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Interim Superintendent For Racine Unified Calls On Community To Partner With District

“We have been doing some right things, and we need to continue to do some right things,” said Dr. Ann Laing, interim superintendent for Racine Unified.

More than 100 teachers and community stakeholders gathered on Oct. 11 for the district’s fifth-annual State of the District Address.

It was those community members that Interim Superintendent Dr. Ann Laing singled out as the most important partner for the district moving forward. Racine Mayor John Dickert echoed those thoughts in remarks he delivered to attendees.

“In the city of Racine, we focus on partnerships and we focus on working together,” Dickert said. “One of the first things that Dr. Laing did was she came in and met with me, and said, ‘How are we going to work together to create a better Racine?’”

The district remains committed to embracing the North Star vision for its students, as well as data-driven, student-focused learning models, Laing said. At the same time, Laing said Unified must continue to improve student learning, build staff capacity, manage and align resources and continue to engage students, parents and the community.

“We have been doing some right things, and we need to continue to do some right things,” Laing said. “We need to continue to improve student learning by helping students to understand that they belong. We have to help them understand they have a responsibility for learning.”

Laing also identified three recommendations for academic achievement that the district would continue to work toward:

  • continue progress in writing achievement
  • improve literacy and mathematics instruction
  • improve student engagement and career education.

Still, academic success has a direct correlation with how engaged the district is with students and the community, Laing stressed.

“We need to change the conversation in the community by focusing on the positive things that are happening,” Laing said. “We call on the entire community to join us in focusing on our children. Parents can help their children succeed by being positive role models.”

Community agencies like the United Way, YMCA and John XXIII Center can also help provide moral support, tutoring, mentoring, counseling and after-school activities, Laing added.

“It is the job of every one of us to help parents and students make connections to programs that can help them to be more successful in school and in life,” Laing said. “If we are going to prosper as a community, educating every child to succeed is a must, not a choice.”

Several Unified principals also spoke about achievements made as part of school improvement programs. Horlick Principal Angela Apmann, for example, spoke about changes made to the school’s freshman transition program.

“In the year 2009-2010, we calculated that 49 percent of our freshmen had one or more Fs,” Apmann said. “So we created a freshman cohort, and those students have four core teachers who provide study skills. And we built those relationships.”

The theme of relationship building came full circle when Laing expressed her thoughts on how the district and the city could move forward with their plans. She referenced a book that Dickert gave her at a previous meeting, Schools Can’t Do It Alone.

“We need to have a more positive perception of the district,” Laing said. “We have to work together [with Racine] to reach out and collaborate. We’ll start by looking to extend learning activities beneficial to students outside of school time.”

Tom October 13, 2011 at 02:55 AM
RUSD leadership must be replaced.
Tom October 13, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Dr. Laing is a deer in the headlights with no idea where to go. The RUSD leadership must go.
Tom October 13, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Dr. Laing is a benchmark for the BEST that RUSD can muster to lead the organization. How embarrassing ... how pathetic.
Tom October 13, 2011 at 02:59 AM
This travesty of directionless leadership must come to an end. This is clearly why an academic cannot lead RUSD ... more of the same pathetic leadership.
Karen Itzenhuiser October 13, 2011 at 05:12 AM
If they are looking for real change and are serious when they say that "it's about the children", then instead of the teachers crying about how hard of a job they have, let's start at the begining. Schools are supposed to create a learning environment. You want action, well you're not going to get it unless some serious changes are made. First of all, let the people know what REALLY goes on in the course of a day especially in our high schools. The community needs to be shook up and shocked into action. Let them know about how many times in a day the police are called to break up fights. Let them see pictures of the senseless damage that these kids are doing to our buildings. They call it damage control and never print any of the trouble in our newspaper...how are people supposed to know what goes on if they can't read about it or see proof. People that work for RUSD, other than the teachers, are afraid to say anything in fear of losing their jobs or creating a problem. How ridiculous is that? It's past time that these things are brought out in the open to the public. I suggest that they should meet the biggest problems head-on. Make those that are in power responsible to report to the community....not by calling a meeting but by printing the real story. Then you'll see some action when a meeting is called after the community is informed. When the community sees real change, RUSD might get the support it's in desperate need of. We want action...show us some.

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