BY ANANYA MURALI —
Recently, the Niche Ranking System evaluated schools all over the country based on factors such as academics, educational outcomes, resources, sports and teachers. The Shorewood School District and all of its schools received very high state rankings: the district ranked 4th, the high school ranked 5th, the intermediate school ranked 6th, Atwater ranked 12th and Lake Bluff ranked 6th.
“The Niche Rankings help support and confirm the fact that we have very high quality schools here in Shorewood,” said Ted Knight, chief advancement officer.
“Seeing our district ranked 4th among 420 plus districts in the state is a validation of the great learning opportunities our district offers.”
Bryan Davis, superintendent, points to the staff as the district’s biggest strength.
“I am proud of all our schools,” Davis said. “We are preparing students for their future, not our past.”
“The key to keeping our ranking high is to [have] a combination of great leadership, outstanding teachers and community members who care about their schools, and I think we have all of these key ingredients here in Shorewood,” Knight said.
According to Tim Kenney, principal, the ranking is not surprising.
“We have so many strengths,” Kenney said. “When we go and do stuff, we seem to do everything well. I don’t see really any areas of weakness, but we can always continue to improve.”
“There are so many ways that you can measure a school in how successful it is,” Kenney said. “So whenever there’s a ranking system that goes on, they have to pick just a [few] things and then make comparisons across schools. I wish there was a way to measure all the things. I would like to see the ratings take a lot more into consideration, like student involvement and co-curricular activities, club activities, the arts and diversity.”
According to Davis, this ranking not only fosters a sense of pride in the district, but also is something that families from out-of-state look at and notice.
“The rating helps us in recruiting staff and students to work and learn in Shorewood,” Davis said.
Kenney said the rankings are a positive representation of the district, but that they will not affect the progress and goals of administration.
“The work that we’re doing is working toward improvement and providing more opportunities for students, and it’s all about getting better and doing better,” Kenney said. “Rankings take care of themselves if we keep striving to improve.”
There will be several new additions to the high school curriculum next year, including AP Environmental Science, AP Music Theory, Project Lead the Way, and a visual journalism class that will be co-taught by Michael Halloran, english teacher, and Jeffery Zimpel, art department chair.
“That’s the start,” Kenney said. “But these things were underway before these rankings even came out.”
“It’s like when I coached the boys cross country team. Running at the state championship is just like running a school,” Kenney said. “On the day of the state championship, you’re not trying to win the state championship. What you’re trying to do is have your best performance on that day. Because if you perform to the best of your ability on that day as a team, then things like victories, first place finishes, that’s an outcome of something much bigger. It’s the same thing with running a school. We’re just going to keep on pushing and trying to improve from within, offer more courses for kids to take, and by doing that kind of thing, an outcome is high rankings.”