Meet and Greet the New Leader

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

In March, Dr. Dennis Thompson came to Rockford as the first superintendent to be hired since the end of the federal desegregation lawsuit ended and court control relinquished in 2002, but now he has a whole host of new problems on his plate from huge budget deficits to staff reductions and watch lists.

Thanks to a “Meet and Greet” organized by the Golden Apple Foundation and the League of Women Voters, the superintendent is making sure the community knows what his plans are for the district.

Another tough crowd of parents, teachers and community members got a chance to meet and greet Dr. Dennis Thompson with their concerns.

One teacher states, "We say to the kids there's no child left behind, but left behind for what?"

In his fourth appearance to field questions Dr. Thompson touched on school choice, the need for a high school on the northeast side and how to increase student achievement.

Tom Lasley with the Golden Apple Foundation says, "It's more informal and a chance to have a one on one talk with Dr. Thompson. It's a great way to have access to someone they may not normally have access to."

For many in this audience this is their first face to face encounter with our new leader. After the meeting many say they walked away with a good first impression.

Louise Hennessy has nine grandchildren none of which attend Rockford public schools. She says until there are changes she wants her grandchildren to stay in private schools, but after meeting Dr. Thompson and hearing his ideas she says she’s beginning to see the differences in the district.

Louise says, “Here's a man who is talking about situations here and refers to those things saying ‘I’. And rather than a negative ‘I’, I look at that as a positive. When you use ‘we’ you spread disappointments and failures. He's willing to roll up his sleeves by saying ‘I’ will be personally responsible for making things happen and that's important to me."

After the seven meet and greets Dr. Thompson hopes the community knows that under his new leadership this district can change.

Dr. Thompson told the audience, “We’ve watched this process work in other districts.”

You can make your thoughts known to the superintendent next Monday night. The next meet and greet will be Monday, November 30 at 7 p.m. at Ken-Rock Community Center.


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