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THEVOICE • rockfordchamber.com

February 2020

IGNITE: YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

Five work goals for 2020 LINDSEY GAPEN LUKAS IGNITE Rockford

Make this the year to try some career enhancements to someone else, resolve to approach

Check out the “skills preferred” qualifications on

them with gusto. Tell your boss you want to do these things. In addition to have some great talking points for your

Pick one skill to focus on

next performance review.

goals for improvement. As young professionals, we still have a lot to learn in our various industries. Why wait until the next New Year to develop fresh career goals? Maybe you’d like to increase your competency at the job you have, or perhaps you’d like to search for a new gig altogether. Either way, it’s beneficial to continuously improve as a professional. Here are some simple objectives to help you grow as a new entry to the workforce.

Second, refrain from engaging in gossip at work. Put in earphones when you

hear

co-workers

complaining

around your desk. You never know when your words could come back to haunt you. Venting can be therapeutic, but save it for a close friend in the right environment.

Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Even if you’re happy at your current job, it’s still a good idea to have a polished resume that’s ready to send out and a LinkedIn profile that grabs the attention

Find a Mentor

of potential hirers. Maybe you’ll want

Make it a priority to regularly meet one-on-one with someone who can offer advice from a place of experience, and constructive criticism from a place of genuine regard. Preferably, this person works within your company and knows the ins and outs of what you’re trying to accomplish on a regular basis. If you already have a mentor, prioritize maintaining that bond. Go out for lunch at the end of each quarter, or request private meetings in the office. The impetus is on you to make a plan.

to join a nonprofit’s board of directors

Add a Skill to Your Resume

and be required to provide a resume. Maybe a recruiter will come across your LinkedIn profile and offer you a moredesirable job (which you could either take or return to your boss for a salary re-negotiation). If you’re always ready to professionally present yourself, you’ll have more opportunities.

Ask for (at Least) One Thing You Want Is there something on your mind that could improve your job performance

It’s easy to just focus on what you’re naturally good at. But, if you want to increase your value within the workplace, ask yourself, “What’s something I could learn to contribute more to my company?” Could you dabble more in Photoshop or some other type of technology? Do you know how your immediate boss does every aspect of their job? Check out the “skills preferred” qualifications on job posts that interest you. Pick one skill to focus on and identify how you can set goals for improvement.

and/or life outside of work? If so, bring

Ditch Negativity

additional “job perks” you can receive

This one is two-fold. First, identify what you don’t like about your job and adjust your mindset. Is there a task you dread, such as talking with angry customers or speaking about your company’s products in front of a large audience? Instead of running away from these tasks or passing them on

Scorecard provides timely feedback for our educators

developing professionally, you’ll also

job posts that interest you. and identify how you can set

DR. EHREN JARRETT Superintendent RPS 205

Taking a look at student achievement, climate & culture

it to your boss’s attention. This could be something as audacious as a pay raise, or something as simple as adjusting the office thermostat. Learning how to advocate for yourself is a skill in its own right. Check in with your mentor to see if your request is reasonable. Leaving 15 minutes earlier at the end of the day? Working from home once a week? Truly reflect on how your company can help you, so you in turn can help your company. You never know what until you ask. Lindsey Gapen Lukas is managing editor, Northwest Quarterly, and a member of Ignite. The views expressed are those of Lukas’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

The Scorecard is a clear accountability measure for school improvement. It offers more frequent and more timely feedback for our educators. The state’s new funding model has brought more money to the Rockford Public Schools. We have worked hard to make sure the additional dollars bring value to our schools, our district and our community. By now, you may know one of the ways we have made sure our dollars impact the community. We have used the additional funds to give residents much-needed tax relief. The School Board in November approved a flat tax levy for the eighth consecutive year. The tax rate for 2019 has dropped 47 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, the steepest drop since 2015. The rate is now below $7 per $100 of EAV, a longterm goal of both the administration and the board. You may have also heard about the way we are using additional dollars to improve our schools and our district. Late last year, we unveiled the School Scorecard. It’s a tool to continuously improve our organization and help students succeed. The scorecard is a clear accountability measure for school improvement. While the State Report Card, published by the Illinois State Board of Education, offers detail, transparency and critical information about school performance, the district Scorecard offers more frequent and more timely feedback for our educators. The tool provides a deeper and more precise look in two broad areas: student growth and achievement, and climate & culture. We are working with our principals, teachers and staff to explore our baseline data in the Scorecard, a tool that measures indicators across two main areas. Quality instruction counts for 75 percent, and climate & culture counts for 25 percent. Each school is measured on a four-point scale. Each school will also fall into one of four categories: highest performance, above average performance, below average performance and lowest performance. The tool will provide clarity to principals, teachers and staff about what’s important – and where our successes and challenges are.

Evidence-Based Funding The scorecard works hand-in-hand with another new district practice: strategic budgeting. As principals prepare their budgets for the 2020-21 school year, they will have a lot of latitude to implement their own, school-specific improvement plans, while ordering off a menu of district-approved programs, positions and partnerships. We are giving building leaders something called “bounded autonomy,” which research shows is the best way for schools to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. It’s part of the ABCs of school improvement, which are actually three As: autonomy, alignment and accountability. It sounds simple. But our district is a large one, and it will take time to develop new habits to replace old ones. It’s not second-nature yet, but we’re convinced it’s a change that will be as good for our system as it will be for our students. We’re not there yet, in both our results and our funding. Although there’s progress, we’re still funded only at 61 percent of the cost of an adequate education. However, Evidence-Based Funding has allowed our district to give an eight percent increase to all schools, while giving even more to the schools with students of low income and high needs. I believe all students deserve the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school. At the same time, the board and I understand we have a commitment to the community to ease the tax burden. Greater support from the state has allowed us to bring more value to the community and more accountability, alignment and autonomy to the schools. Dr. Ehren Jarrett is superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. The views expressed are those of Dr. Jarrett’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

Profile for Rockford Chamber of Commerce

February Voice 2020