IL Superintendent Summer Spotlight: Dr. Mary Havis, Berwyn South School District 100

This summer, we will get to know more about our Equity First superintendents; many of whom are active in our FIF coalition. Advance Illinois’s Equity First coalition is an alliance of superintendents across Illinois that advocate for public policy that promotes equity in public education for students. The group gathers to discuss education policy and school community issues to help inform Advance Illinois’ education policy agenda and statewide policy broadly.

In this week’s blog we converse with Berwyn, Illinois superintendent Dr. Mary Havis from Berwyn South School District 100. 

Why did you go into the education field? 

I remember my second-grade teacher having a profound impact on my disposition toward school. As a result of her belief in me, I was able to imagine achieving success in whatever I decided to pursue in life. I went into education so that I could have that very same impact on others around me. 


How does EBF funding play a role in the success of the students you serve or the school district? 

I can highlight many examples of how EBF has impacted the learning environment and student outcomes in District 100 but would like to focus on one that highlights the importance of quality resources for instruction. As a district, we were significantly underperforming in math. Our resources were not meeting the needs of our staff and students, and five years ago we began a thorough process of researching, selecting, and implementing a new high-quality curricular resource. Curriculum committees researched and selected a resource that ensured our students had access to standards-based, grade level content that allowed them to explore math through a variety of learning tools and instructional practices. We were able to hire math coaches and recently added math support teachers at all elementary schools. As a result, we have seen some of the highest growth rates in math than we have ever experienced, and our most recent MAP data shows our students are growing at a faster rate than their grade level peers across the country. EBF has directly impacted our ability to invest in curricular resources, provide the staffing we need to meet the diverse needs of our students, and address the much-needed improvements in the learning environments we create for our students. Additionally, because of the investment we have been able to make in our teachers, our retention rate has grown by 5% since 2017 and that makes a significant difference for our students, our families, and the entire community.


Tell us about your school district. What are some accomplishments you want to highlight from your school

Berwyn South School District 100 serves approximately 3,000 students in eight schools, six elementary schools and two middle schools. Student demographics are 84% Hispanic, 8% White, 4% Black, 1% Asian, and 1.5% two or more races. Sixty-nine percent of the students we serve are low-income, 16% are students with IEPs, and 30% are English Learners. We are extremely proud of the welcoming, inclusive environments in our schools and are committed to ensuring equitable access to high-quality teachers, curriculum, and resources for all students. We are pleased to have extended our dual language program to the middle schools as we strive to support and enhance the learning opportunities for multilingual learners throughout their years in our district. We believe that our learning environments should be personalized for students, and they should have the tools available to them to extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom and beyond the length of the school day. We are proud that all eight of our schools were recognized as Apple Distinguished Schools for 2022-2025 for empowering our students and staff to think critically and creatively through innovative instructional practices, equitable learning opportunities, and meaningful staff and student engagement. We believe teachers create the inspiration for learning in our classrooms and value the importance of providing them with the resources, professional learning, support, and space to be amazing. Like many districts, we continue to be challenged with filling high-needs positions and to continue to grow essential programs to our community such as dual language, fine arts, SEL support, and after-school opportunities. 


What resources and supports can further benefit your school? Or what resources/supports have made a positive difference? 

We are currently researching an ELA curriculum resource that will benefit our students and will invest in continued professional development to support teachers in reading instruction. We also look to continue to invest in SEL supports for students. 


 Fun fact about yourself: 

I grew up and attended school in the community I currently serve as Superintendent.