Education: Dr. Ehren Jarrett on RPS 205 Being Named a Ford Next Generation Learning Community (Audio)

Some good news on the education front.

RPS 205 Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett

RPS 205 Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett
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News from 1440 WROK

Officials with Rockford Public Schools have announced it has been named a Ford Next Generation Learning Community. Rockford is now among just 17 communities in the nation to receive the distinction.

The distinction celebrates the high school redesign in the Rockford Public Schools, which began with the rollout of the Academy model in 2010. The next step is working toward becoming a Model Community by 2016, so Rockford can host visitors from other communities hoping to start career academies in their schools.

Just what is a Ford Next Generation Learning Community?

Ford Next Generation Learning is nationally recognized for its unique approach to meaningful engagement of key community stakeholders to transform existing public high schools into career academies where students learn their academics through the lens of a potential career. At the core of the program is a framework of essential practices that guides a community in development of its master plan.

We talked with RPS 205 superintendent Ehren Jarrett about the honor and what it means for parents and students in the district. Here’s the conversation:

Read More: Dr. Ehren Jarrett on RPS 205 Being Named a Ford Next Generation Learning Community [AUDIO] |

Quality: Rockford Chamber honors “Twenty People You Should Know”

ROCKFORD — The Rockford Chamber of Commerce honored 20 people on Thursday for their contributions to the Rockford area.

Several hundred people gathered inside Prairie Street Brewhouse for the Chamber’s annual “Twenty People You Should Know” reception. The event recognizes thoses that contribute to the civic, economic and cultural vitality of the Rockford area and are actively involved in moving the community forward.

This year’s honorees are: Rick Bastian, Blackhawk Bank; Karen Brown, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center; Rebecca Cook Kendall, Rockford Health Council; Jim Derry, Field Fastener Supply Co.; Kris Kieper, YWCA Rockford; Caitlin Ludwig, IGNITE Rockford; Dan Malaney, UTC Aerospace Systems; John J. Morrissey, The Morrissey Family Businesses; Thomas Muldowney, Savant Capital Management; Ricardo Oceguera, El Sol de Rockford; Patrick O’Keefe, Transform Rockford; Dan Parod, Rockford Health System; Kevin M. Polky, KP Counseling, Ltd.; Luz Ramirez, La Voz Latina; Dan Saavedra, Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects; Paulina Sihakom, PNC Bank; Jeffrey Simonic, UPS; Matthew Simpson, United Way of Rock River Valley; Kathy Velasco, V2 Marketing Communications; Mike Webb, Rock Valley College.

— Kevin Haas


Healthy Lifestyles: Crusader Community Health awarded $3M for new health clinic

Crusader Community Health plans to renovate the former SwedishAmerican Health System Brookside clinic into a new community health facility.

ROCKFORD — Crusader Community Health plans to renovate the former Brookside clinic into a new community health facility.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced $3 million in state funds on Thursday to help Crusader acquire and renovate the former Brookside Immediate and Occupational Care, 1215 N. Alpine Road. SwedishAmerican Health System relocated its busy Brookside clinic to 2473 McFarland Road in February.

The former Brookside clinic will be redeveloped into Crusader’s sixth major facility.

“The central Rockford location will provide additional access to affordable and high quality health care for all,” said Gordon Eggers, president and CEO of Crusader Community Health, in a news release.

The 2009 Community Health Center Construction Act provides funding to repair outdated buildings, convert vacant commercial space, build new health center facilities and purchase new equipment for additional services.

“An investment in this community health center in Rockford is an investment in the health and wellness of the people of Winnebago County,” Quinn said in a news release. “It is also a critical step in transforming our healthcare system and ensuring that everyone has access to the services they need.”

— Kevin Haas

Arts: Rockford Record Crawl 2014 celebrates music, indie retailers

Staff Report

Music aficionados can shop Rockford’s expansive selection of independent local stores this month during the first-ever Rockford Record Crawl 2014, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 25.

Organizers created the crawl to put Rockford on the map as a mecca for record lovers and lovers of all things music. The day will feature giveaways, in-store specials, food, entertainment and opportunities to interact with knowledgeable store owners and fellow music fans.

“We want to work together to show the community that supporting indie stores is key to the culture and arts of our area,” said Lauren Davis, co-owner of participating retailer Culture Shock Clothing & Records. “Sure, you can purchase anything online, and big-box stores try to compete, but there is a certain feeling you get from walking into an independent record store, talking with the owners, and hearing the needle drop on the track while previewing something in-store.

“It’s a feeling you can’t get online, and it’s a feeling that will stick around with the support of the local community,” Davis added.

Shoppers can peruse records, as well as eclectic boutique gifts such as housewares and clothing, at Culture Shock, 2239 Charles St. They can also explore thousands of records, books and other treasures at Rockford’s historic Toad Hall Books & Records, 2106 Broadway.

Scrumptious pie, sandwiches, coffee and other goodies await visitors while they shop for records at Kate’s Pie Shop & Record Store, inside the Rockford Public Library East Branch at 6685 E. State St. And shoppers can stock up on music, DVDs and used vinyl at CD Source, 221 E. State St.

Each store offers its own unique shopping experience. Rockford Record Crawl emphasizes collaboration over competition, said Nick Naruz, who, along with his parents, bought Toad Hall’s massive collection in 2005. The store celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013.

“Any of us give better customer service than online and big-box shopping. That’s our edge,” Naruz said. “That’s a huge part of the experience. None of us are exact copies of each other. The event is a good way to tour all the stores in town that offer music.”

The crawl falls between the popular Record Store Day, which takes place each year in April, and other big vinyl shopping times such as Black Friday and the holiday season.

CD Source will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. The store has moved locations a few times in recent years, so owner Brian Bowman said he hopes the crawl will introduce even more people to his shop.

Same goes for Kate Sullivan, owner of Kate’s Pie Shop. The shop relocated to space inside the library this summer and still participates in the popular Rockford City Market.

Sullivan plans to feature a special discount on her made-from-scratch pumpkin spice latte for fall-loving shoppers during the Rockford Record Crawl.

“When I’m in Chicago or Madison (Wisconsin), I hit several record stores. That’s the fun of it,” Sullivan said. “Each of us has a different spin, and we’re all in this together to create a community of record store enthusiasts.”

Rockford Record Crawl 2014 takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 25. Shoppers can pick up punch cards during their first stops just for showing up, with no purchase necessary.

Get your card punched at all four stores and enter it in a drawing for the chance to win a $100 combined first-place prize. Prizes also will be awarded for second- through fifth-place winners.

Live music is scheduled throughout the day with no cover. The schedule is as follows: noon, Toad Hall; 2 p.m., Culture Shock; and 7 p.m., Kate’s Pie Shop.

Call Lauren Davis at (815) 222-0756 for more about Rockford Record Crawl 2014.

From the Oct. 22-28, 2014, issue


Transparency: Farmers From Sweden Visit Rockford

Rockford (WIFR) — Farmers from another country were in the Stateline earlier this evening not only sharing their thoughts and ideas, but learning from several local farmers as well.

Almost sixty farmers from the country of Sweden were at the Prairie Street Brewhouse. They are mainly grain producers, pig producers and dairy farmers. The delegetion is touring the Stateline, Madison and other areas throughout the Midwest. The farmers are interested in comparing U.S. agriculture to that of Sweden.

“Already by just talking to each other we realize how similar we are. they are here to learn more about the local farmers in Rockford and also by doing that they will also learn about themselves.”

Winnebago County has an industrial partnership agreement with the country of Sweden which made this event possible.


Safety: Rockford Police Team Up With Local Clergy To Lower Crime Rates

ROCKFORD – Rockford police are working to build relationships with the community in order to make the city a safer place.  The department is teaming up with local religious leaders in a special clergy training program, that works one on one with church leaders.  Police are hopeful the program will help bring down the crime rate.  “We are extending an invitation out to local clergy, so they can really become a part of the Rockford police department team.  It is a chance for local clergy to learn about the police department, and for us to be transparent,” says Deputy Chief Mike Dalke of the Rockford Police Department.Police say the clergy will be able to step in during hostile situations, so the officers can focus on reducing shootings and burglaries while the parishioners work with the people who are committing the crimes.  The program will focus on police tactics, drug and gang activity and training on racial profiling & cultural competency.  “We work on how to identify individuals who are suspicious in nature, and how to look for those types of individuals.  It is a really good program,” says Deputy Chief Dalke.

This is not the first year that the department reached out to churches in the area.  Last year several religious leaders in Rockford met to discuss police brutality, hot spot crime areas, and also community involvement.  The clergy training program is consists of three 2-hour learning sessions which give participants an opportunity to do a ride-along with police and the opportunity for clergy to participate in the department’s semi-annual training blocks.  “I think it is a good idea.  Especially for people who might have some real issues with the police.  I’m sure there are those who do, and it might be very good for them to be there so that they can raise those issues,” says Pastor Gary Schwerin of Bridge Ministries.

Quality: Rockford’s Aerospace Network Opens Door to Business Aviation

A new maintenance hangar to be built by the AAR Group at Chicago Rockford International Airport is a prime example of investments being made in the area by aviation companies.
October 20, 2014, 7:05 PM

Rockford Area Aerospace Network (Booth 4835) has come to the NBAA show seeking to attract more business aviation companies to join the growing aerospace cluster being formed around the northern Illinois city. Already some 250 aviation and aerospace firms have facilities in the Rockford region, which is about 60 miles northwest of Chicago and close to the southern Wisconsin border. These include companies such as UTC Aerospace, GE Aviation, Esterline, AAR and B/E Aerospace.

According to Carrie Zethmayr, executive director of trade and investment with the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, the main areas of expertise drawn together around Rockford are electrical power generation systems, engine manufacturing and actuation systems. There is also a strong metal manufacturing tradition in the area.

We have a high concentration of people employed in manufacturing [about 20 percent of the local workforce] and this is twice the national average,” Zethmayr told AIN. Specifically, there is also a lot of automobile manufacturing in the area and Rockford officials maintain that this bolsters the skills available to aviation employers.

Unlike some areas that seek to attract aviation investment, Rockford does not market itself primarily in terms of low business costs. “We are mainly positioning ourselves as a high-value provider for advanced technology businesses and we can also offer unbeatable logistics [in terms of transportation networks, for example],” Zethmayr added.

One of these transportation logistics assets is Chicago Rockford International Airport. Among the new aviation investments at the site is a new 200,000-sq-ft maintenance hangar being built by the AAR Group. It will employ around 500 people when it opens in early 2016.

Education is another important part of the Rockford region’s aviation portfolio. The state-funded Rock Valley College has built a 40,000-sq-ft facility for training aircraft maintenance technicians. One local high school provides an academy program focused on aerospace skills, and participating students spend a quarter of their tuition time on this subject. High school juniors can start taking aerospace classes at the local community college to get a jump-start on an associate’s degree in engineering.


Transform Rockford Spotlight: Lorraine Campbell

Volunteer spotlight

Name: Lorraine Campbell

Age: 61

Occupation/profession: Performance improvement manager/RN at OSF Healthcare and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center

In Rockford since: 1971

Transform Rockford involvement: I began with the analysis team and also worked with the process team, which are now joined. I worked with a talented group of improvement and process experts to develop the guiding process for teams to follow moving forward. Our aim is to have a consistent process framework that utilizes proven tools and techniques in support of the work of the segment teams. Another aspect will be to measure outcomes, such as whether we have been successful in our efforts to implement solutions. In the long term, we are developing metrics to help keep us on track.

Quote: Being transparent in the processes we use to find the best solutions that transform Rockford will foster a trust going forward. If Rockford is truly to be transformed it takes an open process utilizing (taking in) a variety of inputs and providing access to the community of the outcomes.

Favorite thing about Rockford and why: The “Forest City.” I live in one of the dense forest areas that still exists in the city of Rockford. It is like having my own private park with wild life. I even like the wild turkeys that routinely visit!

What are some recent signs of progress in the Rock River Valley? The engagement of so many people from all walks that are dedicated to improving the core of the community, not just surface issues.

In 2025 I hope … that I can say we started a process to transform Rockford. And now we are the model that other communities look to on how to come together for a common cause, see it through and make a difference for the next generation.