Student engagement and RPS 205 academies: A no-brainer

The benefit of the high school academy concept is obvious when it comes to college and career preparation. But Michael Mendoza pointed out another advantage of academies in the Rockford Public Schools: being around people who like the things you like. Mendoza, who graduated from Jefferson High School last month, spoke at the Academy Awards Dinner June 3 at Riverfront Museum Park. Mendoza was in the Health Sciences Academy at Jefferson. He told about 130 attendees at the dinner that, as a junior, the HS Academy led him to engage in school, get...

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Welsh principal leads students to college, careers

Maurice Davis, the principal of Welsh Elementary School, taught history at Jefferson High School for five years. He’ll never forget asking a graduating senior what his plan was. “I’m done,” the student said. “I did what I needed to do.” But tomorrow you have nowhere to go, Davis told him. The student seemed unfazed. Davis didn’t know then he would end up as an elementary principal in the Rockford Public Schools. But once he arrived to lead Welsh in 2012, he knew he could help students find focus and direction earlier in their lives. His...

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Jefferson still helping the planet with solar power

Solar panels at Jefferson High School have saved 1.05 megawatt hours of electricity so far this year. That’s about the same amount of electricity used by 330 homes in one hour. Even more impressive: Since the four panels were installed on Jefferson’s roof in spring 2013, they have realized carbon savings equal to planting 35 trees. I know the totals because Dallas Turner kept his promise to me. After I wrote a blog item on the panels in September, he promised he’d send the monthly energy production reports,  even though he wasn’t at...

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RPS superintendent is among top NIU alumni

With the last day of school Monday, Superintendent Ehren Jarrett marks the end of his first year leading the Rockford Public Schools. Many readers know Dr. Jarrett as the face of the district, the leader whose appointment in 2012 signaled stability in school leadership and faith in homegrown talent. They may not know how humble he is. It was a Friday late in April that Dr. Jarrett slipped out of the building enroute to De Kalb. Those who knew where he went weren’t talking. But, as a former newspaper person, I had a secret weapon: Keep...

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