Parents = Partners Education Notes

from District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz

Our 2018-19 school year comes to a close!

Dear District 64 Families:

As the 2018-19 school year wraps up, I find myself reflecting on what a productive and learning-rich year of growth it has been for our District 64 students.

Farewell to Students

It is always bittersweet when we say goodbye to our eighth graders, but we do so with a sense of pride and confidence knowing their years in District 64 have prepared them to be successful in District 207. We are proud of the example they set as learners, athletes and citizens. We know they will represent District 64 well as they populate advanced courses, clubs and extracurricular offerings at Maine South or East. To our graduates: Oh the places you will go -- we know you will make us proud!

And, as our fifth graders head to middle school. . . we know they have been well prepared by their elementary schools. Lincoln and Emerson are lucky to have such hard working and caring students entering 6th grade. The teachers cannot wait to help them settle into their middle school years.

To our rising fifth graders: I hope you make the most of your middle school years by getting involved in all that Lincoln and Emerson have to offer. Stay focused on your academics, but get involved in sports, arts, music, and in extracurricular activities. While you have many friends that you’ve made over the years -- make new friends on your team. Your three years will go by quickly so I encourage you to make the most of them!

Thanks for All You’ve Done

We celebrated 21 teachers and staff members set to retire at our annual Recognition Dinner last week. While we wish our retirees health, happiness and adventure as they begin to write their next chapter, we know the impact they have made on students in District 64 will be deeply missed.

Highlights of the Year

Being a visible leader is something that I have made a priority during my tenure in District 64. Spending time in buildings allows me to observe teaching and learning in action and reaffirms for me that we are focused on the right work on behalf of our students. Here are some of the highlights from the 2018-19 school year:

  • Reading Workshop has been a welcome addition to our classrooms this year! It has ensured our students are spending more time as readers while allowing for small groups and individual readers to have their reading needs met within varying ability ranges. The amount of reading our students are doing is truly something to see!

  • Social-emotional learning is in year 2 and has been successfully woven into our core curriculum. Our middle school students are involved in restorative practices that help focus on problem solving and rebuilding relationships when conflicts occur with peers.

  • We continue to focus on fulfilling our safe, warm and dry mantra within our facilities. This summer, Field, Franklin and Carpenter will be under construction and receive a secure vestibule, office renovations, new corridor flooring and, in some cases, additional classroom space. Field will also be upgraded to include a multi-purpose room that we believe will allow for greater flexibility of use for staff and students.

  • We are in the midst of a multi-year renewal of our Student Services Department, with a focus this year on increasing parent and staff engagement through the ongoing work of the Parents and Teachers Talking Together (PT3) group. We have also worked diligently around four key themes of message of inclusion, staffing needs, inclusivity, professional development and consistency. While we know we’ve made great strides -- we head into the 2019-20 school year with a commitment to continue working to achieve our goals.

  • Technology continues to enhance student engagement and allow for students to be innovative, collaborative and drivers of their own learning. Inquiry-based learning has fueled students' passion to make connections with content and standards that are meaningful and real. It helped build upon the question, "Why is this important for me to know and do something about?" By engaging in deep thinking and asking thought-provoking questions, students have been challenged to consider new perspectives.

A Final Thank You

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to our D64 community for your active engagement and support for our important and challenging work. A strong home/school connection is vital and I thank those of you who worked hard to keep lines of communication open through phone calls, emails, participation in a variety of parent groups, or face-to-face meetings. Together, we have created a supportive environment for successful learning and teaching, as we focus on helping every child reach his or her full potential.

I also want to extend a very special thank you to our school PTO/A’s and to our District-wide Elementary Learning Foundation (ELF). The support of parents and community members makes a true difference in our schools. Again this year, they awarded grants that helped provide enrichment programs, new resources and equipment to enhance learning environments for our students.

As another year of teaching, learning and growth in District 64 wraps, I am proud of all that we have accomplished as we remained focused on continuously improving every aspect of our school system. It’s clear that there is no better place to learn than in a District 64 school.

I wish you a safe and sunshine-filled summer, more time with friends and family as well as time to enjoy trips to the library to keep reading over summer vacation.

Your partner in education,

Dr. Laurie Heinz, Superintendent

2019 Walk & Talks

Please enjoy this gallery of photos from my winter/spring school Walk & Talks and other events and activities, too! Being with our staff and students remains a cherished part of my work in District 64.