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H-F looks for volunteers to work on new strategic plan

District 233 is asking students, teachers, parents and community members to be part of the development of a new strategic plan for Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Meetings will be in-person and virtual to better accommodate volunteers. The first meeting will be on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the high school.  A virtual meeting also will be scheduled. The number of participants will determine when the sessions will be held.

The school board has hired Dr. Greg Hutchings of Revolutionary ED, LLC to work with Superintendent Scott Wakeley to conduct the focus group meetings and lead the strategic planning process.

Hutchings is the author of “Getting Into Good Trouble at School: A Guide to Building an Antiracist School System.” The title borrows from a quote by Civil Rights icon and longtime congressman, the late John Lewis, who said at the 55th anniversary of the march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

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As the school board begins the process of developing a new strategic plan, it has asked interested participants to fill out a short survey that will give organizers information on the best way to be contacted and whether in-person or virtual meetings are more convenient. The survey is available through the high school’s website at bit.ly/HFRaiseYourHand.

During a retreat on Monday, July 31, Hutchings introduced board members to his approach and to the mission of his organization. 

“We’re working with school systems and organizations to help them dismantle systemic racism in education,” Hutchings said. “We find that there have been systems that have been put in place, not necessarily racist people, but if you have a racist system regardless of what color you are, some of those remain in effect. A part of our mission is to completely dismantle it across this country.

“I believe that if we can get everybody on board with just understanding who you are, accepting different cultures, removing barriers, over time we’re going to see a country that is going to be a lot more welcoming, where students feel like they can grow regardless of where they are from and what they look like.”

He described the guiding characteristics of his approach: vision, integrity and passion. One of the slides during his presentation at the retreat noted: “For learning to occur in Homewood-Flossmoor, the experience must be challenging, learners should be pushed in a new way; supportive, learners can’t perform under extreme stress; reflective, learners must receive constructive feedback to understand what works and what does not work.”

Wakeley told the board that Hutchings’ book provides context for the planning process but assured them that the resulting plan would be closely tied to H-F High and the needs of its community.

The board last approved a strategic plan in January 2019 placing emphasis on academic achievement and learning, student support beyond the classrooms, staff recruitment, development and retention, buildings and grounds, finance and public relations and communications. The community offered input through online surveys and community meetings to help set goals for each of these topics.

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