Awesome conversation at Houlihans today

We had a record turnout today (7 + one who came later), which perhaps contributed to some excellent deliberation and healthy arguments. Thanks to Scott Leopold and Stephanie Stuart for dropping by and joining with us. I cannot possibly do justice to the breadth topics that we covered, nor even the depth to which we took some of them. So I ask you who attended to fill in with your own recollections.


As you might imagine, things started a little slow, making introductions, shooting the breeze, thinking about what to order, etc. I don’t know how others felt, but I am extremely glad we did not have an official agenda – it was a very organic conversation, starting off with football (Illinois is playing Ohio this week? Scott is somewhat of a Ohio fan, btw), trick-or-treeting and politics.

We sauntered over to educational topics and Scott had an opportunity to share some of the questions they are thinking of asking at tomorrow’s Futures Conference. Throughout our gathering, we Read the rest of this entry »

Shadow Wood Forum formally announced: Nov 2 6:pm


I love how Unit 4 is taking this seriously; the residents said they were concerned about transportation and Unit 4 brought their game to Shadow Wood (in a good way), and when residents asked for a follow-up, Unit 4 is coming back to follow-up. Good stuff.


I also hear that Dr. Taylor will have a slice of time for her Social Justice engagement.


I am not sure if I will be able to make it or for how long (have a conflict at 7:pm). So if you can go and are willing to report back here, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Busy day tomorrow: Futures Conference and Board Panel at PTA Council meeting

Two events going on tomorrow, going to keep me away from the computer. 🙂

  • 1:00 – 5:00 PM – Futures Conference
  • 6:00 – 8:00(?) PM – PTA Council meeting (includes a recognition dinner for PTA Presidents and a panel with School Board members)


For those not able to make one or the other, your thoughts/comments/observations are always welcome here. Especially if there are questions you would like posed to either group, I would be happy to act as a proxy in this case (and I’ll post what answers I receive). I’ll be thinking about questions I want to ask the Board of my own; they pretty much already know what concerns I have, but I might grow some new ones after the Futures Conference. 🙂


Heading out to Houlihans in about 60 minutes to meet up with Scott Leopold (DeJong-Richter), Stephanie Stuart (Unit 4) and some of you.

Garden Hills and the International Baccalaureate® Magnet program

This morning I took the opportunity to meet with Garden Hills Principal Cheryl O’Leary, Unit 4 Magnet Grant Directory Cheryl Camacho and a couple other staff – together we walked the halls of Garden Hills, popped into a few classrooms and talked about the International Baccalaureate® (IB) program. Why Garden Hills? Because I felt that of the three Magnet Schools, the IB program is the one I felt most confused about (I mean, just the name “International Baccalaureate” tends towards obfuscation).

Yet after meeting with these folks, I am quite amazed on various different levels. So this post will be unashamedly subjective, but I do hope to throw enough objective material in here to grab your attention. 🙂

First and foremost, the open door perspective was made quite clear; O’Leary mentioned this several times, but also the welcoming nature of just walking into a classroom and talking to students about what they are learning, and seeing the IB concepts plastered on a wall for all to see conveyed a feeling of “just come and see.” So that is the first thing I leave you with – if you have questions, ask; if you are skeptical, go check it out. You may disagree, but I very much doubt you will be disappointed.

For those of you that Read the rest of this entry »

Houlihans with DeJong-Richter (October 31st, 11:30 am)

I have invited Scott Leopold and Stephanie Stuart to join us at Houlihans tomorrrow (Wednesday, October 31, 11:30 am). Scott represents DeJon-Richter, the Public Engagement firm hired by Unit 4 (Scott wears many hats) and Stephanie is the Community Relations Coordinator with Unit 4; both are hard at work with the Futures Conference coming up on Thursday, November 1st, not to mention all the other work with DeJong.


If you want to meet them, ask questions or just hang with us, please come on out. I know several of you have asked questions here on this blog – are you available tomorrow for lunch? Scott and Stephanie can also relay how Monday evening’s Steering Committee went, and what their next steps are including the “Community Dialog” sometime around February 4th (date and time TBA).

Fallon Research is making the phone calls

Just a heads up that Fallon Research is making phone calls asking folks to join focus groups. I have no idea how they are selecting names – I kinda rather doubt they happened to draw my name at random. First focus group is Nov 8th.


The weird part is that are totally ambiguous about their goals – the gentleman on the phone merely said they are asking about issues in our community (and totally slaughtered “Savoy” and “Urbana” – obviously not a local *grin*). Is that even remotely attractive to folks? With all the electioneering and robocalls going on, I can only imagine how hard it is to get folks to talk about open-ended issues. “What is the biggest issue facing the community?” Wow, how do you answer something like that? I gave him three, all pretty related to each other:

  1. lack of working towards a common goal
  2. lack of open, healthy deliberation
  3. lack of collaboration and cooperation (too many complainers)


Since Fallon is all about engaging the public and collecting opinions, I am very curious how they do that. They have rented out the UofI Tech Plaza are offering light refreshments and compensating attendees at $75 a pop. It must be a small focus group – else they would burn through their budget pretty quick.

Unit 4 having DNS problems again

You can still get to the main webpage via their IP address, but some links will not work.

Posted in Community. Tags: , . 4 Comments »

Digging at the root of the matter (part 1)

There are times when I find I have to take a step back. Especially this past week or two, with so much hubbub about the CFT negotiations, the Futures Conference, elections, the Immigration Forum and Bristol Place. And there is so much else just roiling beneath the surface – I am sure you can relate.

So as I step back, I see two very general categories, or catalysts, or … I don’t even know what to call them. But they get our goat. This is no great epiphany, but I had to start somewhere.

  1. Differences of opinion
  2. Money

It is not hard to find someone who believes in something different than you do. It is not hard to stumble across blogs, facebook pages, sound bites, tv ads or written commentary that expresses a strong opinion, and chances are that a large number of people feel differently. It is probably more accurate to say “think differently”, but the “feel” part of it is that knee-jerk reaction, that gut-level almost instantaneous “you’re wrong” thought that bubbles up unbidden. When we actually discipline ourselves to really think and not rely so much on “feel”, some great conversations and deliberation can happen. I was reminded of this just yesterday witnessing an exchange between a parent (Karen) and a Unit 4 administrator (Cheryl Camacho); what is awesome is that questions, thoughts, and genuine interest are traded back and forth – I find this to be an excellent learning experience. I invite you to join in (I will be right after this post *grin*).

From there I am going to Read the rest of this entry »

Quick update

First, I have the recording from Monday night’s Special Board Meeting:

I am also trying a account – see if you like this better (same file, just possibly faster download):

I still have not yet had a moment to watch it all. I was actually at the board meeting for the first part of it, but had to leave when Cheryl Camacho [edit: sorry about the typo] wrapped up the Magnet programs. While that segment was a tad long, it was all very impressive! Representatives from each magnet school demonstrated what they were doing; we met the newly elected Mayor of Strattonville, heard various languages from Garden Hills and the board members got to play with a cool ProScope from BTW. At one point, Dave Tomlinson gleefully said that he could do this at every board meeting. 🙂 Maybe we will see a new trend….  Cheryl posted a metric TON of presentations on BoardDocs – good luck reading all of them. She went over a few during the meeting, and I am glad she did not cover all of them. I felt bad for the kids that were waiting and waiting and waiting to go – I guess you could say I empathized with them.

So even though I Read the rest of this entry »