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Staff » Superintendent's Message 2023-2024

Superintendent's Message 2023-2024

May 31, 2024

Esprit de Corps!

Esprit de Corps is a French term that expresses a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by the members of a particular group.


Have you ever been on a team that felt like you couldn’t lose? My sport is tennis. I will talk about it a lot although I have not had the opportunity to play as much as I like. Tennis is an individual team sport. What do I mean by that? A tennis team is made up of individual players who play singles and doubles. I never liked doubles, until my knees told me otherwise. I could always count on myself to give 100% all of the time. Although supportive of a tennis partner, I would often “judge” them on effort, strategy, skill, will, etc.… If you are on a tennis team, you may win your match and still lose. 

We cannot be what we want to be if individual scholars, staff members, teachers, school leaders or district leaders excel, but the team, the RIMSD #41 team, doesn’t perform. As I am learning our strengths and areas of opportunity, I will challenge all staff members to be “all in” and to work together to be a winning team.

I wish you a restful, peaceful, and rejuvenating summer break. Take this short respite to reflect on all that we have accomplished together!

May 24, 2024
I want to hear from you!

As we are wrapping up our 2023 - 2024 school year, I would like to invite you to share your vision and input regarding our Comprehensive Facilities Management Plan. Our Board of Education and leadership team have begun to collaborate to ensure that each of our scholars has a safe, comfortable, and educationally enriching learning environment. We are soliciting your input in a variety of ways including our last on site meeting at Washington Junior High surveySchool on May 30th at 6:00 pm and our online survey. During our meeting at Washington, we will hear from Ms. Jennifer Barton our CFO about the facilities work that has already taken place in the district and from our partners at Legat Architects regarding the facilities assessment process.  You can take a look at the presentation from our meeting below.

Our engagement with you this month is only the first phase of our planning process. Be on the lookout for additional engagement opportunities over the summer and at the beginning of next year.

May 17, 2024
RI-Milan Pride

Pride! In the over 25 one one-on-one meetings with staff members and other interactions with our staff and community, this word has been uttered at least 100 or more times. Pride as defined by Merriam Webster is ​​the pleasure that comes from some relationship, association, achievement, or possession that is seen as a source of honor, respect, etc. It is undeniable that the Rock Island - Milan team members are proud of our schools.  Over the past two weeks I have seen this pride shine through in the Leadership Day at Denkman Elementary School, the CNA pinning ceremony and Culture Fair at Rock Island High School, and the Medal of Honor Ceremony, to name a few. I am so encouraged to see our beaming scholars, staff members, families, and community members sharing in the collective effort of our school community. 

As I continue to immerse myself in the Rocky Way, I hope that you will reach out with your stories of pride in our schools. You can connect with me via email or by scheduling a one-on-one meeting.  

[email protected]

Schedule a 10-minute conversation with Dr. Williams

May 10, 2024


Thank you for the warm welcome.

Thank you for your welcoming spirit as I continue to get to know our community and schools. I had the opportunity to participate in our first meet and greet, two facilities management planning meetings, and multiple staff member one-on-one conversations in my first week as the incoming superintendent.  What shines through is the Rock Island - Milan pride and sense of community and optimism for scholar outcomes.  In the very near future I will share with you my 100 - Day Learning Plan.  I have chosen to create a learning plan instead of an entry - plan. The learning plan approach will allow me to put into practice the tenets of Humble Inquiry “The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling” and the 5th Habit of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek First to Understand, Then be Understood”. 

My ask of you is to share your ideas to strengthen our school community.  The four questions I am posing are:

  1. What should I know about our district’s community?
  2. What should I know about the district’s schools?
  3. What is working well and should be sustained?
  4. What needs attention and could be improved?

Please consider scheduling a 10-minute conversation with me over the next several months.  I want and need to hear as many voices as possible!

Schedule a 10-minute conversation with Dr. Williams


meet and greet

Dr. Williams speaking with a community member at her first Meet and & Greet Reception

May 3, 2024
Honored to be your next Superintendent
Dear Esteemed Faculty and Staff of the Rock Island - Milan School District:
I am thrilled to extend my heartfelt greetings to each and every one of you as the newly appointed superintendent of the Rock Island - Milan School District. It is with great honor and excitement that I join this exceptional community of educators, administrators, and support staff who are committed to fostering academic excellence and cultivating a nurturing environment for our scholars. I am thankful to our dedicated Board of Education for selecting me to lead our school district to new heights of scholar achievement!
As we embark on this journey together, I want to express my sincere appreciation for the dedication and hard work that you have consistently demonstrated in service to our scholars and their families. Your unwavering commitment to educational excellence and scholar success is truly commendable, and I am deeply grateful for your tireless efforts.
I firmly believe that education is the cornerstone of a thriving community, and as such, it is imperative that we collaborate, innovate, and strive for continuous improvement in all facets of our work. With your expertise, passion, and dedication, I am confident that we will continue to inspire and empower our scholars to reach their fullest potential and achieve their dreams.
In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to getting to know each of you better, listening to your ideas and concerns, and working together to chart a course for the future success of our district. Your insights and perspectives are invaluable, and I am committed to fostering a culture of open communication, transparency, and collaboration. There is a link below to sign-up to have a one-on-one conversation with me as a part of my 100 - day learning plan. 
As we navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, let us remain steadfast in our shared mission to provide every scholar with the knowledge, skills, and support they need to thrive in an ever-changing world. Together, we will continue to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of our scholars and the Rock Island - Milan community.
Thank you once again for your dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to our scholars. I am truly honored and privileged to serve as your superintendent, and I am excited about the incredible journey that lies ahead.
With warm regards,
Sharon Williams, Ed. D.
Incoming Superintendent
April 26, 2024
Thank you RIMSD #41
This will be my last Superintendent's Message for the Rock Island-Milan Lines as your new superintendent Dr. Williams first official day will be next week, May 1st. I will still be here until the end of the month but I will be helping Dr.Williams transition into her new role.
When I was asked if I would be interested in serving as Interm Superintendent for the RIMSD #41 I couldn't pass it up coming back to my old stomping grounds. I've enjoyed getting to know staff, seeing some familiar faces, and attending school events. 
While many things have changed since my first time here one thing remains the same and that's Rocky pride. You can see it throughout our schools and throughout the community. It's one of the things I loved most about this district/community. It's been my honor serving you as Interim Superintendent. Keep up all the good work that you're doing. 
Thank you for welcoming me with open arms, I ask that you all do the same for Dr.Williams. 
I wish you all the best for next school year. 
Take care,
Lanty McGuire
April 19, 2024
How do YOU CQ?
If you’ve been keeping up with the Rock Island-Milan Lines, you know that the district’s CQ team has been highlighting a different school each week (“How they CQ”) and the work they're doing to be culturally responsive, whether it’s through activities or school events. It is great to see what work is being done. I ask you to think about how YOU CQ. It should be a question each of us asked ourselves every day. When we are thinking about our learning environment, communication, and interacting in different cultural settings, ask ourselves are we being culturally responsive? 
If you read in the T&L section of today’s RIM Lines you will see two CQ opportunities for staff to partake in and I hope all of you do. One of the opportunities is the Critical and Courageous Conversations with Paul Forbes. 
For those new to the district, we have been working with Paul Forbes for a few years now. He is an equity consultant. These conversations create a space for our staff to engage in critical and courageous conversations, encouraging introspection and reflections to widen our equity lens. 
I’m proud of our work, but there is still more to be done. Let’s continue to focus on maintaining a culturally responsive learning environment. 
April 12, 2024
Celebrating our Educators
Tonight I will have the honor to participate in the District's 4th Annual Educator the Year Gala. As a former RIMSD teacher myself, I was very impressed to learn that this district has an event specifically to recognize our amazing educators. Being an educator can sometimes be a thankless job so we wanted to say THANK YOU. Not just to the 14 who will be recognized tonight but to all of you. Thank you for going above and beyond for our students and our families, the countless hours you put into making sure our students succeed, and providing a safe and caring environment for them. Your work does not go unnoticed.
Each principal nominated one educator that they feel exemplifies Educator of the Year. To be considered for an Educator of the Year, a person must exhibit the following criteria:
  1. The educator must have taught for at least five years.
  2. The educator must have evidenced exemplary skills in instructing children/young adults.
  3. The educator must strongly believe that all children/young adults can and will learn.
  4. The educator has continually shown evidence of self-motivation in seeking and engaging in professional growth activities for the purpose of improving and/or enhancing his or her educational offerings to children/young adults.
  5. The educator makes teaching and learning rigorous and exciting for children/young adults.
I'm looking to forward to celebrating them tonight. If you see these honorees around be sure to give them a BIG congratulations!
Educator of the Year Honorees
Congratulations to our 2024 Educators of the Year honorees, from left to right (top row): Amanda Crecelius - TMLC, Jamie Ruberg - RIA, Janine Olson - Denkmann, (second row) Courtney Stone - RIHS, Jennifer Trenary - EJHS, Julie Hansen (RICMS), (third row) Kimberly Laingen - WJHS, Linnea Sparacello - HMELC, Liz Hughes - Ridgewood, (fourth row) Liz KongKousonh - Eugene Field, Maggi Voss - Longfellow, Stacy Rohm - Earl Hanson, (fifth row) Tiffany Versluis - Thomas Jefferson, and Val Matson - Frances Willard. 
April 5, 2024
Spring Assessments 
It's a busy time of year with all the end-of-the-year events, Educator of the Year Gala, Medal of Honor, Kindergarten Round-Ups, etc. It's also a hectic time because of spring assessments. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for assessments but just remember they provide us valuable information. The variety of assessments measures our students learning and by extension, our teaching and the school’s environment and culture. 
The information we gain from these tests helps us make informed decisions about our student's education. Assessments that measure student achievement help drive our reflection about what and how we teach students. While there are many opinions about mandated assessments I believe they can provide valuable information in building the best pathway to individual career and academic plans after high school. 
This is why it's so important to prepare our students the best we can for these assessments. Try to find some fun and interesting ways to get students excited about them or at least motivated to want to do well. I wish everyone the best of luck ahead of assessments next week. 
Let's ROCK spring assessments!
March 28, 2024
School Safety
Welcome back! I hope all of you have a wonderful break and feel rested and rejuvenated. We kicked off the 4th quarter by having our staff in-service on Monday. 
We celebrated our Years of Service staff and our retirees. We had 37 staff members who have worked in the district for 20 consecutive years or more. Their years of service total 915 years of experience. Our retirees have 386 years of experience! I think that says a lot about our district. We have employees choosing to work and stay here. We wish our retirees the best as they take on their next adventure.
We also had a great training session on 'I Love You Guys' Standard Response Protocols that the district has adopted. Please familiarize yourself with these actions and what they mean. I want to reiterate from the training that safety is all of our responsibility. If you see or hear something say something and report it to a supervisor right away. Make sure we're not propping doors and continue locking your classroom doors. And lastly, staff and students should be wearing their IDs at all times.
At the board meeting this past Tuesday, I mentioned how we want to continue to focus on ways to enhance the safety of our schools and that includes looking at implementing physical improvements that can offer some additional layers of safety within the walls of our school buildings. Some of the things we are exploring are a visitor management system and metal detectors. We know there are a lot of logistics and protocols that would have to be thought about and put into place if implemented, so we are doing our due diligence when it comes to researching, talking with staff, and exploring many options. 
Our ultimate goal is to keep our students and staff safe and making sure we are taking proactive measures to do so.
March 8, 2024
Enjoy the time off
I don't know about you, but the 3rd quarter flew by for me! We made it through another quarter and now we can finally take some time to relax and recharge. I hope everyone have a wonderful Spring Break. Hopefully we will have some warm sunny days that we can enjoy. 
Whether you're going on vacation or just doing a "staycation" I hope everyone takes the time to unwind before the 4th quarter starts. Enjoy and lets come back stronger than ever. 
Enjoy and see everyone on March 25th for the staff in-service. 
Enjoy spring break
March 1, 2024
Celebrating Diversity
black history programAs Black History Month wrapped up yesterday, I want to applaud all the events held during the month to celebrate Black History. Rock Island High School's African American Heritage Club held its annual Black History Program. The students put a lot of hard work into putting together the program every year and it showed. This year's theme was Come Jam with Us: Music is Food for the Soul. Fantastic job done!
One of the best things about RIMSD is its diversity. While February is a designated time to celebrate black history I'm impressed by the work the district does year-round to try and provide an inclusive and equitable environment. For example, this week Eugene Field held its Taste of Eugene Field. It was a great event that showcased our student's cultures and traditions. taste of Eugene field
I was also impressed to learn about all the CQ work the district has done and continues to do. 
Thank you to everyone who has celebrated the month and who continues to celebrate diverse backgrounds and cultures. 
February 23, 2024
Changing the Narrative
Now that I'm back at Rock Island, I had someone come up to me the other day and ask me "So how bad is it there?" We all know the reputation/perception that is out there about RIMSD. But just like I told that person, I'm going to say the same to all of you, there are a lot of good things going on in our district. Rock Island High School STILL has the MOST Merit Scholars. We have a MathCounts team going to state. Look at how many ISAC Scholars and All-State Musicians we had. The list goes on and on. 
We are achieving things other school districts are not. So my question to all of you is when you hear the negatives about our district, how are you going to react? Do you join in or are you going to take the opportunity to promote our district? Our students are listening, they hear what outsiders say about them and the schools they go to. 
Let's drown all the negative comments by changing the narratives ourselves.  
February 16, 2024
Creating Valuable Partnerships
We all know that when we work together we can achieve great things. It's important to collaborate not just with our colleagues but with community partners as well. I witnessed a great example of community partners and a school district coming together to support our families and students. This morning was the district's annual Winter Bash & Resource Fair, which the district's Family and Community Engagement Team put together. 
Several vendors were there to answer questions or provide information to families about some great resources available to them right here in their own community. Some of the resources on site that parents could explore were college/ career readiness, financial wellness, home ownership, mental/emotional/physical wellness, and much more. 
There was also a chili cook-off contest. Guests could test out some chili made by RIHS staff and vote for their favorite. I of course, had to participate. They were all winners in my book. 
I find that some of the most successful school districts in a community have strong relationships with organizations in their community. Let's keep building those relationships, invite them into your schools, or better yet take our students to those places for experiences they might not normally receive outside of school. These partnerships can have an impact on the lives of our students for the future. 
Pictures from the 2024 Winter Bash Resource Fair
February 9, 2024
Staying Alert and Aware
This week was a hectic week and I'm sure a scary week for some. I want to applaud all of you for doing your very best in these tough situations. While I wish I could say this will be the last time we have to deal with situations like the ones we had this week, we all know that's not the kind of world we live in today. So I want to remind everyone to stay alert and aware. Much like we tell our students if you see something say something. Even if you think it might be nothing. It's just as important to say something right away so we can take the proper actions to deal with the situation. I ask that all of our buildings go over safety procedures if you already haven't, and know you're evacuation site. 
Please know when the district is dealing with situations there are a lot of moving parts and factors at play. Before we can do anything we have to gather facts and figure out the whole story to ensure our students and staff are safe. That's our top priority. Everything else comes after that. We rely heavily on our local law enforcement's expertise in these matters as well.
It's no surprise that for students to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially, students must have a safe and supportive school environment. Let's all work together to make sure we're doing everything we can to provide a safe environment. 
 February 2, 2024
We want to hear from you
Most of you have probably already seen the emails that the state's 5 Essential Survey is officially open. This survey is given annually and students, guardians, and staff are all asked to take it. It's important for people to take this survey because it provides a comprehensive picture of the school environment based on five critical areas for school improvement. 
These five indicators can predict important student outcomes, including improved attendance and larger test score gains:
  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environments
  • Ambitious Instruction
After the data is tabulated, the reports will be sent to schools and districts in May and will also be included in the State School Report Card, released statewide in the fall. I ask that all four students complete the survey and that we really encourage our parents and students to complete the survey to our families.
 The survey will be open on January 30 and close on March 29, 2024.
January 26, 2024
Your impact is greater than you know
As I move around the District I've had the pleasure of witnessing many activities where staff is going above and beyond to make their schools a thriving community for their students. For that I say thank you, it's amazing to watch the joy in the faces of your students and families. 
Since I've been back in education it is shocking the many people I run into who I once may have taught or been their Dean. You sort of forget the impact you may have made until an adult walks up to you and says "Hello Mr. McGuire, you may not remember me but you were my Dean and I appreciate all you did for me." It is really nice to think I may have made a difference in their life all those years ago.
So to all of you working in the Rock Island-Milan School District during these gloomy days of January, remember you are making a difference in the lives of our students every day, even if you don't always see the impact right away. Keep up the fantastic work and know you are respected and valued.
Mr. McGuire reading to students
I had the pleasure of reading to Ms. Arnold's kindergarten classroom at RICMS
January 19, 2024
I don't know about you, but I am ready for Spring. I want to applaud all of you again for going with the flow and doing whatever it takes to have successful E-Learning.
When I previously worked in the district I worked with some amazing people who truly care about our students and their job. I can tell that's still true about RIMSD. We have a lot of great stories about the kindness and care that RIMSD teachers and staff show to our students each andshout out every day. Whether it’s sponsoring an after-school club or spending the year fundraising and writing grants to get those classroom extras or the countless times a school counselor (or social worker, principal, building supervisor, custodian) provides that needed attention when a student is having an off day. Those caring experiences add up for our students, sometimes in small ways, but they are nonetheless significant. As we move through this new year and through the second half of our school year, I want you to share those stories of caring through the district's SHOUT OUT form whenever you see someone doing something awesome. 
Thank you for your passion and dedication to our students. 
January 11, 2024
It's good to be back!
As the interim superintendent for the second semester, I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to once again be back in the Rock Island-Milan School District where I originally began my teaching career. I have many fond memories of the years I spent teaching and coaching both at Edison and Rock Island High School. Rock Island taught me the importance of building strong relationships and the need for high expectations. I know the incredible potential of both our students and staff. Hopefully, I will be able to be out and about throughout the semester to visit the buildings and observe the hard work being delivered by staff and students.
It is amazing the things you forget after you retire, but once you are back in the job some of those things come back quickly, such as snow days. As many of you may know the superintendents of the three larger districts on this side of the river converse and generally come up with a consensus on whether to call school or not. I hope that this weather cycle goes back to what we experienced in December and won't have to worry about whether we have snow or e- learning days. I always hated the idea of making up days over a break or at the end of the year but we'll keep plugging along and hope for drier days.
I've heard a lot of positives from Tuesday's E-Learning Day. Kudos to all of you! Thank you for making days like this the best we can.
January 4, 2024
Walk the Talk
Welcome back! We kicked off the 3rd quarter with an excellent Teaching and Learning Conference on Wednesday! Kudos to Dr. Ruggeberg and her team for all the hard work they did putting the conference together. I hope you got a lot out of professional development opportunities and have already started implementing some of the things you learned.
Athletic Director Mike Emendorfer was the keynote speaker and wow, it was a great speech. The speech resonated with me and I hope it did with you too. What he said about attitude being everything is so true. I hope every day when you wake up you remember that we are in charge of our attitude and we need to invest in our attitude every day. And if you're struggling to find the positive pull out your "attitude toolbox" and figure out how to fix it. 
But most importantly, walk the talk. As Mike mentioned we are setting examples for our students. Our students are watching our actions, and how we speak. How do you want them to see you? 
This will be my last Superintendent's Message. It's been a pleasure to serve RIMSD. Please welcome your next Interim Superintendent, Lanty McGuire. He starts on Monday, Jan. 8. Thank you all!
January inservice opening
December 15, 2023
RIMSD#41 Spends more than $64 Million in Facility Upgrades
At this week’s Board meeting, CFO Jen Barton gave a presentation about our district’s building projects since 2017. The information was astounding. The district spent over $45 million using the 1% sales tax revenue, over $19 million using Esser funds (federal COVID grants), and another $7 million using local district funds. In summary, the Rock Island-Milan District has spent over $70 million on building projects since 2017.
The projects have included numerous roof replacements, numerous heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) replacements, building additions, secure building entrances, cafeteria renovations, elevator replacements, platform lift installations, brick tuck-pointing, bleacher replacement, stadium renovations, outdoor track replacement, field turf replacement, STEM lab renovation, structural repairs, tennis court replacement, plumbing replacement, asbestos abatement, Lincoln School demolition, security cameras, phone upgrades, intercom replacement, flooring replacement, fire alarm replacement, new administration center (with warehouse and kitchen production), and restroom renovations.
Current and future projects include New HVAC at Ridgewood Elementary, Earl Hanson Elementary, and Eugene Field Elementary. There will be gym repairs at Frances Willard Elementary, high school auditorium lobby renovations, fire alarm replacement at Frances Willard, plumbing work at the high school, parking lot replacement at Washington Junior High, and a new aquatic center. 
There are more renovations, replacements, and repairs that need to be addressed. The District will continue to work on those issues with the goal of having all buildings be safe, efficient, conducive to learning, attractive, and in good repair.
One more note, my last day is the end of this month. Lanty McGuire will be your Interim Superintendent next semester. It's been my honor to be Interim Superintendent for the Rock Island-Milan School District. I have been amazed by the staff and students of this district. Thank you to everyone for welcoming me with open arms. Keep up the good work. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a success second semester.
Take care,
Alan Boucher. 
December 8, 2023
Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
'Tis the season to be jolly! We have transitioned from a season of thanksgiving to a very busy season of celebration in the Rock Island-Milan School District. There are many winter sporting events, end-of-semester classroom tasks, and, of course, holiday concerts. 
My wife and I enjoyed the high school winter orchestra concert on Tuesday evening. One of the many positive things I noticed about our school district is its values and its support of the performing arts. There are plays, musicals, dance teams, chamber and concert choirs, bands, and orchestras. The students are skilled, the programs are award-winning, and the events are well-attended by families and community members. Not to mention all the hard work our staff and students put in to put on these outstanding programs!
In the next week or so, there will be many more concerts and sporting events. Check the district calendar for dates, times, and locations. It truly is “The most wonderful time of the year!”
Rock Island High School Orchestra
December 1, 2023
The Key to Success
Everyone has great ideas. How do some people successfully implement them? Are they lucky? Organized? Super smart? Many factors lead to success, but I believe there's one that rises above the rest - how much you want it.
Sometimes, the odds are against our success. Our friends and family might not approve of our efforts. Often, there are dead ends, scary situations, and risks. However, highly motivated people soldier through these obstacles and work until success is attained. I have seen it with winning state championships, establishing successful businesses, and solving difficult problems. If we want to accomplish great things in our amazing district, we have to be highly motivated and committed to the process. The great things in RIMSD 41 are the result of motivated stakeholders.  
Let’s add to the greatness!
November 17, 2023
School Board Members Day
November 15 marks the annual statewide observance of School Board Members Day in Illinois. This day offers our community an opportunity to show support for our board of education and their commitment to making our school district one of the finest in the area.
Our school board members serve as unpaid volunteers for the benefit of the students and community residents. They provide a local voice for the community, a vision for the district, and a pathway to success for our students.
We are blessed to have thoughtful and dedicated servants working on our behalf. The board’s leadership is a source of pride for our local citizens and we honor each member.
Thank you Rock Island-Milan School Board Members! Together we are making a difference for every student of this district.  #ThankABoardMember
picture of board of education
Board of Education - (Back row, from L to R) Nicole Cisne Durbin, Tracy Pugh, Jason Roessler, Terell Williams
(Front row, from L to R) Gary Rowe, Margie Mejia-Caraballo, Mike Matherly
November 10, 2023
Preparing Our Students for College
These past few weeks I've gotten to learn more about AVID and what support it provides our students. 
For those who aren't familiar, AVID principles provide the support students need for college and career success. The strategies involve Collaboration, inquiry, and organization.  AVID helps teachers shift from delivering content to facilitating learning, resulting in an inquiry-based, student-centered classroom. The goal is for the students to think critically, collaborate, and set high expectations to confidently conquer the challenges that await them.
Currently, AVID is offered at the high school, both junior highs and Frances Willard Elementary School. This year we've added another school. Earl Hanson now offers AVID too.  
Some of our schools have been hosting some fun events to help families learn more about the AVID program. Frances Willard hosted an "Avid Afternoon" this week where parents could learn more about some of the AVID strategies. I had the opportunity to visit the AVID Showcase at Washington Jr. High. The seventh and eighth-grade students invested a lot of time and energy in preparing stations that explained AVID principles and some ways those principles can be applied to their lives.  
I learned a few things from their presentations and I was energized afterward! We have awesome students and staff in our school district!
frances Willard staff sit at table explaining AVID program
November 3, 2023
Selfless Acts
One of the things I've been proud to witness since starting as Interim Superintendent is all the community service our district does. I was amazed to learn about the Rocky Resource Room and all that it provides to our students and their families, as well as all the projects our students do to benefit local organizations. Many of our schools find charities to donate to. Recently, Rock Island Academy student council helped SAL Community Services collect diapers for their diaper drive. Rock Island Academy collected 664 diapers!
The high school is wrapping up its Student Hunger Drive Campaign. It's held several fundraising efforts including the Hot Shakes Challenge. I applaud our staff for being good examples to our students. They were willing to take some heat for a good cause. If you haven't donated, please consider donating to Rocky's Student Hunger Drive Campaign online
The bottom line is it's important to teach our students the importance of giving back. You never know how it will be paid it forward later in life. 

 Have a great weekend everyone. 

RIA Diaper Drive
Rock Island Academy Student Council hosted a diaper drive.
October 27, 2023
October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
This month-long event seeks to prevent childhood bullying and promote kindness. Every day, thousands of children experience bullying at school, after school in their neighborhoods, and even when they are at home through social media and texts.
Rock Island-Milan School District is committed to creating and maintaining a safe educational environment free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination. If the issue of bullying arises, the school counselors and administration work together to stop the behavior and provide counseling and support to those who are involved.  School officials also communicate with parents/guardians of affected students, and continue to monitor incidents to ensure the bullying has ceased. 
Students should report to an adult any bullying or harassing activity whether they are a victim, witness, or bystander. No one deserves to be bullied and all students deserve to be safe. RIMSD adopted Safe2Help for students' mental health and threat tips. In the absence of a trusted adult, students can use Safe2Help Illinois to share concerns about themselves or others in a confidential environment. One of the most common reports received by Safe2Help Illinois is bullying. 
More information about bullying can be found online at
October 20, 2023
Thank a Principal


School principals play an integral role in the education and growth of children in elementary, middle, and secondary schools.  Principals, along with assistant principals and deans, deserve to be recognized for their work, commitment, and importance.  The week of October 15, 2023, is proclaimed to be Principals Week and October 20, 2023, is Principals Day.

The job for these courageous individuals is demanding, rewarding, unpredictable, exhausting yet exhilarating. They wouldn’t have it any other way. I see them lead with optimism, humility, vision, and perseverance.

I encourage all of the stakeholders to celebrate by sending personal notes or emails, putting up decorations, providing snacks, presenting a gift, or just publicly acknowledging them. Thank you, Rock Island-Milan principals, assistant principals, and deans for your deep commitment to doing what is best for the students. You have a positive influence on young people, staff members, and communities and we appreciate it!

September 29, 2023
Rest, Relax, and enjoy
As an interim, I bring an outside set of eyes to the district. I can tell you what I have seen from all of you in this first quarter is impressive. What have I seen? I see staff that takes initiative, staff that cares deeply about what they are doing, and has a tremendous amount of talent and expertise. Staff that works hard every day to make sure the needs of our students are met. Whether you work directly with students or not everyone's role is vital to the success of this district.
Your work does not go unnoticed. Working in Education is not always easy, there are many challenging days but every day you wake up and decide to show up. For that I thank you. I ask that all of you leave your worries, stresses, etc. behind as you head out the doors today and head into fall break with a clear mind and focus on recharging yourself. Whether it's going on a trip or doing absolutely nothing, take the rest you need so we can come back and start the second quarter off strong. 
Rest, relax, and enjoy, there's no doubt, you deserve it. 
September 22, 2023
Community Support
Today, our community showed its commitment to the educational lives of our students by participating in a nationwide event called Million Father March. Fathers Incorporated is the event’s founding organization. Annually, Rock Island Academy takes part in this event. 
Dads, uncles, grandfathers, coaches, first responders, veterans, football players, clergy, men’s groups, and school district staff members lined the sidewalk in front of Rock Island Academy to welcome the students as they arrived at school. The men gave the students fist bumps, high fives, and words of encouragement. The looks on the students' faces were priceless!
It really is true that fathers and caregivers have a profound impact when they participate in a child’s academic life. More than 100 volunteers showed up. It was great to see the large turnout. I would like to give a special shout-out to the Alleman football team who showed up to participate.
What an amazing community we have!
Milllon Father March
September 15, 2023
Homecoming Spirit
This is our annual Homecoming Week in the Rock Island-Milan School District! Students, staff, alumni, families, and community members are strutting their school spirit and enjoying friendships. Our Homecoming week is filled with festivities like dress-up days, a parade, the coronation of the Homecoming King and Queen, and a high school dance. 
Homecoming celebrations have a long tradition in high schools and colleges that dates back to the 19th century. The high point of Homecoming Week is an exciting football game played on Friday night.  This year, the opponent is Newman Central Catholic from Sterling, Illinois. The excellent Rocky marching band and the talented cheerleaders make the evening even better! Volunteers from our booster organization will have plenty of food on hand for the hungry fans. Come out and support your Rocks this evening! 
spirit week collage
September 8, 2023
State of the Schools Address
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of presenting a State of the District Report to the members of the Rock Island Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. This is an annual event that takes place at the Botanical Center. The report includes program updates, an overview of demographics, and information about the status of our facilities, progress on the strategic plan, and changes taking place.  Here are a few highlights.

The district enrollment increased 101 students this year to 6,161. There were 357 graduates in the class of 2023. We continue to be one of the most diverse school districts in the state, currently ranking #2. We have 800 students eligible for English Language Learner services. Over 30 languages are spoken in the district. We are having an equity audit done to understand the root causes behind gaps in student achievement. The results will be used to make decisions about where to invest efforts and resources.

The district’s strategic plan has three priorities:  1) respectful relationships, 2) equity & opportunity for success, and 3) enhancing and improving operations.  MAP assessments are given 3 times a year to determine where students are academically and to monitor progress.  We continue to focus on college and career readiness. We have seven high school students participating in paid internships in the areas of welding and nursing.

There were many facility improvements in the past year.  FOB access replaced key access in nine schools this past year. There were 103 additional security cameras installed throughout the district. Fifty-thousand square feet of roofing was replaced this summer. Construction of a new administration center, warehouse, and production kitchen was completed this summer. Parking lots and hard-surface playgrounds were replaced. New fire alarms and HVAC systems were installed. The Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation provided more than $205,000 in PRIME grants this summer. The district received a $3.8 million federal grant to address the social-emotional needs of students.  
There are so many more things that could be mentioned.  Overall, the district is stable and working hard to improve in every aspect. Looking forward to what this school year holds!
Keep up the great work!
State of the schools
September 1, 2023
Celebrating Labor Day

There is a lot of excitement throughout the district today because of the approaching Labor Day weekend. Culturally, it is considered the unofficial end to summer. Some are looking forward to all the Labor Day sales while others are looking forward to festivities like parades, parties, and picnics. There is little doubt the students are relishing a day off from school.  A lot of recreation and amusement goes on during Labor Day weekend, but let’s make sure we take time to recognize the real meaning behind the holiday.  

Congress passed the Labor Day Act in 1894, and President Cleveland signed it into law shortly thereafter. Labor Day was designed to be an annual celebration on the first Monday in September. The objective is to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. Their contributions have built America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being. American labor has raised the nation’s standard of living and has reinforced our traditional ideals of democracy. This weekend, let’s celebrate our great nation and the workers who made it great.
August 25, 2023
How are the Children Grant
Members of the Masai tribe in Africa have a tradition of greeting each other with the phrase, “Casserian Engeri.”  It means, “And how are the children?” This focus on the next generation conveys the idea that the well-being of children determines the future strength and success of their society. This concept permeates the purposes of a $3.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education that was recently awarded to the Rock Island-Milan School District.

The five-year funding is being used to create a project-based curriculum focused on improving social and emotional wellness, mental health, inclusion, and equity.  Activities will include self-reflection and storytelling through filmmaking.  Each of the 25 curriculum lessons focuses on an SEL/equity topic. The staff provides coaching and technical assistance.

An independent evaluation of the program’s effectiveness will be conducted by a company called Empirical Education. The long-term goal is to use the information learned in Rock Island-Milan and expand it to other districts throughout the nation.  

This is just one exciting example of an innovative and research-based learning opportunity that can be found in our fine school district. We are Rocks!
rihs staff being trained
Pictured- Rock Island High School staff learning how to use
the equipment students will use for the grant.
August 18, 2023
A Winning Attitude
The excitement of athletic competition comes with the start of a new school year. Many students have been honing their athletic skills for years and they are now able to showcase them to the fans who eagerly support them. Tonight is the Red/Gold Scrimmage game. Come out support your Rocks and get a first look at the 2023-2024 football team! It’s important to support our students outside of the classroom as well. I know it means a lot when student-athletes look up in the stands and see their teachers, principals, support staff, etc. cheering them on. The Rock Island-Milan community has always shown tremendous support and school spirit for the athletes.
As we begin the new school year, let’s pledge ourselves to maintain a healthy perspective on competition and respect for referees.  We might not always agree with how a rule is interpreted, but we can be well-mannered and sustain a good attitude.  A reputation of positivity and good sportsmanship spreads, and it attracts officials to work in our competitions. 
We also want to make sure we’re carrying that good attitude into the classroom. It’s important to teach our students about a winning attitude. Teaching our students to know what they want and what’s needed to get it. Teaching them about maintaining focus on what they want even when things don’t go as planned and taking responsibility when they do not get the results they want. And when they don’t get the results they want, being able to change their approach is key too.
This year has the promise of many victories!  Go, Rocks!
Rock Island High School Football team
2023 Rock Island Rocks 
August 4, 2023
We are stronger when we all work together!

Hello Rock Island-Milan students, staff, and community! I am looking forward to serving as your interim superintendent during the fall semester. Over the past four weeks, I have encountered hope and promise everywhere I go in the district. Everyone oozes optimism, excitement, and friendliness.  

Area contractors have been working diligently to complete various construction projects throughout the district. The projects include new roofs, new HVAC systems, building renovations, new pavement for parking lots and playgrounds, new fire alarms, and many needed repairs. We appreciate your patience as some of the projects will not be completed before school begins. I assure you the results are worth all of the noise, dust, mess, and delays.

Education is a people industry comprised of students, staff, families, and community members. We are stronger when we all work together to provide an excellent education for each and every student. An amazing opportunity is here, so let’s dig in and show the world that we are getting it done with One Team, One Goal, One RIMSD!
District Administrators
2023-2024 District Administrators at Ready to Rocks
August 11, 2023
Working to Enhance Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Rock Island-Milan School District’s mission is to prepare all students for individual success by providing a safe and inclusive quality education within a multicultural community.  Since 2016, the district has been on an equity journey to more fully and deeply understand students and families from diverse backgrounds and to identify best practices that will meet the needs of the RIMSD students.

Last winter, the district hired American Institutes for Research to conduct a district equity audit. The purpose of the audit was to develop an understanding of the root causes behind the gaps in student achievement in order to make informed decisions about where to invest their equity efforts and resources to ensure that all students can achieve high standards.

In the coming weeks, on site focus groups will be assembled to have discussions about the equity topic. Students, parents, staff, and community members will be asked to participate. In mid-October, a large group of 35-40 people will work with five facilitators to process data and put it in a format that is streamlined and easy to understand. A final report that will include findings and suggestions will be presented to the Board of Education by the end of November. The district is actively working to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging throughout the district.  
Together, we can equip our students to reach their maximum potential!