New superintendent becoming part of community
Thomas “Tom” Akers and his family love Cambridge after moving here from Elizabeth and said they are looking forward to being a part of the community.
Akers is the new superintendent of Cambridge School District #227.
“Cambridge is a great town,” he stated. “There’s always something to do in town, if you chose to do it. The kids have already adjusted to their new school and made new friends.”
Akers began is new job Tuesday, July 1.
He was born in Central City, Iowa, where he worked on his grandfather’s farm as he grew up.
“I think that’s were I learned my values and work ethic,” he stated.
Akers earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern, Iowa, Cedar Falls, and taught at Rock Falls Middle School.
After receiving his masters from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, he was director of the Rock Falls Alternative High School and then assistant principal of Rock Falls High School. In addition to his master’s degree, Akers has his superintendent’s certificate and is now working on his doctorate.
In 1996, Akers was chosen as Teacher of the Year for the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
In 2004, he was hired as middle school and high school principal of River Ridge School District 210 in Hanover.
“I really admire the Cambridge school district for the enthusiasm and professionalism the teachers have,” Akers stated. “As a superintendent, you don’t always see that. The teachers have been very receptive to new ideas. We are having some reading consultants come into the school district and the teachers were really excited about that. They all want the school district to be the best it can be.”
Akers said he has found the whole community to be very supportive.
“I like how everyone seems to get involved,” he stated. “Whether it’s a sporting event or another extracurricular event. We are very fortunate to have a lot of supportive parents.”
Akers is excited about a recent school board retreat.
“We came up with some great ideas,” he stated. “I can’t talk about all of the things yet, because we haven’t officially voted of them, but some of things include improving our reading scores, making the school more environmentally friendly and showcasing the school district and the community as a great place to live and raise children.”
The school district has already revised their Web site and offers a tour of the district.
He is also excited about the new parent network which the school district has started. The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, in the high school library.
The meeting is open to all parents with children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Eugene Herges, Cambridge High School guidance counselor, and Lisa Miller, Cambridge High School guidance counselor intern, will give the welcome.
Michael Eskridge, a prevention specialist with Bridgeway, Galesburg, will speak on youth substance abuse prevention.
Diana Anderson of Bridgeway, Kewanee, will address difficult conversations with children.
Bob Reagan, Cambridge High School principal, will talk about academic achievement and Tom Akers, Cambridge Schools superintendent, will talk about the Cambridge Parents Network.
Childcare will be provided.
“The school district and the parents working together will be a win, win situation for Cambridge students,” Akers stated. “I’m hoping for a big turnout.”
Akers is excited about a few new things this year including the reading consultants and a new student recognition program.
“The student recognition program, Viking Pride, is already being implemented into the elementary school and hopefully in the near future, the junior high and senior high will also recognize students who go above and beyond the call of duty.”
Akers would also like to implement a reading recognition program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“We need to get our kids excited about reading,” Akers stated. “If they like reading when they’re young, they’ll also like it when they are adults.”
Akers also announced the the Cambridge Parents Club is donating some new playground equipment at the Cambridge Elementary School.
“They are donating some swings, tether balls and parallel bars,” he stated. “The playground really needs more equipment and this is a great start. Future goals of the school board include a big kids slide and climbing apparatus. When this equipment comes in, we will need volunteers to help set it up. If interested, phone 937-2028.”
In conjunction with needing more playground equipment, the teachers will be guest sandwich artists at Subway in Cambridge Friday, Oct. 3. They will be serving up Subway sandwiches from 4 to 8 p.m. that evening. For every six-inch sandwich, the school will receive 50 cents. For every foot-long sandwich, the school will get $1. The proceeds from the night will benefit the school’s playground according to Shelly Logston, school principal.
When asked about school consolidation, Akers said there’s nothing going on right now.
“We are strong financially,” Akers stated. “We will consider co-oping more athletics in the near future so we can offer our students every opportunity even if our numbers are down,” he stated. “I would also like to see more college classes offer ed in the district. I believe the school board understands the needs of the students and wants them to get the best possible education available.”
Walking through the halls of both schools, Akers said he sees students who are most generally well behaved and working hard to learn.
Akers and his wife, Kelly, have four children. Their children are Tristan, 10, Hannah, eight, Olivia, five and Evan, five months.