State honors 5 educators who 'Break the Mold'


September 25, 2001
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Springfield - The Illinois State Board of Education recently honored five school district superintendents for having courage, creativity and persistence in their efforts to improve the quality of education in their districts.

The superintendents who received this year's "Break the Mold" awards are leaders of school districts from the Chicago area to southern Illinois. They include Superintendents Sherry Eagle, West Aurora District 129; Kay Giles, Prairie Hills School District 144; Tom Oates, Marion Unit District 2; Nick Osborne, Mount Vernon Elementary District; and Jim Rosborg, Belleville Elementary District 118.

"These educators have demonstrated their commitment to assuring high achievement for all students regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds," said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. "In working toward this goal, they have illustrated that there are many ways to help students achieve their greatest potential."

McGee praised Eagle for her efforts to create partnerships between school and community that have resulted in expanded learning opportunities for West Aurora students. Specifically, Eagle is credited with two partnership academies, schools that assist students from several communities and a new elementary school that serves as a teacher preparation site.

Giles earned accolades from McGee for promoting district participation in the Comprehensive School Reform Program; six schools are actively implementing a reform model and the remaining schools are selecting a model to implement next year. In addition, Giles has aligned the district's curriculum with the Learning Standards and implemented quarterly assessments in reading, language arts and mathematics for students in grades 1-8.

Oates was recognized for leadership that has included development of a widely acclaimed parent involvement program and strong district participation in the NBPTS program. McGee congratulated Oates for Marion's six NBPTS candidates, a number unique in southern Illinois and higher than many counties statewide. Oates has also provided leadership for educational improvement throughout the state, serving as president of the Illinois Association of School Administrators.

McGee acknowledged Osborne for leading a transformation from neighborhood schools to grade level centers in Mount Vernon - thus assuring equal learning opportunities for all students. Osborne also has revised curriculum to align with the Learning Standards and provide students with an opportunity for reinforcement and enrichment at least every third week. In addition, Osborne has provided leadership for implementation of the Baldridge principles in the local district and statewide.

Rosborg has refused to accept that at-risk students cannot achieve at high levels. McGee congratulated him for focusing attention on meeting students' basic needs and helping them to develop basic skills. The district's Reading Recovery program is a training site and a math instruction program for teachers has had a significant impact on raising math achievement. In addition, Rosborg practices participatory leadership and encourages collaboration with community and neighborhood associations.

The "Break the Mold" award program began in 1995. McGee indicated that it was designed to acknowledge and reinforce ground-breaking leadership for improving student achievement.

Ninety Illinois school districts have been selected to receive Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF) Grants for FY '02, the fifth year of the program.