By Dr. Carol Kelley, Superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97
As the new superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97, since July 2015, I have been pleased to have the support and partnership of the Oak Park Public Library to bring exciting programs to our faculty members and students. Programs like Hacking Hemingway are just one of the many opportunities the school district/library partnership offers our students and staff.
Personally, the most memorable partnership experience was co-facilitating my first Community Conversation about the book Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need. Not only did the library purchase and make available copies of the book for discussion participants to use, but their librarians also assisted in co-facilitating the conversation with the book’s co-author, Chris Lehman.
Due to the richness of the discussion, I knew I wanted to continue these series of conversations with our community to co-create a “clear, shared vision with a sustained focus.” Thus, beginning with that initial conversation in the Main Library Veterans Room on November 30, 2015, we held 13 additional Community Conversations and heard from 255 parents/guardians, community members, district staff members, teachers, administrators, current students, and alumni.
I did this work because of my belief that every voice matters as we work together to fulfill the promise of public education here in Oak Park. The partnership between Oak Park Elementary School District 97 and the Oak Park Public Library serves as an essential way to bring our community together.
As we plan action to achieve the shared vision for our schools, we will continue to seek support from the library, whether to host additional events in partnership with library staff or to serve as a vehicle for my ongoing conversations with our students, staff, and community. Indeed, this partnership will be at the cornerstone of our efforts to ensure success for all students attending our schools.