If you’ve spent any time at all reading the comments section in the various Shorewood Facebook groups, you are familiar with the fact that there are many passionate community members with varied opinions. While some may be inclined to shy away from engaging with diverse opinions, Shorewood Schools Superintendent, Laurie Burgos, has come in with a different approach. “I consider listening to diverse viewpoints and collaboration to be key leadership practices that drive my work. It has been a pleasure to meet so many Shorewood residents who wholeheartedly support our schools,” Laurie enthusiastically stated. If you’ve been to one of the listening sessions, board meetings, SEED Meet and Greets, or scheduled a personal meeting with Laurie, you know first hand that she’s committed to this principle.
We sat down with Laurie in early September to ask some challenging questions that have been asked over the past months by many Shorewood residents. We started by asking about her philosophy, besides listening to many stakeholders, at the top of her list is the advancement of our students. Laurie has a passion to see students thrive; an ambition she knows is only possible when all parties collaborate and work towards a common goal. “Every student deserves every opportunity to reach their full potential. We want our students to reach high levels of academic achievement, learn to engage in society, set goals, take care of themselves and others, and work to make the world a better place. As educators, everything we do should be in service to these ideas. In order to make this happen, nurturing positive relationships between and among students, staff, faculty, families, and community members is essential.”
If you’ve had a chance to read through Dr. Burgos’ entry plan, you know the first few months were dedicated to learning, listening, and evaluating. We asked her, based on her observations and the information she has, what she thinks are SSD’s biggest challenges. “With regard to academic achievement, persistent gaps exist for our Black students and students with disabilities that we will continue to address. I am interested in learning more about how we use data to inform instructional decisions and practices in SSD.” Laurie is excited to lead our district, specifically implementing one aspect of the district’s strategic priorities: ensuring that all students are receiving high quality, grade-level instruction. In order to do so, investing in professional learning opportunities for staff and updating curricular resources has been a critical part of making gains in these areas.
We also asked Laurie about the referendum, state budgeting for education, and the need for fundraising. “Inadequate state funding weighs heavily on public school districts, including Shorewood. This will continue to be a challenge for us,” stated Laurie. She went on to say, “with rising inflationary costs and minimal increases to special education reimbursement and per-pupil revenue from the State, school districts need to rely on alternative ways to advance their missions.” The referendum was a good first step meeting our operational costs while the district continues to find savings, but a gap nevertheless remains, and this is where donations and fundraising help to fill that gap.
This was the precise reason that over 20 years ago a group of Shorewood parents got together and started SEED, a non-profit that raises funds to offset the cost of giving our students high- quality, innovative education. While political will and funding capacity are constantly in flux in ways that challenge public education, the Shorewood SEED Foundation is a constant advocate for ensuring access to equitable and sufficient funding to support our kids and schools. “With funds from SEED donations, we have been able to continue to provide enriched learning experiences, resources, and special programs for our students. Education is the cornerstone of this community and investing in our children is vital for our future,” Laurie expressed.
Superintendent Laurie Burgos, along with SIS Principal Tiara Rogers, along with two Shorewood residents
Last year, the generosity of SEED donors made an impact in our student lives K-12 in several key areas; from professional development with the new Eureka math curriculum, to new microscopes, GoGuardian tech licensing, instruments for the music department, along with funding so many other important needs, such the Children’s Hospital Mental Wellness Initiative.
In total, SEED was able to give to the district almost $200K last year between Classroom Grants, District Funding, and Teacher Awards. When we total the giving since SEED’s inception, SEED donors have given over 4.5 million dollars to SSD! “Over the past 20 years, the funds raised by Shorewood SEED Foundation have been imperative in supporting the District’s educational goals and maintaining Shorewood’s tradition of excellence,” Laurie beamed. “I am very grateful to work in a community that wraps around its schools.”
This year SEED’s Annual Fund has an ambitious goal of raising 150K to empower our K-12 teachers in these key three areas:
- Additional Teacher Training and Support Materials for our updated math, science and social studies curriculum, impacting all grades and children K-12
- Expanded Classroom Libraries, curated by faculty and the District Librarian, to enrich the learning experience of every elementary student at Atwater and Lake Bluff, K-8.
- Activity Sponsorships, to continue the commitment to ensure no child is denied access to field trips, events and extracurricular programs that make our Shorewood Schools so exceptional, K-12
You can make a significant Impact for our Students & Teachers by donating to Seed’s Annual Fund by making a direct donation that will help get SEED to its goal for the 23-24 school year. You can learn more about SEED, by going to our website. Last but not least, please consider becoming a SEED volunteer, and/or attend one of many SEED events. Our next Meet and Greet is on Wednesday, November 15th, 7pm, at Three Lions Pub. SEED Meet and Greets are a fun way to get to know other parents in the community and find out more about our school district and how you can get involved. Laurie Burgos will also be in attendance and would love getting to know you. She looks forward to nurturing positive relationships between and among students, staff, families, and community members. If you would like to meet Dr. Burgos and learn more about SEED, please join us!