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Chicago Superintendent Prepares Students For Success

Dr. Art Fessler is currently serving as a school district superintendent of schools in Arlington Heights CCSD 59. His undergraduate studies were at Hope College in Holland Michigan and Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. Dr. Fessler graduated with a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in general sciences in 1989 and a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois in 1996. He also attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and acquired a doctorate degree in educational leadership in 2011.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Art Fessler)

Dr. Fessler has served in administrative roles over the past 12 years, including positions as an elementary and middle school principal, assistant superintendent responsible for grades six through 12 operations and facilitating grades six through 12 curricula and instruction and associated professional development.

In Dr. Fessler's current position, he is working with a talented group of faculty, staff and leaders to collaboratively address the question of how students learn, and what implications this has for preparing student for their future. The district is shifting their classrooms to digital learning spaces where students and staff utilize technology to amplify learning. Their approach includes a creating learning environment that encourages inquiry and deep powerful questions from all of our learners: faculty, staff, leaders and students.

What are the responsibilities of your current role?

"The district includes four communities: Arlington Heights, Elk Grove, Mt Prospect and Des Plaines. [I'm] responsible for all facets of school district operations, including physical, financial, human resources, instructional practices and infrastructures, and student performance. A significant portion of the role includes working with an elected school board consisting of seven members. We have created a strategic plan with stakeholder input that directs our work."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"Working with students, staff and parents on a daily basis is my favorite duty. Our goal is to prepare students to be successful for life in the 21st century. The necessary shift for this goal to be achieved in our current education paradigm is challenging, exciting and ultimately rewarding."

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"Yes, Collectively my experiences in the classroom, on the playground and on the athletic field provided the requisite skills necessary for me to become capable to working with other people, collaborate, plan, lead, listen, problem solve, and, most important, take a plan to action."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"I think that being a superintendent is one of the most challenging and rewarding positions a person can attain, however, in preparation, I would suggest finding a strong mentor who is able to advise and coach along the way. Also important is a balance of experiences in leadership, instructional practice, managing human capital, finance, and quality systems controls and structures. Understanding change and human dynamics is a critical and necessary training in this historic time of change in education."

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on

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