Parents = Partners Education Notes

from District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz

Heading to Winter Recess...and a great 2019!

Dear District 64 Families:

As we prepare to head off to Winter Recess and celebrate the season with family and friends, I again find myself reflecting back on the first half of the school year with a sense of happiness and pride in our accomplishments.

I am particularly proud of:

  • Year 2 of social-emotional learning -- Our focus on SEL continues to deepen both in the classroom and across the District. Elementary students are engaged in weekly lessons while our middle schoolers use a special schedule to participate in Second Step lessons. This year, 4th-8th grade teachers also learned more about restorative practices and communication circles to foster positive classroom communities.
  • “Reading Workshop” Model -- Last year, District 64 launched an English Language Arts Review Committee to take a closer look at our instructional practices and resources for reading, writing, word study, and speaking/listening. After an extensive study, the Committee recommended a District-wide shift to the “Reading Workshop” model. This Fall, elementary teachers all began following the same literacy framework as they help students learn to read or read to learn. This approach is differentiated, which means instruction is varied based on student need and ability. Teachers begin with a mini lesson where teachers explicitly instruct students in an aspect of literacy, such as “main idea” or “cause and effect.” Students then practice these strategies together before applying them to their independent reading. Teachers also confer with individual students and with small groups. The workshop model and new materials will help achieve the District's 2020 Vision Strategic Plan goal of providing a rigorous education for all students and an aligned, articulated curriculum.
  • District 64 teachers earn National Board Certification -- National Board Certification is recognized as the “gold standard” for professional educators. This voluntary certification process is extremely rigorous; teachers must demonstrate distinguished practice in content knowledge, differentiation of instruction, use of data and assessments, reflection, and continuous learning. I am thrilled to congratulate another District 64 educator who has recently achieved this prestigious recognition: Caroline Schaab, Field School. Mrs. Schaab joins Michael O’Malley, Field School; Natalie Schuetz, Franklin School; Lindsey Harrington, Emerson Middle School; Meghan Keefer, K-5 ELA Curriculum Specialist; Tracie Thomas, K-5 Math Curriculum Specialist; Kat Walsh, Franklin School; and Katie Weis, Washington School.
  • Security updates and building enhancements continue -- Roosevelt opened its doors this August with a new front office, new corridor flooring, a secure vestibule, LRC reconfiguration and new first grade classrooms with interactive learning walls. The Board of Education has already approved plans for office upgrades/secure vestibules and other needed projects at Carpenter and Franklin for summer 2019; a similar project for Field is being designed and awaits the Board’s final approval in early 2019.
  • Future ready, flexible learning spaces being created -- In addition to work at Roosevelt, Field and Emerson in summer 2018, flexible learning spaces have now been created at Lincoln, Carpenter and Franklin. Staff and students can be found actively engaging in learning within these modernized Learning Resource Center spaces. We are thankful for our PTO/As and Elementary Learning Foundation for monetary contributions to help bring these essential learning spaces to life for our students.

I also want to recognize the work of teachers who support the implementation of the 2020 Vision through professional development, committee membership, and building-based collaboration. I know I speak for our administrative team when I say we would not be able to improve the program and services we offer our students without them. Parents and teachers are also the drivers of our continuous improvement efforts in special education through their shared work on the PT3 Committee.

2019 has many exciting initiatives that will continue to help us make progress toward fully implementing our Strategic Plan.

I wish our staff, students and all D64 families a safe and happy holiday season, and a restful Winter Recess. See you in 2019 when school resumes on Monday, January 7. We are headed for a great 2019!

Dr. Laurie Heinz, Superintendent

Please enjoy this gallery of photos from my Walk & Talks at our schools through the fall! Seeing our staff and students remains a cherished part of my work in District 64.

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