We did a little Q&A session with the district's three new principals. Here, Dr. Vallicelli shares some information about himself, and some thoughts about the new school year. Thanks, Dr. Vallicelli - we're looking forward to a great year!
Tell us about your education and career.
Although my mom and dad were the best teachers in preparing for my career, my education comes from time at University of Wisconsin where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in English (Go Badgers!), my master’s in education from the University of Illinois and my doctorate in educational and curriculum leadership from Northern Illinois University. This is my 16th year in education. Out of college, I started teaching 8th grade language arts and reading at Bernotas Middle School. I am now in my 14th year in District 200, where I have served eight years as an English teacher, five as an assistant principal, and I’m gearing up for my first as a principal!
What’s your philosophy of a principal’s role in education?
There is a lot for me to take in and grow into in my new role, but I do know one thing: I don’t know everything. My hope is that the staff will collaborate together to grow our school, create the best learning environment for all, and develop the best teaching strategies to maximize learning. Of course, it goes without saying that we will do everything in our power to ensure that our students are safe at all times. That is a non-negotiable as a principal. But, truly, my educational philosophy as a principal is a simple one: let’s do what’s best for the kids. I am really happy to report that I hear this all over from district administration, building-level administration, and teachers, and it isn’t lip-service.
What excites you about working in District 200?
D200 is truly amazing. I have yet to cross an individual — not one — who won’t stop what they’re doing to help. From pre-K to grade 12, it is truly a team effort. The more I go to other schools and work with other teachers and administrators, the clearer it is to me that I work for the greatest district around. Our teachers are dedicated to learning new ideas, sharing those ideas with others in the district, and are always aiming to provide a 21st Century learning experience for our students.
What should parents expect from you and your staff?
Parents should expect a safe learning environment created by a staff that respects their students. They should expect an excellent education that creates pathways to success in high school and beyond. Our curriculum should be meaningful, skills-based, and help all students prepare and learn for whatever career path they choose to take. And, parents should expect clear communication from our staff about their student’s progress. When the home and the school work symbiotically, the level of education that we can provide is maximized.
What should WHS students expect in 2018-2019?
Pedagogically, our staff will continue working on student engagement strategies to make learning focused and pertinent. This was one of the focuses last year, and the developing these strategies takes some time, which is why we are continuing it this year. Another goal of ours is to create new differentiation strategies in the classroom to ensure that our students are working at their highest ability level. Informally, our theme this year is to concentrate on our professional “ikigai.” Ikigai is a Japanese concept that roughly translates to “Why we wake up in the morning.” The concept of ikigai has been researched as one of the key reasons that certain people live to be 100 years old or longer: they understand the purpose in their lives. For us at Woodstock High School — and so many others — the main reason that we all entered education is to grow and support students that come to us to learn every day, and we can never lose sight of that. Let’s always remember why we wake up every day — our students are our ikigai!