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Teaching 3,800 students from elementary through high school, the goal at Sycamore School District 427 is to empower all students to succeed in their world.

“Our goals are to provide them opportunities in which they can learn not only core curriculum but also to learn about career pathways, to learn to provide service to others, to be good citizens and to appreciate those people around them and those in their community,” said Kathy Countryman, superintendent at District 427.

Within District 427, there are five elementary schools, each focused on fostering high academic expectations to challenge students while also offering support to be successful. Students are encouraged to problem solve, persevere and collaborate.
At North Elementary, it is important that students feel connected to their school, feel confident in themselves and feel respected as an important part of their school and community. Each student is special, can make a difference and has the right to discover and pursue their passions.

South Prairie Elementary also puts value on working with the community. The school hosts meetings for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, and the Sycamore Park District holds a variety of activities at the school, including youth athletics and dance as well as adult fitness classes. The school also hosts two raised garden beds for the DeKalb County Community Gardens.

At Sycamore Middle School, their core philosophy is teaming. Each team develops its identity, adopts a community service project and a core value and works to develop interdisciplinary units. These units make connections between subjects to help students see that all areas of school are related. The teams allow for a more personal approach to learning, better teacher and parent communication, closer communication between teachers and greater flexibility in scheduling.

The middle school also strives to provide many learning opportunities. This means not only providing a rich curriculum, but also letting students explore their talents in music, technology, careers, industrial tech, art and health. Various after school activities also help students further develop their personal interests and talents.

Sycamore High School Principal Tim Carlson said for his students, their world could mean going off to college, going to a technical school or going to the workforce.

That means not only getting the kids ready academically, but also teaching what he calls soft skills, teaching them how they need to act in a work environment. Working with area businesses, the school offers senior academies, including business, agriculture, manufacturing, education and health.

“One of the biggest issues we hear talking to the business community is teaching kids soft skills, how to act and interact with adults, shaking someone’s hand, looking someone in the eye, how to dress appropriately. Beyond the academic part, we’re trying to prepare them to join the workforce and function well in that workforce,” Carlson said.

The effort has been successful, he noted, adding three students were offered manufacturing jobs after graduation. The high school hopes to expand academies, offering logistics and hospitality and tourism. As the staff looks toward the future, they also want to offer students ways to be more creative and engaging. One way was partnering with Northern Illinois University to offer an environmental science class where kids conducted summer field research with a university professor, completed university-level research and presented to university faculty.

“It’s a teacher thinking differently rather than the traditional and engaging kids at a very high level,” he said.

Working closely with many within the community, Countryman said the district focuses on giving opportunities outside the classroom walls.

“Our community is very open to those mentorships, and our business community is amazing in support of our students, not only financially in offering scholarships but through networking and mentorship,” she said.

Countryman said they want the reputation of the school district to be one that all of our community members can be proud of.
“We want to continue our community partnerships, not only with the chamber, elected officials and service organizations, so we are all pulling together to make Sycamore a great place,” she said.

Built in 1905 with a donation from Andrew Carnegie, the Sycamore Public Library still stands in its original splendor among the city’s historic downtown. For 112 years, the Sycamore Library has been offering a safe, comfortable place to encourage curiosity and foster imagination through exceptional customer service, dynamic programming and a locally responsive collection.

Library leaders believe that all of Sycamore will find value in its offerings, and staff strive to provide service that exceeds patrons’ expectations. Last year alone the library welcomed over 125,000 patrons through its doors and circulated over 226,000 items. Some of its most popular materials include books, audio books, e-books, music CDs and DVDs. Library staff is constantly striving to provide patrons with the newest and most exciting selection available.

While some may think of the library as a traditional storeroom of dusty books, it is so much more. The Sycamore Library happily offers relevant programming for all ages, the latest popular materials for reading, viewing and listening; as well as a historic yet modernized space to work, relax and study with public computers and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Through trained staff and local partnerships, the library is committed to providing the community with an extraordinary experience that surpasses their expectations.

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