RCS board discusses instructional coaching and school safety

The Rantoul City Schools board welcomed recent hires Amy Hayden (prekindergarten administrator), Nakia Benson (technology director) and Wendy Starwalt (Pleasant Acres principal) at its Thursday meeting.

RANTOUL — The Rantoul City Schools board had a busy meeting Thursday night with presentations given on a number of topics. Among the subjects covered educational programming and facility safety improvements.

New-teacher mentoring has played a role in educational programming at RCS this year.

Rachel Palmer, a special education teacher at Eastlawn Elementary, started this year as a mentor at the elementary buildings and worked with four special education teachers — two at Broadmeadow and two at Northview. The teachers held monthly meetings about particular needs from the teachers.

“Things that the new teachers needed help (included such things as) materials, curriculums, schedules, how to handle teacher aides and how to create their schedules,” Palmer said.

Other areas included how to conduct individualized education program meetings, how to do all the IEP paperwork and their evaluations.

“I really enjoyed this opportunity and I hope it’s something that the district continues,” Palmer said.

Also discussed was instructional coaching that involves partners helping teachers to improve their teaching skills and learning how to increase student success.

A total of 149 teachers have been coached. A survey found that 91 percent of those teachers felt supported by their instructional coach.

Shana McQuade, a first-year bilingual teacher at RCS, said she appreciated the assistance she received from instructional coach Jenny Jameson. Jameson was a mentor at Eastlawn Elementary until last December when she stepped into the role of instructional coach.

“I was struggling to merge the Spanish curriculum as a bilingual teacher with very little experience,” McQuade said. “Jenny was always there to look for new resources and help me rethink about the resources that I already had. She made sure that I felt like I was doing the absolute best for my students.”

This particular new teacher induction program was a part of the district improvement plan that aimed to retain teachers in RCS.

“We are looking at our data as to how do we get quality teachers to stay here, and I think it has been very successful this year from the feedback we have gotten,” Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Frerichs said.

Shannon Clarke, facilities supervisor, updated the board on security measures that have been implemented at RCS.

Clarke said the district would like to increase security by developing a secure vestibule, to identify and deny any entry to unauthorized people carrying any  weapons. Phase one of the security project beings in the summer.

“We are wanting to install level-four bulletproof glass with bullet-resistant frame to Eastlawn and Pleasant Acres this summer,” Clarke said. “The following summer we would like to do Broadmeadow and Northview. We have been working not only with the architect but with the police department as well on this.”

Superintendent Michelle Ramage said the anticipated cost for the first phase of the project is below $50,000.

“We are anticipating about $40,000 for that project,” Ramage said. “All the rest for next year we will need to bid that out, because it will be beyond the (bidding) threshold. We have a long time to get that taken care of. These are two projects we need to be doing very quickly this summer.”


Effective Aug. 13, the board announced the hires of Marienne Luquis (bilingual teacher at Pleasant Acres), Cassandra McConkey (special ed teacher at Broadmeadow), Gabriele Cooper (social worker), Emily McMillan (special ed teacher at Eastlawn), Erik Fostino (social worker at Pleasant Acres) and Natonja Wells (social worker at JW Eater).

Taylor Vogelsang will be switching from a teacher to a instructional coach at Pleasant Acres, and Errika Garlisch will switch from Broadmeadow to Pleasant Acres.

The board also announced the resignations of Rachel Ballard (special education teacher at Northview), Robin Gardner (teacher at Broadmeadow), Margaret Weidner (teacher at Pleasant Acres), Michelle Stalter (teacher at Pleasant Acres), Jenna Mahoney (social worker at Pleasant Acres), Stephanie Dillman (teacher at Broadmeadow), Lisa Chaddock (special ed teacher at Pleasant Acres), Emily Wiler (teacher at Northview), Jodi Minion (teacher at JW Eater) and Kelsey Rademacher (bilingual teacher at Eastlawn).


— Centralized registration at J.W. Eater will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 1.

— New teachers set up their classroom with instructional coaches Aug. 5

— The next regular board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 20 at the central office.