District 201 Attended 2014 Professional Learning Community Conference

Board of education president and elected official for Illinois’ JS Morton High School District 201, Jeff Pesek provides leadership and policy consultation for the operation of special projects at schools within the district. Jeff Pesek also supports professional learning community (PLC) initiatives and the utilization of PLC models for district improvement. In 2014, District 201 attended the PLC Conference held at the Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

PLC’s 2014 conference took place on August 4-6, and served as a forum for educational professionals to network and learn from some of the most knowledgeable individuals in the education field. Events at the conference consisted of various workshops and presentations from keynote speakers that focus on strategies to help schools become high-level learning facilities. Approximately 80 District 201 teachers and administrators attended the conference and received professional insight on valuable education tools and resources. The 2015 conference took place on August 3-5.

The PLC movement strives to support collaborative actions among educators and promotes the importance of ongoing professional development.


Expanding Access to Advanced Placement

As president of the board of education for Illinois’ JS Morton High School District 201, Jeff Pesek effectively expanded access to advanced placement (AP) courses. Using the open-enrollment model, Jeff Pesek facilitated the introduction of pre-AP seminars and expanded course offerings that have made Morton 201 a statewide leader in Latino success in AP courses.

According to the College Board, advanced placement and other rigorous courses play a key role in preparing students for college success. Participation in these classes by minority and under-resourced students has improved measurably in recent years, yet statistics still show a marked inequality. In 2013, for example, 15 percent of graduating high school students were black, but only 9 percent took the AP exam. Similarly, in a cohort that included 48 percent of students from low-income families, only 28 percent took the exam.

Organizations such as Equal Opportunity Schools have undertaken the effort to reduce this disparity. A collaborative initiative known as Lead Higher, which includes the participation of EOS as well as groups such as the College Board and the International Baccalaureate Organization, aims to bring 100,000 new under-represented students into AP courses by 2018. Meanwhile, the College Board is working to encourage minority and low-income students to enroll in AP coursework through a number of programs, including the All In campaign, which identifies high-potential course candidates using standardized test scores.

ICE Webinars for Members

An educational professional, Jeff Pesek currently serves as the board of education president for J. Sterling Morton High School District 201, where he was an integral part in the establishment of the Morton Alumni Association, an updated alumni directory. Jeff Pesek has also presented at conferences for organizations such as Illinois Computing Educators (ICE).

ICE’s professional development committee offers educators a variety of hour-long webinars on the organization’s website. Known as the Wednesday Webinar Series, the educational courses are free for ICE members, who can also access webinars from previous years in the website’s archives.

Past webinars include Free Ed Tech Resources to Enhance Your Current Practice from education expert Anne Kasa and How to Impact Literacy in the Classroom with Storybird from instructional coach Megan Ryder. Integrated technology teacher Eric Hansen hosted a webinar about Google Classroom and how teachers can incorporate the app into their classroom activities. Other teachers include Vinnie Vrotny, the Kinkaid School’s director of technology, and Sue Gorman, an innovative learning consultant who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

The Effect of Differentiated Instruction on Teachers and Students

As president of the Board of Education for the JS Morton High School District 201, Jeff Pesek has implemented a number of pedagogical training and classroom management initiatives. As creator of the Professional Development Academy, Jeff Pesek has made it possible for district teachers to train in differentiated instruction.

At its core, differentiated instruction means giving every student the best possible chance of success. Each student begins the learning process with his or her own background, mind-set, and abilities. Differentiated instruction allows teachers to provide a variety of options and techniques for learning, enabling each student to access the curriculum in a way that works for him or her.

Differentiating instruction does not require the teacher to create separate lesson plans or curricula for all students, but it does involve significant learning environment preparation. The teacher must determine students’ interests and learning styles to present relevant materials. Teachers can then examine the current curriculum to assess which elements can be broadened to include different methods of delivery.

These delivery methods students include materials, themed projects, and inquiry-based activities that target struggling, advanced, and median learners, though they do not take the shape of separate assignments for outliers. Instead, a differentiated lesson has a variety of activities happening at a given time. Students may work alone or in groups. They may choose their activity or accept an assignment to a particular task, all of which the teacher presents as varied rather than leveled options.

United Way’s Education Initiatives

A school board president, Jeff Pesek supports education inside and outside of his school district. In particular, Jeff Pesek is an advocate of United Way.

With a history dating back to 1887, United Way has grown from humble beginnings to become a notable organization that promotes healthy living, financial stability, and advancement in education. In particular, United Way is especially committed to reducing the number of high school dropouts, which stands at 1.2 million students every year as of 2008.

A major component of the organization’s 10-year initiative, education provides valuable knowledge and resources that help young adults achieve personal and career goals past high school. Understanding that high school dropouts are made over the course of time, United Way is focusing its education goals on reforming strategies and approaches from early childhood. This includes building supportive communities, involving families, and building effective schools and curriculums.

To learn more about United Way’s educational goals, visit www.unitedway.org.

Education at J. Sterling Morton High School District 201

School board president Jeff Pesek leads J. Sterling Morton High School District 201. In this role, Jeff Pesek oversaw the restructured operational functions and staff responsibilities to focus on initiatives set forth in the district’s three-year plan. In addition, the board president developed the parameters for the Learning Support System in an effort to better serve students.

Serving Cicero, Illinois schools, the J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 has a vision of integrating comprehensive curriculums that challenge students and prepare them for college. To ensure the school district meets its goals, faculty and staff continuously participate in professional development. Furthermore, each teacher uses student-centered instruction that includes experiential learning strategies to help students extend their education beyond the classroom.

Developing skills, knowledge, and values, experiential learning takes students out of the classroom to explore education in a non-traditional academic setting. Experiential learning can come in many forms, including field trips and internships. The activities are thoughtfully planned and supervised by educators to guarantee each student is excelling in areas of critical analysis, decision making, social and intellectual engagement, and accountability.