Middle Matters Remote Learning

Week of August 31st 2020

Welcome to the 2020 -2021 School year!

Highlights from this week's Middle Matters:

  • Tuesday, 9/1/20 First Day of Remote Learning,
  • Remote Learning Day and Schedule Information
  • Accessing ZOOM links for all classes
  • GBMS Remote Learning Webpage
  • Technology Support
  • Student Learning materials Alternate pick up date & time: Monday, August 31, between 9:00am - 12:00m.
  • STAMPED by Jason Reynolds
  • Back to School Photos
  • Virtual Meet Your Teacher Night Slides
  • New Winter Break Calendar Dates
  • Meal Distribution Information
  • Mark Your Calendar: Thursday 9/10 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm Curriculum Night
  • PTO Volunteering Information
  • D97 News Highlights: D97 Social Emotional Needs Survey request, Child Care Information, Meal Distribution Information, Free and Reduced Lunch Application, Pandemic EBT Benefit Information
  • Community Partner Information

Sharing again:

  • PTO Brooks Spirit Wear ordering opportunity
  • School Supply List
  • School Immunization and Physical Information
  • Parent University Recorded Zoom Sessions and Slides shared on 8/13

If you have questions about the upcoming school year, please don’t hesitate to contact me at acapuder@op97.org. You can also contact my Executive Coordinator, Ms. Tasha Guerino, at tguerino@op97.org or (708) 524-7636.

Our administrative team is also available to help answer your questions.

Angelica Love Curriculum & Instruction AP (6th grade, Teams 7.1 & 7.2) alove@op97.org

Antione Bland Curriculum & Instruction AP (8th grade, Teams 7.3) abland@op97.org

Stacie Klein Culture & Climate AP sklein@op97.org

Tuesday, September 1 - First Day of School

9:00am - 3:30pm

"A" Day

Here is the link that lists all of the A and B Days during Trimester 1.



  • Will begin remote learning at 9am and end at 3:30pm

  • Students will attend 4 of their 8 classes each day on alternating A/B days, so one week they will meet with 4 of their classes 3 times and then the next week 2 times and vice versa for the other 4 classes, so over the course of two full weeks of school each of the 8 classes will meet a total of 5 times.

  • Students will be expected to meet for synchronous learning with each of their classes on their scheduled day via Zoom according to their student class schedule. Student attendance will be taken each period of expected attendance by their teacher in PowerSchool, as if we were meeting for in-person learning.

  • Each of their classes’ Zoom links will be posted on each of their Canvas Course’s Navigation menu

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Accessing ZOOM Links for all Classes

On Friday, 8/28, your student will be able to log into Canvas to access their classes/courses within Canvas, which will also be where each class' zoom link will be found. To login to CANVAS go to op97.instructure.com

Here is a VIDEO explaining how students will find the zoom links for each of their classes.

Students should use their username (their gmail address/google login withOUT the @students.op97.org portion) and their password. If your student doesn't remember their login information, please contact Minerva Colbert (mcolbert@op97.org). All new 6th grade families received this information on the instruction sheet when they picked up their Chromebooks on 8/19 or 8/20.

GBMS Remote Learning Resource

Please visit GBMS Remote Learning page on our website for all important information related to Remote Learning.


Attendance will be taken every day for each class period by each of your child's teacher and it will be denoted in PowerSchool. Student's are expected to attend each of their classes at their scheduled time and day. If your student will be absent from remote learning, please call the attendance number 708-665-3074 or email brooksattendance@op97.org

Technology Support

Technical support will be available from school and district technology staff by accessing the Help Desk through email, helpdesk@op97.org. When an email is submitted, a Help Desk ticket is created and assigned to technology staff, who will be working throughout the day to address technology concerns. Our technology team can support District 97 devices and student online programs.

Student Learning Materials Alternate Pick-up Date

The alternate pick up date for student learning materials is on Monday, August 31 between 9:00am and. 12:00pm. Pick up will be help in the Brooks commons. Please park in the lot or walk up to the commons. Please wear a mask.

Stamped by Jason Reynolds

The Language & Literature Department cannot imagine starting the school year without explicitly exploring race and antiracism based on the current climate in our society and what the Black Lives Matter Movement took a stand for. Further, because education looks and feels differently for everyone right now, our department decided that we must take this opportunity to declare that we won't accept complacency as educators in this time and space. ALL middle school students at both Brooks and Julian will be reading Stamped by Jason Reynolds at the beginning of the year, at the same time. This book was provided in the Student Materials bag and is intended for the students to keep and make their own annotation in the book.

Our 6th, 7th and 8th graders are ready to explore how race impacts our daily interactions and systems. They are inquisitive, reflective, and action orientated. While we'll all be reading the same book, there will be leveled activities, assessments, and supplemental texts to differentiate. It will provide a "lens" for everything we teach through reading and writing in all of our units for the rest of the year.

Please also stay tuned because we will be working with the Oak Park Public Library and E-team for Family/Community Peace/Literature Circles using the same book and essential questions.

Back To School Photos

Share Your Back-to-School Photos!
District 97 families—we want to see your back-to-school photos! You can share your photos by tweeting us (@OakPark97, use the hashtags #MyD97 and #OakPark97) or emailing them to d97feedback@op97.org.

If you email us photos or videos, we will make sure they comply with the board policies and laws that govern issues such as privacy, appropriate use, etc. before they get posted.

Virtual Meet Your Teacher Event Information

Here is the Information Shared on Thursday 8/27 during each grade level's Meet Your Teacher Event.

We started each grade level event with an over view of Remote Learning and then introducing each teacher. Then at the 30 minute mark, we asked students with their parents/guardians to meet on another zoom link with their student's Advisory teacher as an opportunity to meet in small groups to get to know a little bit about their classmates, their advisory teacher and asking and questions.

6th Grade Staff Introductions

7th Grade Staff Introductions

8th Grade Staff Introductions

Important Calendar Updates

The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, Sept. 1.

First Day of School/Calendar Update

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11, the District 97 Board of Education approved a modified calendar for the 2020-21 school year. The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, Sept. 1.

During a special meeting on Aug. 21, the District 97 Board of Education approved an updated calendar for the 2020-21 school year that aligns the dates for winter break to Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200.

Under the new calendar, District 97 will hold full days of school on Dec. 21 and 22, followed by a half day on Dec. 23. Winter break will officially begin Dec. 24, and school will resume on Monday, Jan. 11.

In order to accommodate the changes and ensure that our calendar meets the state’s requirements for instructional days (176), the last day of school will now be June 10, 2021. The only other changes to the calendar were trimester end dates and report card distributions. Click here for a full summary of the approved changes >

Next D97 Meal Distribution: Monday, Aug. 31

Meals will be available to all District 97 students during Trimester 1. Families who pick up meals will be charged based on their lunch status, just as they would if students were onsite.

Each bag of food will contain five breakfasts and five lunches. Click here for the September 2020 menus.

In order to help the D97 Food Service Department determine daily meal counts and reduce waste from excess ordering, we are asking families to complete this short survey by Sept. 1 to indicate whether they plan to pick up meals during the month of September.

  • Next D97 Meal Distribution: Monday, Aug. 31, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Locations: Longfellow Elementary School (for Julian and feeder schools), 715 S. Highland Ave., and Brooks Middle School (for Brooks and feeder schools), 325 S. Kenilworth Ave.

Click here for more information about food service during Trimester 1. If you have any questions, please reach out to the district's food service coordinator, Carla Ellis, at cellis@op97.org.

D97 Back-to-School Fact Sheet
Check out this fact sheet (or click the image below) for important D97 Back-to-School information!

Curriculum Night

Thursday, September 10th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. More information to follow next week.

Volunteer with the Brook’s PTO

Volunteer with the Brook’s PTO this year

Planning is underway for this school year! The PTO is committed to enriching the experience of students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School through supporting a positive school environment, facilitating the development of positive relationships within the community, advancing school equity initiatives, and creating an environment where all students have access to school resources and opportunities. See the positions that are available and sign up here! Email any questions to gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com.

Connect with the PTO

Follow us on FaceBook at @gwendolynbrookspto, or email us at gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com.

Order your Brooks Spirit Wear

Brooks Spirit Wear

Brooks spirit wear can be ordered at any time by visiting this website. Sizes for kids and adults! Orders will be shipped to your home!


School Physicals and Immunizations

Although District 97 is starting the 2020-21 school year with remote learning, the State of Illinois is still requiring all students entering kindergarten, 6th grade, and any students new to District 97 to turn in a current school physical (Certificate of Child Health Examination and Immunization record) with up-to-date immunizations (requirements for the State of Illinois can be found here). If you have not already provided this information when you registered your child, please email your child's records directly to our school nurse, Nancy Radogno at nradogno@op97.org.

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Remote Learning 2.0: Middle School

Video Slides

Canvas (Learning management system for Grades 6-8)

Video Slides

Google Tools (Operating Drive, Documents and sharing)

Video Slides

Securly (Student safety and device management tool)

Video Slides

Zoom 101 (Zoom basics for families)

Video Slides

District Parent University page has been created and includes links to all the recordings and slide decks from the Parent University on 8/13/20: https://www.op97.org/remotelearning/parent-university

Additionally, there is a YouTube playlist, which is linked from that page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEoq9YQjF_tcNlxUw0RkCCWgn-rK-GQV-

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2020 - 2021 District News and Information

D97 Back-to-School Fact Sheet

Check out this fact sheet for important D97 Back-to-School information!

Effective Student Behavior Handbook

District 97 is committed to creating a positive learning environment that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole child. Behavior education involves proactively teaching positive behaviors to create the conditions that make every classroom and school a positive place to learn.

The revised District 97 Effective Student Behavior Handbook is designed to provide information about policies, procedures and practices related to student behavior, and to help students and families prepare for a successful school experience. It also provides notifications required by state and federal law. Click here for our full communication about the new Effective Student Behavior Handbook >

Information from Community Child Care Providers for 2020-21 School Year

District 97 is working with community partners to support the child care needs of our families and staff. We are currently partnering with three providers: Hephzibah, the Park District of Oak Park and By Discovery. Details about each program can be found here.

The district will be providing financial assistance for any student who receives free or reduced lunch for at least Trimester 1. We will discuss the possibility of additional fee coverage with the Board of Education once plans are determined for the remainder of the school year. Details are provided at the point of online registration for each child care provider.

Free/Reduced Lunch Application
We know that a common experience for many families during this health crisis is the loss of jobs and income. This change in income may qualify your children for free or reduced-price meals. We encourage all families who currently qualify to take a few minutes to complete the National School Lunch application as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please email the district's food service coordinator, Carla Ellis, at cellis@op97.org.

Pandemic EBT Benefit Deadline Extended to August 31

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) launched the Pandemic EBT to provide nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures. Families will receive money on a new or existing EBT card to help fill the school meals gap. If your child receives free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), or your child attends a school that offers free school meals to all students, then you are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits. Families who have lost their job or wages may now be eligible.

The deadline to apply for this benefit has been extended to Aug. 31, 2020. For more information about eligibility and how to apply, please visit https://bit.ly/2DJDEAd.

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The Help Corner will features a frequently-asked question related to services and opportunities available for District 97 students and families. We will keep a complete list of these FAQs on our district website.

District 97 has created Community Resources Page. We also encourage families to stay connected through Facebook and Twitter. Additional updates can be found at:

Village of Oak Park

Oak Park Township

Oak Park Public Library

Park District of Oak Park

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200

District 97 also has a broad network of partner organizations that provide an array of supports and services for Oak Park residents. The Community Mental Health Board and Oak Park and River Forest Townships have also put together a COVID-19 Social Services Resource Guide, which is available at https://tinyurl.com/oprfguide.

Community Resources

Distribution of information by a community group in accordance with District 97 policy does not imply, directly or indirectly, that the group's program(s), event(s) and/or services(s) is sanctioned, sponsored or endorsed by the district, the Board of Education or the superintendent.
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Thrive is offering phone-based counseling, 24/7 crisis intervention services, medication management and, a free Thrive Check-In phone support line (Ext. 8) to address our community’s needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Call us at (708)383-7500. Our Front Desk team is also ready to assist you Monday-Friday, 9am to 2pm, with requests for referrals or new services and to reschedule or cancel an appointment.

Mental Health Resource, "Call4Calm"

Thrive is also a proud partner of the Illinois Call4Calm Text Line Service. Text “TALK” TO 552020 (or “HABLAR) for Spanish. The Illinois Call4Calm Text Line is not a crisis hotline, but is a source of support for anyone experiencing stress and in need of a listening ear.

And we know the COVID-19 pandemic can wear on every resource—from food and shelter to our emotional bandwidth and mental health. Fortunately, the Illinois Department of Human Services has launched a support line called Call4Calm that is reachable via text. Individuals who want to speak with a mental health professional can text the word “TALK” or “HABLAR” (for Spanish speakers) to 552-020. Within 24 hours, that individual will receive a call from a mental health professional employed by a local community health center.

People can also text other terms, like “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” to the same number to receive information on how to navigate and access supports and services. Call4Calm is free, and individuals who use it can remain anonymous. We encourage you to share this resource with your students, families, and staff.

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