Zee-Bee Connection

Vol 1 Issue 2 --- November 17, 2022

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From the desk of the Superintendent:

Dear District 126 Leaders,

This time of year, the Office of the Superintendent is focused on the budget carousels process with the idea of aligning our FY24 proposed budget to our district priorities. District 126 tracks its expenditures against the District's goals to ensure intentional spending centered on student achievement. Our office believes that the success of every single student relies on each and every dollar, which is our moral obligation as an organization and administrative team.

We started our process looking at the return on investment, each District office purpose, and FY24 proposed efficiencies and staffing/non-staffing options. As expected, the process resulted in a cost-prohibited initial budget proposal. Still, the great news is that we committed to addressing many proposed changes, which required attention to detail and careful decision-making.

In the spirit of transparency, you already know that we budget a plan; we don't plan a budget. We don't cut and paste from year to year, but we take full responsibility for proactively utilizing research and best business practices. Next week we will shift our thoughts from money to time and people.

The money aspect tells me that considering whether to implement a new initiative, first, we must analyze what needs to be purchased. Will your new program incur one-time costs, recurring costs, or both? How do the costs of the project scale with increased activity or district presence? Lastly, what fund(s) will provide the dollars needed? This simple structure allows me to see the dollar's impact on the entire organization.

The process now allows our office the opportunity to start shifting our thoughts into time. Time is not simply the days on a calendar. Every hour spent on our proposed initiatives by every staff member has a cost. With human capital amounting to ~85% of the budget, time is literally "money." The idea is to review the total personnel costs needed to help your initiatives stay in the black. The human infrastructure and its usage are crucial, and we will manage that area with sensitivity and intentional work focused on the Strategic Plan.

We must make important decisions where people's lives are positively or negatively impacted, and I believe in growing relationships; therefore, protecting our human capital is important but not at the risk of the organization's mission, vision, and goals. If the return in people is not adding value or returning something additive to District 126, we must make the hard decision of letting go, reimagining services, reclassifying positions, and aligning the talents of our staff to the needs of the District.

There are areas where we must have the courage to reframe to take our District to a preferred future. People are the most beloved resource that is often overlooked when considering a successful implementation. We are committed when it comes to supporting our champions as we implement our initiatives with fidelity. It's important to know that we will quantify the appropriate hours needed to determine who is needed for each project and allocate resources responsibly.

The FY24 work is a process, not an event, and we will experience success as one team and collectively learn its importance. It is imperative that we design the preferred future we aspire to as, again, success is intentional.

The Office of the Superintendent looks forward to supporting, learning, and executing as part of our portfolio of Offices and Schools. Again, the success of every student, as directed by our Strategic Plan, is our priority.

Service and Leadership:

On Friday, November 11th, the day designated as Veteran's Day, Dr. Rodriguez had the honor of accepting recognition from Congressman Krishnamoorthi for the work we do as a District honoring our Veterans.

The Board of Education gives thanks to our District faculty and staff:

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Important Events:

  • Thursday, November 17th – Executive Cabinet/Management Team Meeting
  • Thursday 17th – Sunday 20th – Joint Conference, Chicago
  • Wednesday 23rd – Friday 25th – Thanksgiving Break – District Closed
  • Tuesday, November 29th – Regular Board of Education Meeting

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District Business Office

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District Transportation

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District Maintenance

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Benefits Corner with Ms. Zimmerman


  • IMRF Employees - If you have not enrolled in the NCPERS optional life insurance plan, open enrollment continues until 11/30/2022. Please contact Kathy Zimmerman - Benefits Specialist (847)731-9756 or kathy.zimmerman@zb126.org for further information.

  • For employees who are having issues with the maintenance choice opt-out renewal of prescriptions, Caremark has confirmed that all members that previously opted out of the maintenance choice will be manually opted out no later than 10/24. Please contact Kathy Zimmerman - Benefits Specialist if you have any questions.

  • New Hires: Please be sure to submit your employment physical to Ms. Mondragon before your 90-day deadline.

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Program Highlight - Transition

Our Transition Program, housed at our New Tech Campus, serves specific IEP students who have been recommended to receive additional support after they complete their four years of traditional high school. The program focuses on job training, life skills education, and community experiences. Our current work crews are out on several sites with support every week; Walmart, The Food Bank, District Recycling, Fat Cat Rescue, Youth for Christ, Bernie's Book Bank, Zion Police Department, The Sweet Shop, The Way, and Keeping Families Covered.

The dedicated Transition staff:

Certified Staff: Ms. Ashley Barrie, Ms. Amanda Massong, Ms. Donna Ianson, & Ms. Erika Diaz

Support Staff: Ms. Sophia Jones, Ms. Erika Diaz, Ms. Veronica Herrera & Ms. Sunshine Brown.

Looking forward:

As we transition into December, The Specialized Service Administrators will begin communicating with the 8th-grade teams from our foundational schools to discuss placement and related service recommendations for the incoming class of 2027. Ms. Lang, Ms. Waddick, or Dr. Barker will participate in a team meeting for every student with an IEP. In addition, we will conduct observations of students to ensure that we develop the most appropriate plan for each student.
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Leadership Development

The interactive dashboard for our strategic plan is under construction.

Use this link to the website https://www.zb126.org/Page/6108 . This is our construction site for the new D126 Interactive Strategic Plan Data Dashboard. This is not live for the public yet. Right now the plan is to go live as we start Semester 2 in January of 2023. The conceptual model of the dashboard is outlined below with arrows representing what happens when icons/links are clicked.
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District 126 Technology

Dr. Bridge will be communicating with specific audiences each month. She is sending a weekly technology trick, feature, informational tidbit, etc in what she calls the Beeline Minute EdTech Tips… You all likely received the email as she is sending this out to the entire staff at both campuses. She is also sending out Technology Tidbits for Principal Newsletters to Parents. Principal Felske and Principal Livingston are adding this to their bi-weekly newsletters they send to families. Below is a preview of this week’s tidbit

ZB Technology Tidbit 11/18

Did you know that November is “Family Stories Month”? ​​

Gathering for the holidays is an excellent time to share stories and photos and, more importantly, learn about your family’s history.

This year, try to record your stories using audio, photos, and video, so that they can be easily saved and shared with future generations. The best part is that you can continue to add to them every time your family gathers together.

Here are some ideas for you:

  • Try Google’s free Photo Scan app to scan any photo to make it digital.

  • Create a free Google Folder to add your media too. Share with your family members, and everyone can contribute.

  • Create a website for free with Google Sites, these are a great place to keep your memories posted.

  • Try a paid website like LifeTales or StoryCombs to collaborate and collect stories.

Dr. Bridge

Director of Technology

Extensive technology work behind the scenes...

The pictures below highlight a few big projects that the technology department technicians have been working on. I know many of you frequently express your gratitude to Joe Fleming, John Meyer, Henry Batdeleg, and Andrea Bailey for all their hard work to keep the District 126 Technology Systems up and running. They appreciate your gratitude and so do I.
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Student Services Instagram: @zbstdentsrvcs

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College and Career Center Opportunities

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It is time to start the application process for the next school year. Returning students will have priority in the application process and will be able to secure their spot. There are 2 parts to re-application: 1) NTZB & ZB application 2) Lake County Tech Campus application. This application is not for new applicants to Tech Campus. (coming soon)

Juniors, you may begin PART 1 of reapplication below. Please use the link for your campus.

NTZB Application – Current Juniors only

ZBTHS Application – Current Juniors only

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There are many opportunities for students to learn about collage and career possibilties. Drop in help is available along with information about apprenticeships.
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Upcoming Events

Nov. 16 - PISA Testing

Nov. 17 - CLC Trade School Tour

Nov. 17 - Counselor Lunchroom Activites**

Nov. 28-30 - Freshman Counselor Visits

Dec. 1 - Course Selection Promotion Begins

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The Woman King

On Tuesday, November 1st, the sponsors of Black Girl Magic and Sister-to-Sister took 70 young ladies on a social-emotional learning (SEL) field trip to see The Woman King. This film emphasized unity and sisterhood. The young women walked away with a greater sense of pride in themselves and their sisters. This film aligns with our new African Studies course. Some of the students also participate in our afterschool SEL program facilitated by Princess and Ladies, INC. Students said, “this movie was very empowering and shows us how strong women are when they stick together”.

District Equity Advisory Committee

The district-wide equity advisory committee consists of two committees. The diversity committee is committed to recruiting and retaining teachers of color. The culturally responsive curriculum and instruction committee (CRCI) is dedicated to ensuring the implementation of curriculum and instruction aligned to our student demographics to emphasize the relevance and increase engagement.

  • Diversity Committee Meeting Dates: February 14th & March 7th
  • CRCI Committee Meeting Dates: November 22nd, February 21st, & March 14th

  • Both committees meet together on January 17th and April 25th

The New Art and Science of Teaching

All teachers in the district received a copy of The New Art and Science of Teaching by Robert J. Marzano. This book is aligned with our focus on Engagement: Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor. The relationship strategies presented in detail in this book have been demonstrated during recent school improvement planning meetings (SIP) and can be implemented by teachers in their classrooms as soon as the next day.
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Trust and Communication

November Emphasis:

1. Our teamwork is critical. There is no greater challenge today than creating safe schools. It requires a major commitment and effort by school personnel, parents, and a supportive community. A safe school is the foundation for the success of its academic mission. We must stand shoulder to shoulder!

2. Relationships. The most important takeaway from the many lessons learned in responding to and managing school crises is quite simply … RELATIONSHIPS!

3. Crisis prevention is always cheaper than crisis response. Crisis prevention costs are a fraction of the losses incurred in responding to a crisis. In other words, the more we promote a culture of preparedness and prevention, the greater the benefit. If we only prepare to take reactive measures, we are exposed to greater risks and reputational damage. Prevention is the KEY!

District 126 Student Anonymous Reporting System

Anonymous Alerts anti-bullying app and safety reporting system is simple and secure and enables students to quickly report incidents related to bullying, cyberbullying, student depression, family problems, self-harm, drugs, gun-related issues, harassment, weapons on campus or unusual student behavior which may warrant immediate attention by school officials. The reporter of the incident can establish anonymous 2-way communications with District Administrators. This service encourages those who feel vulnerable or less confident to speak up without fear of reprisal and report it. It can be found on the front of the district web page.
Anonymous Alerts General Overview - 2022
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Zion-Benton High School

Zion-Benton Township High School takes pride in ensuring that all students are provided with post-secondary opportunities. After 720 days in high school, our concern is what our students will do on day 721. Our recent facility investments in Career Technical Education, Science, and Fine Arts have allowed our students to be exposed to more industry certifications and apprenticeships than ever before. Our community partnerships have also increased significantly as we take a holistic approach to how our students are being served in the city of Zion and the larger lake county area. Our message is clear. We believe that all students can succeed and find their paths here at Zion Benton.
We’ve increased in math and science proficiency this year despite the hardships that the pandemic created for many students nationwide. We also continue to increase in Freshman on Track and Graduation Rate metrics as our MTSS team continues to create innovative ways to motivate and inspire our students to achieve. Our mantra for the 2022-23 school year is “You Matter, You are Important, We are Proud, and We Bee-lieve. Tu Importas, eres importante, estamos orgullosos, creeamos.

Veteran's Day 2022

Our veterans day program took place on November 11th as Zion Benton hosted a number of esteemed guests and political figures. The Regional Office of Education Superintendent, Dr. Michael Karner, war veteran James Arquilla, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, and State Representative Joyce Mason were in attendance. The Zion Benton Encore Singers and Symphonic Band led out in the “Armed Forces Salute'' and “Taps” to close out the program. A link to the program can be found Here.
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Dean's Office

Dean’s office continues to make strides in climate and culture, as there has been a 40% decrease in student physical altercations this semester compared to 2021-22. Along with the decrease in incidents, we are also experiencing more student initiatives and incentives. Positive behavior intervention continues to be a goal here at Zion Benton as we continue to encourage students to meet expectations. There will be opportunities this semester and the next around attendance and excellence. As we continue to track and create efforts to improve chronic truancy, opportunities for student recognition will continue to be established.

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A Note from the Principal...

I am so proud of the community service project led by Mr. McKnight, Mrs. Schuda, Mrs. Biddle, Ms. Ruggles, and Mr. Regnier. Also attending were, Mrs. Ondo, Mrs. McKenzie and Ms. Acevedo. These staff members worked collaboratively to plan and execute an after school outing on November 4, in which 51 participants took the opportunity to give back to the community and engage in serving others. Many staff also brought their own family members along to partake in the activity alongside their New Tech family- a true reflection of the “family-feel” of New Tech!
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NTZB Athletic Excellence Recognized

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Feed My Starving Children Service Trip

Student leaders from New Tech clubs including Interact, NHS, Healthy YOUth and Bee Leaders attended a service event at Feed my Starving Children in Libertyville. Students volunteered their time after school and along with other area volunteer groups we packed 20,952 meals for children across the world. This was a great event that included parents, staff and students after school supporting a global organization.
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BEE Leaders Visit Freshman Advisory

Aligned to our strategic plan goal of raising proficiency levels and encouraging daily attendance, New Tech student Bee Leaders are working hard to make connections with our Freshman students during Advisory. On Halloween students visited freshman classrooms to play an interactive game.
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Post Secondary Planning at New Tech

Students have begun the process of planning for life after high school. Many students have signed up for or have already attended a college visit. Freshmans and sophomores are exploring college or career options through their Freshman Seminar or Career Exploration course. Course planning is underway for the 2023-24 school year, with a few new courses being considered. School counselor, Mrs. Schuda and Intern Courtney McNeal are busy meeting with seniors to review their post secondary plans.

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Notable in November

Students at New Tech are being encouraged during the month of November to explore books written by Native American authors using our subscription service Axis 360. Through this platform, students can download eBooks directly to their Chromebooks.

Our interactive bulletin board outside the cafeteria encourages students and staff to include a "rock" of thanksgiving to the pile. We are watching the pile grow!

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New Tech Calendar

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Zion-Benton Township High School District 126