FVRC Newsletter

March, 2022

Presidents' Note

In these tough winter months when the darkness, cold, and snow mess with your psyche, we here at FVRC want you to know how much we love you and all you do for each other and your students. We hope the fact that we continue to share opportunities for professional learning reveals our complete and utter fondness for our members. Please check the Professional Learning website on IRC’s www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org website as another resource we can offer you! This membership you have to FVRC and IRC will also check the box on Domain 4 of your evaluation. It’s a great deal! Tell your friends!

Saturday, April 9 is a day we demonstrate our affection for Cindi Koudelka when she presents Workshopping the Big Kids: Increasing Equity, Opportunity, and Comprehension with Diverse Texts for teachers of grades 6-12 at the Geneva Library from 9:30-11:30 AM. Come join us!

Be sure you also join us for our member appreciation in May when we have our membership drive during our Second Annual Wine, Dine, & Collaborate. It’s a chance to connect with friends and feel appreciated on a Thursday after school by FVRC. We’ll contact you when we decide the place and time. Last year’s host, Galena Cellars in Geneva, is no longer in business.

As you read through our newsletter, discover more about our amazing and caring co-President, Camille Lutz, in our Board Member Spotlight. She’s the perfect example of a busy Superwoman, in this other co-President’s eyes. “In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” ~Lee Iacocca

Please do us a favor and take a moment to vote for your new FVRC 2022-23 Board by clicking this link. If you are ever interested in joining our Board, please contact us! We’d love to have you!

Finally, the excitement of the officers of Illinois Reading Council (IRC), who are finally able to present their Spring conference on March 10-11 in Springfield, IL is palpable. The theme is Literacy in Bloom: Growing Readers and Ideas. It is an excellent opportunity to do something for yourself and grow professionally, especially after being canceled for the last two years. The authors and Board members can’t wait to see you!


Co-Presidents Camille Lutz and Dawn Lutz

2022 IRC Conference Literacy in Bloom: Growing Readers and Ideas

We are excited for this year's Illinois Reading Conference! Educators will be gathering in Springfield to listen to amazing speakers and discuss literacy and best practices in their classrooms. For more information, click on this link: https://irc.memberclicks.net/irc-conference

Book Recommendations from Kristen Walsh

Eyes that Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho


This is the perfect follow-up to her book Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. This beautifully illustrated book focuses on a young boy’s realization that, through his eyes, he is connected to his ancestors, his family, and even his own power.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

(Middle Grade)

A magical world hidden from the everyday person. A world where ‘other beings’ live amongst us. A bureau designed to look after and protect both the humans and ‘others’. A Magician so powerful and evil he wants to take over. A young girl in search of her brother. All of this can be found in Amari and the Night Brothers.

Amari Peters, a strong protagonist, is a young girl whose older brother Quinton went missing months ago. After an altercation at school with the popular girls which sees Amari expelled, she has to stay home alone while her mother works a shift at the hospital.

A man delivers a package to Amari with the sender being Quinton Peters. With a large document warning her not to open it unless it is definitely addressed to her and a briefcase she can only open late at night, Amari wonders what is going on. That is until she puts on the glasses that were within the case and Quinton is there to show her a magical world she never knew existed.

This is a fast-paced, can’t put down novel that has you rooting for Amari the entire time!

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

(Young Adult)

Romania, 1989. While communist regimes are crumbling across Europe, seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe. This is a gut-wrenching, startling window into communist Romania and the citizen spy network that devastated a nation.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson


In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother's death and her hidden past - a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake. The reader is led through an extraordinary journey dealing with the life of a family that was forever changed by the choices of its matriarch.

4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency by Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher

(Professional Development)

Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher’s 4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency is an extension of their work in 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. With the new text, they take a deep dive into four studies. Their goal is to move beyond compliance and formula, and instead develop students’ agency, independence, and decision-making skills. There are lessons that can be immediately implemented into classroom instruction.

Diversity Book Recommendations by Katina Kastrantas

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne

by Lesa Cline-Ransome and John Parra

Women during the Great Depression had very few opportunities but that didn’t stop Ethel L. Payne. Ethel loved to write but her high school newspaper would not let her publish articles. She continued to pursue stories about racism and injustice. World War II began so she became a correspondent in Tokyo. She wrote about black soldiers stationed in Japan. Her articles traveled across the globe. When she returned, she wrote for the Chicago Defender, a black-based newspaper. Her biggest accomplishment was being invited to the Presidential Pressroom. It was there where she asked presidents challenging questions about discrimination. Outside of being a journalist she continued to fight for equal rights marching alongside Martin Luther King. “Her reporting highlighted the struggle for justice, equal pay, housing, and education.” Ethel once said she had a box seat on history and “that’s a rare thing.” She was the voice for those who did not and spent her life fighting for the Civil Rights Movement.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

I read this book to my fifth-grade group as an introduction to teaching about the Civil Rights movement. It was hard for them to imagine that people were once treated so unfairly. On February 1, 1960, four college students walked up to a Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and tried to order some coffee. They were at first ignored and then taunted because they were black. They were not allowed to eat at the restaurant with whites but it did not stop them from protesting peacefully. The fifth graders were amazed to learn how cool the college students remained while they had coffee poured on and ketchup dumped on their backs. The sit-in movement soon spread to college towns throughout the South. Many of the protesters were arrested for trespassing. A few days later some 300 students had joined the protest at Woolworth's. In response to the success of the sit-in movement, dining facilities across the South were being integrated by the summer of 1960.

Board Member Spotlight - Camille Lutz

  • What is your name and position with FVRC? What do you do?

Camille Lutz - Co-President with Dawn Lutz :) Together, Dawn and I are lucky enough to work with a great group of people who work hard to put together great events for educators and work hard to support our community through many different projects.

  • What's one professional skill or concept you are passionate about?

The variety of ways we communicate and making sure students know how to communicate (both verbally and written) and truly listen/respond to one another.

  • What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to and why?

Since day one I have guided my career with the phrase "respect begets respect." While people may have differing views on the word respect, this belief has helped me gain the trust of some of the most hurt and untrusting students in my school. As a special education teacher, I have had the privilege of building and creating wonderful relationships with our students, and through those relationships, I have helped guide them as they grew and learned both academically and (more importantly) emotionally.

  • What led you to this career? What was your first job?

Oh my goodness, the most wonderful 5th-grade teacher a person could have led me to teaching! Mary Gaylord was the kindest and most compassionate human I had ever met. She made every single one of us feel special and that made us want to work hard and learn from her. To this day she is still inspiring her students via social media; it is so sweet to see my former classmates respond to her memes and thoughts decades after she was our teacher. She is truly the best! But it was my aunt that put me in the direction of special education. She was a physical therapist through SEDOM (Special Education District of McHenry County), and she encouraged me to work as a teaching assistant over the summer. While my students today have many different needs than the students I worked with over those few summers, it was my work through SEDOM that put me on the path of a special education teacher.

  • What energizes you at work?

Without sounding cliche? My babies! I love everything about them! From greeting them at the start of class to hearing their silly stories, watching and hearing them learn, and witnessing their joy when they find success. I love seeing them in the halls and hearing "Lutzy!" Even on the days they drive me crazy, I wouldn't trade them for any other profession. They are filled with love and hope and laughter, and that fills my heart.

  • Tell us about your family.

I am a proud single parent raising a good-hearted and kind 8th grader. Together we have a dog, Roxi, and a cat, Wally. We are lucky that my mom, step-dad, and dad live in the area and they are a big part of our lives.

  • What's one thing people don't know about you?

Uhm... I am pretty much an open book. I don't really know what people might not know about me-haha!

  • Dog or cat person?


  • What's your guilty pleasure?

Buying shoes

  • If you could snap your fingers and be an expert in something, what would it be?

Equity. To be honest, there is just so much to know and while I try to learn all I can, it seems as if when I learn more I actually realize just how much I don't know.

  • What's one of your favorite memories from the past year?

Certainly, the 2020/2021 school year was one many of us want to forget, but I had two specific students who chose to come to school/learn in-person, and I cannot tell you how much those girls saved me from a horrible year. Their goofy antics and outgoing personalities were such bright spots in a very dark time for me.

  • What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

compassionate, energetic, funny

Illinois Reading Council Benefits

As a member of the Illinois Reading Council, you have access to many wonderful, FREE, resources through the IRC website.

Book Clubs (https://irc.memberclicks.net/book-clubs)

On March 27th, two different book clubs will begin - Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child by Pernille Ripp and Welcome to Writing Workshop: Engaging Today’s Students with a Model That Works by Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman. You may join one of the book clubs or you can get involved with both. This is free for members, but you will need to purchase your own book.

Webinars (https://irc.memberclicks.net/irc-webinar-series)

There are several topics to be discussed in the next few months:

  • writing instruction
  • visual literacy tools
  • use of words in the world
  • using text sets to nurture readers

Again, these webinars are free for members. If you register for a webinar but cannot attend, they do record them so you can watch at a later date. You can also earn one CPDU for each webinar you attend.

Click on the links to learn more about book clubs and webinars offered by IRC.

Social Media

Your Fox Valley Reading Council is committed to providing you ongoing professional learning, opportunities to network, resources, instructional strategies to implement with your students, and a bit of motivation from time to time….Did I mention we are doing this from the comfort of your own couch?!?! No, not ANOTHER Zoom meeting, rather we are upping our social media presence!! If you don’t follow us already, be sure to head over to your favorite social media platform and give us a “Follow” (@illinoisfvrc) so you don’t miss out on any, of the almost daily, posts to help you in your literacy journey.

But the learning doesn’t stop there. We want to connect with you on socials too! Please take a quick second (it is 3 questions) to fill out this brief survey so we can better connect with you as well!