Have you ever been asked for your opinion?
Lots of people have been solicited for their thoughts, perspectives and opinions about Homewood-Flossmoor High School.
Whether input was offered through a focus group or through a community-wide survey, respondents shared similar values – diversity and equity, strong academic programs, outstanding extracurriculars, supportive community. Members of the Strategic Planning Committee used the input to assess H-F’s strengths and weaknesses at the Nov. 9 session.
Facilitator Greg Hutchings of Revolutionary ED, LLC asked the team members to find “the common thread” between the two groups.
For example, the focus group had about two dozen students and more than 400 students responded to a student-centric survey. In both cases, students were “consistent” in recognizing H-F as a welcoming place with strong academics. They wonder how relevant some of their classes are, and they want more hands-on experiences.
“Students were very vocal. They think of this as a safe space where they can speak up, so that’s a positive,” Hutchings said. Using responses from both groups, the pluses and minuses were “consistent,” he noted.
One assessment considered if H-F’s rigor was stressed too much.
“As adults, we say (H-F being) rigorous is a good thing, but high schoolers may feel stressed and overwhelmed” by that perception, one participant said. She thought there may be other ways to communicate the strengths of the academic program.
Technology in the classroom was important to all groups. H-F has kept pace with technological advances, but now it’s not just the hardware that should be the concern, Hutchings said.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and Chat GPT give “a whole different perspective around technology that as adults we’re not comfortable with. AI is real,” Hutchings stressed, and H-F will need to blend it into its curriculum.
Faculty were surveyed by the firm Equimetrics with a focus on nine topics, including policy, leadership and diversity. The response rate was 76.5%. On a 1-10 scale, most questions received scores between 5 and 10, which are considered an overall positive response.
There were concerns raised about the makeup of the faculty that is 49% male and 51% female, and 75% Caucasian. Some committee members wondered if faculty of color are being shut out of teaching Advanced Placement classes and efforts at recruitment.
One committee member stressed that teachers need to encourage students to look at teaching as a profession. She said numbers in education majors are dropping, and there should be concern about who will be the next generation of H-F teachers.
H-F should do more to communicate how it’s helping students with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) that pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses so that staff can offer needed assistance.
With a South Building and a North Building, there was concern that H-F isn’t a unified school. Communication needs to be strengthened between the faculties that don’t come together on a day-to-day basis.
Hutchings said one of District 233’s greatest strengths is the Homewood and Flossmoor communities.
Regardless of one’s racial background, whether survey takers have kids in school or not “people were satisfied with Homewood-Flossmoor High School. You already have community buy-in,” he said.