Parents = Partners Education Notes
from District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz
Add 2017-18 to the history books!
Dear District 64 Families:
Lockers are cleared out, Chromebooks and library books collected, yearbooks signed, and good-bye hugs and high-fives given -- the 2017-18 school year is now history! I would like to take just a few moments to share year-end highlights, points of pride, and to express my appreciation and thanks.
Let me start by wishing our 503 eighth graders farewell as they begin their high school careers. They have served as role models and thought leaders throughout their years in District 64. 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 or other local schools. To our graduates: Oh the places you will go -- we know you will make us proud!
As our fifth graders matriculate to middle school. . . we know they have been well prepared by their elementary schools. Lincoln and Emerson are lucky to have them and cannot wait to help them settle into their middle school years. To our newly minted sixth graders: I hope you take time to explore a variety of interests in academics, sports, arts, music, and in extracurricular activities. While you have many friends that you’ve made over the years -- please make new friends on your team. Your three years will go by in the blink of an eye, so make the most of them!
And to our teachers and staff retiring this year: Thank you for your service and dedication to the students of District 64. We wish you health, happiness and laughter as you begin your retirement journey!
Spending time visiting schools is one of my favorite things to do as Superintendent. I enjoyed watching students engage in our new science curriculum -- thinking deeply about guiding questions, while conducting and reflecting on experiments. Seeing such hands-on learning experiences was exciting.
Student’s reading and discussing books at their own level was great to see, as we piloted a new curricular resource during Reading Workshop. The use of technology as a tool for learning continues to grow across kindergarten through eighth grade, as teachers and students seamlessly integrate the 4 C's of communications, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking across the curriculum. Maker Space rooms are popping up at our schools, too. Our recent Tech Showcase highlighted the tech savvy students we have in D64.
Also this year, we launched the use of Second Step materials as part of our commitment to social emotional learning, one of the benefits of our 2020 Vision Strategic Plan. Students in all grades and within all of our schools had an opportunity to learn and practice specific skills being taught, develop a common language and work to become more aware of how their actions and interactions impact their classmates. This effort will expand in 2018-19, and will include greater outreach to parents, building on the recommendations of my new parent/community Focus Group on SEL convened this year.
Points of Pride
Our students are confident learners and are achieving. Parents in grades 2-8 will receive student scores for the spring Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment along with your child's final progress report. On MAP, the District tracks both status (how our students' average score compares to the average score of students in other schools) as well as growth (how our students' scores change from fall to spring). Although our District-wide report is still being finalized, I can say that District 64 students continue to earn highly competitive status scores in reading and math supported by strong growth.
Students’ success and high growth are a reflection of the District’s continued commitment to differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all learners that is an essential focus of our 2020 Vision Strategic Plan. We are now officially more than half-way through the plan as we wrap up Year 3 of implementation, and we look forward to continuing our roll-out in the final two years.
We also take great pride in our students' accomplishments in our extensive encore and extracurricular offerings, which allow them to discover and develop skills and talents outside of the core curriculum. We were delighted to congratulate so many students in person for their outstanding achievements in music, the arts, Special Olympics and other areas at the recent May Board meeting,
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 can tackle any issue, if we keep lines of communication open.
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) for your partnership. Your supportive efforts translated into enrichment programs for students, added new resources and equipment to playgrounds and classrooms, and fueled innovation through teacher grants. Thank you for helping us create a culture of caring and involvement that improved the lives of our entire District 64 community.
As we swing into summer, it’s clear that 2017-18 has been another exciting year of teaching, learning and growth in District 64. We look forward to the return of students on Monday, August 20 for the start of the 2018-19 school year -- but let’s not think about school starting just yet!
I wish you a safe and exciting summer, full of time with friends and family….and hope that your child will find time to enjoy trips to the library and reading a good book or two!
Your partner in education,
Dr. Laurie Heinz, Superintendent