Patrick Hardy, about to start his sophomore year as principal of the beat-about-the-ears Proviso East High School, says that fear of failure is among the few notable concerns he has about the school’s audacious new “Transformation Plan.”

Nearly 50 years into a relentless decline, decades into disconnection from the community and tensions within its own walls, the subject of perverse politicization and rampant instability in leadership, and faced with a state demand for a written plan to turn this sorry school around, Hardy has just presented the District 209 school board with a plan not to “improve” this school but rather to “transform” it.

Hardy made perfectly clear that this effort was not his alone but the result of a year’s worth of listening and consultation with teachers, parents, students, alumni and community members. 

That is essential and inspiring.

The plan calls for, among many things, creating four career academies with specific learning focuses, an emphasis on post-high school options for students, keying in on the need for powerful partnerships and finding ways to intimately connect more students to their school.

Hardy made three essential points. 

This cannot be the plan de jour. Educators and misguided school boards flop around, change directions, programs and staff looking for magical solutions. There are none. This is the plan. It will take hard work, patience, and some good fortune to succeed over time.

Fear of failure cannot be allowed to undermine or distract from the effort. Some aspects of this plan will fail, need to be adjusted, replaced. That is not the basis for continuing to wallow in mediocrity. 

The success of this plan is not contingent on pouring money into the school. If current resources can be held steady, says Hardy, this plan can be accomplished. How wonderfully refreshing.

What Proviso East needs at this point is energy, pride, love and boundless determination. Now Jesse Rodriguez, the brand new school superintendent, and the still shaky Proviso Township High School board must pledge steady support to this vital effort.

Forest Park steps up

Good collaborative work by Forest Park’s village council and the Proviso high schools in coming to agreement last week on welcoming the District 209 summer school program to the air-conditioned learning environment of the Proviso Math and Science Academy beginning next summer.

There had been an unfortunate blockade on this obvious summer school location as the original zoning for PMSA in Forest Park did not allow this use.

Now, with Forest Park’s growing connection to this school district via school board membership and the village’s wise inclination to foster that connection, we have a very good solution to a nagging problem.

The agreement includes solid planning for D209 to provide adequate security, traffic controls and an integrated effort with the Forest Park police. 

Jesse Rodriguez, the new superintendent of the Proviso schools, called this another example of stakeholders coming “together as one Proviso.” We agree.