New District 215 Superintendent sparks excitement, change

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Superintendent Teresa Lance used stats and stories to motivate District 215 staff and faculty at the August 16 convocation. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
convocation
Superintendent Teresa Lance used statistics and her personal background to motivate District 215 staff and faculty at the August 16 convocation. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Teresa Lance welcomes District 215 staff and faculty

by Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (August 16, 2018) – The sharp crack of snare drums echoed in the TF South red gym Thursday morning as District 215 teachers and staff passed through a student drum line to their seats as part of the first school district convocation in ten years.

With school starting on Monday for TF North, TF South, the Center for Academics and Technology, and the Center for Alternative Learning, new Superintendent Teresa Lance felt it important to communicate a message of support to teachers: “I want students to be successful, and that really starts with our teachers. I want teachers to know I believe in them, and I want them to believe in themselves.”

Lance was the primary speaker during the event, giving her address after two well-spoken high schoolers shared advice and gratitude for their teachers. The New York native began her speech by pointing at the crowd and explaining that because the district does not have a communication director, “You are it!” She then encouraged teachers and staff to take selfies and post them on social media.

District 215 does not have a Communications Director, so Superintendent Lance invited staff and faculty to use social media to communicate the good things going on in the district. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Lance joined District 215 in July, replacing Dr. Creg Williams, who held the position for ten years. Lance earned her Master’s Degree in Health Education from State University College in Cortland, New York, and is working on obtaining a doctoral degree from the University of Phoenix by the end of the year.

Lance’s passion and energy were evident throughout the event. “I want to get you fired up!” she said with a smile on her face standing in front of a screen that read “#TeamPhenomenal215”—the official district hashtag for this year.

School Board President Richard Dust spoke during the convocation as well, reminding teachers that the Board wants to hear their ideas, and encouraging teachers to “make this the best year yet.”

School Board President Richard Dust reminded teachers that the Board wants to hear their ideas. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Lance has a few ideas of her own on how to make the next few years the best the district has seen.

Using Here’s What?, So What?, and Now What? as the headings of her speech, she pointed to stats such as graduation rate, attendance, AP participation, and out-of-school suspensions as areas in which the district has improved over the last three years, but can continue to do better. “The data says here are some highlights, but we can also invert that data and see some gaps,” Lance said.

The project Lance is most excited about for this school year is a curriculum audit. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the audit tells us because we need a strong curriculum to drive student achievement,” she said. The audit, provided by an outside source, is expected to provide district officials with critical feedback on the curriculum currently in place.

District 215 staff and faculty seemed engaged by Superintendent’s approach to constantly improving outcomes. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Lance also mentioned some long-term goals such as incorporating more AP classes into the curriculum, waiving AP exam fees to encourage student participation, setting up a system of “instructional rounds” to improve teaching, and providing “systemic professional development” to advance the goals of the school district.

After Lance’s speech, the district’s Director of Student Services Dr. Rena Whitten called out the name of each school present and was met with thunderous cheers from teachers ready to start a new school year.

“The goal was to really get folks excited about a new beginning,” Lance said. “We have a lot of good things happening.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. We are all very excited to have Teresa Lance as our new superintendent. Her enthusiasm and innovative ideas are going to make a big difference at District 215. Thank you very much for your nice story and covering our convocation event.

  2. Having worked with Ms. Lance for four years as one of her principals, I am not suprised about her intent to showcase students and inspire teachers. Great things are going to happen in TF.

  3. I am honored that I was able to work with Ms. Lance and learn from her in my years as a special education administrator in Colorado. She is AMAZING and very missed. Have a wonderful school year Lansing!

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