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At a regular board meeting on June 13, the Forest Park District 91 school board voted unanimously to approve $40,000 for professional development coaching and membership to the prestigious Metro Chicago Mathematics Initiative (MCMI) out of the University of Illinois Chicago.

District 91 previously received free training from MCMI officials eight years ago through a grant that is no longer provided by the West 40 Regional Office of Education. At the June board meeting, Superintendent Louis Cavallo noted that D91 had “great results” last time MCMI professionals visited, but that staff had since cycled out of the schools and a professional development update was needed.

“We can’t just ask folks to do better. If we want things to be better, we have to provide the supports for them to do so,” Cavallo said.

For 28 days, MCMI staff will visit all D91 school classrooms, observe teaches working with students and then meet with instructors to discuss what went well and what could be improved. Cavallo said the schools’ math coaches will be “heavily involved” in these visits in order to reinforce strategies once MCMI officials leave.

“It’s a sustainable model; it’s one that we know works; its strategies are very much aligned with the common core standards as well as the strategies necessary to meet those formative standards,” Cavallo said. “We have the time, we have the folks and we have the materials. Now we just need to come back in and work on the instructional piece a little more.”

Nona Tepper