District 113 community,
Welcome to the 2016-17 school year! I first wanted to express how incredibly honored and excited I am to be serving as Superintendent of Schools for Township High School District 113. This past year I had the privilege of leading Deerfield High School as principal, and during my time in District 113 I have witnessed firsthand how much there is to be proud of when it comes to our schools. In addition to passionate and dedicated staff, we are also fortunate to have talented and hard-working students, supportive families, a committed school board, and a community that places a high priority on education. As a testament to each of these key factors, once again this year both of our high schools were ranked in the top 20 in the state as calculated by U.S. News and World Report.
In each role I have held since I began working in public schools nearly two decades ago – including teacher, science coach, assistant principal and principal – I have operated with one overarching goal in mind, which is to work collaboratively to make a difference in the lives of students. I am a firm believer in servant leadership, and as superintendent I will strive to be as visible and accessible as possible to our students, staff, families and community. I am maintaining an office in each of our school buildings, as well as at our District Administrative Building; I also plan to attend events and activities at our high schools and throughout the communities we serve, so please feel free to extend me an invitation.
Our three-year referendum projects to enhance the learning environments at both high schools continue to proceed on time and on budget – and when the Highland Park High School B Building re-opens in January and the pool and adjacent PE facility at HPHS are complete in March, the work that began in June 2013 will be complete! We greatly appreciate the community’s support for these projects, and we look forward to offering tours at both facilities in the months to come. Visit our Capital Projects Updates page for photos and additional details.
Speaking of learning environments, this coming year our district will be placing a greater emphasis on STEAM education at both of our high schools to better prepare our students for college and career. While STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, we will be seeking to integrate these disciplines with inquiry-based, project-based learning throughout our content areas, including Social Studies, World Languages, Counseling, Special Education, English and Physical Education. Our new learning spaces – including the cutting-edge DHS library and innovation spaces at HPHS – will play a key role in the success of this initiative, as well. We are incredibly excited to be embarking on this work together as a district, and I look forward to seeing its impact on our students as they look ahead to the world after high school. Click here to check out DHS’s STEAM Press newsletter for more about this initiative!
As we strive for continuous improvement, it is crucial that we as a District listen to our community, communicate proactively and transparently, and function as a responsive organization at all levels. To that end, the 2016-17 school year will bring multiple opportunities for student, staff, family and community involvement in several key initiatives. This will include rebuilding the District’s strategic plan framework utilizing a robust, inclusive process to facilitate stakeholder co-authorship and ownership (click here for details); reviewing the school schedule and school calendar in close partnership with each of our sender school districts; and engaging in a comprehensive study/audit of our current communications program to help identify our systems’ needs and determine how best to allocate communication resources to maximize student achievement and success through public support for our schools. I look forward to building relationships throughout District 113 and partnering with all of you in the years to come to help our students succeed academically, socially and emotionally. Thank you for your continued support!
Dr. Christopher Dignam, Ed.D.