Holmes SLT says they've made progress on critical issues

Opinion

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On Wednesday evening, Aug. 31, the School Leadership Team (SLT) of Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School presented their annual report to the District 97 Board of Education. We were delighted to report that the 2004-2005 school year was a formative year for the Holmes SLT. The SLT moved from a group of individuals with no common goals which was vested in rehashing emotionally charged events of the previous year, to a team that was able to work together toward shared goals. As a result, the SLT has made significant progress on the critical issues described in the Teachers' Task Force (TFF) Report of 2003.

Among the many accomplishments of the team and its subcommittees were:

1) Improvements in the school's physical climate, including the addition of display cases to the foyer and the exhibition of more student's artwork throughout the school.

2) Increased formal and informal communication between all parties: staff and parents. This has included the formation of a Principal's Advisory Council, composed of two teachers and four parents, that meets monthly with Ms. Muhammad. There are also weekly meetings between Ms. Muhammad and the Holmes School OPTA representatives from the teaching staff.

3) Improvements in lunchroom/playground supervision and the addition of more varied activities during recess.

4) Increased outreach to the community through a series of three "Community Conversations" led by Principal Laurel Muhammad on the topics of diversity, school climate, and one open forum for any other concerns in addition to those not covered in the TTF report.

5) Analysis of parental concerns regarding disciplinary practices which resulted in a series of recommendations to be reviewed and implemented this fall.

6) Extra attention paid to new families through the expansion of the duties of the school's Student Support Specialist.

7) Enhanced understanding of the impact of race, class, and ethnic background on communication styles, expectations, and community interactions. Some SLT members participated in a workshop on "Race and Racism," presented through the non-profit group, The Illinois Resource Center. This powerful workshop will also be presented to the Holmes teaching staff during their November in-service.

The work of the Holmes SLT is not over. Our plans for the coming year include further recruitment of parents and staff to the SLT subcommittees, continuing of our work on the critical issues described in the TFF report, developing new goals through surveys and consultation with the parent and staff community and heightening the understanding of both the importance and function of the PTO and SLT.

The members of this team deserve public recognition for their hard work and perseverance. The parents who served on the Holmes SLT for 2004-2005 were: Youvette Battles, Shirley Bevan, Emily Collins, Courtney Coke, Angela Farnham, Sheila Fingerman, Stephanie Jackson-Rowe, and Michelle Santoro. We were ably assisted by participation of Dist. 97 board members Michele Harton and Bob Walsh. Tim Hull, former head of Human Resources from the district offices was also of invaluable support. The teaching staff active on the SLT included: Sarah Bingaman, Peggy Callahan, MaryAnne Hardtke, Mary Jo Kuhr, Jeannie Linss, Sue Merz, Mlada Rosyzpal, Paul Stoch, David Williams, Christine Zielinski, and Laurel Muhammad.

Sheila Fingerman, SLT parent member
Jeannie Linss, SLT staff member
Laurel R. Muhammad, principal
On behalf of the Holmes School Leadership team: Emily Collins, Mary Anne Hardtke, and Christine Zielinski
parent and teacher co-chairs

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