36 volunteers will work on new strategic plan for H-F

Randall Brooks, left, and Dana Noble participating in an icebreaker conversation exercise during the opening session of the Homewood-Flossmoor strategic planning process. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

On Sept. 13, Greg Hutchings of Revolutionary ED, LLC introduced himself to the 36 people he will lead through the strategic planning process at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

The group assembled for the first of five meetings that will extend into April. The 36 people are students, parents and faculty from H-F, education leaders from elementary District 153 in Homewood and District 161 in Flossmoor whose students transition to H-F, and community leaders.

Hutchings said the administration already had worked with focus groups for two-way conversations and will be sending surveys to internal and external stakeholders. H-F did conduct a community survey in 2021, and Hutchings said that information is still valuable to the strategic planning effort. Participants will be looking at a host of data, both related to academics and other facets of H-F. 

Hutchings said they also will be given an inter-cultural development survey followed by a one-to-one meeting to discuss the results on how participants adapt to other cultures.

“This is really for your own individual growth,” he told them. Findings will be confidential.

“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,” Hutchings told District 233 board members at a July committee of the whole meeting.

He described the guiding characteristics of his approach: vision, integrity and passion.

To break the ice at the first organizing meeting, Hutchings had each member introduce themselves and answer questions that would give some insight into their personality. Then he had the members pair up for another introductory method of cultural connections, a way to learn a bit about the individual. Hutchings said the exercises were meant to help the 36 strangers become comfortable as a group knowing that they have a lot of work ahead of them.

District 233 Superintendent Scott Wakeley told the group, “The world is very different from what it was in 2019,” when H-F last went through the exercise of developing a strategic plan. Much of the work set out in that plan didn’t happen after the pandemic shut down school.

“What was a priority for education, may not be a priority today or to Homewood-Flossmoor moving forward,” Wakely said.

He told participants that he looks forward “to honest conversations about all the good things that are going on at Homewood-Flossmoor and all the challenges that we have at Homewood-Flossmoor … Our community expects a lot of us.”

Wakeley told the group they “will be looking at all kinds of data … so we can put the picture together of where are we and what are we good at. It’s a lot of stuff.” The effort is meant to move H-F forward.

“We’re preparing (students) for jobs that haven’t been created yet. AI (artificial intelligence) is going to make their world different.”  He added, “There’s a level of accountability for all of us. It takes a community.”

Hutchings said he was impressed by the opportunities H-F offers its students, and support the school has from the community.

The community will be able to follow the work of the community through a strategic planning link on the high school’s website,

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