From Superintendent Dr. McDowell

I hope this annual report finds you well. While it has been a difficult year for many, my reason for choosing Crete Public Schools remains. We are brimming with opportunities and ready to explode — in a positive way. 

This year, our students and staff have taken extraordinary measures to keep learning through challenges. I can’t thank each of them enough for the flexibility and determination they’ve shown. Their resilience is commendable.

I also want to acknowledge our Board of Education for swift action, decision making and courageous leadership during this worldwide pandemic. Because of them, we were able to stay the course as much as possible and keep our focus on the needs of our students and community.

The 2019-20 school year was my first as your superintendent. When I started, I identified key areas we would focus on to achieve success. I’d like to give you all an update on what I already see as the foundation of excellence for our students.  

Authentic relationships. It is important for us as a district, and me as a leader, to form genuine relations with students, families, staff and the community. That’s why I take weekly Tuesday Walks through classrooms across the district to see staff and students in action. We’ve also started regular meetings of stakeholder groups of parents, community leaders, staff and students to exchange ideas and information as we build our successes. 

Instructional leadership. Student success in the classroom — and in life — begins not simply with the teacher but with the team behind the teacher. Instructional leadership from the top of the district into the classroom is key to success. We’ve put an emphasis on district leadership and principal leadership development. We’ve also begun a complete curriculum overhaul. These are vital steps in creating opportunities for students to succeed.

Systems thinking. In order to get students achieving at levels they deserve, we must align all of our efforts and resources. Our district strategic plan is our road map, but we all know we have limited dollars to spend. I take great pride in my conservative approach to spending taxpayer money. In my time here, we’ve lowered the levy and refinanced existing bonds, positively impacting both the taxpayers and the district. At the same time, we are now a 1:1 district, meaning all K-12 students have a dedicated device. By having our strategic plan, district budget and new five-year technology plan all aligned, we are putting the system in place for success.

Data-informed decisions. Unfortunately, due to timing of state curriculum and testing changes, mixed with the pandemic, we do not have three years of consistent data for any assessment at any grade level. However, we are still utilizing data on a more micro level to ensure students are getting the attention in the areas they need. With WIN (What I Need) Time at the elementary and middle schools and Cardinal Time at the high school, staff are focused on the individual needs of each student to make sure each is on track for continued success.

Transparent communication. I want to be accessible to each of you in our school community. While sharing a daily coffee with everyone isn’t possible, I do take great effort in keeping you all informed, and this will only grow. Our new website, app and communication system have made clear, concise and timely messages the norm. I will continue to offer my Friday updates via text and social media and, coming soon, in our local media. Communication is a key to success for our students and our district.

The foundation, as you will see in this annual report, has been laid for excellence. Now we get to work.

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