Published 8:09 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

Within school communities, few traditions are as important as homecoming. Homecoming reinforces the ties that bind our community. It brings current students and generations of graduates together in support of a common cause. It strengthens relationships that are critical for the continued growth of local neighborhoods. It welcomes the celebration of everything that makes the community so unique.

I’m thrilled to be experiencing a professional homecoming with my return to Niles Community Schools (NCS) — having served Niles for more than 15 years. I enjoyed my previous experience in Niles and am eager to reconnect with those I had occasion to work with before, while having an opportunity to build relationships with the rest of the community.

It’s certainly a great time to rejoin NCS, as the energy surrounding the district’s schools and the community’s commitment to its children has never been greater. The future is bright and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work closely again with the entire school community – our students, our parents, our residents, our teachers and our businesses.

While I joined Niles as Superintendent Elect just a few short days ago, I’ve already toured the schools and spoken with many children, parents and staff members. Through these conversations, I can say with confidence that the residents of Niles should be proud.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that Niles’ elementary students are friendly, respectful and willing to share in meaningful ways their thoughts about learning and a variety of other topics. During my visits to the schools, I was impressed with the social skills and mature manner in which our secondary students conduct themselves. The feedback I received during my conversations with these students was insightful and invaluable. Such insight will surely lead to substantial dividends for our schools and Niles as a whole as our community continues to evolve.

In the coming weeks, I will be putting together a 90-day action plan that is vital for the future success of our district. This 90-day action plan will be the catalyst for collecting information and gathering stakeholders to create the district’s strategic plan. As a dedicated partner of Niles Community Schools, I welcome your thoughts. Whether you are a parent with multiple children in our schools, a small business owner new to Niles or an empty-nester, you are a valued member of our school community and your opinion matters.

Soon, you will have an opportunity to voice your opinion and show your support to the Niles community, as two bond proposals are put forth to vote. This is not a vote exclusively for the Niles community of today, but for the Niles community of tomorrow as well. As the infrastructure of our schools continues to erode, we can no longer delay improvements that must be made to ensure our children receive the high quality education they deserve and our residents demand.

The district’s next homecoming won’t take place until the fall, but my hope is that when we gather for the wonderful experiences on that occasion, we’ll be speaking excitedly about the bright future facing Niles Community Schools and the numerous improvements underway at our campuses. I urge you to contact Niles Community Schools with any questions regarding the bond or the upcoming vote on May 5th, and, most importantly, don’t forget to vote.

Thank you for your continued support of Niles Community Schools and for serving as a partner in the development of our most valuable resource — our children.


Dr. Dan Applegate is Superintendent Elect for Niles Community Schools.