Barrington 220

Dr. Brian Harris is the superintendent of Barrington 220 schools. He may be reached at bharris@barrington220.org, or by phone at 847-842-3588. Photo courtesy of: Barrington 220

2014

September/October 2014

Setting the Vision for Barrington 220

When Barrington 220 students and staff returned to the classroom in August, a new superintendent of schools welcomed them. Dr. Brian Harris took over the position on July 1 following Dr. Tom Leonard’s retirement.
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July/August 2014

Adelante Academy Builds Solid Foundations

Barrington 220 Latino students are invited to a notable summer academy to jump-start their post-secondary education. This unique program, offered by Barrington 220 in partnership with Harper College and Motorola Solutions, has helped many students achieve college-level success that they never thought would be possible.
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May/June 2014

A Place to Start

Believe it or not, I get a lot of email messages; many from parents, some from staff, others from companies wanting to do business with the school district, notices from state and federal agencies, even a few pleas from students during wintry weather advocating for a snow day.
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March/April 2014

Cheeseburgers in Outer Space

It is funny how the human mind can make connections between memories, concepts, thoughts, and moments in time. With that said, I pose the question: What could Jimmy Buffet, teacher pension reform, NASA, and the Hall of Fame have in common? Not much, unless you were doing a mind meld (via Spock of Star Trek fame) with me in August 2013.
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January/February 2014

Newfound Photos, First-grade Fears, and a Reassuring Teacher

Early one evening, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I was in my office reading and answering the explosion of emails that often occur throughout the day. Everyone experiences the flood of advertisements we can delete, and the multitude we are copied on, which are easy to eliminate.
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2013

November/December 2013

Trenches, Trombones, and a Trilogy of Family Musicians

Journal entry, near the Rouge Bouquet Wood in France near Baccarat, Meurthe-et-Moselle:

"March 7, 1918: Sun. Went to the 3rd line trenches to play for Lieutenant Jordan's funeral. Afterwards, able to take shower, first in 4 weeks."

In the previous edition of Quintessential Barrington, I mentioned my maternal grandfather, Frank (Gorassi) Forte. While my grandfather and I only shared a short chapter of our inherited history, I believe much of who I am is attributed to him and to the generations who preceded me. I can explain.
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september/october 2013

Thriving, Not Just Surviving

For many years, there was a solid, but limited, relationship between Harper College and area school districts, particularly 211, 214 and Barrington 220. We were able to share some resources in the vocational domain, but as budgets became tighter and fewer students pursued certain trades and vocations, the districts pooled some federal funding to host specialty classes in our own high schools.
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July/August 2013

The Difference a Dog Makes

When I was a child, my first dog was named Bingo, at least for his first several weeks in our home. Unfortunately, Bingo was never able to do anything right. When you would say, "sit," he would come. Say, "come," and he would sit. Say, "stay," and he would rollover. We tried to adjust for Bingo's backwards understanding of our instructions, but his transposed hearing persisted.
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May/June 2013

Open Doors and Open Minds

One Monday morning many years ago, when I was a freshman at Notre Dame High School in Niles, the principal announced that U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy would visit our school to speak to students later in the week. At an all-boys Catholic high school, an appearance by any member of the Kennedy family was a big deal. JFK had been president; Robert had been a U.S. senator and attorney general and, had he not been assassinated in 1968, he, too, may have become president. Ted was the last surviving Kennedy brother and was considering a run for the White House. For a young high school freshman interested in politics, this was exciting news.
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March/April 2013

Call Me Maybe

Those of us with a few years under our belts probably recall being sure of one thing or another, only to be surprised by life. Few of us married the first person we dated or entered the profession we originally thought was ideal for us. When I was a kid and adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was never "a school superintendent." I always wanted to be a cowboy, although I'm sure there are many horses (and cows) out there much better off thanks to the unexpected trajectory of my career path.
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January/February 2013

Looking Over the Rainbow

Those close to me know of the few passions I try to pursue whenever I can squeak out some free time, such as playing the piano. I love the great American standards, particularly when performed on a lone keyboard in a quiet room. The slow, romantic, and sometimes melancholy refrains are my favorites. Many of these classics from the 1930s and '40s were simultaneous with timeless musicals and movies.
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2012

November/December 2012

Pins and Needles, Sticks and Stones

I don't watch much TV, but if I were able to catch an old TV show for a good laugh, I would probably opt for a rerun of The Honeymooners. Jackie Gleason starred as Ralph Kramden, a well-meaning but brash Brooklyn bus driver and faithful husband of Alice. Of all the classic episodes, my favorites have Ralph speaking without thinking … a habit he can't avoid. Many shows end with Ralph lamenting to himself and others about his big mouth.
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012

Technology, Like Mossy Trees, Helps Us Find True North

From generation to generation, certain constructs, items and methodologies disappear from our collective memory. We live in an era where so many methods of connecting with our environment – as well as each other – have changed rapidly and radically.
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JULY/AUGUST 2012

School Nurses: Entertaining Angels Unaware

My first encounter, or at least my first recollection of an encounter with nurses, came with an injury to my younger brother when we were kids. Bob – or Bobby as we called him then – was playing in the basement of our Niles home when he climbed up onto a utility sink and fell backwards, striking his head against the concrete floor.
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MAY/JUNE 2012

A buddy system without beeping balls or cabin curfews

Like all public school districts, Barrington 220 is responsible for meeting the needs of every student. We take that charge seriously, whether addressing the learning requirements of the average, gifted or challenged child.
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MARCH/APRIL 2012

Little Broncos at BHS

Tucked away in the lower level of Barrington High School is a unique program that serves a wide range of children and adults, students and staff. While it is not the typical classroom found in most high schools, it is a tiny place for tiny people that is something wonderful to witness.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012

Sunrise or Sunset? It depends.

Have you ever looked at photos of the sun on the horizon and wondered, “Is that a sunset or a sunrise?” There are obvious resemblances between the two when a snapshot is your only reference; clearly, a sunrise provides one viewpoint while a sunset offers a very different outlook. Having enjoyed a week of touring schools in China last November, I experienced the same perplexity as when looking at a picture of the sun on the skyline. The Chinese education system is very similar and yet also very different from ours. It all depends on your perspective.
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2011

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011

Life in the Past Lane

This time of year reminds me of a simpler era captured by nostalgic movies and TV shows, such as Miracle on 34th Street,It’s a Wonderful Life, Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

Confessions of a Kindergarten Stowaway

I recall many years ago when one of my earliest school experiences involved trying to connect with my classmates, teachers and school. I grew up in Niles and attended a public grade school a few blocks from my house. I loved my first year in kindergarten.
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JULY/AUGUST 2011

Treasures in the Soul of our Community

Late in April, I found myself in the principal’s office at Grove Avenue School. No I hadn’t done anything wrong; I was just there for a regularly scheduled “touch-base” meeting with the principal, Dr. Cindy Kalogeropoulos. I enjoy touring our schools because I always learn something new, when and where I least expect it. In this stop, the unforeseen lesson involved colorful paper, artistic surroundings, and some unabashedly honest fifth-graders.
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MAY/JUNE 2011

Figuring It Out

Life is full of do-overs, or “mulligans,” as they are known in golf. In education, we sometimes hear about “retaking the test.” The growing process (and I’d like to think we are all still growing, whether we’re 8 or 88) involves learning from our errors to avoid committing similar gaffes again in the future.
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MARCH/APRIL 2011

A Miracle on Maui

March and April are when winter finally releases its grip, flowers begin to emerge, and both high school and college basketball explode into the playoffs. For sports fans, this is an exciting season. For me, spring is a reminder of one of the worst high school teams to ever play the game of basketball. I remember the players well because I was their coach.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011

Coaching Moments Create a Culture of Mentoring

My fifth year out of college found me teaching math in the Crystal Lake Central and South high schools. I considered myself a proficient teacher, but there were still a few students I could not motivate. Granted, the ambiguous Law of Sines in trigonometry is not the most exciting topic to 16 year olds. Determined to reach them, I asked my students, “Who is the most motivating teacher or coach you’ve ever had?”
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2010

NOVEBMER/DECEMBER 2010

Looking Back

During this season of giving, I want to reflect on the generosity of the Barrington community that supports our schools while telling a little story from my childhood where the act of giving went awry.
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

Essential Skills

Critical thinking, communication and interpersonal skills are as relevant for students today as they were in early civilizations. Most experts agree some general aptitudes are timeless.
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JULY/AUGUST 2010

If I Were Superintendent

It seems that I am qualified to write this article for two reasons. First, Principal McWilliam’s assistant, Mrs. Zandi, is a friend of my family. Second, my name is Tom Leonard.
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MAY/JUNE 2010

Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman or Lady Gaga: Appreciating Art is a Timeless Tune 

A few weeks ago, a Barrington High School student participated in an evening presentation to the board of education. He attended in his tuxedo, having just played clarinet in a band concert down the hall in the school’s auditorium.
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MARCH/APRIL 2010

Outsmarted by a Squirrel

Because I’m a former math teacher, you may wonder, “What could he possibly know about gardening?” Well, the answer is, not much. However, I have developed an appreciation for gardens.
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JAN/FEB 2010

How Do I Call a Snow Day? Let Me Count the Ways

Before taking on this role, I always heard retiring superintendents say they would not miss deciding whether to close school due to increment weather.
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2009

NOV/DEC 2009

Listen to Your Mother... H.E.R.E in Barrington

When my mom, Lita, passed away six years ago, my brother, sister, and I wrote down what we called her “Lita-isms” — words of wisdom she gave to us during her lifetime.
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SEPT/OCT 2009

Unstructured Time + Family + Nature = Balance and Resiliency

As vacations end and a new year of classes begins, families with school-age children and all those who serve them in our schools once again experience the mad rush into tight schedules that leave little room for reflection.
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JULY/AUGUST 2009

Summer’s Graceful Pace

Everyone needs a vacation, although there are many interpretations of what a vacation is or should be.
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MAY/JUNE 2009

Learning Mandarin Chinese in the Midst of an Economic Crisis

The Mandarin Chinese word for crisis, “wēijī,” is comprised of two characters which some decipher to represent “danger” and “opportunity.”
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MARCH/APRIL 2009

When Green is All There is to Be 

With all due respect to Kermit the Frog, it’s not that hard being green. His melancholy made for memorable Muppet music but when it comes to conservation and preserving the environment, green is the shade every ecology-minded organization and citizen aspires to be these days.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009

Piano Lessons, Podcasts, and Public Engagementor

For the last eight years I have been trying to learn to play the piano. Once a week, along with many younger students, my teacher’s lessons help me discover the intricacies of this wonderful instrument.
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2008

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2008

For the Holidays: A Taste of Barrington 220 

The holidays are a special time where we give and often gather to enjoy a memorable feast. How many of us have fond memories of aromas wafting from the kitchen as our families prepared for these celebrations?
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008

Birth of the Barrington Community Stadium

As I came to work each day this summer from my home in Lake Barrington to the school district offices in the village, I often drove down Hart Road to watch progress on the new Barrington Community Stadium.
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JULY/AUGUST 2008

Summer: Relax, Then Get Ready

Summer…what a wonderful season. When I was a high school principal, I always made sure to position myself between the students and buses as the last bell rang to signal the beginning of summer vacation.
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MAY/JUNE 2008

The Longest Day: From Teaching High School to Surviving First Grade 

It starts with a tentative wave goodbye, a kiss blown from lips trying hard not to quiver, and steps that take us away from the ones we love the most. It’s the first day of school, and that scene describes both parents and children trying to cope with the transition from the familiarity of home to the great unknown that is school.
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MARCH/APRIL 2008

Bullying is Never Acceptable: Whether on Maui or in Barrington, Kindess is King 

For most of my career in education, I have worked in high schools in the north or northwest suburbs, but what few people know is that I once taught for two years at a private school on Maui. Seabury Hall was a semi–boarding school for grades 7–12 located on the slopes of Haleakala Crater looking down on the Pacific Ocean.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008

Getting Connected Making School a Safe 'Second Home'

This sentiment, expressed so succinctly and eloquently by a first grader I know, sums up our District 220 goal of creating a “second home” for our children from pre-kindergarten to high school graduation.
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2007

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2007

Celebrations and Challenges: A look inside District 220

Not surprisingly, educators measure joy and fulfillmentin terms of how much we have learned and grown from an event. According to this criteria, my first few months as District 220 superintendent have been ecstatic.
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2007

The New Face of District 220

Barrington’s School District 220 has a new face. On July 2, Dr. Tom Leonard began his new job as the district’s superintendent. After a lengthy search that included community-wide input, Leonard, the former principal of Barrington High School, was hired from a pool of more than 40 candidates from across the country.
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