District 215 teachers and staff gather for Institute Day

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District 215
District 215 Superintended Dr. Sophia Jones-Redmond encouraged teachers and staff to think about the district's overall story at the Institute Day on August 18. (Photo: Quinton Arthur)
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62 full-time vacancies across schools have been filled

BY QUINTON R. ARTHUR

LANSING, Ill. (August 22, 2022) – On August 18, District 215 opened the school year with its annual Teacher Institute Day. The event was held in the newly renovated TF South Red Gym.

The power of story

Superintendent Dr. Sophia Jones-Redmond and School Board President Rita Oberman gave opening remarks, thanking new and returning staff, and emphasizing the importance of knowing stories.

“Whether it’s your student’s story or whether it’s your colleague’s story, it is very important. But what we will focus on as a district as well is what is the TFD story,” said Dr. Jones-Redmond.

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After, she asked alumni of District 215 to stand, and many of the staff in attendance stood, showcasing the impact the district has made on its current teachers.

D215 Board President Rita Oberman spoke to staff at the August 18 Institute Day. (Photo: Quinton Arthur)

Finance, technology, and teaching & learning updates

Following opening remarks, April Jerger, Executive Director of Human Resources, shared updates on the open positions in the district. Over the summer, 62 full time vacancies have been filled across each school and there are 10 positions still available.

“It gives a testament to what type of district we are,” said Jerger.

Jerger also shared that pay for staff increased, and that substitutes will be paid a rate of $225 a day.

Paul Wakefield, Director of Information Technology, told staff his team worked to make access to printers more equitable for staff across each school. Wakefield’s team also has been working to update laptops for students through grants.

“Technology is in the hands of every student, and I think that is just a transformational thing for instruction in District 215,” said Wakefield.

Becky Szuba, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning thanked teachers who volunteered for committees through the pandemic including curriculum writers, mobile learning initiatives, cultural competency facilitators, and the interview committee.

The renovated TF South gym includes a floor featuring the new TF South Red Wolves logo. (Photo: Quinton Arthur)

New initiatives and renovations

John Robinzine, Assistant Superintendent of Career Development, and Ricardo Johnson, Director of Career & Technical Education, presented information about career placement opportunities for students and partnerships.

In addition to the current curriculum, students will have a choice to pursue barbering, cosmetology, electric, engineering, and entrepreneurship while at D215.

Students will also have an opportunity for dual credits towards college. As stated in the presentation, 1500 students have enrolled in dual credit classes this year.

Currently, the district is in talks with Moraine Valley Community College for an automotive technology program; Joliet Junior College for a culinary arts program; and Prairie State College for an HVAC program.

“Whether they are going to college, or whether they are going into a trade, the goal is to make sure once students leave here, they have the skills for employment,” said Robinzine.

Timothy Stephen, Director of Facilities, shared that over 1,000 new cameras are being installed across the district’s buildings. Additionally, TF South now has a renovated gymnasium — featuring the new Red Wolves logo — and work is progressing with TF North’s gymnasium and a new culinary arts room.

The new school year started on Monday, August 22. TF South High School is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing.

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Quinton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Science in Journalism from Roosevelt University. In addition to reporting for The Lansing Journal and the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, he volunteers with 100 Black Men of Chicago, Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Burst Into Books, and various other organizations. A south suburban resident since 2004, Quinton is passionate about telling the unsung stories of the community.