Closing Thoughts: A word from Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

An open letter to communities in Amboy, Skokie, Morton Grove, Marion, and Victoria

The following is an article provided by Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

My youngest daughter is graduating High School. This is a very surreal moment for me, mixed with lots of emotions because I began as a Superintendent before my oldest daughter even started Kindergarten. Over nearly two decades in three states, my girls have always attended in the same system I have served as superintendent. They don’t know any other way to be a student and frankly, I don’t know any other way to be a dad. In some ways my life is going to change dramatically starting next year because although I feel personally responsible for all 13,000+ students in my care, none of them come home at night and give me the inside scoop on how I’m doing! But that’s not what I want to focus on in this article.

I want to start with teachers, where I always want to start if given the choice. To the teachers in Amboy, Skokie, Morton Grove, Marion, and Victoria who have taught my children, their dad thinks you are amazing. I never really got the chance to tell you because I worried it would make things even more stressful for you. I cannot even begin to imagine the additional stress of having a Superintendent’s kid in your class. You have all been spectacular. Thank you for choosing to know them as both students and as people, and not just as the Superintendent’s kids. I know you do this for all kids and although not all parents may say it, “thank you.” You have had a great impact on the direction their life has taken and some of you are still talked about around the dinner table.

To the many administrators over the past 20 years, thank you. If it is tremendously difficult for teachers; I really cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for you as well. Thank you especially for those times when you took the extra time and care to connect with my children. As I think back to Amboy, Skokie, Morton Grove, Marion, and Victoria, it would be easy to think you made an extra effort to connect with my kids just for me, but I know the reality is that you make every effort to connect with every student (and most of their parents) who you feel responsible for. Thank you for treating my kids with the same level of fairness and expectation as all kids in your care. And I’m sorry for the few times they were sent to your office… but hey, no parent is perfect. Special apology about the defibrillator incident and the necessity for that principal to call the superintendent. Talk about weird.

To the parents (and by extension, their children) whom we have come to know in every community we have lived in I will be blunt. Thanks for not making it awkward. I can’t tell you how many times I worried we would be at an event as mom and dad, and I would be put on the spot as Superintendent or asked for a special favor in front of my family. Although it did happen, by and large, most adults recognize I am a person outside of my role and for those who made an extra effort to keep that line in mind, we have had the opportunity to grow fond friendships. Thank you to all of you who have made us feel like real people. You will never fully appreciate how grateful we are.

To my former and current Board members. Thank you for your grace. Many of you have also had children in the district so you understand how difficult it can be at times. You have been a source of insight, wisdom, and compassion. For those board members who didn’t have kids in the system or had students graduated out of the system, you too have been a source of guidance about keeping the right perspective. Thank you sincerely for encouraging me to always be a dad first. I am forever in your debt.

I recognize, of course, there is an emotional thread in all this that is somewhat unique to my life experiences, and I appreciate the opportunity to share. Come Monday, although nothing changes for me… at the same time it will feel like an entirely new job. One thing that never changes, however, is my love for all the children entrusted to our public education system.

By Supt. Quintin Shepherd