"We Are D97" is a monthly profile series that will highlight the tremendous work being done across the district to advance our vision, achieve our goals, and create a strong sense of community and belonging.
Climate and Culture Coach
Brooks and Julian Middle Schools
Lauren Olson joined District 97 in 2015 as a social worker for early childhood and pre-kindergarten, and later became the social worker for Whittier Elementary School. She began her career teaching high school Spanish and sociology as a member of the Chicago Teaching Fellows program, and also served as the dean of students for an elementary charter school in Chicago.
In 2017, District 97 named Lauren the new climate and culture coach for Brooks and Julian middle schools. The position was created to develop and monitor systems that promote a positive learning environment, social-emotional learning and restorative practices for students.
On Her Role as the Climate and Culture Coach:
"I have a teaching background, a social work background and an administrative background, so I see this role is a marriage of all of those things. I’m personally interested in the intersection between social-emotional learning and academics. I’m definitely a systems-thinker, so this is an opportunity for me to get to build a system that really values the academic piece as well as the whole child."
On the Work Being Done Around Culture and Climate in the Middle Schools:
"We've done a few big things in both of our middle schools this year. First, we’ve put some universal systems for positive reinforcement into place using a program called HERO. We’ve had an opportunity to provide a platform for teachers to give positive feedback to students and for students and families to know what that feedback is. We’re beginning some work around restorative practices across our middle schools. We’re also doing some proactive circles and a lot of community-building exercises."
Favorite Memories from Her Time in District 97:
"I like seeing kids have fun. We did a couple of things toward the end of last year that were culminating activities for grade levels. At Julian, we had an Advisory Olympics celebration that was really fun and served as a great community-building event. At Brooks, students wrote a grant for a space called the Peace Room that became a reality this year. It was an idea that came from the students, so it’s nice that we were able to listen to them and make something that they really wanted come true."
Carrie Kamm, Senior Director of Equity:
"Lauren's exhibits a tireless and steadfast commitment to our students and staff in her role as the culture and climate coach for Brooks and Julian. Her positive disposition, expert facilitation skills and innate ability to connect with others have strengthened the sense of community and belonging in our middle schools. She is also helping lead our efforts to provide our kids with a safe, welcoming and nurturing learning environment that is contributing to their growth, development and success. I cannot say enough about how lucky we are have to Lauren working for and advocating on behalf of our students, schools and community. "
Lauren's husband, Steve Olson, is the design teacher at Brooks and Julian. They live in Oak Park with their son.