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The Power of Belief - March 2018


A Spark from ARC

March 22, 2018

The Power of Belief


"The power of belief is mighty to fix us, heal us and focus us." – Dr. Jamie Whitlock

Our thoughts are one of the most powerful tools we possess. The self-talk we do in our minds will motivate or minimize our actions. I know firsthand that life shrinks or expands in proportion to our beliefs, courage and expectations.

In District 189, we are committed to excellence. This frame of thinking has led to intentional, focused hard work. The fruits of our labor are becoming more evident.

Student academic performance in East St. Louis School District 189 is continuously improving and is near meeting national expectations according to the results of an analysis of years of Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test data. NWEA provides assessments for more than 485 schools and districts in Illinois and is used by more than 7,600 schools and districts worldwide.  Our expectation is that our students’ academic skills are competitive nationally, and this test gives us one measure of progress on that goal.

District 189 gives NWEA MAP tests 2-3 times per year to students in grades K-10. Here is a summary snapshot of student NWEA data (based on cohort groups, or same students tested each time):

  • From Fall 2014 to Winter 2017, student cohort groups achieved 83% to 178% of nationally normed growth expectation in math.
  • From Fall 2014 to Winter 2017, student cohort groups achieved 88% to 156% of nationally normed growth expectation in reading.

It is a source of great pride for District 189 that the cohort for grades 7-10 outperformed the national expectation for growth in math during this time period. The remaining cohort groups are no more than 17 percent away from achieving this goal. This is a vast improvement over the first year of testing (2012) when cohorts were significantly below national grade level standards. Some cohort groups improved up to 78 percent greater than the national expectations. To review these details and further analysis of District 189 NWEA data comparisons, please CLICK HERE.

The aforementioned results give further evidence that our students and staff can reach new heights when we set our minds to it. The first step is believing it is possible. Your thoughts will dictate your destiny.

You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind. Your input determines your output. Because your actions are dictated by your thinking, you will perform in a manner that is consistent with your self-talk. If you have negative thoughts, you will produce negative results.

This application also holds true for beliefs about our students. The way you think about students will determine the way you see them, teach them and treat them. If you see them as winners, you will teach like a champion. But if you think that they are limited because of their environment, then that will negatively impact the growth your students will achieve. If you don’t really believe in your heart and soul that students can succeed, then you will be unable to justify expending the time, energy, and effort that it takes to lead them to success.

What do you see as you look at District 189? What do you see when you look at our students? Your mentality will dictate how you perceive situations, challenges and people. For example, is it a problem or an opportunity? Is adversity a stepping stone or a stopping stone? Is a negative report a detour or a dead-end street? Your perception will affect your vision, expectations and results. Remember - you have the power to create change. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

So what are the perceived barriers that hold you back? These barriers are False Expectations that Appear to be Real (FEAR). When dealing with obstacles and to overcome FEAR, you must Faith your fears to death, Elevate your mind above what you fear, Avoid anxiety, and Resist the temptation to panic. If you don’t like your outcomes, change your thinking.

Often, it is not who you are that holds you back; it is who you think you are not. This point is well illustrated in the old fable of an eagle that was born and raised among chickens. The eagle believed itself to be a chicken and so that is how it lived and died. This story demonstrates that many people, just like the eagle in this fable, live without truly knowing who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing. They allow their environment and people around them to shape how they think, act and live.

You are the master of your own destiny. You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. Believe in yourself. Help our youth understand that they were born to win, engineered for success and endowed with the seeds of greatness. We cannot place limits on who they can be and what they are capable of achieving. We are all eagles, ready to spread our wings and soar.


Arthur R. Culver, Superintendent