March 2022

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A Message from the Superintendent

Dear Families, Staff and Community Members,

A longstanding District focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) proves to be more important than ever in terms of supporting mental health and wellness. SEL is the process through which people understand and mindfully manage emotions. Hundreds of studies from organizations ranging from the World Economic Forum to Columbia University indicate that SEL leads to long-term beneficial outcomes related to:

  • cultivating healthy relationships

  • building resilience

  • expanding empathy

  • making healthy choices

  • achieving goals

  • emphasizing a culture of belonging

  • enhancing social awareness and communication skills

The concept is embedded in our Portrait of a Graduate and Strategic Goal Two: Positive Culture & Well Being. Our District focus is aligned with New Trier High School’s own Strategic Plan, ensuring a continuation of this practice for our students in high school.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we will all face challenging situations in life that put a strain on our mental health. In The Winnetka Public Schools, we believe that fostering BOTH academic excellence AND social emotional learning are of utmost importance in preparing our students to become active and healthy citizens, eager to make a meaningful difference in the world.

To provide practical support for families to support their children at home, the District’s SEL coaches have compiled resources for our school community. One of those resources is this website that shares coping skills and strategies to shift how we see behaviors in our children, significant others and ourselves. Additionally, see below for a list of SEL-related activities for families to engage in together to emphasize connection and belonging over spring break. On behalf of our staff, we are honored to prioritize SEL for every student in our schools. Thank you for your partnership in prioritizing mental health in tandem with academic growth.


Dr. Trisha Kocanda


School Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The next School Board meeting will be held at the Carleton Washburne School Band Room on March 22, 2022. Those attending can enter the meeting through the Band Room entrance door accessible from the Hibbard Rd. parking lot. The Regular Meeting is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. The following presentation is on the agenda:

  1. SY22-23 Staffing Plan

To observe via Zoom:

Passcode: 353337

Or Telephone: 312 626 6799

Webinar ID: 880 9070 7037

Passcode: 353337

Public comment for School Board meetings will now exclusively occur in person (limited to 3 minutes) as a rollback in pandemic mitigations has occurred. Community members can send communications to board members at which will be individually reviewed by each board member.

Proposed 2022-2023 Calendar

Click here to review the 2022-2023 calendar, anticipated for Board approval at the March 22 meeting.

Downsized Capital Improvement Proposal Update

The Winnetka Public Schools went to referendum in April 2019 for capital expenditure, which likely failed due to the scope and total cost of the request. Since that date, the District has taken several steps to determine a new path forward and is considering a return to the ballot box in November 2022 with a downsized capital improvement proposal. Important improvements have been made to the 2019 request, including:

  • Reducing the size of the proposal

  • Decreasing the estimated annual tax impact

  • Keeping The Skokie School open

  • Eliminating $36 million from Carleton Washburne’s facility plan

A screencast of the Community Engagement Sessions presented by Board and Administration is here. For further details on the proposal, click here.

Winnetka Parents Institute

In Partnership with The Alliance for Early Childhood:

The Power of Play in Emotional Health and Well-Being

April 13 from 7-8 p.m.

This session is part of the ongoing series "Making Sense of Kids: What Kids Need Most from Adults," and features Dr. Deborah MacNamara, author of Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (or anyone who acts like one). Click here to register and learn more.

Adventures in Learning Registration is Now Open

The Winnetka Public Schools is returning to its traditional Adventures in Learning summer program following a two year hiatus. Our General Program is designed for students entering 2nd grade through 8th grade. Our Primary Program provides activities for children Pre-K (4 years old by June 1st, 2022) and K-1st grade (5 years old by September 1st, 2021). Registration is open to both residents and non-residents of Winnetka via this link.

Spring Break Activities for Families from the District’s SEL Coaches:

With Spring Break approaching, our children are anticipating hours of free time on their hands during the day - and some parents may be wondering how to fill it. This is their time to have fun and unwind, but that doesn't mean social emotional learning has to stop. As social and emotional beings, every child, adolescent and adult can continuously choose to flex these important muscles. Avoid the dreaded "I'm bored" comments by trying out some of these engaging activities and tasks that promote social emotional development.

1. Go on a mindful walk. Ask your child to take account of what they sense as you walk around Winnetka, or a new town you're exploring during the break. Taking time to determine what you see, smell, feel and hear will help ground you in the moment. Have students focus on using one of their senses at a time in order to help them focus deeply.

2. Garden. Plant some flowers, vegetables, fruit or herbs and have them take ownership for taking care of it. Teach them to care for the plant and let them take the reins. This will help them build a sense of motivation and confidence as they solve the problems that may come along with gardening.

3. Visit museums. Chicago is home to an impressive collection of museums and landmarks. Learn why Chicago is called both the Second City and Windy City at the Chicago History Museum or book a walking tour of historic Old Town, the Gold Coast or Pilsen's murals. While the Museum Campus in the South Loop is best known as the center for museum activity (three of the city’s stalwarts consider the campus as home - Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium), the unparalleled Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art are easy to reach with a quick bus ride.

4. Make a scrapbook to save your family memories from spring break. Putting together a scrapbook is a great way for children to reflect on their favorite memories. Have them piece together keepsakes and photography (digital or analog) that represent the moments they are most proud of and add a caption or drawing that expresses how they felt.

5. Plan playdates at the local park. Getting a group of children together to play and spend time together is a simple but effective way to continue to develop social skills. Children will cultivate strong relationship skills as they listen, communicate and spend quality time together.

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

For upcoming events, access FAN’s website here.

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