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There’s no place like home (USD 232)

District employees come and go for a variety of reasons, but for these seven returning educators (pictured below), the reason for their return is undisputed. USD 232’s unwavering commitment to exhibit value in its staff and promote a family-first culture sets it apart from neighboring districts. “Everyone knows me here,” reports Jill Norman, Special Services Teacher. “No matter the growth we experience, USD 232 will always be the same in that regard.” 

Embracing the Ideal Atmosphere
Reflecting on their time outside of USD 232, the educators reported similar attributes that lured them back to the district. Strong leadership, presence in buildings, community support, and people-centered views topped their collective list of reasons for returning. Additionally, a resounding desire to work with familiar, supportive colleagues and in buildings that “feel like home” appealed to the returning educators. “I love the staff here. We truly support and care for each other,” relays Dorothy Swafford of her Mill Valley peers.

Collaborative Culture of Belonging
At the heart of USD 232’s charm lies its emphasis on cultivating a collaborative and inclusive culture. The returning educators expressed their collective appreciation for the district's efforts in fostering teacher collaboration and a sense of belonging. As a USD 232 parent and media specialist at Starside Elementary, Kristen Whitely appreciates the district’s collaborative culture. “Our library team is amazing and supportive! Our collaborative efforts shine through, from the planning opportunities we are afforded by the district to the Real World Learning my kids discuss at the dinner table.” Such an environment not only enhances teaching quality but also contributes to a dynamic educational experience for students.

Innovative Teaching Methods and Resources
Another compelling factor behind the educators' decision to return is USD 232’s dedication to embracing innovative teaching methods and providing valuable resources. The district's commitment to staying at the forefront of educational technology and innovation has undoubtedly piqued the interest of these educators. Reflecting on her time outside of USD 232, Special Services Teacher, Libby Lamberson is eager to use her refreshed perspective in her classroom practices. “I truly notice a level of excellence in USD 232 special education, and I will continue to promote that excellence and student-first culture with my learners.”  

The return of these seven valued educators to USD 232 demonstrates the profound impact of a supportive and engaging district culture. Carrie Handy, Director of Human Resources, often plays a key role in the recruitment of returning staff. “We love when staff return to our district and on average, USD 232 sees a handful of staff members return each year.” The district sets a shining example of what can be achieved through a steadfast commitment to teacher well-being and innovation, and the surrounding community stands to benefit from USD 232’s dedication to helping all students achieve success.

Courtney Boyd   Jennifer Brazil   Elizabeth Lamberson   Kris Meyer   Jill Norman   Dorothy Swafford   Kristen Whitley
From left: Courtney Boyd, Riverview Elementary; Jennifer Brazil, Horizon Elementary; Elizabeth Lamberson, Lexington Trails Middle School; Kris Meyer, Administrative Offices; Jill Norman, De Soto High School; Dorothy Swafford, Mill Valley High School; Kristen Whitley, Starside Elementary