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Summer of 54 Camp Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for District 54’s Summer STEM Academy, Camp Creative and 54 Fitness League and Summer Band and Orchestra.

You can complete the 2019 registration for STEM, Camp Creative and Fitness League online through the parent portal. Registration is open through April 19.

A registration form for Summer Band and Orchestra is available on the District 54 Instrumental Music website, or can be obtained from the child’s instrumental music teacher.

Printable Summer of 54 Camp Brochure

54 Fitness League

Through active engagement in fun-filled opportunities, the 54 Fitness League is a safe and fun-filled camp that focuses on encouraging a lifetime of physical activity. 54 Fitness League will run from June 10-14.

Class offerings:

  • Soccer – third through fifth grade
    • Get a great introduction to the game of soccer in an exciting, fast-paced way. Whether this is your child’s first time playing soccer or they are serious players, this opportunity will help them learn and improve as they have lots of fun.
  • Sports Camp – third through fifth grade
    • Sports Camp is designed to teach basic skills that can be applied to various sports. The fundamentals of dribbling, throwing, kicking, balancing and running will be explored. Participants will use these fundamentals as they participate in various sports/activities.
  • Lacrosse – third through eighth grade
    • This is an introduction to the game of lacrosse, where participants will learn basic traditions, skills and game play. Participants will develop communication, decision making and problem solving skills through teamwork.
  • Basketball – sixth through eighth grade
    • Offers a solid foundation in fundamentals of the game, in a motivational and positive environment. Campers will learn the fundamentals of dribbling, shooting, passing, and offensive and defensive strategies.
  • Cross Country – sixth through eighth grade
    • Love to run? In this camp participants will begin to learn the fundamentals necessary for efficient running. Improve your mechanics and form, and learn techniques to improve your flexibility, balance and confidence.

STEM Academy

What did you do on your summer vacation? Next fall, your answer could be: “I built and programmed a robot, learned the principles of flight through rocket construction, or used a 3-D printer to design my own car or jewelry.” The District 54 Summer STEM Academy is a week-long program for District 54 students who are looking to have fun and expand on their knowledge of STEM-related topics. Summer STEM Academy will run from June 17-21.

Class offerings:

  • Bubble Wands – first and second grade
    • In Bubble Bonanza: Engineering Bubble Wands, you will design different types of bubble wands to help a fictional California amusement park develop a Bubble Bonanza show to entertain park visitors.
  • Recycled Racers – first and second grade
    • In Go Green: Engineering Recycled Racers, you will use different types of recycled items to design and create your own car for the Recycled Racer Rally!
  • Coding – third through fifth grade
    • Build your own games and share with friends! Solve fun coding puzzles and learn programming concepts in each level. Personalize games with animated characters, multiple levels and rich props. Make your games realistic using physics. See the code as visual blocks or JavaScript.
  • Robotics with Sphero – third through fifth grade
    • This is a dynamic excursion into mobile robotics. Use real-life applications to engineer robots that read ambient light, recognize patterns, tones and more!
  • Shake It Up, Earthquakes – third through fifth grade
    • Design and construct model buildings that are earthquake resistant. By constructing a shake table to mimic the earth shaking you will test the ability of your structure to survive an earthquake. You will also develop building codes that help others build earthquake resistant buildings.
  • Coding – sixth through eighth grade
    • Build your own games and share with friends!  Solve fun coding puzzles and learn programming concepts in each level.  Personalize games with animated characters, multiple levels and rich props.  Make your games realistic using physics.  See the code as visual blocks or JavaScript.
  • Fluid Power – sixth through eighth grade
    • Learn about the basics of hydraulics – what it is, how it works, and how it is used in everyday life. Use your creativity to build basic pneumatic kits and develop machines that rotate and lift objects.
  • VEX Robotics – sixth through eighth grade
    • Use the VEX® Robotics Design System to build a frame and base, interchange wheels, create geared armatures and engineer wiring. Your team’s bot will have to adapt to compete in user-piloted challenges such as robo-soccer and obstacle courses, as well as autonomous robot challenges that will require programming using ROBOTC.

Camp Creative

Do you want to learn new ways to show your creativity? Join School District 54’s Camp Creative this summer to participate in creating different forms of art using digital and non-digital mediums. The one week program is for students entering 3rd grade through 8th grade in the fall of 2019. Choose a course that interests you the most! Limit one class. Camp Creative will run from June 24-28.

Course offerings:

  • Printing – third through fifth grade
    • Learn the art of printmaking using different tools to create pictures and shapes in creative ways.
  • Scratch Art – third through eighth grade
    • Join this class to learn to use various tools and inked paper to show pictures and designs in an artistic and creative way.
  • Perspective – third through eighth grade
    • Join this class to learn techniques that designers and architects use to make things look 3D.
  • Foil Embossing – third through eighth grade
    • Learn how to use foil, paint and other tools to create memorable pieces that will make you your piece look memorable and priceless.
  • Origami – sixth through eighth grade
    • Join this class to learn the Japanese art of folding paper into elaborate and decorative shapes and figures.
  • Digital Photography – sixth through eighth grade
    • Learn how to use professional grade camera equipment and software to take and develop high quality pictures.
  • Graphic Design – sixth through eighth grade
    • Join this class to learn how you can digitally create digital art using traditional art techniques.
  • Film Production – sixth through eighth grade
    • Join this class to learn how to film your own short movie using professional grade equipment and software.

Summer Band and Orchestra

Registration for District 54’s Summer Band and Orchestra program has begun. Students who have completed fifth, sixth or seventh grade and have had lessons on their instrument in the District 54 instrumental music program for at least one school year are eligible to enroll.

Summer Band and Orchestra will take place July 8 to 25 (Mondays through Thursdays) at Addams Junior High School, 700 S. Springinsguth Road in Schaumburg.  Registration forms are available from any instrumental music teacher or on the Instrumental Music website,or by calling 847-357-5138. Please note that there is no online registration for Instrumental Music at this time.

Class offerings:

Intermediate band, 9-10 a.m.

  • Requirement for entry: Students must have completed 5th grade and had lessons on their instrument for one school year.

Advanced band, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

  • Requirement for entry: Students must have completed 6th grade and had lessons on their instrument for two or more consecutive years.

Intermediate orchestra, 9-10 a.m.

  • Requirement for entry: Students must have completed 5th grade and had lessons on their instrument for one school year.

Advanced orchestra, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

  • Requirement for entry: Students must have completed 6th grade and had lessons on their instrument for two or more consecutive years

If you have questions, please contact the band/orchestra teacher at your school or call 847-357-5138.

Brief from the Board Meeting on March 21, 2019

The School Board recognized Mead student Sarah Bradley who received the National Association for Bilingual Education Essay Award on March 7 for her essay on the importance of being bilingual.

The Board also recognized one Hoover team and two Lincoln Prairie teams for their performance at the First Lego League annual competition in Mount Prospect.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Freedom of Information Act Requests:
The School Board responded to two requests since the last board meeting regarding outsourced custodial services and the flooring replacement bid.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session school board meetings on March 7, 2019
  • The resignations, leaves, retirement, termination and honorable dismissal of personnel
  • The 2019-20 Staffing Plan
  • Checks dated March 15, 2019
  • The treasurer’s report on cash and investments for January 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for February 2019
  • The purchase of social science instructional materials
  • The purchase of Makerspace instructional materials
  • A contract for masonry remediation at seven schools during the summer of 2019
  • The purchase of classroom magazine subscriptions from National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, Scholastic, Studies Weekly and Time
  • The purchase of networking equipment with licensing and support
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings held on Sept. 7 and Sept. 21, 2017 for which approved minutes already exist

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss shared three #WeAre54 videos. Click on each name to watch the videos about Mead student Sarah Bradley, Fox teacher Stacey Campos and Collins paraprofessional Patty Kazeos.

The superintendent also shared that District 54 was the District Winner in the Future Ready Schools Film Festival for this video on innovation in our schools. His report also contained a video of the annual District 54 Multicultural Event held March 16.

Andy also announced that Einstein Principal Julie Tarasiuk was chosen the Illinois PTA Principal of the Year.

Cabinet Report – Illinois Assessment of Readiness:
Each spring District 54 students take the federally mandated assessments designed to help districts understand how their students are growing academically, compared to their peers across the state. This year, the English/language arts and math assessment for grades 3-8 is called the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR). This test is similar to the PARCC assessment students took last year only shorter. Students in grades 5 and 8 will also take the Illinois Science Assessment again this year. Both tests, which will be administered in April, are designed to measure student performance based on the Illinois Learning Standards.

Cabinet Report – World Language Update:
In March 2018, the School Board approved the purchase of the EntreCulturas curriculum for the world language junior high classes after a thorough review by teachers in that program. The materials were evaluated for their quality in supporting the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, authenticity, relevance to students and integration with Chromebooks.

One year later, teachers are reporting that students have increased opportunities for authentic communication. Each student has an online account that connects to videos, vocabulary resources and practice opportunities. Students can record audio and video and submit these speaking assignments to teachers electronically, allowing them to remain engaged even when the teacher is working with another group.

District Citizens’ Advisory Committee Report:
Board Member Barbara Hengels reported that DCAC received an update on innovation work in District 54.

Legislative Networking Committee:
Board Secretary Bob Kaplan reported that early voting has started for the April 2 election. District 54 has been meeting with local legislators to share how proposed legislation will impact our district. More information on these bills will be discussed at the committee’s April 4 meeting.

District 54 Foundation Report:
Bob Kaplan announced online registration for the June 10 golf outing is now available at The Foundation is also looking for sponsors and donors for this event.

New Business: 

  • The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 4:10(c) – Budget Adoption Procedures.
  • The Board approved the before- and after-school child care facility rental rates for 2019-20. The rates will remain the same.
  • The Board approved the facility rental rates for 2019-20.
  • The Board approved a $50 consumable materials fee for 2019-20. This rate has not changed.
  • The Board approved the milk fee for 2019-20. The cost will remain at 25 cents a carton for students and 30 cents for adults.
  • The Board approved the parent-paid student transportation fees for 2019-20. These fees will remain the same.
  • The Board approved the Intergovernmental Agreement between Elk Grove Park District and School District 54 regarding the water main easement near Link School.
  • The Board appointed Stephanie Fry as the assistant principal at Blackwell and Hoover elementary schools for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board appointed Brittany Ciszewski as the assistant principal at Enders-Salk and Link elementary schools for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board appointed Priscilla Buchanan as the assistant principal at Fox Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board appointed Dia Rizmani as the assistant principal at Armstrong Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year.


  • Board members thanked the staff members who planned the Multicultural Event for almost 2,000 attendees.
  • They thanked schools for inviting them to events at the schools and for sharing their happiness activities this month.
  • The Board congratulated the recipients of the 2019 Ensuring Student Success Awards.
  • They also expressed pride in the Stevenson students who were honored by the Village of Elk Grove and were asked to work with the Elk Grove Police on an anti-bullying public service announcement.
  • The Board praised the students in the Prairie Center Art Show last week, as well as the teachers who made it possible.
  • Board members enjoyed the Lincoln Prairie Expo, and the amazing work of the students and staff who made it happen.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 8:35 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment and school matters.

Illinois PTA selects Einstein principal for top statewide award

Genuine care and concern for students, excellent communication and strong partnerships with parents are among the outstanding qualities that led to Julie Tarasiuk’s selection as 2019 Outstanding Principal of the Year by the Illinois PTA.

Tarasiuk has been principal at Einstein Elementary School in Hanover Park since 2016. The Einstein PTA nominated her for the statewide recognition.

“Julie explores the needs of different student’s learning abilities and embraces those challenges with open arms. She is patient and willing to give the staff, students and parents the tools they need to succeed,” Einstein PTA President Katie Kopecky wrote in her nomination. “She shows genuine care and love for students and I think that is so important to any child. Some simply need it more than others, and at the end of the day we all need to feel that way.”

Kopecky noted that Tarasiuk recently changed the school’s student of the month recognition to student of the week so that staff could recognize more students throughout the year. She also shared that Tarasiuk makes everyone feel seen and heard, keeps parents well-informed and encourages open communication at any time.

“I believe each child deserves the absolute best when they enter our doors at Einstein,” Tarasiuk said. “They deserve to come to school every day knowing that they will be loved and cared for. It is through a strong partnership with our community and families that we are able to provide an environment where the whole child is supported and successful. It takes a village.”

Kopecky said that this philosophy is obvious in Tarasiuk’s interactions with children.

“They all feel loved and respected within those walls every day at school,” she said.

Tarasiuk works closely with the PTA and will do whatever is needed to ensure the best possible opportunities for students. When the PTA was struggling to find enough volunteers for the holiday breakfast, Tarasiuk made and served pancakes that morning and recruited other Einstein staff to help.

“I walked in to find the breakfast set up that morning. The entire gym was filled with staff, all themed out and serving a full breakfast with jokes to all the students,” Kopecky wrote. “It was above and beyond, and she is appreciated more than she will ever know.”

Tarasiuk will be recognized during a ceremony at the Illinois PTA Convention May 4.

District 54 names seven Ensuring Student Success Award winners

District 54 is proud to announce the following recipients of the district’s 2019 Ensuring Student Success Awards.

  • Chris Bingen, principal of Addams Junior High School, won in the administrator category.
  • Sue Budak, a District 54 Education Foundation trustee and past president of the Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs, won in the volunteer category.
  • Cynthia Christian, a paraprofessional at John Muir Literacy Academy, won in the educational service personnel category.
  • The Eisenhower Junior High School guidance team of Melissa Hemzacek, Melinda Perez, Monica Bhatia, Krishna Patel and Julie Goolish won in the team category.
  • Laurie Konkey, a language arts teacher at Keller Junior High School, won in the classroom teacher category.
  • Sara Maduzia, a literacy coach at Armstrong Elementary School, won in the student support personnel category.
  • Katie Massingill, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Dooley Elementary School, won in the early career educator category.

Chris Bingen

Whether it is problem-solving how to support struggling students or planning engaging and Chris Bingen with teachersinnovative lessons, Addams Junior High Principal Chris Bingen is always supportive of new ideas and ready to help in any way he can. If Chris thinks something will help students, he will find a way to make it happen. He truly embodies the “culture of yes.” He takes student feedback very seriously and regularly meets with his student Principal Advisory Committee.

Sue Budak

Sue Budak thanking everyoneSue Budak has spent countless hours over the years as a volunteer with the District 54 Education Foundation and with the PTA, where she has served as PTA Council Chair and Reflections Chair. In addition to volunteering her time, Sue recently gave two generous donations to benefit District 54 students. She donated $9,000 to the Foundation for STEM education in memory of her husband Mark, and $10,000 toward the purchase of Orange Frog books with District 54 study guides for each family.

Cynthia Christian

Cynthia Christian with a classCynthia Christian has the ability to make strong connections with everyone she encounters in her role as a paraprofessional at Muir Elementary. She does whatever it takes to meet the needs of students, and is incredibly supportive of her colleagues, as well. Cynthia runs the Breakfast Club at Muir, feeding children from financially struggling families a healthy meal and connecting with them on a personal level each day. Her high expectations for students help ensure their success.

Eisenhower Guidance Team

The Eisenhower Guidance team with studentsThe Eisenhower Junior High Guidance Team model what it means to support the whole child by developing positive relationships with students. In addition to their daily work with children, the team organizes events to support the whole child, such as a basket brigade to provide Thanksgiving meals and a holiday event where students could shop for their families. The team has also built strong relationships with Eisenhower staff and has become an incredible resource and partner in meeting students’ needs.

Laurie Konkey

Leadership is influence, and Laurie Konkey’s influence extends far outside the walls of her Laurie Konkey with studentslanguage arts classroom at Keller Junior High. She connects with students and staff through a variety of roles, including as Interact Club sponsor and Student Ambassador leader. Laurie always comes up with creative ways to bring together the Keller community and goes to great lengths to show she cares.  Most recently, she planned an early private graduation ceremony for student whose mother was terminally ill.

Sara Maduzia

Sara Maduzia with studentsArmstrong Literacy Coach Sara Maduzia is constantly thinking of ways to meet help students meet their goals. If a student had a difficult day, she asks questions to learn more and encourages the student that they will succeed tomorrow. Sara works with numerous clubs, including Homework Club and Club Unify, to build relationships with students. Sara is a leader and a team player, and everyone knows they can go to her with any question or request.

Katie Massingill

Kate Massingill with studentsDistrict 54 is focused on elevating experiences for students, and Dooley fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Katie Massingill has truly brought this to life. As a member of the school’s Happiness Team, Katie has made positivity a priority for her students and has taken a leadership role in implementing positive psychology by organizing buddy classrooms, getting the community involved in writing gratitudes for students and more. Katie is also a member of the school’s Innovate 54 team and is always willing to try new things with her students.

District 54 to host STEM Showcase May 1


STEM Showcase Flyer

District 54 will host its second annual STEM Showcase on Wednesday, May 1 at the District 54 Professional Learning Center, 522 E. Schaumburg Road. The event will take place from 6-7:30 p.m.

District 54 students and teachers will share the exciting learning opportunities they have explored throughout the year, including coding, hydraulics, FUSE, GEMS, robotics, Project Lead the Way, Rube Goldberg devices and Makerspaces. All are welcome to attend this interactive forum and engage with the next generation of innovators and makers as they demonstrate their ability to think critically and creatively solve problems.

STEM Showcase Flyer

Four District 54 students advance to National PTA Reflections Contest

Four District 54 students qualified for the national level in Reflections, a PTA writing and fine arts competition. The winners of the national competition are announced in June.

  • Karina S., a fifth-grade student at Campanelli, qualified in the literature category for her entry A Hero Can Be Anyone.
  • Aditya K., a third-grade student at Lincoln Prairie, qualified in the musical composition category for his entry Heavenly Heroes.
  • Airi I., a seventh-grade student at Mead, qualified in the musical composition category for her entry Hero.
  • Jacy F., a sixth-grade student at Campanelli, qualified in the visual arts category for her entry Ordinary Heroes.

Other District 54 students received honorable mentions at the state competition. They are as follows:

Film Production

  • Allison C., Heroes in My World, seventh grade, Lincoln Prairie


  • Alan K., Heroes Around Me, fifth grade, Collins

Musical Composition

  • Sanjana K., Heroic Horizons, eighth grade, Lincoln Prairie

Visual Arts

  • Aoi T., My Teacher, fifth grade, Collins
  • Anya C., Bapu: Father of Modern India, seventh grade, Keller
  • Tamya P., My Mom, eighth grade, Addams

The theme of the 2018-19 Reflections program was “Heroes Around Us.” District 54 students were able to submit an entry in the following six arts areas: film production, dance choreography, literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts.

There will be a reception honoring the Reflections students from Northwest Cook Region, which includes District 54, at 6:30 p.m. March 13 at Keller Junior High, 820 Bode Road in Schaumburg.

District 54 seeks community members for committees

School District 54 is looking for community members who would be interested in serving on its District Citizens’ Advisory Committee (DCAC) or Advisory Council for District Initiatives (ACDI) beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

DCAC is a School Board committee composed of staff members, parents, community members and representatives of governmental agencies, community and business organizations. The Board established this committee to increase communication and provide citizen involvement at the district level. DCAC also offers members an opportunity to promote education and community involvement.

DCAC member responsibilities include attending monthly meetings (held at 9 a.m. on the second Thursday of the month during the school year), providing input to the School Board on district topics, and sharing information with one’s constituency.

ACDI is a source for strategic planning in District 54. This council acknowledges and supports ideas for instructional change before the ideas are presented to the School Board. ACDI serves as a channel of communication by encouraging new ideas and providing a framework for them to become a reality. ACDI members are involved in the planning of new, innovative ideas.

ACDI member responsibilities include attending monthly meetings on an as-needed basis (held on the third or fourth Monday of the month during the school year), sharing information with one’s constituency, assisting/mentoring others in fully developing instructional initiatives, and committing to three years of ACDI membership.

Applications are to be submitted by May 11, 2019 by completing the online application form or by submitting a completed printable application form to or by mail to the Superintendent/Board of Education Office, School District 54, 524 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, IL 60194.

The Board will review all applications received and make appointments at a board meeting. For more information, please call (847) 357-5141.

Brief from the Board Meeting on March 7, 2019

Discussion – Positive Psychology Update:
As part of our mission of Ensuring Student Success, District 54 has been reviewing and utilizing Shawn Achor’s research on positive psychology to support students and staff since the 2016-17 school year. This year, the District 54 Happiness Trainer Team designed and led a one-day workshop for all staff that addressed the interconnected nature of happiness and success. These lessons continued throughout the school year during interactive staff development sessions at each building. A team of District 54 happiness coaches shared with the Board one such session, focused on defending your own positivity and productivity.

In March, we are once again celebrating #54Happiness Month. At each of our buildings, happiness teams are implementing activities for staff, students and families to sustain, grow and spread positivity. As a result of this work, we have witnessed increased employee satisfaction and collaboration as evidenced by the cultural assessment results, decreased student discipline referrals and increased student engagement in creating a positive school environment.

Discussion – 2019-20 Staffing Plan:
Pete Hannigan, assistant superintendent of human resources, presented the administration’s preliminary staffing plan for the 2019-20 school year.

The first step in determining the staffing plan is projecting the enrollment. To estimate next year’s enrollment District 54 considers the difference between this year’s eighth-grade class and next year’s kindergarten class, but also must consider the number of students who transfer into and out of our district at other grade levels. This number is much harder to predict. The early childhood through eighth grade projected enrollment for 2019-20 is 15,342, which is an increase from the current enrollment. The average class size would remain at 22 students.

District 54 always begins with a conservative staffing plan. If enrollment increases prior to the beginning of the school year, District 54 may shift or add teaching positions to maintain consistent class size averages.

The district is recommending the following reallocation of licensed staff members next year for a total change of one additional teacher:

  • The addition of four general education teachers due to anticipated increases in enrollment;
  • The addition of six special education teachers to support the growing number of students with disabilities;
  • The addition of one resource teacher to support an increase in the enrollment of new English Learners;
  • The reduction of two kindergarten teachers due to kindergarten enrollment uncertainty; and
  • The reduction of four building intervention coaches, one dual language support position and three district coaches.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Since the last board meeting, two requests were received and replied to regarding roofing replacement, flooring replacement and asbestos abatement.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session School Board meetings on Feb. 21, 2019
  • The resignations, leaves, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Feb. 15 and March 1, 2019
  • A one-year extension of the student transportation contract with First Student
  • A contract for flooring removal and replacement at various district locations
  • The replacement of Titmus Vision Screening Machines
  • The purchase of math, science and literacy instructional materials
  • The release of the minutes of the closed-session meetings on August 9, Sept. 6, Oct. 4 and Nov. 1, 2018 and Jan. 10, 2019.

New Business: 

  • The Board appointed additional representatives from the community to serve on the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee for the 2018-2019 school year.
  • The Board had the first reading of revisions to the following policies:
    • Policy 2:250 – Public Access to District Records and
    • Police 4:10(c) – Budget Adoption Procedures.
  • The Board appointed Kristine Belt as the assistant principal for Nerge Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board appointed Allison Schultz as the assistant principal for Aldrin Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board appointed Jenny Clark as the assistant principal for Hale Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board appointed Maggie (Horvath) Gibbel as the assistant principal for Fairview Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year.


  • Board members commented on the amazing energy at the Schaumburg Oyanokai Japanese Culture Night at Dooley and at Lincoln Prairie’s All-School Meeting.
  • The board thanked the educators who attended the Rube Goldberg competition at Hoffman Estates High School last month to support the student teams.
  • Board members said they are looking forward to the PTA Auction tomorrow evening.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 8:09 p.m. to enter closed session for employment/appointment matters and for business matters regarding sale or lease of property.

Student engagement increasing with 1:1 iPad integration in pilot classrooms

Jennifer Beaty’s second-grade students at Hale Elementary School were hard at work on their habitat projects.

They created a slideshow with images that represented their habitat. Then they crafted a short script about those images, recorded the narration and shared their finished projects with Beaty via an app on their iPads.

Three boys share their work on their iPadsBeaty is among the 85 District 54 kindergarten through second-grade teachers at 13 elementary schools and Lincoln Prairie School who began piloting iPads with their students prior to winter break. All three grade levels at Hale and at Enders-Salk Elementary School took part in the pilot, while at the other schools one or two grade levels participated. In the 1:1 pilot, all students have their own iPads to use during the school day.

“The kids are really excited about trying this,” Beaty said. “It’s a different way to present what we’re learning, and give the students creativity in how they share it. They’re very engaged and accountable.”

Teachers have been integrating the iPads into a variety of subject areas to enhance learning. This includes science, reading, math, writing, art and music.

“Our teachers have done a tremendous job of utilizing the student iPad as a teaching tool to augment their already very sound instructional practices,” Associate Superintendent Nick Myers said. “We have seen student engagement and creativity come to life in ways that have surpassed our expectations.”

A boy works on a project on his iPadAfter Jessica White’s second-grade class at Enders-Salk read an article about mathematician Katherine Johnson, “we thought of a character trait to describe her, recorded or typed our response, and found examples from the text to prove it,” said her student, Ash.

“Now it’s time to respond to my friends!” he noted after submitting his piece in the online classroom space. “I’m going to type some ideas for them.”

“They’re giving each other feedback, such as by sharing another supporting detail a classmate could include,” White said. “They’re helping each other enhance their work.”

Using the iPads for this task has greatly increased students’ engagement and focus because they can immediately see feedback, whether from their teacher or their classmates, she said.

At another table, some of White’s students were using their iPads to research an animal for a book they would write and illustrate by hand.

“I picked pigs. I’m researching what they look like, and different facts about pigs,” Sky said. “We’ll put our facts in our books and show them during the Enders Fair.”

White said it has been amazing for her students to have so many resources available at their fingertips.

“They have learned so many real-life research skills, such as how to evaluate whether something they have found on the Internet is actually a good source,” she said. “Their work has become much stronger, too. In second grade they are working on writing with more detail, and access to the Internet is helping them to do that.”

Two girls work on a math problem on their iPadsIt is also helping students explore and master math concepts. Amie Edmunds’ kindergarten students at Einstein will be using iPads to explore shapes in the classroom, take photos of the shapes and use a drawing tool to label them. At Lincoln Prairie School, Julie Gale’s first-grade students recently reviewed number comparisons in math on their iPads. Gale said she loves that all students are able to solve the problems simultaneously.

“I can see their learning all at the same time, and I can assess their learning in that moment even more quickly than I was able to before,” she said.

Gale noted that the iPads are another tool teachers can use to enhance students’ learning, but they are not the only tool.

“If using paper and pencil in writing or manipulatives in math are still the best choice for the students, we’re still going to do that,” Gale said.

Lessons can even incorporate the iPad and other tools at the same time.

A boy works on a book illustration on his iPadAllison Cornier’s first-grade students at Link had researched and drafted informational pieces and talked about the importance of their illustrations matching their text. After discussing the cover page, they were ready to use Book Creator on their iPads to craft their finished products.

Cornier said creating their books on the iPads gives students a taste of being a real author with a finished product. She said she has seen students taking more ownership of their work as they use the iPads, which they have done in nearly every curricular area. They even conducted parent conferences using the iPads.

“The iPads are just giving them so many different opportunities and so many different avenues to broaden their horizons,” she said.

For instance, last week they finished a project on Jackie Robinson, and there were numerous books available on the iPads at or near their reading levels. Students can use the text-to-speech function on the iPads. They can have books read to them, which exposes them to even more text in different voices. They love to collaborate, and they can share their learning with one another in a variety of ways, Cornier said.

“We have 100 percent participation, as even the more reserved students can share their ideas,” She said. “We get to hear everybody’s ‘brainpower. Whether it’s writing, texting or talking, that individualization gives every student confidence and makes them feel successful.”

Two girls show their postersAt Churchill Elementary School, students in Amanda Conway’s second-grade class were engrossed in their guided reading projects.

Some were putting the finishing touches on posters encouraging viewers to scan a QR code to hear them read aloud their historical fiction journal entry about life on the frontier. Others were posting their notes from yesterday’s Google Expedition to a fossil dig, which they will use to write a journal entry from the point of view of a paleontologist, and commenting on one another’s notes. Another student was doing online research for a Genius Hour project about endangered species.

“Now we have different modalities and different ways to create, and the kids absolutely love it,” Conway said.

“The iPads are fun to use, and they help us with our learning,” said her student, Naisha.

Naisha’s classmate Suhani said she likes being able to communicate with other students as they work in a particular app.

“There’s a button to raise our hands. We can raise our hands and our classmates will help us,” she said.

Joshua, also in Conway’s class, said he loves reading books on the iPad and “leveling up.” He can rate books and see what other students thought, and Conway makes recommendations as well. Joshua was in the midst of a guided reading book about dinosaurs.

“And look — if I highlight the word ‘bones,’ it gives me more information about bones,” he said excitedly. “You can do everything you can do with a normal book, only way cooler.”

Students annotate text on iPadsHale Literacy Coach Jenny Clark said the iPads have helped students take ownership of their learning. For instance, when a second-grade class recently started discussing volcanoes, each student began by choosing to watch one of four videos on the Discovery Education website that they thought would best help them understand the subject based on their background knowledge. Previously every student would have watched the same video together, and some may have lost interest partway through because it was not at the right level for them, Clark said.

“They get to be the leader in their own learning, and I’m more of a facilitator,” she said. “They’ve been so much more engaged with the digital tools. They take it very seriously — they’re not just picking what their friends pick, but rather what they need to move forward. That’s been a really big light bulb that’s gone on as they figure out what’s best for them.”

Teachers in the pilot program are reporting an increase in student engagement, confidence and participation.

“We have seen tremendous successes in our K-2 iPad pilot classroom this past school year and are excited about moving 1:1 with the iPad as an instructional tool in all K-2 classrooms beginning in the fall,” Myers said.

Junior Journalist Update from Keller – By Shreya P.

Schools are filled with teachers who, day in and day out, do many different things to ensure student achievement such as plan daily lessons to push for higher comprehension. The statement that they have been trying to focus on most this school year, though, is their 54 Promise that they made to the students, staff, guardians, and the school as a whole. Many teachers put their best foot forward and strive to be a leader, standing out the most with a positive impact as soon as they step through the doors at Keller.

The teacher that has stood out tremendously this year to me has been one of the seventh-grade language arts teachers, Mrs. Younkin. Her promise to the students is to “continue to focus on delivering top-notch lessons, all while keeping my focus on the happiness and the social-emotional component that goes into working with teens.” When walking into her classroom, she is not only a teacher, but she is a friend, role model, and peer to help work with students throughout the school year. Keller’s motto continues to be “Together As One” and Mrs. Younkin truly shows that in all the work she puts in with her students.

Mrs. Younkin stated that in order to ensure her students’ success, she “is fully engaged with the stories that we read day-to-day.”

“I really try to capture the essence of what the author intended us to take away from their piece,” she said.

Mrs. Younkin is unique in that she likes to have fun, and the best part is that she understands teenage drama, sarcasm and jokes. Her teaching is outstanding, and she pushes her students to always put their best foot forward. She stands beside us when things are hard and ensures our success. She provides us with tips, tricks, and ways to complete work like staying after school so that we can get extra help when needed.

Overall, Mrs. Younkin is an outstanding teacher and she has truly shown us what a role model looks like.

“Outside the role of being a teacher, it is the students who make me excited to come to work every day,” Mrs. Younkin said. “To see them grow within their own learning and witness the capacity in which they do…it is priceless!”

She follows the promise every day and her peers and students couldn’t be luckier to have her in their lives.

Everything we do in District 54 is to fulfill the 54 Promise to ensure student success academically, socially and emotionally. We believe every child deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. For their March article we asked our Junior Journalists to write about a staff member who is fulfilling the 54 Promise.