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It’s an honor for a school district to have one school designated as a National Blue Ribbon School–Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 in west suburban Chicago has had five NBRS celebrations over the past 7 years, with Sandburg Middle School winning a second time in 2013.

Secrets of the district-wide success include an aligned K-12 curriculum and testing all aimed at college readiness, and strong teamwork among teachers, according to Superintendent David Pruneau.

“Teachers don’t collaborate because they have to, but because they want to at Sandburg,” said Principal Amy Read. “We haven’t gotten to this point in isolation from Elmhurst’s other schools, though.”

Sandburg Middle School teachers working with other Elmhurst District 205 teachers at a Professional Learning Community summer workshop. Photo: Dr. Al Bertani. Pictured. L to R: Marie Zelek, Jackson Elementary School art teacher; Gail Blubaugh, Hawthorne Elementary School 2nd grade teacher; Elizabeth Marcellus, Sandburg Middle School math teacher; Frank Dahlman, Sandburg English teacher; Theresa Cohen and Regina Hughes, both Sandburg Language Arts teachers.
Sandburg Middle School teachers working with other Elmhurst District 205 teachers at a Professional Learning Community summer workshop. Photo: Dr. Al Bertani. Pictured. L to R: Marie Zelek, Jackson Elementary School art teacher; Gail Blubaugh, Hawthorne Elementary School 2nd grade teacher; Elizabeth Marcellus, Sandburg Middle School math teacher; Frank Dahlman, Sandburg English teacher; Theresa Cohen and Regina Hughes, both Sandburg Language Arts teachers.

As an example, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Charles Johns noted that Elmhurst’s Churchville Middle School is leading the way for other District 205 middle schools, including Sandburg, with its innovative technology practices like a Googlechrome books pilot program. That program – aimed at streamlining classwork and homework — is exciting kids about learning, and improving teacher training, he said.

“Sharing has become viral,” said Johns, of the pilot’s impact on teachers and students alike.

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