Bremen School District 228 Superintendent Dr. Bill Kendall oversees a business that has more than 500 employees and a more than $80 million dollar budget—but what, exactly does he do?
While it'd be easy to say Kendall's job deals mainly with overseeing the district and managing its staff, there is a bit more to it than that.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Patch tagged along with Kendall as he went about his daily activities, gaining an insight into Kendall's role in the district.
Kicking off the day, Kendall welcomed former administrators from around the area to a Rising Stars meeting at the Bremen district offices.
The meeting, which happens bi-weekly, dealt with various criteria for school improvement and academic success. Kendall said that the meetings mainly focus on longterm goals, but also touch on short-term steps towards those goals as well, with a focus on differentiated instruction.
“What we're trying to do is bring the best-practiced structure to the district,” Kendall said. “Education isn't a one-size-fits-all thing.”
The meeting, which Kendall attended for more than an hour and a half, was a top-down overview of what projects are currently in place in the district and ensures that district administration is all on the same page.
“All of our goals are aligned, we're all doing the same work,” Kendall said.
From there, Kendall hit the road to Oak Forest High School, for a building Rising Stars Meeting. The meeting served almost as a continuation of the previous one, only this time dealing strictly with OFHS. The meeting was attended by Kendall, two other district administrators, several OFHS teachers, Principal Brad Sikora and Assistant Principal Savka Mladenovich and others.
“We're working on weaving all the administration, teachers and students together to build a better district,” Kendall said. “This is a kind of trickle down from the previous meeting, you want to have success and success is measured in various areas.”
During the meeting, concerns were voiced over several educational topics that Kendall addressed with the group, particularly reading comprehension. Kendall spoke about the issue with the group, and what it meant to him to see that area improve.
“There's a passion to get it better right now, but the reality is there's a lot of systems stuff that has to go on,” Kendall said. “The students who struggle, struggle because they don't read. It's good to hear the teachers process that [students] are struggling with reading, instead of saying they're just lazy, bad kids. So, there's some empathy there and our role is how to help these kids.”
Both Kendall and Sikora pointed out several areas of improvement that have stemmed directly from these meetings and concerns voiced by teachers, including the Freshman Learning Center, which every freshman attends and features tutors in all subjects; the Bengal Academic Center, for upper classmen and mirrors the Freshman Learning Center, although it is not manditory to attend, and the Colleges and Careers Center at Oak Forest. All centers are designed to aid students who struggle in any area of schooling and help outline their futures.
Following the meeting, Kendall took a stroll around the school, interacting with each student and staff member he came across. Kendall said that by being out in the schools, he feels more connected to not only the staff, but the students as well, and feels it is a integral part of his job.
“I'm not just in my office, hanging out looking for trouble,” he said. “Two times a week I'm out at the schools, walking around, seeing students and interacting with them.”
Wrapping up Patch's day with Kendall, Kendall reflected on his duties and his role in the district.
“If I thought that I could demand and dictate every behavior and everything people do, you'll drive yourself crazy,” he said. “You're a part of a big system, an important part, but simply a part. .. I know what I'm doing, the board knows what it's doing. I'm pretty open in what we do. I'm comfortable with what we're doing because we're doing it for the kids.”