'A privilege to be a part of the community': Lindsey Hall reflects on first year as M-S superintendent

Fifteen school days stand between Lindsey Hall and the completion of her first school year as the superintendent of Mahomet-Seymour schools. Though her tenure began July 1, 2017, the completion of the 2017-18 school year marks a significant one for Hall as she will celebrate 30 years in education.

To mark the end of her first year as the M-S superintendent, The Mahomet Citizen sat down with Hall to discuss the school year.

1: What would you consider your biggest accomplishment this year?

We've done a number of things this year that have been really positive changes and things that will continue this district on a path of continual improvement.

Some of the most positive things that happened are not necessarily major events or big initiatives, but I would say on a daily basis our teachers, other support staff and principals that work with our kids are the best thing that happens.

In terms of facilities, I was fortunate to start in the district at a time when a beautiful new addition to Middletown Prairie Elementary started. It is a state of the art learning facility — not many school districts are blessed with the resources (sales tax) to do this.

 

2: What has been the hardest part of being superintendent?

Some of the most challenging things for any superintendent are the misinformation and misperceptions that are out there, especially on social media.

Sometimes it's very frustrating to try and counter that. I understand that there are absolutely times when folks think that we could communicate more.

Often, we're still gathering factual information when there is a competing demand to release information. This has been one of the first years in my career when there has been positive news about school funding in Illinois, so that's a refreshing change.

 

3: You mention communication challenges; what are some of the difficulties you face?

Sometimes it's learning that wrong information, false information and rumors are out there and that's certainly frustrating, because sometimes it concerns people and even students.

The other thing, too, I think the vast majority of people understand is that issues with students and issues with personnel always have two sides to the story.

As a school district, we're not in a position ethically or legally to ever tell, nor would we ever want to share, that information.

The individuals involved are afforded the privacy and confidentiality that everyone should have. Often, we all need to take a step back and have the consideration and realization that there's more information to situations to which the public doesn't have access.

4: How do you feel you best communicate information to the public?

When situations come up in our schools, we use our best judgment as professionals in dealing with and communicating all aspects of managing and handling the daily occurrences that go on in public schools.

My hope is that we're learning and growing. I'm not opposed to making changes and listening to suggestions. Some of the things that have happened have caused us to say, 'Alright, we need change this or this.' We're not perfect, but serving the public is always a work in progress and a journey.

The board has been committed to increasing communication and transparency, which includes livestreaming the board meetings, sending out the agendas to all of our parents and all of our staff, the opportunity I have to write a column for the Mahomet Citizen, creating more presence on social media, pushing out more information on our live feed, Twitter and Facebook; connecting in our Bulldog Dialogue, which is a town hall forum and we have a third one coming up May 14.

I also started Coffee and Conversation with the staff of each building, which I do three times per year in each building.

There's always something to learn and suggestions to be taken, but I really commend the board for making changes that frankly aren't always comfortable. It has been with the intent and effort to invite people to what we do and to hear about what we do, ask questions and come to the meetings and gatherings.

 

5: What are some of the "wow" moments of this year?

We have success stories in our classrooms every single day. I'm always reassured that our mission as a school district is being met. In addition, I am surrounded by a great team of people in our district. Our staff is incredible.

The biggest wow moment this year is the new Evidence Based Funding model. For years, Illinois ranked near the bottom of our 50 states in terms of equitable funding for all students served in public schools. We took a massive leap forward when the new funding model was signed into law last August.

A close second has been watching the Phase II addition be built, and selling Sangamon for $750,000.

 

6: Having served other communities and school districts, what's unique about Mahomet-Seymour?

The community's support of the schools is very unique and special. The schools are such an integral part of the fabric of life in Mahomet-Seymour.

Our community comes into our school and sees our kids and provides incredible support in so many ways — including financial.From an economic standpoint, Mahomet-Seymour is the largest employer in our community and we're one of the 20 largest employers in Champaign County. It can't be overlooked that there is an economic impact on the local community and beyond. It's a privilege to be a part of the community.

 

7: What's your vision for the 2018-19 school year?

It will be very exciting and somewhat of a relief in completing the Phase II construction. It's the beginning of a new journey, and I look forward to Middletown Prairie becoming a pre-K through second-grade building.

It's also exciting to welcome new employees to our team. I'm looking forward to working with our new leaders, teachers and other staff members who are starting next year, as well as our personal-devices initiative with our sixth- through 12th-graders getting Chromebooks in the fall — that is incredibly valuable in terms of their educational experience they get before graduating high school. We want them to be fully prepared.

 

8: If you had to have a legacy at Mahomet-Seymour, what would it would be?

My legacy would be centered around students, in that they were afforded the opportunity to have a welcoming, warm experience in schools, that they thrived academically, socially and emotionally and that our students, families, staff and community were served well by having Lindsey Hall as a superintendent.

Categories (2):News, Education

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