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Reflections on Excellence - December 2016

Reflections on Excellence - December 2016

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an art, but a habit.” - Aristotle

At the close of a calendar year, it is customary to reflect on our successes and challenges. Reflection is a crucial habit to ensure continuous improvement. A commitment to excellence requires us to never settle for low quality, mediocrity or poor performance.

On our journey toward excellence and greatness, we should celebrate our successes; however, we must not be content until we reach our destination.

Here are a few highlights from 2016:

  • Seniors earned $5.8 million in scholarships in 2016 as compared to $389,000 in 2014.
  • The four-year graduation rate increased by 10.2% (62.8% to 73% from 2012 to 2016).
  • Graduated 308 out of 311 seniors in May 2016.
  • 98% of Class of 2016 were accepted to a four or two-year college, military or trade school.
  • Increased Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment from 30 to 300 students from 2012 to 2016.
  • PARCC scores increased by 2.5%.
  • Lincoln Middle School went from 2.6% to 13.1% meeting targets in ELA on PARCC, as well as moving up 68 slots in the Illinois school rankings. This was the highest growth ranking of any middle school in the state.
  • The District has moved +19 in the rankings in comparison to all Illinois schools according to
  • The dropout rate has decreased from 8% in SY2014 to 5% in SY2016.
  • Flyers Football team won the Illinois Class 7A Football Championship title and were undefeated in the season.
  • Flyers Boys Track and Field team won the Illinois 3A State Championship title.
  • Flyers Boys Track and Field team broke three records:
    • 4 x 200 at Kansas Relays
    • 4 x 200 at Collinsville Invitational
    • 4 x 400 at Holt Invitational
  • Flyers Girls Track and Field team medaled in three events at state track meet:
    • 2nd place: shot put
    • 2nd place: 4 x 400 relay
    • 5th place: discus throw
  • Record set by staff for contributions to the United Way Campaign totaled $20,069.

The aforementioned accomplishments were not quick wins. They were not successes earned by pulling a single all-nighter. These were earned through deliberate, consistent, focused efforts with targeted goals for measurable outcomes.

I encourage you to take time and reflect on your accomplishments and challenges from 2016. What were your successes? Where did you excel? Celebrate these. What lessons learned from these achievements can you adapt to another area requiring more attention?  Each of us has room for growth - individually, with our team, our department, and school.  It is imperative to reflect on these areas.  Take stock of the full landscape, both successes and areas for improvement.  Following these self-reflections, take aim and set your new targets.  Develop goals that include short-term and long-term progress.  Visualize and track improvements.  Don’t make excuses or blame others.  Remember, excuses do not change existing conditions.  Avoid the snare of procrastination.  Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.  With the right attitude, concentration and effort, your hopes and desires can become realities.  Be relentless.  Persevere until success happens!

The habit of self-reflection and goal-setting should be a continuous part of your life. Our academic calendar naturally provides an opportunity, before the start of the school year and at the start of the new calendar year, to take stock and establish new targets. However, this cycle of reflection and goal-setting should not be reduced to biannual activities only. I encourage you to make this process part of a more frequent activity and habit on your path toward excellence.

In School District 189, we use the following continuous improvement process to analyze, assess and evaluate. This process can be applied for both personal and professional use.

Process for Continuous Improvement

As we embark on the new year, I encourage you individually and as a team to engage in honest reflection. Analyze your recent activities and the current realities, then aim for new targets of greatness. Consider how your attitude, opinions and expectations may also impact progress. For example, people can label others in a certain way that limits our perceptions of their abilities. We may think of a co-worker as “not being a team player” or a class of students as being “not motivated to learn” or “unable to learn”. We must be careful with such negative thoughts. Thoughts such as these limit our expectations for excellence and the opportunity for growth in others. As professionals within the education field, it is our responsibility to always support individual growth and development.

“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you for an outstanding fall semester. Without your dedication, we would not be where we are. During the holiday break, I hope you will be able to rest, rejuvenate, reflect, reset and reboot. May you return with a recharged commitment to excellence in 2017. In District 189, we believe in excellence, expect excellence, know that excellence is the standard, not the goal, and that excellence and greatness are our destiny.

I encourage you to watch this video on achieving goals in life to further inspire you: Click Here.

Yours in service,

Arthur R. Culver