to clean my room. I was a typical boy, so I am sure my definition of “clean” probably varied from hers.

When I was an adult, her advice was more general, stating I should always leave the garden in better shape than it was when I found it. I am sure she probably adapted that line from the famous poem “Success,” which has been incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Louis Stevenson, among others. An excerpt of the poem defines success in this way:

“… to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”

With that in mind, my goal for Barrington 220 for 2014 is the same I have each year: that the garden continue to improve.

We have a wonderful school district of which our communities should be very proud. Our finances are in good shape, entering our 17th year with a balanced budget and maintaining our strong AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s.

Academically, we remain one of the highest-performing public school districts in Illinois. Our staff and parents are committed to the social-emotional welfare of students, as evidenced by several effective programs and resources.

Our Parent Teacher Organizations, booster clubs and the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation continue to provide support that enhances our learning environment.

Our schools are known for their fine and performing arts, and our co-curricular offerings allow all students to explore their passions while staying connected to staff and peers.

Like every year before it, 2014 will see its own unique challenges. As part of our 2020 Vision Strategic Plan, learning in this digital age necessitates an investment in new technologies and the wise allocation of limited resources so we can expand the one-to-one learning environment for students.

New state and federal testing standards will require us to adapt instruction so students continue to excel and qualify for post-secondary educational opportunities. And all of this must be accomplished while adjusting to the state’s fiscal difficulties, making our budgeting even more complex.

The good news is that even with all these challenges on the horizon, we have a “dream team” in Barrington. 220.

With our supportive community, caring parents, a professional staff and wonderful students, there are only prospects – not problems – before us.

Together, we will tend to our garden, and I am confident that this time next year, it will have grown to be in better shape than we find it today.

I wish you all a wonderful 2014.

• Dr. Tom Leonard is the superintendent of Barrington School District 220.

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