West40 News


February 27, 2024

West40 will begin the demolition process of the former St. Joseph High School and the adjacent Brother’s House at the end of the month. Prior to the actual demolition of the structures, asbestos abatement will be taking place in both buildings. A pre-demolition asbestos inspection was performed and identified all the asbestos containing materials (ACM) from the interior and exterior of the buildings. West40 has hired Nationwide Environmental and Demolition LLC (NED) to conduct the asbestos abatement. NED is an Illinois licensed asbestos contractor and will be overseen by a third-party environmental consulting firm, Jacob & Hefner Associates Inc. (JHA). NED has notified all applicable regulatory agencies, including the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Cook County Department of Public Health. Abatement activities will begin February 26, 2024, and take place for approximately two months. All abatement activities are highly regulated and shall be performed in accordance with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. JHA will be monitoring the entire project and will be collecting daily air samples to ensure NED is performing their work properly.



January 9, 2024

West40 remains committed to transforming the former St. Joseph High School into a state-of-the-art learning facility and living space for approximately 40 youth-in-need, including foster students and those with social-emotional concerns. As of January 9, 2024, we are excited to share the following updates:

-West40 has submitted its final zoning application to the Village of Westchester and is awaiting the village’s response.

-West40 is moving ahead with the bidding process for asbestos abatement and demolition of the north buildings.

-West40 has received interior design drawings of the office area from the architect for the proposed renovation of the south building.

-West40 has extended security measures on the property in response to a single break-in by six individuals in December.

There is no firm construction timeline or expected opening date as of yet.

West40 is in the process of applying for grants that could accelerate the renovation process. The school will be funded by state agencies in support of Governor Pritzker’s commitment to providing behavioral services to youth.



December 15, 2023

Are Illinois teacher certification exams discouraging some prospective teachers before they get a chance to begin student teaching? The answer could be in data made public by the state. In the case of several subjects, including math, only about a half of the examinees passed on their first attempt in administration year 2022-23. And 64% passed the math test in cumulative attempts. West40 spoke to a prospective teacher who says she “feels stuck” due to the math content exam. Click link for the VIDEO.



December 12, 2023

West40 continues to “be what you need” through food donations and organizing family activities and holiday events for members of our community.

We worked with generous donors to provide dozens of Thanksgiving meals and supplies to West40 area families.

Additionally, our ALOP student advocates welcomed students and their families to family night events in many of our West40 partner school districts throughout late November to mid-December. These events typically occur twice a year and are a great way for families to meet with advocates and enjoy food, games, and photo booths.

“We appreciate our families and want them to feel loved,” said West40 Southern Tier site coordinator Entesar Ebrahimi.

Santa also welcomed families at West40’s second annual Cookies & Cocoa event at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Melrose Park on December 9th. There, kids and their family members decorated holiday cookies, enjoyed hot cocoa, and took photos with Santa. Approximately 125 people West40 area communities attended. Special thanks to the volunteers and community based organizations who helped make Cookies & Cocoa a memorable event.



October 24, 2023

Earlier this year, West40 Executive Director Dr. Mark Klaisner was selected to serve on a U.S. Department of Education Regional Advisory Committee tasked with improving education and instructional quality across the Midwest and beyond.

Thank you to all of the educators, administrators, and community members who provided Dr. Klaisner’s team the input they can use to help make the suggested improvements a reality.

As of late October, Dr. Klaisner’s team has collected the data and identified several priorities, including early childhood education, which will be submitted to the U. S. Secretary of Education in the near future.

Other priorities that the Regional Advisory Committee is considering include teacher workforce, student well-being and mental health, evidence-based literacy instruction/science of reading, and supporting special populations.



September 19, 2023

The West40 superintendents event scheduled for September 22 at our Lexington building has been postponed until November 10. We are putting the finishing touches on the building’s renovation and because of that we want to make sure everything is safe before holding the event.
Thank you for understanding.


September 5, 2023

West40 executive director Dr. Mark Klaisner has been given a major opportunity to serve on a federal educational task force with the goal of improving education and instruction quality across the Midwest and beyond.

As part of the task force, Dr. Klaisner is counting on input from local school administrators, educators and community members in the form of a survey. And time is of the essence to make improvements a reality.

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miquel Cardona recently appointed Klaisner to serve on the U.S. Department of Education Midwest Regional Advisory Committee.

The Regional Advisory Committee’s objective is to provide advice and recommendations regarding the educational needs of the Midwest region and how those needs would be most effectively addressed, including technical assistance activities provided by comprehensive centers.

“It is quite an honor to serve in this capacity,” said Klaisner. “Our charge is to seek input from stakeholders, compile the data and prepare a report to the Secretary and the Department summarizing our findings related to the needs identified within 10 Regional Laboratories across the nation.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Comprehensive Centers program provides capacity-building services to State education agencies, regional educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools that improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, and improve the quality of instruction.

The data must be collected by September 20, 2023. If you can assist Dr. Klaisner by filling out a survey, here is a link:


“In the near future, I will be seeking responses to a survey and conducting some interviews to help influence our report,” Klaisner said. “I am honored that Dr. Sanders from ISBE and Secretary Cardona have faith in me to serve in this role.”


August 17, 2023

Helping to ease the sting of back to school shopping expenses, West40 and our partners at Morton College held the annual Backpack Giveback & Resource Fair on August 12 at Morton College.

Approximately 1,100 backpacks stocked with school supplies were distributed during the event, which was attended by students and their families from across West Cook County. Additionally, 37 vendors had booths at the event and provided resource information.

“This year’s Backpack Giveback and Resource Fair was a success,” said West40 director of support services John Milosovic. “ West40 loves to help our community neighbors get ready for the new school year and we want to thank our sponsors and our partners at Morton College.”

Funding for the event came from six main donors and grant money.

The event also received media attention and stories aired on NBC Chicago and Telemundo Chicago.

The remaining backpacks from a total of 3,000 will be distributed to other backpack events, school districts, and organizations.



August 8, 2023

The new school year is approaching and for many families it’s about time to purchase school supplies. Factor in a new backpack and those costs can add up. But what if you can gather new school supplies at NO cost at one location?

West40 Intermediate Service Center and Morton College will make that a reality for students and their families across west Cook County at the upcoming Backpack Giveback and Resource Fair. The event will be held Saturday, August 12, 2023, between 10:00am and 12:00pm at Morton College, located at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero, IL. Attendees should visit the student commons and courtyard, Building B.

“Preparing for the school year can be a busy and pricey time and we know that our students and families may have unaddressed needs, such as school supplies,” said West 40 executive director Dr. Mark Klaisner. “That’s why West40 and our partners at Morton College want to help by distributing thousands of loaded backpacks to our community students.”

Backpacks will include notebooks, crayons, pencils, a ruler and more! Limit one backpack per child. Approximately thirty resource vendors will also be on site.

“Morton College is fortunate to have had the support of the residents of Community College District 527 for close to 100 years and we are always looking for ways to give back to the community that supports us. The Backpack Giveback is one of our favorite ways to do that. It provides this community with resources and access to services that can ensure a successful school year!” said Michael Rose, Morton College’s Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, Adult, Career & Technical Education. 

Nearly two thousand backpacks were distributed at last year’s Backpack Giveback.


July 19, 2023

West40 invited community members inside the St. Joseph High School gymnasium on July 18 to hear its plans to transform the legacy-rich school into a state of the art learning facility that supports the governor’s commitment to providing education services to youth-in-need.

Nearly fifty people attended the town hall in-person, while another 70 viewed the presentation online.

West40 executive director Dr. Mark Klaisner explained the renovation progress that has been made so far and shared that the goal of the state-funded project is to provide education and housing for up to 40 students.

“Our second town hall meeting was a huge success. We held a Q&A for almost 2 hours,” said Klaisner. “With a project of this magnitude, we believe it is critical to connect with the community, share our vision and answer questions. We look forward to being a positive addition to the community.”

As of mid-July on the St. Joseph campus, West40 has installed new security cameras and motion detectors, updated the fire alarm system with essential components, landscaped the school’s courtyard, installed a new water meter, hired a pest control service, and completed asbestos abatement in the school’s front office area.

Pest control reports have indicated no evidence of pests. West40 will continue to monitor.

Additionally, architectural drawings are being finalized and work continues on permit applications. Renovations of the school’s buildings, including roof repair, window replacement, and further asbestos abatement, are also being planned.

Prior to and during the early renovation, St. Joseph has suffered an extensive amount of window damage and graffiti due to vandalism. However, the recent added security measures have resulted in a decrease in vandalism.

The school could be up-and-running as early as March 2024. The renovation and future operating costs will be entirely state-funded.

West40 values community input to be a good neighbor. A third town hall is currently planned for August 23 at the school. Please monitor this website and our social media channels for updates. West40 also has a frequently asked questions page regarding St. Joseph High School.



May 19, 2023

West40 is pleased to welcome Cicero District 99 superintendent Dr. Aldo Calderin as the newest member of its governing board.

As superintendent of the state’s fourth largest elementary school district, Calderin leads more than 9,000 students and more than 1,000 employees at fifteen schools. Calderin said West40 symbolizes the “We Move Forward Together” motto that guides his current school district.

“West40 is an amazing opportunity for myself to be part of a team that supports not only local school districts, but around the state as a model to be able to support others,” said Calderin. “I look forward to being part of a team that helps others and moving forward our districts together.”

Calderin started his education career in 2004, where he began teaching in District 99 as a bilingual math and science teacher. He also served as an assistant principal in Elgin Area School District U-46 and principal of District 99’s Unity Junior High School.

Calderin was selected to fill an open seat on the West40 board, which is composed of school district leaders, principals, teachers, principals, and school board members from across West Cook County.  The board advises the executive director and is involved in setting the course for the organization.

Dr. Mark Klaisner, executive director of West40, said Calderin is known for being a voice for students.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Calderin to the West40 Governing Board. He has a rich background of experience and expertise. Additionally, he is the superintendent of our largest elementary district,” said Klaisner. “He perfectly aligns with the vision and mission of West40. Welcome!”


March 24, 2023

Huge ovations and smiling faces greeted more than one hundred recipients of the School Citizen of the Year (SCOTY) award earlier this week as West40 honored students who go above and beyond in the classroom.

Area educators from across the West Cook County region nominated students for their positive attitude, willingness to help others, leadership skills, and work ethic.

“When I think of kindness, he is the first student I think of,” a nominator wrote of a fourth grader who received the honor.

Another nominator wrote how a selected student “goes out of her way to be helpful to her peers whether helping with classwork, translating, or showing kindness.”

Ingrid Alonso, sophomore at the West40 Regional Safe School and Jacob Corona, fifth grader at the West40 Remote School, were among the proud SCOTY Award recipients to walk across the stage and receive a medal and certificate.

“The Student Citizen of the Year (SCOTY) awards are a great opportunity for West40 and our districts to recognize our amazing students,” said West40 Director of Support Services John Milosovic. “SCOTY brings students, families and school staff together to celebrate their son/daughter/student’s achievement in the classroom and in the community.”

The 2023 SCOTY Awards hosted 131 students and more than 900 attendees. The event was held in the West Leyden High School Auditorium.




January 31, 2023

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has announced School District U-46 Superintendent Dr. Tony Sanders will be the new state superintendent of education after a nationwide search.

Sanders will assume his duties as state superintendent in late February. Retiring state superintendent Dr. Carmen I. Ayala’s term concluded January 31. ISBE said Deputy Education Officer Krish Mohip will serve as interim state superintendent during the transition.

West40 executive director Dr. Mark Klaisner has worked with Dr. Sanders for well over a decade and said his track record speaks for itself.

“Congratulations to Dr. Tony Sanders being named as the next State Superintendent of Schools. I know Dr Sanders to be someone who always puts students first and has an eye toward innovation and improvement,” said West40 executive director Dr. Mark Klaisner.

Governor JB Pritzker said Dr. Sanders’ focus on innovation, social emotional development and academic excellence make him an extraordinary pick.

“I can think of no better person to lead the Illinois State Board of Education as we continue to invest in, support, and elevate our students and educators,” Pritzker said.

Klaisner, who also serves as president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, said the IARSS will continue to foster its positive relationship with the Illinois State Board of Education.


January 5, 2023

Experienced educator, administrator, researcher and school improvement expert Dr. Jayme Tighe has been appointed Assistant Executive Director of West40 ISC #2 (Region 6), effective January 1, 2023.

Tighe will help lead West40 in its mission to serve and benefit students, teachers, districts, and communities throughout the West Cook region and beyond.

“I am honored to be appointed as the assistant executive director at West40,” Tighe said. “I am excited to be a part of a mission where everything we do centers around the kids we serve.”

Since joining West40 in December 2020, Tighe has served as Director of Illinois Empower Services and Director of Systems and Supports. Among her many accomplishments, Tighe led a team that brought to life a Remote School to support the needs of students, families and schools.

“Dr. Tighe has built an illustrious career as a teacher, administrator, researcher, communicator, coach, guide and most of all an exemplary leader! Jayme had worked alongside West40 teams for a number of years prior to officially joining us. In these diverse capacities, she continuously shared her expertise, owned the success of the teams and modeled amazing leadership. Dr. Tighe is known for her organizational skills. But beyond these, she has the ability to capture the ‘big picture’ in a way that allows her to summarize, synthesize and display the key concepts in a way that is understandable to all audiences,” said West40 Executive Director Dr. Mark Klaisner.

Prior to joining West40, Tighe served as assistant director for district services with the American Institutes for Research, senior manager of school improvement at Carnegie Learning, principal at Community Consolidated School District 59 (Arlington Heights), and teacher in the Glenview Public School District.



> West40’s podcast, Shift Everything, is back! First up, the evolution of Remote Learning

> Introducing Specialized Support Services for behavioral, SEL, EL and Special Education support

> New Heart2Heart Store is Now Open


For more information on above, please click on any of the links above or call the main office number and follow the audio directions at 708.449.4284


February 21, 2024

Click here for Video.

Imagine being a prospective teacher and earning great grades in college and receiving strong letters of support for the start of your career, but a roadblock is preventing you from achieving your dream job.

Recent Eastern Illinois University graduates Audrey Kreke and Allison Kingery said it took them seven and eight attempts, respectively, to pass Illinois’ early childhood education exam, which candidates are required to pass with a score of 240 before they can officially teach young elementary students.

“I felt like the test questions were nothing that help you in the classroom, Kreke said. “I felt like every time I didn’t pass the test, I didn’t know what to go back to study.”

Both Kreke and Kingery said it was difficult to prepare for the exam.

“I did the practice test. I did multiple things online, even quizlets. Just anything to find resources to practice for it. I really don’t think any of it helped,” Kingery said.

Illinois State Board of Education records show only 47% of the 1,226 candidates who attempted the exam in 2022-23 passed on their first attempt. There were a total of 1,505 cumulative attempts during that same time period and just 62% of the candidates passed after multiple tries.

The cost of taking the exam multiple times is another source of frustration for candidates. Kingery and Kreke said they each spent around $1,000.

“It’s very hard to come up with close to $1,000 to pass this test, let alone paying for tuition and this cost of living overall,” Kingery said.

Kingery and Kreke persisted and are now working as classroom teachers. 

“Even with the struggles of the test, it’s definitely worth it,” Kingery. 

Still, they said other prospective educators they know are getting discouraged, due to the difficulty of the exam.

“Because I know there are a lot who are wanting and willing to be teachers, but they just can’t pass this test, so they are having to fall back on something else,” Kreke said.

Educator content exams are administered at regional offices of education.

“We’ve had many students leave here in tears over the years and it’s a horrible feeling,” said Dr. Kyle Thompson, regional superintendent of Regional Office of Education #11 in Charleston.  

Thompson said it took him five times to pass the exam earlier in his career. He said these days some candidates are leaving Illinois to get licensed.

“We need some major drastic changes into how licenses can be earned and how they can still be valid and maintain high expectations. Can a community college offer a program? Are a hundred multiple choice questions what we need to determine if you’re a good preschool teacher? These questions are all easy answers, but for some reason they take years and years to fix,” Thompson said.

Several states have stopped requiring teacher content exams as they realize the tests can be considered a barrier.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) said it works with colleges and universities to make sure educator prepation programs are aligned with the standards upon which content exam test items are developed and these standards are the same as what EPPs are required to use to develop their programs.

Still, ISBE said because of concerns about pass rates on the Early Childhood test, it has approved moving forward with an enhanced review and validation of the exam.

The review could result in a new passing score for the test.

ISBE also said it has also asked for a flex option for the test that offers an alternative assessment for candidates who are close to passing. Last year, ISBE approved its vendor to offer one free practice exam per candidate.

Additionally, ISBE said it has a preparation team which is in regular contact with colleges and universities with approved educator preparation programs. These programs, according to ISBE, are required to align their preparation to approved standards and the exams are aligned to these same standards. ISBE also said it supports programs to practice continuous improvement to ensure alignment and improve outcomes.

But some say changes are not happening soon enough.

“The whole system needs to be reevaluated and needs to happen quicker,” Thompson said. “The more people and the more groups and entities that demand the change, the faster change will happen and that’s been proven over time.”


October 2, 2023

West40 is excited to share an update about our plans for St. Joseph High School in Westchester, as we have reached a pivotal next step in the process of transforming the school into a state-of-the-art learning facility.

We are in the process of applying for grants that could accelerate the renovation process. Meanwhile, West40 has agreed to the Village of Westchester’s request to go through an official zoning process. There is no firm construction timeline or expected opening date as of yet.

We remain committed to creating a school that will serve approximately 40 youth-in-need, including foster students and those with social-emotional concerns. The school will be funded by state agencies such as the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Human Services in support of Governor Pritzker’s commitment to providing behavioral health services to youth.

Please note that West40 has no intention of building new structures on the 30 acre campus. The south building that borders Cermak Road will be renovated and the two vacant buildings on the north end of the campus will be demolished.

We remain committed to being excellent neighbors in a wonderful community.


September 15, 2023

A new report released by Birth to Five Illinois and supported by West40 is shining light on the need for more funding of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs and early childhood workforce recruitment and retention in West Cook County.

The report from the Birth to Five Illinois Region 1-B-B (West Cook County) Council found that out of a total of approximately 39,636 children under the age of six in West Cook County, there are 24,465 (61.72%) of children without a space in a publicly funded ECEC program.

According to the report, barriers facing parents, caregivers and families in the region include transportation, communication, and affordable child care.

Key recommendations from the report for the region include expansion of publicly funded ECEC programs, a wage increase for ECED workforce and/or targeted incentives, increase service offerings and delivery for children/families with developmental delays/disabilities, improvement in the processes for Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) approval/payments, and an increase in trauma-informed, culturally sensitive support for Newcomers.

Vivian Palicki and Holly McCarthy, both of the West40 professional learning team, served on the Region 1-B-B Action Council.

“The regional scan for Region 1-B-B West Cook highlights the strengths and needs of our community’s families with young children ages birth to five years old,” Palicki said. “As we began to gather data in our region in early 2022, West40’s Professional Learning Early Childhood arm took the initiative to include an early childhood component in the existing school district informal needs assessments framework.”

In addition to participating in the Council, the West40 professional learning team is supporting the findings of the report by providing consulting, thought-partner, and needs assessment services to help increase kindergarten readiness. Learn more about the Birth to Five services offered by West40 here.

Birth to Five Illinois launched in 2022 and is state-funded. It was created to harness family and caregiver voices in ECEC and serve as a bridge between the communities and policymakers so family, caregiver, and professional experiences can guide the decisions made to expand or enhance services across the state.

The experiences and knowledge families, caregivers, and early childhood professionals gain while navigating the complexities of the State’s ECEC system is valuable, and understanding their lived experience in the local context is vital for decision-makers to ensure communities have access to the programs, services, and supports they need,” said Tiffany Draine, Regional Council Manager for Region 1-B-B. “Throughout the process, with support of organizations and entities such as West40, regional barriers were documented, and recommendations were developed based on identified needs of families.”



August 11, 2023

Mary-Rita Moore Dana Wesolowski

West40 is pleased to announce two new members to its governing board! 

Mary-Rita Moore, President of Triton College and Dana Wesolowski, Board President of Westchester District 92 ½ officially joined the West40 governing board during the August 11 meeting.

Moore said this opportunity will allow Triton College to continue fulfilling its mission of valuing the individual, educating, and serving the community.

“I think this is an opportunity for Triton College to continue being a good partner and to ensure that we are serving our community and welcome the opportunity to engage and support the West40 programming and effort,” Moore said.

Wesolowski said joining the board makes sense due to West40’s plans for a new learning facility on the grounds of St. Joseph High School in Westchester.

“I am excited to be a part of the West40 board to further the connections that our district has with West40 and the entire community of Westchester,” Wesolowski said.

The West40 governing board is composed of school district leaders, principals, teachers, principals, and school board members from across West Cook County. The board advises the executive director and is involved in setting the course for the organization.



August 1, 2023

We’re moving! The West40 main office staff has begun the process of exiting our location in Hillside as we plan to relocate to the former Lexington Elementary in Maywood, which is the site of our Regional Safe School. As renovations continue at Lexington, the main office staff is expected to officially begin working out of the school in September.

Moving forward, West40 at Lexington will support your licensure, fingerprinting, Pearson VUE Testing, and Comprehensive Educational Services needs and requirements.

The address of West40 at Lexington is 415 W. Lexington St., Maywood, IL, 60153. Also, you can reach us via our Contact Form or using the Staff Directory.



June 1, 2023

West40 is excited to announce our Heart 2 Heart store, will remain open during the summer to continue offering relief to community members by providing essential household items for free.

There will be bread, pastries and hot meals available weekly for pick up. Additionally, Heart 2 Heart received a donation of several different types of Enfamil baby formula, which will be available for pick up until supplies run out.

Heart 2 Heart is stocked with clothing, diapers, toiletries, cleaning supplies, toys, cookware, and shoes. The items are new and donated from West40’s partner organizations. 



May 15, 2023

Hillside, IL  – West40 Intermediate Service Center #2 is excited to announce its purchase of St. Joseph High School in Westchester in its plan to produce a state-of-the-art learning facility campus and be a good community neighbor.

The legacy-rich high school, which permanently closed in 2021, is the ideal choice for West40 to serve students, build strong community connections, and support Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s commitment to providing education services to youth-in-need. Westchester is also one of the communities in the region served by West40.

“It’s so exciting to be part of a spotlight program that will change the trajectory of how we serve the most vulnerable youth,” said West40 Executive Director Dr. Mark Klaisner. “We look forward to the opportunity to be a model for the state and possibly the country.”

Renovations of the school’s buildings have started and are expected to continue through most of 2024. Early construction includes roof repair, window replacement, and asbestos abatement.

The school could be up-and-running as early as March 2024. The renovation and future operating costs will be fully state-funded.

West40 foresees the possibility of allowing the Westchester Park District and general public to use the campus facilities for theater performances, music events, and sporting activities.

For more than 25 years, West40 has operated student programs in West Cook County using differentiated interventions and wrap-around support for students and their families.

West40 plans to hold a Town Hall regarding its plans for St. Joseph in the weeks ahead. More details will be released at a later date.

About West40

West40 is an Intermediate Service Center based in Hillside that serves 38 school districts and three co-ops in West Cook County by advocating for students, providing a safe school and a remote school, and offering professional learning, licensure and school compliance services.



March 13, 2023

Advocacy and teamwork! Together we can make a difference in the lives of Illinois students and educators.

West40 made sure your voices were heard at the Illinois State Capitol Building on March 8 during Advocacy Day. Team members split into multiple groups to meet with state lawmakers and provide them important information about education bills and grant requests that directly impact your schools.

Among the topics discussed, a request for a $20 million increase in regional safe school grants, funding Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) at $550 million this budget cycle and every year thereafter to allow every school district to be adequately funded by 2031, a bill that corrects an issue regarding IMRF Sick Days and eliminates the prohibition on regional superintendents from having any other form of employment, and a bill that removes barriers to allow ROEs and ISCs to assist low-performing school districts in a timely manner.

“Advocating for West40’s partner districts and students means we are also supporting schools and children across the entire state,” said West40 Executive Director Dr. Mark Klaisner. “By building strong relationships with our lawmakers and asking for their support we can help all kids thrive.”



March 13, 2023

Team building, networking and honoring students were hallmarks of yet another successful ICEARY conference, as dozens of West40 staff members recently attended the annual event in Bloomington.

The ICEARY (Illinois Coalition for Educating At-Risk Youth) conference is held during the first week of March as an opportunity to share best practices in working with students who need additional emotional and academic support.

West40 was represented by 73 attendees at the conference. Additionally, West40 led eight different presentations that focused on topics such as truancy, wellness and safety, and ALOP.

“It’s a great opportunity for West40 for team building. While we cannot take everyone, our goal is to be able to rotate staff so that we can provide opportunities for everyone to attend the conference on a rotating basis,” said West40 Director of Support Services John Milosovic.

West40 Peace Center seniors plus student Jalon Banks made the top 5 for ICEARY Outstanding Student.

West40 Regional Safe School Co-Director Karen Tiemann was also honored for her years of service. Tiemann is also the incoming president of the ICEARY board.



February 27, 2023

The West40 Regional Safe School was buzzing with excitement on February 24 as Governor JB Pritzker was on site to deliver an important message about the future of behavioral health services for Illinois youth.

Speaking in front of a packed gymnasium of West40 students, staff members, local and state dignitaries, and Chicago media, Governor Pritzker highlighted West40’s commitment to providing education services to youth, including those with behavioral health needs.

“We can’t do the work that needs to be done in the state of Illinois without West40 and organizations like it that help us deliver those services,” Pritzker said.

During the speaking event, the Governor released a new report from the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to transform statewide systems to provide clear, consistent, and comprehensive guidance to families seeking mental health services for children.

According to a press release, the Initiative aims to accomplish five goals: adjusting capacity to ensure the right resources are available to youth in need, streamlining processes to make it easier for youth and families to access services, intervening earlier to prevent crises from developing, increasing accountability to ensure we have a transparent system, and developing agility so that the system can adjust to meet the evolving needs of youth.

“Through rate increases, community networks, and inter-agency collaboration, we are taking a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to establish the number one children’s behavioral healthcare system in the nation,” Pritzker said.

West40 learned it had been selected to host the Governor’s event several weeks earlier.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this discussion. We’re thrilled to be part of planning forward, looking at how we can be part of doing some amazing things for students,” said West40 Executive Director Dr. Mark Klaisner.



December 16, 2022

Illinois State Rep. Will Davis (D-30th District) visited the West40 Regional Safe School on Friday, December 16 for discussions with students and staff members. The veteran lawmaker said he was impressed with the students’ desire to be educated despite challenges they have had in other learning environments.

“I’m appreciative that West40 is providing them the space where they can come be who they are, understand where they come from, but also still receive a quality education,” Davis said.

Davis listened as students described how the school’s emphasis on support and social emotional learning has created a welcoming environment.

“They’re encouraged about what they get here in West40. They’re looking forward to what life is going to be after here,” Davis said.

Davis is chairperson of the Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education committee and said the best way for him to be informed is to see schools in action.



If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of students and helping schools during the current educator shortage, the state of Illinois is making it easier than ever to become a substitute teacher and make some cash.

Here is how you can obtain a short term substitute teachers license.

You’ll need an associate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university OR at least 60 semester hours of 100 level or higher coursework from a regionally accredited college or university.

It’s FREE to apply. A $25 fee is required for the training.

Substitute teachers across the Chicago area can expect to make anywhere from $115 to $150 a day, although it varies district to district.

If this sounds like a plan for you, West40 can help make it happen. Our licensure specialists can assist you with the application process. Reach them at licensure@west40.org .

West40 will also hold an approved training program on January 18, 2023, from 12:30pm to 3:30pm via Zoom. This training will provide individuals with a general understanding of curriculum, classroom management techniques, school safety, and district/building operations. Individuals will be prepared to communicate with districts/schools about local procedures and expectations. 





See all the ways that West40 is helping to transform the lives of students, families, teachers and administrators in West Suburban Cook County.