Peirce School Family Newsletter

August 2017

Principal's Message

Greetings Peirce Families,

This newsletter is a little lengthy, but please take the time to read.

I hope that all of you have enjoyed your summer vacation, spent quality time with family and friends and are ready to begin the 2017-2018 school year. I look forward to having your children back in the building, buzzing with energy and excitement! This summer was a busy and exciting one for us at Peirce - see below for a few of our many summer highlights!

  • We learned at the end of July that we are now fully authorized in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for grades Pre-K through 5th! Students now have access to a PK-12th grade IB Education at both Peirce and Senn High School.

  • Thanks to many generous donors, we received funding for the first 2 phases of our newly created "Makers Space".

  • Our school budget is about the same as it was last year, with the majority of it going towards staffing - this year we are able to expand our arts programming in 6th-8th grades and have a lead interventionist to support small group instruction. We also are very fortunate to have technology and library as resource centers and not as specials classes - teachers will be able to collaborate with tech and library to align closer with the IB units of study.

  • Playworks will be joining Peirce to support recess programming. A group of volunteers from Playworks & Sales Force came out this summer to paint lines/play spaces on the recess area.

  • Many dedicated teachers at Peirce spent time over the summer continuing their growth as professionals by attending workshops such as Education through Music, Lesson Study Summer Institute, Golden Apple STEM Institute and more!

Looking forward to the beginning of the school year!

Lori Zaimi

Comings & Goings

Peirce wishes the following staff members best wishes as they begin their next chapter in teaching: Ms. Jetton (6th science) has relocated out of state, Ms. Fane (4th Grade) accepted a position in Evanston, Ms. Sweeney (1st grade) accepted a position at Otis, Mr. Greenwell accepted a position in Lincolnwood and Mr. Roche (Diverse Learner) accepted a position at Disney II and Mr. Skvarenina will not be returning to Peirce.

Welcome to the Peirce Community!

Please join me in welcoming the staff below to Peirce! We are very excited to have each of them join our team and look forward to a wonderful 2017-2018 school year!

Jessica Chiang - 7th Science

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Chiang and I will be teaching MYP Year 2 Science. After I received my BA in Molecular Biology from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, I developed curriculum and taught a science after-school program in Shanghai, China. I absolutely loved designing experiments and asking questions about the world with students, which led me to pursue my Master´s in Education at Northwestern University. I speak English, Mandarin, and Spanish, and am always open to learning new phrases in other languages. When I am not at school, I enjoy exploring different neighborhoods in the city, going on outdoor adventures or simply cooking and watching movies at home. I am super excited to join Peirce and am looking forward to exploring the world around us through a scientific lens with Peirce students!

Stacy Gibson - 1st Grade

My name is Stacy Gibson, and I am from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a teacher and discover new things with my students. After graduating from the Teacher Education program at Michigan State University I moved to Chicago, and I fell in love with the city. I started teaching at a school by Midway Airport, and I learned a lot about myself through my students and experiences while teaching. I also received my master’s degree in Instructional Leadership at University of Illinois Chicago. After attending a Monarch Butterfly Institute, I’ve become passionate about restoring the Monarch population and sharing that knowledge. I enjoy being outdoors and exploring new things. I love swimming, biking, and running with friends and family. Now I look forward to sharing my passions and experiences with the Peirce community. I am excited to start my eleventh year of teaching at Peirce.

Brian Girard - 8th Math & Algebra

I have taught math in Denver Public Schools for the last 4 years, I am originally from Chicago and am very excited to be coming back. I have a MA from the University of Denver in Curriculum and Instruction and love trying to incorporate technology into the classroom. I became a teacher later in life and it is the greatest choice I ever made. I love working with young people and making algebra approachable for all students. I speak Spanish but am not yet fluent, if you want to practice with me I'd love the chance! I have a wife, Muffin, and a 2 year old daughter named Beatrix. When I'm not working I love to garden, watch hockey, and travel.

Berenice Heinlein - 4th Grade

My name is Mrs. Berenice Heinlein and I am excited to join the Peirce family! I am a graduate from Asbury University with a degree in Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. I am a first generation immigrant from Mexico who moved to Texas at 8 years old. I am an IB alumn with an IB diploma, and a firm believer in the power of a worldview mindset. I am a passionate and energetic teacher who believes that high quality instruction is engaging and relevant. This is my 3rd year in Chicago and I enjoy exploring the city, teaching, baking, eating chocolate, and playing board games. I am so excited to become a part of this great community and I believe that this is going to be a great year!

Destiny Hooper - 8th Language Arts & Social Studies

Hello Panthers! My name is Ms. Hooper and I am so excited to be teaching 8th grade Language & Literature/Individuals & Societies this year at Peirce Elementary. I recently graduated with my Masters in Secondary Education from Loyola University Chicago and had the pleasure of completing my student teaching at Peirce. My experience at Peirce taught me much about curriculum planning based on student need and really solidified how important community is inside and outside of the classroom. It is such an honor to be welcomed back into the Peirce community, and I look forward to meeting all of the students and families who will be a part of my classroom. This year will be a wonderful experience for all. I cannot wait to join this supportive community and share the stories of great authors with all of you!

Sandra Kifarkis - Recess & Lunch Coach

My name is Sandra Kifarkis. I am a suburban girl from Elk Grove Village but moved to the North side of Chicago four years ago. I currently attend Northeastern Illinois University and I am working to earn my Bachelor's degree in English/ Secondary Education. My hopes for the near future is to be working in CPS as a high school English teacher! I am currently a babysitter and have been a babysitter/nanny for about 7 years total. I have worked with children from ages 1-12. I look forward to joining the Peirce Elementary community!

Erin Lenihan - MYP Spanish & 7th Social Studies

Eight interesting facts about Ms. Lenihan:
  1. Birthplace: I am from Naperville, Illinois and now most of my family lives on the Southwest side of Chicago.
  2. Education: Bachelors of Arts with a minor in Spanish from DePaul University, Masters in Elementary Education from North Park University. Currently, I am working on obtaining my ESL and Bilingual endorsement.
  3. Teaching experience: I have been teaching in CPS for a year and also have experience teaching English as a second language abroad.
  4. Family: I come from a family of three. My mom lives in the suburbs of Chicago and my little brother just recently moved to New Orleans to be a math teacher.
  5. Countries visited: Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Qatar, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates. I love visiting new places and learning about different cultures.

  6. Fluent: English and Spanish. Spanish is my second language, and I am very thankful for all of the opportunities that it has offered me both at home and abroad.
  7. Favorite authors: Paulo Coelho, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Favorite quote: "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." - Paulo Coelho

Joshua Lerner - Instructional Coach

I'm excited to join the Peirce community as an instructional specialist. I most recently taught 3rd grade Bilingual Spanish at Chavez Elementary, where I also facilitated professional development in mathematics instruction. I received my Masters degree in teaching from Dominican University in 2010 and achieved my National Board Certification in 2014. I am also very involved with the Chicago Teachers Union, serving on the executive board as a functional vice president. I live in the Avondale neighborhood with my wife Emma. We're expecting our first child in February! When not at school, I love reading, playing guitar, and hanging out with my dog Dinah.

Rosalia Marzullo - 6th-8th Art

Rosalia Marzullo is a Chicago native who received her Bachelors of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Art Education from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. AT SAIC Rosalia focused on education as a subject for her art practice with a focus on creating opportunities for students to create spaces where conversation could take place regarding access and structure of the American education system. The experiences that she promotes through her teaching practice focus on the ability to analyze, ask questions, research, and respond. These steps allow for young individuals to not only create artwork but to become conscious and active individuals in the world we share.

Laura Migas - 6th-8th Dance

Laura Migas has been teaching dance in public education for the past 10 years, first for the New York City Department of Education and then for CPS. She loves teaching dance and believes dance should be accessible to all students as it can unlock hidden talents, passions, and gives students new ways of thinking about the world. Laura received her M.A in Dance Education with K - 12 certification at New York University and her B.S in Dance and Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. To continue her professional development she is a member of the National Dance Education Organization. She is also working to build an IL state dance education organization. As a dancer, she has studied ballet, modern, tap, jazz, hip hop, and various partner dance styles. Besides dancing, she also loves reading, and to go rock climbing (indoor for now).

Gabrielle Muschong - 1st Grade Temporary for Ms. Zaander

After a seventeen year break from college, I decided to go back and pursue a career in education. I am passionate about learning and truly believe that everyone is special and learns differently. I am committed to a well-rounded approach to both teaching and learning. With a background in music and a passion for dance, I humbly hope to create an environment that is both stimulating and enriching for the students I am entrusted with. As a member of the community of Andersonville for over 15 years, with two children who attend Peirce, I am committed to the growth and happiness of the children and the parents here.

Luis Ortiz - Engineer

Luis Ortiz has been an Engineer for 14 years, serving at both the elementary and high school capacity. Born in Chicago, he has a love for food and a fondness of the city's diversity. He was raised in Mexico City and returned at the age of 21 to study engineering. His motto is, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Therefore, he takes great pride in each school by prioritizing the safety of each student. He works hard to maintain a good, solid, working and safe school. He is happily married to a CPS teacher and has 3 children (20, 13, and 12). He is very excited to work at Peirce.

Jeffrey Rossiter - 7th Math

This will be my first year at Peirce and I couldn’t be more excited! I received my Master’s Degree in Secondary Ed from DePaul University and have been teaching in CPS since 2012. Currently, I am involved with writing math curriculum units via the Yale National Initiative. During my free time I like to go to the dog beach with my pup, Sonny. I am a below average runner and an avid yoga enthusiast. Sadly, I no longer have a beard.

Looking forward to a great year!

Programming Updates

As Peirce continues to grow, our model for programming grows as well. Please note the following changes for the 2017-2018 School Year:

  • A selected group of students in 7th grade have been invited to take Algebra with 8th grade Peirce students during their 7th grade year. Those students who pass the Algebra exam as 7th grade students will be eligible to take Geometry during their 8th grade year at Senn.
  • We are very fortunate to expand our Specialized Programs in Middle School! This year, we are able to add dance in 6th-8th grades, continuing the K-5 program already in place. We are at the beginning stages of exploring an elective model which would allow students to choose an art form that they would like to focus on for a longer period of time. Students will start the year rotating to classes on a Day 1-4 schedule (6th and 7th grades) and Day 1-3 schedule (8th grade)
  • Students in K-5 will now receive Art instruction for a full year of programming. Spanish, Dance and PE will continue to be offered for a full year. Music will remain on a similar schedule to last year - taught for approximately 3 quarters per grade level.
  • Technology will be infused throughout the curriculum, Ms. Andrade will not have a separate technology class, but will be able to support the integration of technology into the curriculum. Ms. Andrade will also be able to support the implementation of our Makers Space.
  • Library will continue to be a resource center for staff to bring their students to for research. Library will not be taught as a class but used as a support to both the PYP and MYP programs.

MYP (6th-8th grade) classes will be assigned as the following on a daily basis:

Language & Literature - graded on CPS report card as Chicago Reading Framework, taught daily.

Individuals & Society - graded on CPS report card as Social Science, taught daily.

Mathematics - graded on CPS report card as Mathematics, taught daily.

Design & Science - this year will be integrated and graded on CPS report card as Science, taught daily.

MYP (6th-8th grade) classes will be assigned as the following on a rotation basis:

Language Acquisition - graded on CPS report card as Spanish, students will be leveled by Spanish proficiency.

Arts - graded on CPS report card as Art, Dance and Music.

Physical Health and Education - graded on CPS report card as Physical Education and Health Education.

Peirce Family Handbook

Visit our Family Handbook for important information on Peirce School.

Back to School Picnic

Join the Peirce Service Organization, Peirce Staff and Administration along with other Peirce families for our annual Back to School Picnic on Thursday, August 31st from 3:00 - 6:00pm. Students and Families will be able to meet their teacher from 3:00 - 4:00pm, drop off classroom supplies and then join Peirce families for a picnic right after. Make sure to bring your own food, blanket, lawn chair, etc. The PSO will have a variety of games and activities available. In addition, a few of our fee-based after school partners will be on hand to share information on their programs.

2017-2018 Classroom Assignments

  • Pre-K families will receive a call from Pre-K teachers the week of August 28th regarding AM or PM placements.
  • Kindergarten families will receive a paper mailing the week of August 21st which will indicate classroom assignments.
  • Families who are in 1st through 8th grade should check parent portal for classroom assignments - final placements will be made on August 28th. Please note that while we try to have classroom placements final, we are occasionally having to make adjustments to classroom assignments through the first couple of weeks of school.

If you have not signed up for Parent Portal, please reach out to Sally Suarez at for sign up information. You can also access it on the Peirce Website

First Day of School

We begin the 2017-2018 school year on Tuesday, September 5th. Families will gather on the turf at 8am where classroom teachers will meet students and then bring them to the classroom. Tables will be set up on the track area for any families who need to drop off school supplies and their child is unable to carry them. For student safety, parents will not be allowed to enter the building.

School Supplies & YUBLER

School Supply Lists can be found under the "forms" section of the website, or by clicking here. In addition, Friends of Peirce has partnered with YUBLER for a one-stop shop experience of purchasing school supplies online. YUBLER donates back to Peirce 50% of all proceeds. The deadline for purchasing on YUBLER has been extended until August 28th.

Morning Drop Off & New Traffic Pattern around Peirce

Please help us keep Peirce students safe during morning drop off and afternoon pick up.

  • All students should enter through the Gregory side of the building.
  • Door #7 will remain open until 8:10am - we have changed that from 8:05am last year.
  • The intersection of Glenwood & Bryn Mawr will be closed to West Bound Traffic from 7:50am - 8:10am to help with traffic flow going east. This area has been very congested in the past with many buses that stop to pick up students. Families will need to adjust accordingly during those times.
  • Be mindful of students crossing at all cross walks, but especially at the corner of Glenwood and Gregory, do not park in the crossing area of the street.

Student Door Entry & Inclement Weather Days

Please help us keep students safe! Students are the only ones that will enter the building through the doors listed below, all parents should enter through door #1, sign in at the office and request a visitors pass. Each grade level has a different process for entering and exiting the school, please note the following:


Teachers will let families know based on AM or PM classes which door to enter from.


Students will be met at the door by their teacher at 8:00am everyday.

  • Rooms 126 & 128, Door 5
  • Rooms 101 & 110, Door 10

1st Grade

Students will be met at the door by their teacher at 8:00am everyday.

  • Room 102, Door 10
  • Room 103, 104 & 105, Door 8

2nd -8th Grades

Students will meet their teacher on the turf for the first day of school and enter at 8am, beginning on the second day of school, students will enter on their own at 7:55am.

  • 2nd & 3rd Grades, Door 6
  • 4th & 8th Grades, Door 7
  • 5th, 6th & 7th Grades, Door 9

*On inclement weather days (rain or below 15 degrees) students will be able to enter beginning at 7:50am through door #4 (classrooms in new building) and door #8 (classrooms in old building).


This year, Peirce will not be partnering with Right at School. Recess programming will be supported by Playworks along with an "in-house" managed program.This decision was made due to the limitations that we had in our school budget. The change from Right at School to Playworks has saved us $50,000. Not only was the switch to Playworks a financial benefit to Peirce but their programming will benefit the Peirce Community in the following ways:

  • 1 lead coach to support game play during recess - in addition, Peirce is hiring additional coaches so that there is a 1 coach per 1 classroom ratio.
  • Conflict Resolution, Team Building and recess games taught during regular class game time sessions (typically every 1-2 weeks per classroom), where the lead coach works alongside of the classroom teacher during non-recess times.
  • Students in 4th and 5th grades will have the opportunity to be a "Junior Coach" to support game play with Kindergarten through 3rd grade students.
  • Students in 3rd & 4th grades will have the opportunity to join a "Playworks Sports League" that meets after school regularly throughout the year.

Ms. Carro and Ms. Zaimi are the lead contacts for any concerns as it relates to recess programming.

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Student Fee

Student Fees are used to support academic programming - news subscriptions, online programs such as Reading A to Z and ST Math, classroom materials and supplies among other things. Fees are $50 per student or $100 per family. Cash or Money orders can be turned in to the main office.


It is extremely important that students maintain a 96% or better attendance record and are on time for school. 20% of our school rating is impacted by attendance and this past year we ended below 96%, losing points in the attendance metric. 96% attendance means a maximum of 7 absences during the school year. Help us keep our rating up while getting your children to school 96% of the time or more!

When children are ill, please keep them home.

Join us on Social Media!

Be sure to “like” us on Facebook - Helen C Peirce School of International Studies is Peirce’s official Facebook Site. In addition, the “Peirce School PSO” has a site along with a closed group “Parents of Peirce” there is a lot of information shared on all 3 sites and are great opportunities to share and receive information along with networking with other parents.

Follow us on Instagram at peircecps.

September 2017

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October 2017

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Family Handbook