By BETH ALTENA
Dr. Michael Shibler, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent, is going into his 29th year with Rockford and his golden 50th year as an educator. He spoke at the Rockford Chamber State of the Community luncheon at Rockford High School Monday, December 4.
He began by calling Rockford an incredible community and highlighting some of the issues he spoke about in December of last year at this same meeting. He said the district is in its tenth Ram Action Model for Success (RAMS). Rams X starts in January. He said the model uses focus groups, surveys from students and employees to prepare a plan for successful growth of the district. The RAMS include both short and long term goals. “It is literally the tool we use to move forward,” he said.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our Rockford Marching Band,” he stated to applause from the room. He said he talks to the kids about grit. Since last August they have put in over 3,000 hours in practice.
“I had emails from people in other states who saw the kids in the Macy’s Parade. The kids were so well behaved.”
He brought up the next topic, “You know all the green signs coming into Rockford.” He said the signs show the school’s state championship wins, world championship wins, the TV studio wins. “The marching band 2017 deserves to be there.” He said new signs are ordered. The water polo team just won the state championship again this year. “There’s another example of grit.”
The winning game included being two goals behind with 34 seconds left in the game against Okemos.
He said the district has earned 60 state championships since 1989 (when Dr. S came to Rockford), nine Odyssey of the Mind World Championships. The TV studio has nine state championships, and hopefully is headed for a tenth
Going forward, Dr. Shibler said, “We will make sure we follow our continuous improvement plans.
He has also addressed water concerns that have been so prevalent in the news. Of the district’s 13 buildings, nine are on municipal water systems and four are not. “I said to the DEQ I want those wells tested. They all came back with levels of non detect. We are having the water tested every May.”
In 2014 the community supported a tax bond issue that did not raise anyone’s taxes but gave the district $73 million. One of the projects that money allows will be a new building built on the west end of the high school building.
“We all remember the (college) lecture series with four hundred of you and your contemporaries. It was terrible.” He said this facility is intended for the college courses available at Rockford, among other uses, and offers an ideal setting for collaborative studies, problem solving learning and options for break away work in smaller groups.
He said members of the board of education visited successful facilities like this one in other states before settling on the planned building. The large group instruction room will include high-end technology, screens, computers, a place for groups to work together and work collaboratively.
“We will have it open to the business community in the evenings. When it is done we’ll have an open house. This is a new way, real life way to get things done in career path preparation.” There is also the possibility of spending five years in high school, and having a significant start of college while in Rockford.
“We’ve saved parents hundreds of thousands of dollars. Kids can graduate from Rockford with a full year of college credits.”
He said there are also career opportunities in the skilled trades. Kids can come out of high school with a diploma and spend two years earning an associate degree. On January 10th, the district is holding a career path seminar to help middle through high school age kids plan their futures.