Parents as Partners
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Dear District 15 Parents,
It is hard to believe we are at the one-month mark in this new school year! What fun it has been to see each school come alive with the return of staff and students, filled with dreams of a new year of learning, friendship, growth and endless opportunities.
It’s been my pleasure to be in our schools for “Walk & Talks” as I visit classrooms and talk directly with students, teachers, staff members and administrators. I’m pleased to report that each school has already created its own rhythm as a child-centered community of learners setting high expectations for helping every child grow socially and academically. Please enjoy this photo gallery of my connections with our schools and communities as 2019-20 got underway.
As I continue my Walk & Talks this year, I look forward to sharing my thoughts directly with you. This newsletter will be my way of keeping in touch with you about student learning and important happenings in our schools and District. My hope is to establish a dialogue with you, our parents, as our educational partners.
Creating and maintaining strong partnerships with our parents is a key goal for all of us in D15. That’s why I’ve asked every principal to share a monthly school newsletter to offer updates on happenings within your school. They also will show how District curriculum improvements are being implemented across our 20 schools. That said, know that I will vary how I communicate monthly between a written newsletter and a video update. My goal is simple -- make sure parents know what we are focused on to build enthusiasm and support for our work on behalf of the 12,000 students we so proudly educate.
Superintendent Walk & Talks
Reimagining our District as a Whole
With a school system as varied and large as D15, one of my first initiatives is to focus on ways to bring us together. Rather than maintaining a system of individual schools, it is essential that we think of ourselves as a united school system.
My administrative team is working together on this goal by sharpening our focus on equity -- whether it is through communications, teaching and learning, or our facilities.
Over the next three years, District 15 will be providing extensive training for teachers around the work of educator and author Dr. Sharroky Hollie, an expert on culturally and linguistically responsive (CLR) teaching and learning.
What is CLR? CLR is designed to provide equitable access to learning for all students. It does so by helping teachers create a classroom environment that is respectful and inclusive, and places value on every student’s culture and language.
As we introduce this to all 20 of our schools, one of the innovative ways we are ensuring consistency is by creating a “lab” classroom at Jane Addams so that our staff members can receive coaching and view how the protocols work in action.
Our Board of Education at its September meeting viewed an inspiring, short video that welcomes you into this new “lab” classroom to learn more about how the program is unfolding. I invite you to invest three minutes to better understand the positive impact CLR has on all students -- it is an exciting initiative that we believe will make a profound difference in every D15 classroom over the coming years.
Commitment to Professional Development
As you know, D15 is adopting a cutting-edge literacy instruction model in stages, with grades K-3 introducing the Fountas and Pinnell Classroom this fall. Our youngest students are now experiencing new and diverse books -- some read by the teacher, some read as a class and some that students will read independently.
The goal is to create classrooms where students are members of a community of literacy learners who read, think, talk and write every day. To prepare teachers to use this new approach, we are now accelerating professional development for teachers in grades 4-6 so they will be ready to create these highly engaged classrooms in early 2020. We are currently working on a plan to begin the work in our junior high schools next.
Renewing Our Facilities
Ensuring that our facilities offer safe, secure learning environments for students and staff is an important area of focus for the Board of Education, which will extend forward for many years ahead. At the August and September Board meetings, we consolidated and clarified the extensive facility needs related to Health Life Safety work that must be addressed alongside the other community and educational goals that potentially impact our facilities. We also reviewed enrollment trends and discussed a potential financing framework to tackle these priorities. I encourage you to read more about these efforts in the Board meeting highlights.
This will not be easy work, but it will help ensure our facilities are ready to educate students for decades to come. As one of its first steps, the Board commissioned the District’s architects -- STR Partners -- to conduct a Feasibility Study to determine if Thomas Jefferson can be converted into a Junior High. This is the first phase of a multi-step feasibility plan that will play out over the next 4 - 6 months.
As a new member of our CCSD15 community, it has been my pleasure to join in the work of two local organizations. I have become an Executive Board member of the Palatine Opportunity Center (POC), which provides a wide array of programs and services designed to create a community of strong citizens, healthy families, and vibrant neighborhoods. I enjoyed the opportunity this summer to volunteer at its summer camp and to marshal a team of administrators to help distribute free books at a community-run back to school event. I also will be serving on the Board Development committee to enhance the POC’s ongoing work to meet community needs. In addition, I also joined the Unite Palatine (UP) Coalition, which works in concert with other organizations to ensure members of the Palatine community have access to rich resources and wrap-around services for families in need. Please consider joining me at one or both of these great organizations!
In closing, I want to thank you for the warm welcome I have received here in CCSD15. I am committed to doing whatever it takes, both within our schools and the community, to provide the very best learning opportunities for all our students. I look forward to meeting many more of our students, families and community members in coming months!
Your partner in education,