image courtesy of District 211
During the nationwide pandemic, educators have been forced to rethink how best to instruct students. District 211 now looks to new superintendent Dr. Lisa Small to provide leadership during these unprecedented times.
After serving as superintendent since 2014, Dr. Dan Cates retired at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Now, Dr. Small is tasked with ensuring the district’s educational, financial, and operational success. Despite the pandemic changing many facets of school life, District 211’s main goal remains unchanged, to educate and provide for students a multitude of opportunities to prepare them for their futures.
“Our goal is to focus on effective ways to give our students opportunities to prepare them for their next steps when they leave D211,” Dr. Small said.
Although this is her first year as Superintendent, Dr. Small is not new to D211. She has held held several positions in classroom and as an administrator before stepping into her new role.
Dr. Small began her career at Hoffman Estates High School teaching both science and math as well as coaching volleyball. She then became assistant principal at Hoffman Estates and William Fremd High Schools. Later, Dr. Small served the district as the Director of Instructional Improvement, before returning to Fremd to become principal. Eventually, she became associate superintendent before being hired as superintendent.
“The component I bring is that because I have had different positions at different schools throughout my career, I have been connected to each one of those areas as a teacher and as an administrator,” Dr. Small explained. “As I sit in my current position, I have first-hand experience with me to facilitate change or decisions.”
Of course, despite her previous experience, stepping into the role of superintendent at this time must be daunting. Yet, Dr. Small has been able to view the situation in a positive light.
“If I could find a silver lining, it would be that I am involved in so many details that are changing, which has allowed me to learn those details,” Dr. Small explained. “If this wasn’t a remote year, I might not have been so involved in, for example, knowing the details behind how our transportation runs or the details behind our operations and maintenance, the cleaning. We are changing, ensuring, and modifying, and I’m a part of the conversation at a granular level.”
In addition to her responsibilities as superintendent, Dr. Small spends time pursuing her passions.
“My husband and I raise chickens, hogs, cattle, bees, turkeys, horses, dogs, one llama, and one alpaca,” Dr. Small explained. “I’ve been doing that for about the past 15 years and it is a hobby that takes us outside. Both my husband and I like to try to create different environments for our animals; we are always looking for effective, environmentally-friendly ways to raise our animals that still give them a very good life and a chance for us to interact with them,” she said.
This year is different and will bring numerous challenges, but one thing will always remain true: Dr. Small and other D211 teachers and staff are working their hardest to bring students the best quality education possible.