Tag: Proviso West

D209 Creates Parent Coordinator Positions

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 || By Thomas Vogel/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

The Proviso District 209 Board of Education approved the hiring of two new “parent coordinator” positions, at its June 13 meeting.

Eva Kardaras and Delinda Hyde, (pictured left to right in feature photo), each with a one-year contract for $46,000, started work July 15. The pair is tasked with running the district’s two new parent centers — information clearinghouses and community-resource hubs — meant to further the district’s goal of building relationships with outside partners and Proviso residents.

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D209 Superintendent Outlines Strategic Plan, Radical Changes for Next Year

Rodriguez_no_name-3801Tuesday, April 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The 2017-18 academic year at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 will be radically different from years past, based on changes Supt. Jesse Rodriguez outlined during an April 20 meeting at Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park.

Rodriguez convened the meeting to present the foundation of a long-term strategic plan at the district that his administrative team is in the process of creating and that the board will be expected to approve in the coming months. Some of the measures that will anchor that plan, however, are either already in place or will be in place by the beginning of the next school year.

Those measures and the general direction of the strategic plan that is in formation converge around the issue of equity, Rodriguez said, adding that the issue was a reoccurring theme during the community meetings he convened across the district shortly after he was hired last year.

“There was a lot of feedback, some of it negative, relating to the perception of PMSA,” Rodriguez said, adding that many parents were concerned that PMSA was taking resources away from Proviso East and West.

Rodriguez said community consensus around equity across the three schools partly informed his decision to make some significant budget reallocations. He said his administration saw $1.4 million in staffing adjustments, a $300,000 reduction in administrative costs, and repurposed funding of $2.5 million.

At PMSA, administrators will enroll a freshman class that will be at least 30 percent larger than this academic year, he noted, and much larger than those of years past. And yet, expenses at PMSA will remain at the level they’re at this academic year.

The district is holding the line at PMSA so more money can be spent at Proviso East and West, the two schools that house the majority of the nearly 4,000 district students who failed at least one class during a single semester last year.

Those students will be able to receive more opportunities to recover credits during the school day through more enhanced alternative education options, among other initiatives.

Rodriguez said the budget reallocations also allowed the district to address a common complaint among community members that the district’s facilities have historically been uninviting to visitors and that the district’s attempts at community outreach were wanting.

Next year, parents and guardians who are interested in engaging with their students’ education will be greeted by new parent coordinators eager to take them to newly established parent centers, where they’ll socialize, volunteer and even observe cooking classes.

The district has also created liaisons who will assist with student attendance, residency checks and “all of the attendance work we need to do,” Rodriguez said.

“We have to invest in our community,” he said. “Currently, we don’t do a lot of that. So we’re utilizing some savings to make sure we empower families, communities and students.”

Rodriguez said progress at East and West will be guided by “transformation plans.” At East, where a plan is already in place, that transformation could take up to a decade to “develop, initiate, implement and institutionalize.”

The plan at East includes a transition away from a traditional approach to education, replete with standardized testing and curriculum, toward one that is more personalized and tailored to each student’s needs. East is the first school in the state that the Illinois State Board of Education selected to participate in a new competency-based learning pilot program.

And at all three schools, the district has beefed up its technical education offerings by implementing career academies that will allow students to receive instruction in a range of fields, such as cosmetology and culinary arts.

Rodriguez has also revamped the administration’s organizational structure. The superintendent said when he entered office last year, there were “three offices in three schools,” instead of an efficient, clearly defined central office structure.

“That environment was one where a clear structure did not exist and we had independent practitioners in independent kingdoms making decisions that were not aligned to the board goals or to the direction of the district,” he said. “We were functioning and making transactions, but transactional leadership is not what we need. We need transformational leadership.”

The strategy is part of a three-year plan for introducing new initiatives that will further the three board goals that Rodriguez laid out and which he expects the board to adopt soon. Goal One, he said, is to enhance academic achievement. Goal Two is to ensure effective and efficient operations. Goal Three is to empower students, families and communities.

“I’m proposing we have as our number one goal to enhance academic achievement,” Rodriguez said to an audience of around 50 community members. “That is very important. This is not about operations and dollars and contracts and all the other small work we do in a district. It’s all about promoting academic achievement for all students.”

The administration’s first-year strategy, he said, is to identify “high-impact, low-cost” programs that will be funded largely through budget cuts and reallocations.

“In year two, I will be coming [to the board] with a proposal of $1 million to $3 million,” Rodriguez said, adding that the price tag of his proposal in the third year could be “a little bit more.”

Rodriguez said that, according to a 5-year financial projection that will guide his strategic plan, the district’s spending levels will not rise over the next four years.

“The idea is to maintain the spending levels we are going to have next year over the next four years,” he said. “We will be financially stable.”

Rodriguez said the district’s target fund balance over the next four years is at least $40 million. The district’s annual operating revenue is around $100 million, he said.

“The budgets are going to be balanced, so we won’t have to dip into the fund balance,” he said. “There will be no deficit spending for the next four years.”

Rodriguez explained that in order to create additional initiatives that jibe with the board goals and to maintain rigorous programming like AP and IB instruction while holding the line on spending, his team — which included principals and central office administrators — conducted a cost-benefit analysis along with over 200 hours of brainstorming about programming options.

Administrators also received input gleaned from residents during those community meetings and from students who Rodriguez invited into his office over a period of time. The strategic planning process, he said, has taken nine months and counting. In the coming weeks, the superintendent said he’ll convene more meetings with students and other stakeholders to flesh out the plan.

“In my research, I didn’t find anything similar to a strategy plan,” Rodriguez said. “I had conversations with people who graduated in the [1960s and 1970s], and they said this is the first time they’ve seen a strategic plan or heard Proviso talking about a plan with strategic objectives.” VFP

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Former Panther Standout Jamaal Payton Savoring Chance to Shine

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Jamaal Payton during a recent practice for the NIU Huskies. | Photo by niuhuskies.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Former Proviso West standout Jamaal Payton is savoring the opportunity to prove himself this Saturday, when he’ll start at middle linebacker for the Northern Illinois University Huskies in their season opener against Wyoming, according to DeKalb’s Daily Chronicle.

Payton, a senior, had been a reserve for the last three seasons, playing behind a decorated veteran. Before his scheduled start on Saturday, Patyon, the Chronicle notes, had started three other times at NIU.

Now, this season is all about him.

“It feels great, man. A long time coming,” Payton, who graduated from West in 2013, told the Chronicle.

“It’s something I’ve been prepared for and something that I’ve been mentally preparing myself for throughout the years.”

Payton told the paper that the process of getting to starting linebacker was hard, but within the struggle was wrapped a life lesson.

“think it taught me a lot of things about my character and how to deal with myself and things that will prepare me for life,” he said.

To read the full Chronicle article on Payton, click here. And now, a local high school football briefing:

Provisos East and West lose home openers

The Proviso East football team lost its home opener against visiting Maine West 14-0 last Saturday. The Daily Herald reports that the visitors won the game on defense:

“I think we can do some great things with this team this year,” said Warriors defensive end Malik Siem. “We need to keep our focus. We won today because we did our job on defense. My job today was to fend off the offensive tackle and keep the running backs pinned inside.”

You can read recaps of that game here and here.

Last Friday, the Proviso West football team lost its home opener against Lincoln-Way West 30-8, in a game that Herald-News writer Tim Cronin described as sloppily played on the part of the visiting team. Read Cronin’s recap of that game here. VFP

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Rodríguez Officially Takes Helm at D209 with ‘One Proviso’ Tour

Rodriguez_no_name-3801.JPGThursday, July 14, 2016 || Originally Published By PROVISO TOWNSHIP D209 || 7/7/16

Proviso Township High Schools District 209 officially welcomed Dr. Jesse J. Rodríguez as its superintendent this week.

“I am excited and honored to be the superintendent for District 209,” Dr. Rodríguez said. “The staff and community have been very welcoming, and I look forward to working with them in creating fruitful and successful learning opportunities for our students.

Dr. Rodríguez said that he wants to spend much of his first year learning more about Proviso High Schools and its students, teachers, and staff as well as the community. He outlined his plans, which can be found on the District 209 website

“Our collective plan will build on the strengths of PTHS 209 and identify the most powerful strategies for addressing our challenges as opportunities while addressing the significant achievement gaps directly with perseverance and firmness,” he said. “It is critical that we learn as much as possible quickly, assessing data to determine what is and is not working in our school district.”

Dr. Rodríguez brings more than 19 years of leadership experience to Proviso Township High Schools. He began his career teaching Spanish at the high school level in Milwaukee. He later served as a middle school assistant principal and received a promotion to acting principal in an elementary school, leading to his first principal position in Milwaukee. Dr. Rodríguez served a campus that was centered on middle and high school instruction with a professional development component and instructional resources for teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools. After a successful career as a school principal, he became the Vice President for Education for La Causa, Inc., a non-profit offering multi-faceted community and educational services, where he was responsible for administrative functions relative to education.

In July 2011, Dr. Rodríguez became the Regional Director of School Support for the Southwest Region with the Milwaukee Public Schools. His main function was to ensure effective operations for more than 32 schools with approximately 20,000 students. Upon successful performance as a Regional Director of School Support, the Milwaukee Public Schools promoted Dr. Rodríguez to Regional Superintendent for the Southwest Region, a position in which he served until he assumed the superintendent role at District 209.

Dr. Rodríguez holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and Spanish, with a minor in secondary education from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He also has a Master of Science in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, and a Doctor of Philosophy with a focus on leadership, learning, research, and service from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.

Superintendent Tours ‘One Proviso’

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An aim of Dr. Jesse J. Rodríguez, superintendent of Proviso Township High Schools District 209, during his first days on the job is work toward a united Proviso.

Dr. Rodríguez, along with members of the district’s administration, visited Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School on July 11. During their visit, they learned more about the summer school program currently ongoing along with various aspects of the schools’ programs and facilities.

Making the visits with Dr. Rodríguez were Dr. Diane Deckert, district director of assessment and planning; Mr. Todd Drafall, district chief financial officer and business manager; Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy; Ms. Vanessa Schmitt, district director of special education; Dr. Jeremy Burnham, district English Language Learners coordinator; Ms. Antoinette Rayburn, district chair of guidance; Dr. Tracy Lett, district chair of career and technical education, and Mr. Rob Daniel, district community and public relations coordinator.

Dr. Rodríguez said that he wanted to deepen that the district’s leadership team’s familiarity with the entire district and continue preparations for the upcoming school year.

“We’re one team, one Proviso,” he said.

For more photos of the tours, please click here. VFP

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Barber Academy Brings Proviso Students A Cut Above The Competition; Models Wanted In Maywood, Broadview Areas

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Damauri Harrell attends to a patron at Erskine Reeves’s Barber Academy. Below, Reeves himself supervises the work of one of his students. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal

Barber IVWednesday, February 17, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || 2/16/16

Erskine Reeves is the director of a program affiliated with Proviso East High School in which students who successfully complete the 1,500-hour program get a barber’s license along with their high school diploma.

The 30 students from Proviso East and West high schools take classes in their respective buildings in the morning and then head to the Erskine Reeves Barber Academy in Bellwood at 1 p.m. where they divide their time between classroom work and hands-on time in the salon where they develop their haircutting skills.

“The state of Illinois tests you on the theory of haircutting,” explained Reeves, owner of the academy and director of the program. “In the classroom we go through the 23 chapters of a textbook, which covers topics like disease control, sanitation, anatomy, the history of barbering, texturing, relaxing, how to establish a market and how to run a business.”

In the salon adjacent to the classroom, students gain the skills and experience they need by actually cutting people’s hair. Customers are very willing to allow learners to practice on them because a haircut at the academy is only $8. Combining practical experience with community service, his students transform the cafeteria at Roosevelt Middle School in Maywood into a barbershop and give free haircuts to the students.

Ken Dail, a Proviso junior, got interested in barbering by hanging around Jeff Russell’s Millionaire Barber Shop on Roosevelt Road. When he started the program last fall, he thought he would be learning only a skill.

“I thought it would be just cutting hair,” he said, “but I’m learning a lot about things like women’s hair and hair braiding, as well as all the things we learn from the book.”

Reeves himself first learned barbering by doing it and only much later did he go to school to be certified by the state.

“I started cutting hair when I was 12 years old,” he recalled. “A boy in my class was being teased about his haircut, so I talked him into letting me fix the situation. I used my father’s professional hair-cutting tools, which he had received from his uncle. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I was doing and we had to go to a local barber to finish the job. I’ve been cutting hair ever since.”

Reeves’ father taught him everything he knew about cutting hair, and when Erskine got to be better than his father, he pestered local barbers to teach him what they knew and let him practice on actual clients.

“On my 15th birthday,” at a tiny shop on 21st and St. Charles, “[a barber] called and asked if I wanted to cut hair for him. I was able to persuade the counselor at Proviso West to give me permission for a work release from school after the morning classes and for two years I worked there — illegally — Monday through Friday from 1 till 8 p.m. My parents said they were OK with the arrangement as long as I kept my grades up.”

After graduating from high school, Reeves did go to a barber school to get his certification from the state. But on the whole it was by experience that he learned the craft as well as the skills to run a business.

“Experience,” he said, “has equal value with book knowledge. With experience, the book knowledge becomes real because you’re able to directly connect what the terms in the book mean.”

And it was mainly his 26 years of experience that qualified him to run a haircutting academy and teach an off-campus course for which students receive credits toward graduation and state certification.

He has worked as an educator for companies like Revlon and African Pride, has won three national barber competitions, has cut hair for members of the Bulls and right now is the barber for the Judge Mathis Show. He owns both a barbershop and a salon in the Stratford Mall in Bloomingdale.

His experience has taught him that being good at cutting hair is only half the job.

“My slogan here at the academy,” he explained, “is cultivating the entrepreneurial barber in you. The difference in my career and some other barbers is the business approach I take — the understanding that when I’m behind the chair, it’s not about me. It’s about the atmosphere I create for the customer. Half of it is cutting hair. The other half is relationship building.”

“If you’re in the business of barbering,” he tells his students, “get it in your head that you’re in the business of sales. You’re selling yourself. You are creating a brand, and that’s going to carry across to everything.”

His barbering partnership with the two Proviso high schools came into being when he was cutting a lady’s hair one day and struck up a conversation in his usual attempt to form relationships with clients. He talked about his dream of giving back to the community in which he grew up and wanting to do something with the high school. It turned out the lady in the chair was Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, the superintendent of D209.

“You never know who’s going to be sitting in your chair,” Reeves said. “It was like God was waiting on me to do what I needed to do.” 

He showed her the research he had already done, how the College of DuPage was running a program that could serve as a model. She liked the concept, and that led to Reeves pitching his idea to the school board. He tells the story to his students as an example of the “other half” of barbering, the way you represent yourself to your customers.

Not all of his students in the D209 program are planning on being barbers for the rest of their working lives, but that’s OK with him because, in addition to learning how to cut hair, they are learning a business model that is translatable to anything they do. In addition, barbering can be a fallback when workers get laid off in a bad economy or a way to supplement income from a part-time job.

Dail said, “I figured barbering was a good profession. I plan to go to college to learn how to work a sound board. If my key profession, which is music, doesn’t work out, this could be a plan B.” VFP

Model and Talent Casting Call

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Chronicle: Cook County Sheriff Investigating $70,000 Burglaries At Proviso East

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Monday, January 25, 2016 || Originally Published: Cook County Chronicle || By Jean Lotus

A series of high-value thefts over the summer at Proviso East High School has the Cook County Sheriff’s Department investigating a possible burglary ring associated with the school, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

Marching band instruments worth thousands of dollars and 49 laptops were stolen in two different incidents, according to police reports obtained from the sheriff’s department by Freedom of Information request.

Proviso East High School, 807 S. 1st Ave., in Proviso Township sits within the sheriff’s police jurisdiction in unincorporated Cook County.

Proviso Township High School District 209 School Board members mentioned the laptop burglary at their annual board retreat in September 2015 when Board President Theresa Kelly identified “theft” at Proviso East as a threat facing the district.

“Our computers are walking out of there,” Kelly said. “It must have been an inside job.”

The Dell Latitude E6330 notebook laptops had been specially approved for purchase by the board for use by summer school students. Although no value was given on the police report, the laptops sell for more than $700 each on Amazon.com. The thefts occurred between July 9-10 overnight. A school staffer told sheriff’s police 48 laptops were removed from in a special locking cart in an unsecured room in the library. Another, single computer was removed from an open area. The library area was under video surveillance, the police report said. Sheriff’s officers visited nearby pawnshops looking for the laptops, the report said, but did not find any.

A few weeks earlier, 14 band instruments, including trumpets, clarinets and saxophones were removed from a locked instrument cage in the band room sometime between June 21-29. Staff told police they found the combination padlock open nearby, and police noted no signs of forced entry. The instruments had a replacement value of $36,000, the report said.

Kelly said the board had no prior knowledge of the instrument theft.

The school district issued the following statement in response to requests for comment:

“We have ensured that any entries that were used or could have been used have been reinforced. The safety of our students and staff is always a priority, and we work hard to make sure all doors (about 130 exterior doors each at Proviso East and Proviso West) are locked and secured. We’re always working to make sure our buildings are secure, that doors are locked, and that people are entering through certain entry points.

“We also hope that if anyone in the community sees or hears anything that could jeopardize the safety of our schools or lead to the theft of items from the schools (which are taxpayer-funded resources that we want to make sure are available for our students), they contact us either directly and through our tips hotlines (Proviso East – (708) 202-1731; Proviso West – (708) 202-6351; PMSA – (708) 338-4188), or contact local law enforcement.

Sheriff’s police still consider the investigation ongoing, said Cook County Sheriff Communications Liaison Janet De La Torre.

“Persons of interest have been identified, but there has been no arrest,” she said. VFP

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From Maywood To The Ivy League: The Stratospheric Ambitions of Marquan Jones

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Marquan Jones IWednesday, December 30, 2015 || By Nicholas Samuel || Updated: 6:08 PM

Marquan Jones, a senior at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, cried as he was recognized in front of thousands at a local basketball game Monday night for being accepted into Cornell University, an American private Ivy League school in Ithaca, New York.

The audience cheered and clapped as an announcer listed Jones’s credentials, which include his status as a three-sport athlete and as an inductee into the National Honor Society.

“When they started reading off the things I did, it was like waterworks. My mom was consoling me,” Jones said. “I always told my mom how I would do all of these amazing things. To actually accomplish those are amazing.”

The crowd gave Jones, 18, a standing ovation as he stood in the center of the basketball court at the 2015 Proviso West Holiday Tournament at Proviso West High School in Hillside. He was joined at center court by his mother Chanicka Jones, his father Eric Jones, his brother Jalen Jones, 12, and his sister Ericka Jones, 7.

“I had my whole family there with me, was able to show my family to the world and how much of a support system I have,” said Jones, who lives in Maywood. “I got my name out there and earned the support of thousands of alumni. That’s greater value than any plaque or monetary reward.”

Chanicka said she’s very proud of her son and that this is the first of his many accomplishments.

“When he was in second grade, he always said he wanted to go to an Ivy League school. He even said he wanted to be president,” Chanicka said. “It’s really an indescribable feeling. I always knew he had it in him.”

Dr. Patrick Hardy, principal of Proviso East High School in Maywood and Theresa Kelly, board president for Proviso Township High Schools District 209 also joined Jones at center court for his moment of recognition.

Jones, who holds a 4.714 GPA at PMSA, plans to attend Cornell University next Fall and major in Food Science. He wants to mentor kids on financial literacy and how to keep a healthy diet.

The 18-year-old is a member of the debate and theater clubs at PMSA, but plays basketball, football and track at Proviso East since those sports aren’t offered at PMSA. He’s captain of the varsity track team and co-captain of the varsity football team.

Scottie Ware, who coached Jones in track, football and basketball for all four years of high school, said Jones has as much tenacity for athletics as he has for the books.

He said the 18-year-old has a great deal of drive and determination, and is a great example for kids who will come behind him.

“His nickname is ‘5.0,’ because that’s normally what his GPA was,” Ware said. “I want the entire Proviso Township to realize that kids can make it out and go to Ivy League schools.”

Ware, who has coached sports at Proviso East for 12 years, said the high school has had students in the past who have applied to Ivy League schools, but that Jones is the first to be accepted to one.

“Marquan was very coachable and very respectful. He wasn’t the most athletic, but hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard; he’s an example of that,” Ware said. “I look forward to the day when we put his picture up on the wall of fame at the school. Marquan will be the next one to hit that wall.”

Jones helped lead East’s track team to fourth place at the West Suburban Gold Conference meet last year. He said he prides himself in being a renaissance man.

“I know a lot of kids that have higher GPA’s than me, but it’s like they’re robots that just sit in the room all day and do nothing but their homework,” Jones said. “When you spend all of your time on one thing, you’re going to be good only at that one thing. The real challenge is being good at multiple things.”

Jones said his parents instilled in him that they would support him in anything he does.

“If I didn’t like sports, they would support that,” Jones said. “They want to teach me how to think, not what to think. From that I found my own passion and will to be successful. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.’ Make sure you question everything; just because something is like this in the world doesn’t mean it has to be. You can change it.” VFP

A previous version of this article incorrectly noted that Jones led his track team to second place at the West Suburban Gold Conference meet, instead of fourth. This post has since been updated. We regret the error. 

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