New D128 Strategic Plan enacted


The D128 Strategic plan goals are rooted in the DARING mission. “Health and wellbeing is connected to exploring multiple paths and to equity and inclusion and all three of those, connect back to our DARING mission,” explained Mrs. Hessel. Courtesy of Mary Todoric

Following extensive planning involving the D128 Board of Education, teachers, students and community members, the new District 128 Strategic Plan will be implemented in the 2023-2024 school year.
According to Board President Ms. Lisa Hessel, planning dates back all the way to fall 2021, when a core team of D128 staff members began developing a plan that would help students live the DARING mission.
During the 2021-22 school year, the plan took shape by adding voices from the community, and in June 2022 the plan was approved by the Board of Education.
The plan includes three goals: health and well-being, equity and inclusion, and exploring multiple paths. Other goals that were considered but not selected include systems of support and academic identity.
Ms. Hessel and Dr. Yessina Sanchez, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, described the planning process as collaborative.
“There was a great deal of collaboration, consensus building, and making sure everybody had the same understanding of the end goal,” explained Dr. Sanchez. “[This] led to the development of what I think is a very strong action plan.”
Ms. Hessel highlighted the amount of input that was received throughout the process.
“There were students, teachers, parents, community members, administrators, all working together over several events to talk about the goals, the dreams, the vision, what things we wanted to accomplish in the district over the next five years,” explained Ms. Hessel.

Health and wellbeing

“Health and wellbeing” intends to develop a coordinated approach to support students’ social-emotional learning across the school, classrooms, and within the community. An objective of this plan is to implement youth mental health first aid training and deliver social-emotional learning.

Equity and inclusion

“Equity and Inclusion” aims to develop a budget process to equitably allocate resources and address inequities in resources. It will also evaluate current course-level placement processes and establish new criteria for appropriate course placement.
Freshman Kajal Sagar believes this goal is important because it allows “all students to prosper.”
“Everyone learns differently,” Sagar said. “Some people learn visually, some people are better at logic, but some people are better with imagination. So I think that is important to make sure everyone gets what they need to have the same opportunities.”
To help reach the goal, staff will develop a rubric to measure the level of representation and integration within course curriculums. Course teams for American Literature, U.S. History, and American Studies will be the first to experience the diversity and inclusion curriculum evaluation process.

Explore multiple paths

“Explore multiple paths’’ will focus on the future of post-secondary options for students. Part of the goal involves creating a database of internship, shadowing, and job opportunities for students. This will allow students to explore possible career paths of interest before solidifying their decisions.
However, the main goal is to create career pathways, which is a strategy to support workers’ transitions from education into and through the workforce
Former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and current Governor J.B. Pritzker passed legislation to require high schools to offer additional pathways for the Class of 2027; however, according to Dr. Sanchez, D128 is behind in meeting this requirement.
“If you look at surrounding districts, a lot of them already have a number of career pathways, endorsements available to students,” said Dr. Sanchez. “We have to kind of do things a little quicker, but we want to do them very well.”
Ms. Hessel emphasized the importance of the goal in relation to a students’ future.
“It really maximizes the post secondary experience by letting that exploration go further and deeper than it does right now,” she said. “So that when a student is choosing a college, they’ve been able to really focus on what works for them and have more information to bring that vision.”

Looking ahead

This strategic plan and its goals will run until the spring of 2028. After that, a new strategic plan will be enacted.
Sagar hopes in a future strategic plan the district will more closely address substance abuse.
“I think there’s a lot of substance abuse [with students] in the school and I definitely think there needs to be more resources besides health classes because that’s only one semester long,” she said. “There’s like sophomores and freshmen I know who drink often.”
But regardless of what happens in a new plan, what’s achieved through the current goals will still carry forward.
“We’re just starting to see some of the implementation [of the plan],” said Ms. Hessel. “We haven’t had any major systemic changes yet though.”
Those systemic changes will begin to unfold next school year.