Heidi Dettman

Executive Director of Curriculum (K-12)
Rockford Public Schools

Chair, Career Awareness Team


Bio/Professional Experience

I spent 10 years in the classroom teaching high school English. These past 4 years I have been in RPS 205: 2 years as Dean of Secondary Language Arts, 1 year as Director of Secondary Curriculum, 1 year as Executive Director of K-12 Curriculum, which is my current position.

You are new to the role as Chair for the Career Awareness Team. How would you describe your experience in this role so far?

So far, I’ve been getting to know the work of the team.  I’ve participated as a member of the Capstone Committee for a few years, collaborating with teachers and community members to design the Capstone experience for our students.  It’s thrilling to see the project come to fruition through the Career Awareness A-Team and learn more about our community support system.  The Career Awareness team is comprised of dedicated members who are committed to the success of our students.  What a talented group to work alongside! This role has allowed me to greater understand the possibilities of working alongside Alignment Rockford to support our district’s strategic plan and to consider the impact on our community as a whole when we collaborate. 

Tell me about the initiative(s) the Career Awareness Team is working on?

Currently, we are supporting the pilot year of the English 12 Capstone project in each of our high schools.  We are focused on bringing community members alongside our teachers and students to support innovation and problem-solving as students engage in real-world research grounded in issues present in our world today.  Most notably, we featured industry leaders at our Capstone Kick-Off event who empowered our students with not only the information they need to drive their Capstone projects but also the confidence that our community believes in our students. Our current project is to bring community members into the classroom in two capacities: as workshop presenters and as small group consultants.  We look forward to watching this course grow through such valuable partnerships.

What kind of results are you expecting from the Capstone Project?

We anticipate students who are increasingly engaged in school and in our community.  We also anticipate stronger and deeper partnerships with each high school as our students and community members learn more about each other and explore the possibilities of working together.  Finally, we anticipate learning a great deal to drive our success moving forward to create a sustainable model for the Capstone project as a culminating event in a student’s course of study.

How do you feel that community involvement within the schools has impacted Rockford Public School students? 

Judging by the conversations I heard at our Kick-Off Event and the students I have interacted with since then, I believe that having community involvement makes learning real for our students and provides a context for problem-solving.  Students are beginning to see the application of their learning and, beyond that, application in their own community. It’s powerful. And what’s even better is that they are forming relationships with our community members, giving them even more opportunities to interact with people who believe in them and want to see them succeed.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for a great opportunity to deepen this partnership to help us reach our goals!