HIGHLAND PARK – Dr. Michael Lubelfeld’s enthusiasm to take on his new role as North Shore School District 112 superintendent is contagious, as he’s raring to face the district’s challenges head-on.
The District 112 Board of Education unanimously approved Lubelfeld’s hiring as superintendent at the December 12, 2017 meeting. The search for a new superintendent ended just over a year since former D-112 Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy announced his resignation.
Dr. Jane Westerhold and Edward Rafferty will continue to serve as co-interim superintendents until Lubelfeld’s contract begins on July 1, 2018.
Lubelfeld has been living in Deerfield for 14 years with his wife and two children, ages 13 and 10, and currently serves as District 109 superintendent for Deerfield public schools.
Highland Park residents will have the opportunity to meet Lubelfeld on Monday, February 12 at 7 p.m. at the District Offices, located at 1936 Green Bay Road in Highland Park. Light refreshments will be served.
DailyNorthShore chatted with Lubelfeld about how his past experiences as a Highland Park educator will help him tackle the issues that the district is currently facing.
DNS: As a former teacher and principal at Elm Place Middle School, how can you ease parents and students concerns about starting a new school when Elm Place closes at the end of the school year?
Lubelfeld:. On February 6, the board announced that current Elm Place Principal Heather Schumacher will be transitioning to Edgewood Middle School with the students as the co-principal at Edgewood. Part of the transition will include having a friendly and familiar leadership face in Mrs. Schumacher.
I’ve got a number of big tasks ahead of me as superintendent of schools, but the largest task is to help insure that the community has trust and faith in the board, administration, teachers and schools and the transition of Elm Place to Edgewood and Lincoln Elementary School to Indian Trail. These are very big changes for people and I want to reassure them that every decision I make is going to be based on the best educational, equal and equitable opportunities for all kids, while being sensitive to the fact that our decisions impact both our youngsters and also the families and community members that have multi-generational experiences here.
Plans are in process to preserve the history and legacies of Elm Place and Lincoln schools. One example of the district’s commitment to legacy preservation are the columns outside of Oak Terrace School. Those columns were from the original building and they were deliberately architecturally placed on the new building to make sure we never forget our past.
DNS: While you were teaching in D-112, you traveled overseas for recruitment and support of highly specialized dual language teachers. What are your views on the current dual language program?
Lubelfeld: I’m very proud of the nearly 30 year history of dual language programming in D-112, but I’m working with the current teaching and learning team to rethink the delivery model to make sure that we still have a dual language two-way immersion program. We want to help the English language learners learn and perform better in both English and Spanish and help our English native speakers maintain their biliteracy, biculturalism and bilingualism. I would like to realize the best results possible for all students, so we truly have bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural students who are engaged, performing well on assessments and can demonstrate fluency by the time they leave us.
DNS: During the 2018-19 school year, Deerfield public schools will offer free full-day kindergarten (FDK). How do you think the $2,500 cost will impact the first year of the program in HP?
Lubelfeld: It’s my understanding that (the district) is going to work internally to make sure to mitigate the impact of cost on enrollment so that any families in need will not be turned away for full-day. In Deerfield before the cost was phased out, we worked individually with families for whom finances were a challenge, and we did everything in our authority to not let family financial realities negatively impact our children’s ability to take part in FDK. I understand that D-112 does not want money to be an obstacle and will make sure that folks in need are not turned away.
DNS: Any advice for improving test scores on the PARC tests etc.?
Lubelfeld: I believe in an integrated approach to educating the whole child that involves educating and measuring their engagement and how satisfied children are in the educational environment. This includes having interventions to make sure we have their voice in the equation while offering teachers greater support in curriculum by aligning English language arts, Spanish Language Arts and mathematics to have a clear expectation of outcomes for children at every grade level.
DNS: What do you think will be your greatest challenge in D-112?
Lubelfeld: The greatest challenge is going to be helping the community redefine the office of superintendent and the change of moving the district from its current configuration to a longer range plan.
DNS: What are you most excited about coming back to HP as the new superintendent?
Lubelfeld: I’m so proud to be coming back after working here for 13 years. I’m excited about having the opportunity to help restore trust in the public education system, in NSSD 112 and to help restore the students and teachers to a stature of greatness that we’ve long enjoyed. We’re going to get back to where we should be.