D211 Post: Three Former Superintendents Visit District 211


From left to right: Dr. Richard Kolze, Dr. Nancy Robb, Dr. Dan Cates, and Dr. Gerald Chapman.

Township High School District 211 prides itself on providing students with the highest quality education and opportunities. Building a strong reputation did not happen overnight. It is the product and impact of each staff member under the leadership of the superintendent that led to the District’s success and reputation.

To celebrate the District 211 legacy, Superintendent of Schools Dan Cates recently invited three local former superintendents to visit the school district and discuss their time in District 211.

Collectively, the four superintendents have more than 100 years of experience served in District 211, with more than 40 combined years served as superintendent. Dr. Richard Kolze began working in District 211 in 1957 and served as superintendent from 1970 – 1990. Dr. Gerald Chapman started in District 211 in 1965 and served as superintendent from 1990 – 2001. Dr. Nancy Robb began her District 211 career in 1980 and served as superintendent from 2009 – 2014. Dr. Cates entered District 211 in 1992 and has served as superintendent since 2014.

While each superintendent’s tenure contributed different initiatives within the District’s evolution, they shared a common thread – providing the highest quality opportunities possible for students and the community. Each superintendent similarly described the charge and responsibility of upholding the legacy built by each of their predecessors and the importance of fulfilling the trust provided to the District by community members.

“Trust is something that I hold as a priceless commodity,” said Dr. Cates during a round-table discussion. “We have always provided extraordinary opportunities and there is always that next level to achieve. Early on in my career, I sensed we are always pushing for the next best thing. Innovation and expansion to more opportunities were just inherent.”

When discussing the fondest memories of their time in District 211, all the superintendents reminisced about the students and people they encountered each day on the job. Dr. Robb shared a story during her time as principal at Palatine High School. “After 9/11, students came to me because they wanted to make a flag that would be as large as the football field, so when planes started to fly again it could be seen. We had a flag ceremony and invited the community, students, and staff. The power of students working together in a very difficult situation, and making something good come from it, I will never forget.”

Each superintendent had a connection to the community and to each other. Dr. Kolze mentioned how a former instructor of his led him to be an educator, and former District 211 Superintendent Gerald A. McElroy helped push him to success. Dr. Chapman credited Dr. Kolze’s positive influence for his success as a developing administrator, ultimately leading to the role of superintendent. Dr. Robb mentioned that Dr. Kolze also hired her for her first administrative position and Dr. Chapman encouraged her to consider being superintendent. Following the same cycle, Dr. Cates expressed gratitude to Dr. Chapman and Dr. Robb for hiring him and setting him on the path to becoming superintendent. “When you get older you don’t think about thanking the people who did so much for you,” said Dr. Kolze. “I am here because someone helped me to college, McElroy pulled me along the way. You shouldn’t miss those opportunities to thank people who helped you along the way.”

As the District continues planning for the future and prepares students to be college and career ready, Dr. Cates and the former superintendents see great opportunities in store. “Every generation and every decade provide a different need,” Dr. Chapman said. “The most difficult thing is to recognize what those needs are going to be, and how we are going to be at the forefront of it. We have a great track record of that and keep exceeding. That didn’t happen by accident. We want to have a strong academic program and a strong athletic program. Both of those are good for kids.”

Their work to better the community doesn’t stop within District 211. Outside of the District and in retirement, these superintendents have worked in service of their communities. Throughout each of their careers, all four superintendents resided within District 211 boundaries, and still do. Additionally, all have served in community organizations, some of which include the Palatine Rotary Club, Excel Beyond 211, Community Consolidated School District 15, William Rainey Harper College, and the Palatine Chamber of Commerce. Strong community connections help strengthen District 211 and its programs. “We are fortunate that the community has been very supportive of District 211,” said Dr. Robb. “Fundamental to all of that is we have a great staff. You have to hire well to have the staff that’s able to carry things out. I believe the staff has worked as a team and everyone has worked together to provide additional educational opportunities for our students.”


Excel Beyond 211 Scholarship Program Seeks Help for College Ready Students

Excel-Beyond-211_C_POSTDistrict 211 has a large population of academically talented students from first-generation, or low-income families. These students are college ready and looking for ways to increase their college successes and completions. However, many of these students are the first in their families to go to college, and finances are often the only issue standing in their way.

To help these students, the scholarship program Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars helps selected District 211 graduates in their efforts to become successful college students. Excel Beyond 211 is an all-volunteer program, with a Board of Directors consisting of community members, and is operated entirely from donations.

“Community members can invest in the students they have helped educate for four years so they can continue their education in college,” said Nancy Robb, former District 211 superintendent. “The majority of our Excel Beyond students have two jobs because of their financial needs, and are taking a full college academic load of courses. What we’re finding is that paying for tuition, books, or simply daily living expenses is very difficult for these students.”

Students may apply for an Excel Beyond scholarship during their senior year, and must have demonstrated their commitment to their education through their participation in Project Excel and other college readiness programs. Students must also maintain a 2.5 or higher grade point average, as well as completed at least one advanced level course in high school.

Seniors accepted into Excel Beyond 211 will achieve a college graduation rate of 85 percent, which compares to the 7 percent national average for low-income students. These students will work on a one-to-one basis with adult mentors they can go to for support and advice, or share important news. This program will help students realize the opportunities available to them for their future, expand their horizons, and demonstrate a commitment to earning a degree from a college or university.

“This program is new, and we need assistance from the community to continue helping these students,” Robb said. “One hundred percent of each donation will go directly to students from their particular school. If a community member or teacher from Palatine High School contributes, their donation will go towards a Palatine High School graduate.”

Excel Beyond 211 is an affiliate of Scholarship America, which is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. For those interested in making a donation, please visit the Excel Beyond 211 website here, and click on the donate button. If you are a District 211 employee, you have the option to donate to Excel Beyond 211 as a write-in charity during the annual Combined Charities Campaign, which runs Nov. 17 through Nov. 21.

Exciting First Day of School for District 211 Students

Schaumburg High School students enter the building on the first day of school, and are greeted by the school band.

Schaumburg High School students enter the building on the first day of school, and are greeted by the school band.

As the first bells rang to kick-off classes in District 211 schools, students excitedly introduced themselves, cracked open the textbooks, and prepared for what is anticipated to be another successful year.

Preparation over the summer helped faculty and staff get ready for the new school year and provide students with little disruption on the first day of classes, which took place on Aug. 21.

“We had an outstanding start to the 2013-2014 school year,” commented Nancy Robb, superintendent of schools in District 211.  “Enthusiastic teachers and energetic students in each District 211 school created a positive atmosphere that we will strive to maintain throughout the upcoming year.”

Tylic Grace (left), a senior football player at Hoffman Estates High School, gets ready for practice after the first day of school with Head Athletic Trainer Rick Bacon.

Tylic Grace (left), a senior football player at Hoffman Estates High School, gets ready for practice after the first day of school with Head Athletic Trainer Rick Bacon.

Each school welcomed students in different ways while they arrived at school and throughout the day.

Schaumburg High School had its band lined up at the main entrance of the school while students entered the building. The band played energetic songs, such as Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and the Schaumburg High School Fight Song, while teachers and administrators greeted students.

Many senior students at Palatine High School participated in their annual Senior March-In. They were led by drum majors and collectively arrived to the main entrance while wearing spirited senior t-shirts. Other students in the Palatine community decorated sidewalks and the building with chalk drawings that showcased school spirit.

Freshman students meet with members of Conant High School’s Cougar Advisory Program (CAP) during the first day of school. The course allows freshman students to work with upperclassmen mentors during their transition into high school.

Freshmen students meet with members of Conant High School’s Cougar Advisory Program (CAP) during the first day of school.

Palatine High School seniors show school spirit during an annual march-in on the first day of school.

Palatine High School seniors show school spirit during an annual march-in on the first day of school.

Conant High School started their freshman on the right track with sessions of their Cougar Advisory Program (CAP), where junior and senior students serve as mentors during classes. This program helps introduce freshmen to a high school environment, as well as gives them a contact person to ask questions if they need help.

Faculty and staff greeted Hoffman Estates High School students as they entered the building. Giant blue and orange balloon figurines were inflated and welcomed students as they prepared to start classes for the day.

Fremd High School also welcomed students and got down to business as usual on the first day of classes.  Similar to other District 211 schools, FHS teachers and staff made sure students had all the necessary materials needed to complete their coursework, including distribution of iPads for students in the One-to-One Program.

From left to right: Nick Deeke (sophomore), Jesse Hammond (sophomore), and Jack Huffman (sophomore) work on setting up their iPads in a One-to-One Program Health Science class at Fremd High School during the first day of school.

From left to right: Nick Deeke (sophomore), Jesse Hammond (sophomore), and Jack Huffman (sophomore) work on setting up their iPads in a One-to-One Program Health Science class at Fremd High School during the first day of school.

Additionally, each school helped freshmen transition by holding freshman orientation sessions in the days leading up to the first day of school. During these individual school events, freshmen students were given the opportunity to acclimate to their new school, meet teachers, find their classes, and mingle at lunch picnics. These extra measures all helped contribute to a smooth first day in District 211, and a positive environment to welcome students to school for the start of the new year.

A Message from the Superintendent: Brand New

This postDistrict 211 logo was reprinted from the July/August Superintendent’s Newsletter, and written by Superintendent of Schools Nancy Robb 

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year! To begin this year, I am pleased to report that District 211 recently reviewed and adopted a new “brand” statement. For those not familiar with that phrase, let me describe what it means.

Branding actually stems from the practice, started in the middle ages, of marking cattle or other livestock with a unique symbol to indicate ownership. In more recent times, the term branding was imported by the business community to represent a public statement expressing a company’s qualities and goals. For example, you may remember “You can be sure if it’s Westinghouse.” That’s more than just a slogan – it announces to customers that they may have confidence in products produced by that company. Other famous brandings include “At Ford, quality is job 1;” Burger King’s “Have it your way;” Federal Express’ “When it absolutely, positively has to get there;” and Citibank’s “The Citi that never sleeps.”

These brand statements are more than catchy phrases – they also describe their organization and make an implicit promise to their consumers. Last spring, a 25-member committee representing all District 211 schools solicited input from staff members to assist in defining a concise brand statement. The purpose is to create clarity, simplicity, and identity for our District and its schools.

We asked that the brand statement reflect:

• Our defining purpose;

• That which differentiates District 211 from other school districts and makes us special;

• Our promise to students, their families, and the community;

• Our organizational qualities, characteristics, and values.

Many ideas were shared, but the conversations almost always focused on one of three things:


– District 211 has a comprehensive curriculum with over 240 courses in scores of subject areas. We also offer a large number of athletic and activity opportunities. With truly something for every student’s interest, District 211 promises to open doorways to the future for graduating students.


– With 100% of our faculty designated as “highly qualified” by the State of Illinois and with 132 National Board Certified Teachers (the most in any Illinois high school district), our faculty is not only extraordinarily prepared to educate and support our students, but they also are highly motivated to provide the best high school experience possible.


– Whether one considers the number of students in our schools who accelerate their course placement, who master advanced placement classes, who are the first in their family to go on to college, or the millions of scholarship dollars earned by our graduates, there is no doubt our students are special and they take advantage of opportunities available in District 211.

Finally, after many discussions, debates, and suggestions, we agreed to the following new District 211 brand statement: EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES. INNOVATIVE TEACHING. EXCEPTIONAL LEARNING. That is more than just a slogan… it is our promise and one that we will make to our students, their parents, and the community every day in the upcoming school year.

District 211 School Fees Remain Consistent for Seven Years Straight

District 211 logoIn an effort to help families with educational costs, District 211’s Board of Education approved motions to not raise standard school fees. These fees have been consistent for the past seven years.

The six fees the Board approved at its January 17, 2013 meeting included: Transportation, Driver’s Education, Student Parking, Textbook and Instructional Supply, School Breakfast and Lunch, and Summer School. The only fee to see a slight increase since 2007-2008 is the school breakfast and lunch fee, but the cost for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program will remain the same.

“In recognition of the economic realities in our community, we have not raised school fees for seven consecutive years,” said Nancy Robb, superintendent of schools for District 211. “The only exception has been a very minimal increase in the cost for school lunches due to the fact that the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (USDA) regulates the amount that should be charged.”

Government regulations, such as the USDA Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, require school districts to maintain set amounts for costs of school meals. Student lunch fees were increased by 10¢ in compliance with the act and the National School Lunch Program.  Federal regulation requires the District to charge a particular price point for meals, and if those prices are not met, an increase of 10¢ per year will incur to reach the regulated rate.

This year’s school lunch rate should be $2.59 based on the new formula; however, District 211 will charge $2.25, $2.40 or $2.55 for its three-tier meal price structure. The same act also has improved the nutritional quality of school lunches.  Students are able to receive double the quantity of fruits and vegetables, a wider variety of produce, and more whole grains.

Another regulation applies to transportation. State legislation requires that students are charged for pickups less than 1.5 miles away from the school. That fee will remain at $170, which has not changed since the 2007-2008 academic year. There is no fee for students who live more than 1.5 miles away from school. Transportation for summer school will remain at $35 per semester.

The Driver’s Education Behind-the-Wheel course fee has not changed since the 2005-2006 academic year. This states that the course fee is not to exceed $350 for the course.
Costs for textbooks and instructional supplies have remained consistent since 2007-2008. The fee is $160 for the school year. Not only does this cover textbooks, but also instructional supplies and participation in athletics and activity programs.

Students who drive to school and park in school lots are subject to pay a fee of $65 per semester. These fees help generate funds for the operations and maintenance budget, which includes maintaining safe parking lots.

Lastly, for students who are required or opt to enroll in summer school classes, fees will remain $140 per semester for credit courses. Non-credit physical education and activity camps will remain $70 per session.  Summer athletic fees for incoming freshmen and sophomores will remain $30, while the fee for competitive varsity baseball and softball will remain $175 for the summer.

For a more detailed look at school fees for the upcoming academic year, please visit the District 211 BoardDocs website for the agenda.