West40 News


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, 2013

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.



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.



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. Sign up here:



West40 is pleased to announce the appointment of Stuart Brown as teacher representative to its governing board.

Brown is currently a fifth grade teacher at Union Ridge School in Harwood Heights, where he has educated students for more than twenty years.  Earlier in his career, Brown taught in Japan.

Brown said his focus as a governing board member will be to learn what contributes to West40’s positive momentum and how to continue it regardless of any future changes.

“I’m really looking forward to being a part of the board, representing the teacher aspect of the governing board and seeing what work I can do with West40 and for West40 and ultimately for children,” Brown said.

Brown says while Union Ridge does not currently utilize West40’s Alternative Learning Opportunities Program (ALOP), he is working closely with ALOP directors to see how it might fit in smaller schools like Union Ridge.

“He knew he wanted to be a part of this movement.  It is clear that his heart was cut from West40 cloth,” said West40 executive director Dr. Mark Klaisner.

The West40 governing board is composed of 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.

> 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

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