Dr. John Hutton, Using Tech to Build Learner Agency

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices.



Dr. John Hutton, Superintendent of Gurnee School District 56 in Illinois, joins us to discuss how the tech focus within his district is positively impacting student outcomes. As an ISTE Distinguished District Award winner and member of the League of Innovative Schools, GSD 56 has used Title I funding to provide access to WiFi within student homes. By leveraging data analytics to target interventions for RTI students, the district is working to both reach all learners and build learner agency by providing constant feedback to students.



About Dr. John Hutton


Dr. Hutton has served as the superintendent at Gurnee School District 56 in Illinois for ten years. He was one of 100 superintendents to be invited to a White House Summit in November of 2014 as part of the national campaign to make all schools Future Ready and also hosted a regional event at Prairie Trail School in June of 2015 as a follow up to the White House Summit. In March, he was named by the NSBA as one of the twenty educational leaders to watch in 2015. Gurnee School District 56 received the Apple Distinguished Program Award for 2013–2015 and 2015–2017 and has been a member of the League of Innovative Schools since 2015. In June of 2017, ISTE presented Dr. Hutton the Distinguished School District Award on behalf of the Gurnee District 56 school community.



Gurnee School District 56’s Vision

  • Student-centered learning opportunities with an emphasis on background knowledge, reading, writing, and mathematics.

  • The establishment of a learning environment that supports reflective thinking and a free exchange of ideas.

  • The use of MAP testing to facilitate curriculum revision, differentiated instruction, and targeted student interventions.

  • To monitor student progress to insure one year of growth for one year of experience.

  • To provide diverse learning opportunities that result in life-long learning.

  • The use of teacher feedback to encourage students to revise ideas, connect learning to life experiences, and apply learning to future work.

  • The facilitation of teacher collaboration to identify and solve problems.

  • To provide rich staff development opportunities to maximize student learning.

  • To promote civility and mutual respect in the school environment.


How to Subscribe


A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go. To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.


For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners — Go to the iTunes store and search “The Path to Higher Ed” This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.


For podcast enthusiasts — If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher you prefer, add this feed to your catcher.


For those who don’t have a mobile device — You can always listen to the show by going to our podcast hosting website. Listen online for free right here.