District 205 On the Right Road

Leadership. Service to others. Community Involvement. These were the themes that Interim Superintendent Robert Willis gave to the Rockford Chamber’s Government Affairs Council last Friday.

It was refreshing to hear this District 205 Chief talk in a way that made you convinced that he puts “its all about children’s learning”.  He has an Assistant Superintendent for Learning, Martha Hayes, a title that probably doesn’t exist in the State of Illinois.  Several of his new cabinet members were recruited back to Rockford, such as Matt Vosberg, a Rockford native, who returned from a stint at South Beloit High.

The whole idea is to help students learn; the Administration should help the Principals; the Principals should help the teachers; the Teachers should help the students and students should help each other.  Bullying is not to be tolerated nor is failure. In his view, kids want to learn and parents love their kids.  Its just that parents may not always know how to help their kids learn. 99% of the kids want to learn but we always hear about the 1% who don’t.

A key point of his forward thinking regarding communication is to let the community know about the “pockets of excellence” that occur in the schools but are unknown to the public.  example are the recent graduates that will be attending Harvard.  he has also committed to the news media that the doors are always open for them to come in and see what is taking place; as long as no disruption takes place.  This will certainly assist in getting the good news out into the public arena.

Creating partnerships with the community and meeting the needs of the workplace is high on his list.  Through the Visualize 2015 approved plan, he and staff will be developing a Strategic Plan that will become their Implementation Plan.  This will include ways to inform parents and thus children of available careers that they will be offering.

Supt. Willis is a firm believer that the school board must control the system and make sure that the needs of the community are being met by the school administration.  With school board elections coming up in 2013, it will be important to get qualified candidates that will continue to develop and implement programs of improvement in learning and achievement.

How can the community help?  By getting involved in the several committees that are open to them, by becoming math mentors in Lincoln and East High, by being good ambassadors whenever a new resident or business wants to locate in Rockford.

His measure of a successful school program?  When a new resident or business say they want to move into Rockford because of the schools!

I look forward to continued good progress in District 205.



  1. What a breath of fresh air Bob.

    If the new superintendant will be responsible for implementing and successfully applying the school board’s agenda we need to know at all times what that vision and direction is. No more behind the scene deal making by either side.

  2. Mike; thanks for the comment. My impression in listening to Dr. Willis as well as a few comments from board member Tim Rollins is that, yes, the process will be open to everyone. You may be aware, there are several standing committees that include community members and are open to the public. And he was clear that the board sets direction.

  3. Wester Wuori

    Thanks for writing this Bob. I was in attendance on Friday and was very impressed with the message from Dr. Willis and the comments from Matt Vosburg as well. Both seem to have a clear vision about the direction in which they are taking the school district. We need the community to continue to become more involved in our schools. Whether you have kids in the district or not, it is imperative that the school district succeed.

  4. Wester; thanks for the comment. I agree that the community needs to be involved, kids in the district or not. BTW, I live in Boone County, yet my business is in Rockford and I, like you, feel the obligation to assist in any way. We need more of us!