Welcome from the Superintendent
Denise Herrmann, Ed.D.
Our mission is to develop graduates who are DARING, where students explore and discover personal journeys to meaningful post-secondary pursuits.
I am proud to be the superintendent of Community High School District 128. My educational philosophy and professional experiences are well aligned with the D128 Mission Statement: to develop graduates who are DARING - where students explore and discover personal journeys to meaningful post-secondary pursuits. We are:
Great school leaders implement change successfully. World-class school leaders sustain change beyond their tenure. My legacy of system improvement has influenced generations of students, teachers, and future leaders. I can identify improvement initiatives that I implemented five or ten years ago that have survived changes in principals, central office leadership, and school boards. From project-based learning, integrated coursework, and inclusive practices - to performance-based hiring protocols, transparent budgeting, and empowering teacher leadership, I have made a lasting, positive impact on the school systems I served.
Throughout my tenure as an education leader I have demonstrated a strong commitment to serve ALL students well – particularly those traditionally underserved in our high schools. Although our school-wide achievement data was extraordinarily high, we still had significant achievement gaps for our students of color, low socio-economic status, and with disabilities. The changes we made were systemic, not cosmetic, and continued to help us close the achievement gap:
- Coordinated the District’s action plan in response to Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolution Agreement regarding Bullying and Harassment of students based on race, skin color, ethnicity, and religion, including: cultural competency training for all staff, cultural awareness classroom lessons, students forums and focus groups, administrator investigation training, revision of policies and procedures, and creation of FUSD Equity Team.
- Accountability for ALL Students - Developed and maintained district Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) through effective parent engagement, responsible allocation of resources, and successful implementation of interventions.
My desire to return to the Midwest was prompted by both personal and professional reasons. During the stay-at-home period of COVID-19, I realized that life is too short to be separated from your family and life-long friends and that it’s OK to listen to your heart and come home. I returned to Illinois in July 2020 and am now thrilled to be serving as the superintendent in D128, where I can make a positive difference as I enter the last decade of my career.
I am a systems thinker. I have identified dysfunctional aspects of workflow, procedures, structures and systems; realigned them to fit current educational realities/goals; and then developed plans to implement the new changes.
- Restructured the roles/duties of the administrative team to refocus time and energy on student learning, instructional leadership, and curriculum development
- Redesigned the student services department to form teams, comprised of dean, counselors, social worker, psychologist, and nurse, who collaborate to provide wrap around services to students
- Reboot of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) framework including: enhanced teacher collaboration, common planning time, regular examination of assessment data, and additional support students who struggle
I work to ensure that each interaction I have with students, staff, and parents is highly respectful and demonstrates genuine warmth, caring, and sensitivity to people’s individual needs. I frequently visit classrooms, attend athletic and theatre events, and host parent coffees. I am able to interact professionally and tactfully with staff, students, and parents. For example, following the death of three students by suicide, my district called upon my facilitation and communication skills to lead several parent/community forums. This work required me to mediate emotionally charged conversations and to use carefully crafted paraphrases and questions to help people to see others’ points of view. It was essential for me to be an active participant in the dialogue that led to the healing of our school community.
While in Wisconsin, I started a partnership with the United Way of Dane County and The Urban League of Madison to determine effective ways to help disconnected youth reconnect to school and graduate. This experience allowed me to work with non-educators from across the county to seek innovative solutions to the challenging problem of why students disengage from high school.
I look forward to this opportunity to listen, learn and partner with you.
Denise Herrmann, Ed.D