February 2022

Big picture

A Message from the Superintendent

February 2023

Dear Families, Staff & Community Members,

This time of year can often be a difficult period of midwestern winter, with long hours of darkness and colder temperatures. These few months before spring returns are absent of football, with longer stretches between holidays that bring us together, and are some of the busiest months of important work for our teachers. This is the season of parent/teacher conferences, progress reporting, assessments and culminating projects. It certainly makes us celebrate the small things when spring break rewards us with a reminder that the warm weather will come back to us, baseball season returns, backyard barbecues get fired back up, and the sun lights the sky for longer and longer. It’s important that we remain reflective and celebratory of the good work we are engaged in so as not to get lost in the gray of winter. As mentioned last month, our administrative team looks forward to sharing a mid-year update on progress made toward the four goal areas outlined in our Strategic Plan 2021-2025 at this month’s Board meeting. Highlights in these four areas include…

Intellectual Engagement & Motivation to Learn

-Literacy curriculum review work begins with a committee of 27 starting in March!

-Over 74% of middle school students have engaged in a project based learning activity in their classrooms this year

-An improved master schedule, infused with input from students, staff and parents is in development at Washburne

-Data Teams regularly meet at all five buildings to monitor student growth and achievement trends and collaborate to better support student success

-Hallmark progressive experiences are ever-evolving to include more student voice

Positive Culture & Well-Being

-Initiatives such as the implementation of RULER SEL Anchor Strategies like class harters continue to support student and staff Social Emotional Learning

Local & National Leader in Progressive Education & Talent Development

-Additional efforts are being made to build partnerships with local universities that host a teacher preparation program

-The Winnetka Public Schools’ Portrait of an Educator is in development, outlining competencies embodied by Winnetka educators

Financial Stewardship & Facility Improvements

-Planning is well underway to begin construction funded by the 2022 Referendum. Improvements will positively impact safety, accessibility, and teaching and learning

Our educators and administrators have invested a significant amount of work toward these goals, committed to staying the course on behalf of our students. They are the reason we are excited to come to work each day.

We appreciate your partnership in supporting our students and educators so we can continue to build upon our legacy of excellence, mutual respect, and commitment to the well-being of all in Winnetka.


Dr. Kelly Tess, Superintendent

Construction Begins Summer 2023!

We are very excited to see renovation and construction at Hubbard Woods and Greeley Schools begin this summer! Communications with details regarding what to expect will begin to be shared with staff and the community starting in March, including a portion of the District website dedicated to construction in the District.

Winnetka Voices: NEW EPISODE!

Winnetka Voices Podcast Episodes

Winnetka Voices is a podcast hosted by The Winnetka Public Schools, featuring candid conversations on issues relevant to education and shared resources to support our students and families.

NEW! Episode #4:

Recruiting & Retaining Incredible Educators

In this episode Dr. Kelly Tess discusses the national teacher shortage with The Skokie School Principal, Michelle Cooney; Jeff Knapp, Assistant Superintendent of Professional Learning and Human Resources; and Daniel Walsh, Interim Dean of the School of Education and Associate Professor at North Park University. The guests reflect on the landscape when they initially began their careers in education, the need to enhance recruitment and retention practices, and what makes this a unique era in terms of hiring the next generation of teachers. The guests reflect on how these factors may specifically impact our practices in Winnetka. According to Principal Cooney, "In order to do hard and important work, we need to be in a community where we support one another." Listen the full episode to learn more about this timely topic.

Listen here:

Apple Podcast



iHeart Radio


Board Meeting Preview

The next School Board meeting will be held at Carleton Washburne School on February 21, 2023. The regular meeting is at 7:15 p.m.

The following presentation is on the agenda:

  1. Mid-Year Annual Goal Update 2022-2023

In-person seating for the public is on a first-come, first-served basis.

To observe via Zoom:


Meeting ID: 880 9070 7037

Passcode: 353337

The meeting will include an opportunity for in-person public comment. Please note, the Board will be following policy 2:230 and limit public comment to three minutes - however, if there is a high volume of public comment, the Board may need to limit the amount of time dedicated to public comment in order to efficiently conduct business. Community members can send communications to board members at board@winnetka36.org which will be individually reviewed by each board member prior to the meeting.

Winnetka Parents Institute

The District offers an array of upcoming educational sessions for families and community members. Click here for a complete list of session dates and more information.


From Washburne to New Trier: (Paul Waechtler, Principal)

A D36 Parent's Guide to the New Trier Transition

March 7, 2022 (confirmed)

9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Carleton Washburne School, 515 Hibbard Rd.

Paul Waechtler, Principal at the New Trier High School Freshman

Campus, and Lori Worth, 8th Grade Transition Faculty, will discuss the New Trier freshman placement process and the efforts made to ensure a smooth transition to high school. A Q & A will provide an opportunity for parents to learn more about how to best support their child(ren) as they prepare for their New Trier experience.


RSVP here.

D36 K-8 Math Programming: An Overview

(Dr. Becky Mathison, Director of ITL and District Math Teachers)

March 21, 2023

Location: Washburne RC

Time: 10:00-11:00 AM

During this session Dr. Becky Mathison, Director of Innovation, Teaching and Learning, alongside a team of math educators from the District will provide an overview of D36 math programming K-8 including an upper grade course map, explain how the approach aligns to progressive education and the portrait of a graduate, and ways to support your student at home. This session will feature a panel of D36 math educators.


RSVP here

Adventures in Learning: Summer 2023

The Winnetka Public Schools will offer its Adventures in Learning summer program from June 14th to July 19, 2023. There will be no classes on June 19th or July 4th. Our General Program is designed for students entering 2nd grade through 8th grade and will be held at Washburne School. Our Primary Program provides activities for children Pre-K (4 years old by June 1st, 2023) and K-1st grade (5 years old by September 1st, 2022) and will be held at Crow Island. Classes will be as varied as wilderness skills, archery, tennis, science, cooking, and many types of crafts​...along with the annual favorite, Animal Care. Registration will go live in March.

Painting Our Portrait: Hubbard Woods School

At the January School Board Meeting, Hubbard Woods students and teachers shared how the democratic process comes to life through the school’s Town Hall Meetings. This leadership opportunity helps students grow in confidence and advocacy skills, and enforces Portrait of a Graduate competencies such as empathy, effective communication, and collaboration.

WPSF Phone-A-Thon Fundraiser Is Coming Soon!

On March 12th, Winnetka Public Schools Foundation (WPSF) Board members will be reaching out to D36 parents and community members by phone, text and email in order to secure donations for the coming year. Every donation can make a difference in our schools and for our community! Donate online by March 11th to “Beat the Call!” With your support, WPSF can continue to provide our teachers with the resources they need to bring creativity to the curriculum while enhancing the learning experience for all Winnetka D36 students.

From the PTO: 2023 Dance Marathon

We are counting down the days to the 2023 Dance Marathon (March 3, 2023 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Washburne Gym). Our community is playing an important role in the advancement of care and treatment at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Through the Washburne/Skokie Dance Marathon program, the students will come together to raise vital funds to support the nearly 223,000 patients that Lurie Children’s treats annually, as well as build awareness for health issues that affect children.

Generous support from Washburne/Skokie Dance Marathon program contributes directly to this mission and to the care and comfort of the children. In 2020, our last in-person event raised over $42,000 dollars for the patients and families at Lurie Children’s.

Registration links will be sent in the upcoming weeks, but here are ways that you can help us help the kids:

-Volunteer with us. Join our Parent Committee to help volunteer at the event and get the community further involved in the dance marathon. For more information, email HERE.

-We invite your student to be involved. Register your student and “JOIN A TEAM” by their advisory class HERE.

Follow us on Social Media!

Please follow the District via the following social media platforms in order to see day-to-day happenings and more.

Facebook and Twitter: @Winnetka36

Instagram: @WinnetkaPublicSchools

Parent Education Sessions from District Partner Family Action Network (FAN):

For upcoming events with an array of highly-regarded authors, educators, and more, access FAN’s website here.

From our partners at The Alliance for Early Childhood:

  • READ: Alliance’s Fall/Winter Newsletter

  • READ: Alliance’s Let’s Play Guide 2022-2023 and NEW Let’s Play! Information

  • REGISTER: Virtual Parent Series: Attachment and Your Young Child’s Mental Health: How You Can Make a Difference with Kate Blaker and Sarah Eastburg in Conversation with Carly Andrews, February 23, 7pm

Big picture