District 81 Superintendent
To engage constituents and provide open and transparent communication.
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I had the opportunity to share an update on our District goals at last week’s Board of Education meeting. Providing this update helps us all stay on track and communicate with one another on what is important to us. A goal that is important to our entire learning community is parent involvement. I hope that writing this blog post will help encourage parents to redefine what parent involvement can look like for them.
I am a working parent of three children, and identify with the parents who may not be able to volunteer in classrooms and attend special events and meetings as much as they would like. The volunteers who are very involved in our schools are extremely important and valuable, and I am so grateful for their presence and the time they dedicate to support our children and staff. A perfect example of this type of involvement and what a small group of committed individuals can achieve is the ABC Parent Group, who just celebrated their one-year anniversary!
There is another type of parental involvement that is also important to the success of your child. Every time you help your child with his or her homework, or make sure there is a quiet time provided for homework, that is parent involvement. When you ask your children about their school day, support them in their learning, and communicate with their teachers, you are an involved parent. We love when you attend the musicals, sporting events, Dr. Seuss night, and come to special meetings, but your involvement doesn’t have to begin and end only when you are visiting. You can actually be an involved parent each and every day.
One opportunity to get involved as a parent would be to complete the 5Essentials survey that SD81 and other districts across our state will take. Completing the survey will give us important information about how you feel about your child’s education. It is a way for you to communicate with us, and we value your thoughts. The survey will take about five minutes to complete.
Below is the link to the letter posted about the 5Essentials survey posted on the District 81 homepage. The Board of Education, administration, faculty and staff thank you for taking the time to complete the survey. As I mention in the letter to you about the 5Essentials survey, our partnership has a tremendous impact on the success of your student!
Letter with Instructions for Taking the 5Essentials Survey:
The experience that I had today at Lincoln Middle School is difficult to put into words. I witnessed a life-changing experience for more than one student today. Students walked into the theater this morning anticipating a typical assembly. They didn’t realize that they would meet “Ray,” a homeless man who was oddly dressed, had a difficult time with speech, and spoke to them about how hard life was for him, being constantly judged. There was no talking or laughing. The students patiently and respectfully just watched and listened. Before our eyes, “Ray” literally transformed. He took off his coat and hat, stood up taller, and began enunciating his words clearly. Ray was just a character that the real speaker, John Grossman, had created to teach his audience about the dangers of judging a book by its cover, and how it leads to bullying and mistreatment of others.
A moment I will cherish for the rest of my life happened when Mr. Grossman went looking into the audience for one particular student. He was looking for this young woman because before the assembly began, he was standing alone as “Ray,” in his awkward outfit, clearly out of place and “different”. The student he was looking for simply had said hello to him and smiled. He said that as “Ray” most people ignored him or laughed at him. She did not. She recognized him as a real person and didn’t judge him. Mr. Grossman said that she had joined a small group of 100 people in the near 25 years that he had been public speaking who had offered a smile and a greeting to him.
I am so proud of this student and all the students at the assembly today. Mr. Grossman complimented them, letting us know that many places he visits, people laugh at his awkwardness, but none did at Lincoln today. When Mr. Grossman got deeper into his talk about bullying, he asked for a show of hands of how many students felt that they had a teacher at their school they could go to if they needed to talk. He was amazed at how many hands went up, and said that this wasn’t typical. He recognized that we have something special in our district!
I believe we do have something special in District 81. Hearing Mr. Grossman’s words together as a school community made a powerful impact. I can’t stress enough how much we can accomplish when we work together on behalf of the children of this community. As I have always said, District 81 is an amazing place to work and learn because our learning community is filled with passionate educators, hard-working staff, incredible students and supportive parents. There is a synergy here that is exceptional and I am proud to be part of such a stellar example of excellence.
If you have children at Lincoln, I encourage you to ask them about today’s assembly, and how it impacted them. I saw students cheering, clapping, and listening so attentively. One sixth grade boy even gave Mr. Grossman a standing ovation! Let’s keep the momentum of touching the lives of others with support and kindness alive!
This week’s return back to school after winter break has been one of starts and stops, but I am happy to share these pictures of our students working and learning at Kennedy School. Some of the pictures were taken in Mrs. Garcia’s first grade classroom, where students were using a new Smart Panel. This new technology was purchased with Title I grant dollars. The SmartPanels were recently installed at Kennedy and Washington Schools and we are very excited to have this innovative technology in our classrooms to support teaching and learning!
I extend a warm welcome back to all of our SD81 families, and hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Schiller Park Education Association, ABC Parent Group and the Board of Education for the accolades I received at last night’s board meeting.
To be named a Superintendent of Distinction by my colleagues is very humbling. I am in outstanding company with my fellow superintendents in the West Cook region and I feel privileged to have their esteem.
This recognition is an honor for our entire learning community. The phenomenal energy in our district is always focused on students to ensure every decision connects back to the their learning.
District 81 is an amazing place to work and learn because of our extraordinary children, dedicated educators, committed staff members, supportive parents, and a board of education who puts children at the forefront of their decisions. I am blessed to work with educators, parents and board members who inspire me each day.
Santa spend some time in in our schools today and children were excited to whisper their Christmas wishes in his ear. I extend sincere gratitude to the Village of Schiller Park for bringing the magic of the season to our schools today.
I wish everyone a magnificent holiday season spending time with those who warm your hearts. May 2015 bring peace, happiness and beautiful new memories to you and your loved ones.
The music program in SD81 is a source of pride for our entire community, and brings us together to share in the amazing talent of our students! The District’s annual winter band concert was this week, and I am always impressed by the professionalism and great sound of our school bands! I look forward to the band concert every year. Last night I had the pleasure of attending the choral concert, too. It was a moving and emotional experience for me, especially during the beautiful medley sung by our third through eighth grade students. I was so happy to hear that “Do You Want to Build A Snowman” made it into the evening’s show!
Below are the pictures from the band concert that I hope you enjoy. I didn’t have my camera with me for the choral concert, but I can’t say enough about their performance! Thank you for the many hours that our faculty and students put into producing these top quality concerts, and to the music boosters and parents for their commitment. It was wonderful to see Board of Education and community members come out to enjoy these fantastic performances, and I thank you for your support! The students did a remarkable job, and I am proud of each one of them!
Today Washington students showed their holiday spirit at school as they shopped for parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and all the special people in their lives! The ABC Parent Group organized days of browsing and shopping at both Washington and Kennedy so students could surprise their loved ones with holiday gifts. A big thank you to ABC and all the volunteers, and to the administration, faculty and staff for their support and help! You can see how much the students are enjoying picking out their own gifts and proud to buy them on their own.
Santa’s Secret Shop is available at Washington until Thursday. Kennedy students will have their chance to browse and shop beginning next week.
November has been a whirlwind month for our learning community with many celebrations! We welcomed our parents into our schools during parent-teacher conferences, American Education Week and our community forum on student assessment in SD81. The home-school connection is so important, and we encourage and welcome parents to get involved.
We also welcomed our veterans with a special performance dedicated to their service. It’s very important to me that our students take part in honoring those who have served and continue to serve our country, and I am filled with pride that Veteran’s Day is celebrated so grandly in SD81!
You would think that after planning and organizing their very successful fall festival they would need a break to recover, but not the ABC Parent Group! Please take a look at the pictures posted here from the Cookies with Santa event this past Wednesday night to see how much fun families had getting into the holiday spirit!
Finally, you can see how the students in our Specialized Learning Center and Specialized Learning and Behavior Center (SLC/SLBC) celebrated at their Thanksgiving Feast. They played bingo, pin the feather on the turkey, had a dance party, and enjoyed a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The expression “a picture speaks a thousand words” is so true in this case. You can see that our district is definitely a second home to us.
I hope that each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving making many new memories with family and friends, and I hope you enjoying scrolling through my November memories in SD81!
At last night’s Board of Education meeting a resolution to recognize November 15th as School Board Member’s Day was adopted. This was a critical step in the progressive and positive momentum of our school district. The Board adopting the resolution has given me the perfect opportunity to recognize how much this Board has accomplished over the past two years, despite the challenges that they have faced. SD81 now has finance, facilities, and policy committees that are benefiting from the expertise and input of board members, administration, and community members. The Board continues to support the District’s commitment to engaging students with their recent approval of a technology refresh of interactive whiteboards and the dynamic reading tool called MyOn. I’m also proud to share that based on the independent auditor’s report, the District is in excellent financial health.
Our board members volunteer their time not only to come to meetings, but also special events, plays, musicals, art fairs, athletic games, booster club events, and fundraisers. I know they enjoy that part of the job the most, and I am so grateful for their presence in our school community. But they should also be recognized for their careful preparation for meetings, and the time they spend on professional development opportunities to grow as board members. I know they do all of this not for any accolades or recognition, but for the children of this community.
On behalf of the Schiller Park School District 81 Learning Community, I extend sincere gratitude and appreciation.
I hope that my previous blog post about NWEA MAP piqued your interest, and that parents pack the house tomorrow night for the community forum “Understanding NWEA MAP: Your student’s growth and achievement in Schiller Park School District 81.” The forum will be held at 6:00 pm at Lincoln Middle School and I know the faculty and administrative team are excited to bring this opportunity to you.
It’s important for all of our SD81 community to know the remarkable gains the students at Kennedy, Washington, and Lincoln are making. They work incredibly hard, and a tool like MAP helps our faculty and administration zero in on specific growth opportunities for each individual student. Student achievement data was shared at the October 15th Board meeting, and I want to also share a link to the data so the good news about how are students are growing and achieving can reach as many members of our community as possible. You can also view the entire presentation by watching the Example of Excellence portion of the video, which is posted on the District website.
I am extremely proud of our schools, our teachers, and especially our students! Please join me in celebrating our students’ achievement and recognizing their hard work!
Parents understand better than anyone that when they send their kids off to school every day, there is so much more going on than just academics. Parents care if their children are making friends, having good experiences, and feel good about where they are. I was so excited to be part of Halloween in our District today because I got to experience all of these things at each school today. I spent time with Lincoln students when they returned from their annual all-school trip to the movies. I had a great time at Kennedy and Washington, and am so pleased and proud of how much effort goes into making sure Halloween is so much fun for the students. They were laughing, smiling, and enjoying themselves during all of the festivities! Part of what makes Halloween so much fun for the kids in our District is that so many of us dress up and have fun with them! I’m happy to belong to a learning community where administrators, teachers, custodial staff, the district office, and parents dress up to be part of the experience with the children of SD81! I hope you enjoy these pictures. Have a safe and happy Halloween!