Notes from the Regional Superintendent

May 19, 2014
Alternative Education Programs Senior Banquet Speech – 5/8/2014

Well, congratulations. Look at you. Look at what you are this close to achieving. How about that?! Let’s be frank here: there are some of you here that we did not think would make it. You think I’m kidding? Look at the person sitting next to you, they’ll confirm it for you. If not, look at one of your teachers. But you did. You did it. You finished. You set a goal and stuck to it. Yes, it may have taken Ms. Benhoff dragging your rather-be-sleeping-butt to school, or Mr. Brackett helping you finish your correspondence class or Ms. Sang begging you to finish your assignment or Ms. Debbie guilting you into apologizing for that remark you know you shouldn’t have said but dagnabit that chick deserved it! It was a lot of work by you and everyone around you but How about that?! You are this close to finishing a big step and stepping off into a new direction. Before you make that next giant leap, I want to make sure that you got the really good stuff you need to know down pat. I want to take just a few minutes to remind you of the super-important lessons you have learned and make sure you don’t forget a single one. These are the super-important things that you were taught every single day. These are the lessons we’ve been trying to teach you that aren’t measured by paper/pencil test. These are the lessons that measure how you will succeed in life. They’re the lessons you’ve been hearing at home all your life but chose to ignore them until you came to AEP and we’ve been shoving them down your throat ever since. I like to call these, “Top 9 Critical Lessons of AEP, or “Things Your Mama Told You So” or “Old Sayings that You Are So Tired of Hearing but Here They Are Anyway, So Get Over it.”

1. You get out of it what you put into it. That’s right, you’re going to have to work. Whether you continue in school or service or employment, you will have to work. Even if you’re not earning a grade, you will be earning a paycheck. And ‘earn’ is the critical word here. Get to work. We expect you to work. Put down your cell phone and get to work. You think Ms. Kidd was tough on telling you to get busy? Wait till you work for the guy who has no clue what Facebook is and could care less if your friend just texted you wanting to know the phone number of that cute guy that was next to you at the gas station last night. Get busy and get to work.

2. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Yes, act happy even if you’re not. No one at your job or next to you in class at college or in the barracks at your compound wants to see your sad little sappy face because you have to clean the latrine or do some homework or whatever. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and let’s face it – that sucks. But it happens and you still have to continue on with your daily life. But do so with a smile. It will make your day and everyone else’s go so much easier.

3. The early bird gets the worm. Okay, in all honesty, I am NOT the person to teach or preach on anyone getting anywhere on time. I am famously late. However, maybe that’s why I’m exactly the person to speak on it. The world will NOT wait on you. You will not get the second chance to impress the boss with your skills if the guy next to you already did it ten minutes ago. If you can’t make it to school on time, find a job that starts later in the day! Schedule college classes for the afternoon. And if you’re looking to join the service? Well, you’re in for a rude awakening. Get up and get busy and get there on time!

4. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. No, I’m not talking about your friends or whoever you hang out with. I’m not even talking about Mr. Long. I’m talking about being a team player. It’s about getting along with the guy next to you even if you would rather slap them than look at them. It’s about learning that this world does NOT revolve around you. It’s learning that many times walking away with a smile on your face for the comment in your head that is NOT coming out of your mouth is worth so much more than a quick retort that gets you fired or lowers your worth in your boss’s eyes. It’s about doing the right thing, not the easy thing. It’s about honest and ethical and grown-up; even when you’d rather just stomp your feet and stick out your lip.

5. Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It irritates the pig and wastes your time. Sometimes, you will simply have to take what happens to you and move on. Believe in yourself. All the people who helped you get here tonight? We believe in you. But we know that not everyone will. That’s okay. Don’t waste your time trying to teach that pig to sing. That’s life. That happens to all of us. Don’t waste your time trying to change opinions. Get busy making your plan, setting your goals, and working to reach those goals. Get busy living the life you want to have, not the one you think you have to have.

6. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. Many of you have faced some real obstacles to get where you are today. And all of you will face more in the next phase of your life. We all do. Did you know one of your teachers was ready to quit college after one semester because she hated it so much? And another vowed to never teach again after suffering through a horrible student teaching experience? And another ended up going to college twice because she couldn’t decide what she was supposed to with her degree? We all face different obstacles, different barriers, different fights. It’s up to you to decide how much fight is in you. You decide just how far you want to go. You choose to learn from mistakes, seek out opportunities, and try even harder the next time to reach the goal you want.

7. Were you raised in a barn? I don’t care what you think, no, you were not raised in a barn. I know this for a fact because most of you forget to close the refrigerator door and anyone born in a barn knows how important it is to close the gate. Manners mean something. Seriously. Please, thank you, no sir, yes mam, may I help you with that, you are very welcome – these simple sayings will do way more good for you than any fact or figure you can ever come up with. Be polite. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t be rude to people – even when you think they deserve it.

8. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It always looks like someone else has it easier or has it better. But you just never know. No one knows your whole story so certainly, you don’t know theirs. So quit looking over the fence and get busy writing your own story. With your own words, events, and memories. There is so much out there that you are capable of achieving. Quit moaning about it and start working towards it. We can’t wait to see what all you can achieve. We’ve already dreamed it for you; we’re just waiting for you to write the next chapter.

9. Actions speak louder than words. Now I’ve said a lot of nice things and you’ve all nodded your heads like an excellent audience does but the fact is, these words mean nothing. It’s up to you to do something. Make a choice. Make a good choice. Work for good consequences. Dig in and do something people. You can do it! You’ve got the skills to do amazing things – and we can’t wait to see them.

February 6, 2014
ISBE is seeking grades 6-12 science educators (practicing or retired) who are interested in writing model science curriculum focusing on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Framework for K-12 Science Education. A letter of invitation and an application form are available for review and download at

The application deadline is February 21, 2014.

September 4, 2013
Effective September 3, 2013 the ELIS system is ready for educators to apply, renew, register, and view credential information. Districts may also view educator credentials for verification purposes. Any changes made in the ECS system will be available in ELIS. The ELIS link is located at

ISBE provides numerous resources for educators to become familiar with the new Educator Licensing Information System:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Webinars, Presentations and Training:

Education Licensure in Illinois:

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