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Brief from the Board Meeting on Jan. 16, 2020

Discussion – Update on Positive Psychology Implementation:
For many years, District 54 has monitored and worked toward improving our school culture, to best support our students and staff. District 54’s focus on positive psychology was adopted to accomplish three goals: deepen student, family and community development; create a happy, healthy and engaged learning community; and improve performance and fuel success.

During the 2017-18 school year all staff took part in positive psychology training based on Shawn  Achor’s book “The Happiness Advantage.” In 2018-19, Orange Island training focused on the principles outlined in Achor’s book “Big Potential” that happiness is a choice and by investing in the success of others we increase our own success. This aligns with the collaborative structures of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in District 54. The district’s work in the area of positive psychology is being championed and sustained by Happiness Representatives at each school and the district office. In addition, third through eighth grade student ambassadors are planning events and activities to foster an optimistic school environment.

Achor’s work is also a key component of the District 54 Social-Emotional Learning curriculum. In its second year results have included a 50% reduction in suspensions, 30% reduction in behavior referrals, 20% reduction in mental health emergencies and 500 fewer students identified with an elevated risk on the Universal Screener.

Public Comment: No one asked to comment.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Five requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding job postings; the salary, education history and job description of two employees; information on the term, email and salary of elected officials; disciplinary actions that resulted in expulsions, suspensions or transfers; and information about non-certified support staff.

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

  • The minutes of the committee of the whole and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Dec. 5, 2019
  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Dec. 12, 2019
  • Resignations, leaves, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Dec. 20, 2019 and Jan. 3, 2020
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for November 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for December 2019
  • The acceptance of the audit/Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019
  • A resolution restating and amending the Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) Retirement Plan Design Document
  • A resolution adopting the Internal Revenue Code Section 457(b) Retirement Plan restatement
  • The district’s submittal of an application for the state School Maintenance Project Grant to offset costs for the Campanelli roof replacement project
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings held on June 21 and July 12, 2018

Superintendent’s Report:

Superintendent Andy DuRoss Superintendent Andy DuRoss congratulated Assistant Superintendent Paul Goldberg on his appointment as superintendent of East Prairie School District 73.

DuRoss also shared two #WeAre54 videos, highlighting the people in District 54 who make this a special place to learn and work. This month we featured Aldrin Bilingual Resource Teacher Danielle Zeller and Einstein student Joaquin Carrasquillo. Click on each name to watch the videos.

Cabinet Report:
Community Relations Executive Director Terri McHugh shared information about new threat assessment procedures developed in District 54 to maximize safety and comply with recent changes to the Illinois School Safety Drill Act. Student safety is District 54’s top priority. The goal of the threat assessment process is to maintain a safe school environment, while also providing assistance and interventions to those at risk of engaging in harm to themselves or others.

Many of the best practices related to threat assessment are practices we already have in place in District 54, such as our positive school climates, the universal screener, intervention strategies through PBIS and an online, anonymous reporting form. The threat assessment procedures build on our current effective practices, connecting the work we do to support students with the District 54 Crisis Prevention and Response Plan.

Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan thanked schools for inviting the Board to the Churchill 54th Birthday party this week and the Chinese New Year Celebration at Campanelli next week.

District 54 Education Foundation:
Board Vice President Mary Kay Prusnick thanked everyone for attending the Windy City Bulls Night on Friday, and especially the students and staff who entertained us that evening. The event raised $6,750 for Foundation programs. The next big event is the golf outing on June 8.

New Business:

  • The Board approved Nicholas and Associates to act as construction manager to oversee the 2020 internal renovation work.
  • The Board approved the offering of employee-purchased additional life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance through payroll deduction.
  • The Board approved board member expenses for the Those Who Excel Awards and Illinois Association of School Boards Conference.
  • The Board approved revisions to the following policies:
    • 2:120(a) – Board Member Orientation,
    • 2:140(a) – Communications to and From Board,
    • 2:220 – School Board Meeting Procedure and
    • 2:80 – Board Member Code of Conduct.
  • The Board approved new Board Policy 7:190(b) – Use of Time Out and Physical Restraint.
  • The Board approved the school calendar for 2021-2022.
  • The Board approved the holidays for 12-month employees for 2021-22.
  • The Board had the first reading of revisions to the following policies:
    • 1:40 – Non-Discrimination of Students and Employees,
    • 1:60 – Prohibition of Sexual Harassment,
    • 1:70 – Standard District Complaint Investigation,
    • 5:390 – Smoking and Use of Tobacco Products or E-Cigarettes,
    • 5:50 – Drug and Alcohol-Free Workplace and
    • 5:90 – Abused and Neglected Child Required Reporting (DCFS).

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

Collaborative Professional Learning Communities ensuring student success

When a fifth-grade Muir student was struggling to stay motivated and complete classwork, his teacher Emilio Saraga sought help from his Professional Learning Community. 

Muir staff working together“I got so many great ideas from the other fifth-grade teachers, as well as other staff members who work with the student or just had suggestions for how to support him,” Saraga said. “Some of the ideas that were shared had an immediate impact on him, such as breaking down tasks and getting his ‘must-do’ tasks done first.” 

Regular, timely staff collaboration to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all learners is one of the benefits of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) structure District 54 put in place more than a decade ago. 

“We know that we must work together to create the structures necessary to ensure high levels of learning for all District 54 students,” Assistant Superintendent Paul Goldberg said. “In District 54, Professional Learning Communities are more than another educational acronym or a term to describe teacher meetings. PLCs produce more great teaching more of the time.”

Teams of teachers, along with other District 54 staff members such as literacy coaches, acceleration teachers and bilingual teachers, collaborate regularly to improve learning for all students. They create lessons, plan interventions for struggling students and extension for students who are proficient in the curriculum, develop assessments and dig into data to monitor student learning. 

“If a student is struggling with something, such as reading below grade level, we can all talk about it and figure out how to help,” said Natalie Snow, a first-grade teacher at Collins.

Planning together gives their students consistency, and they know each teacher has the same expectations, added Brooke Barber, another Collins first-grade teacher and a member of Natalie’s team. 

Collins staff working togetherWhile they each have their own class, “each student is not just my student – they are all of ours,” teammate Amanda Trandel said.

Each team member has different strengths. Therefore, they are always learning from one another, she added. If a lesson didn’t work – or if one of their classes did particularly well on a lesson – they can all benefit from figuring out why.

“We see our whole building as a PLC, and within that PLC we have teams that work together,” Muir Principal Carolyn Allar said. “Having everyone at the table when problem-solving for a student, even if they don’t work with a student directly, allows everyone to add to the toolkit of strategies to support that student. Our teachers are always learning from one another, which improves the way we meet students’ academic, social and emotional needs.” 

“We’re planning for all of the fifth-grade students, rather than just our own class,” said Julia Bolotin, a fifth-grade teacher at Muir.

Her colleague, Traci Reiner, said the team also sets a common behavior goal for their students monthly so students can see that the expectations are the same no matter what class they are in. 

Recently at Muir, the fifth-grade team discussed how to introduce the concept of mixed numbers. Karen Starke, the school’s intervention/enrichment teacher, suggested tying it into cooking and asking students to figure out how many ¼ cups of flour they would need to add to a recipe to get 1 ½ cups. 

“That way it’s connecting it to real life – that’s good,” Bolotin said.  

Eisenhower Junior High Principal Heather Wilson said in social studies and science, collaborative discussions are focused not just on helping students learn the subject matter, but on knowing each student’s reading level to be able to support them in the content area.

“They are really designing their instruction with the name and need of each of their students in mind,” she said. 

Wilson remembers a student who lacked foundational skills in reading and worked with a staff member on phonics sounds. When the student was finally able to read, he was so happy he cried – and all of the teachers who worked with him had tears in their eyes, too, Wilson said.

Trust among staff members is key to the success of their PLC, Wilson said. If they are willing to be champions for each other and engage in open, transparent discussion about successes and struggles, they can help each other better meet student needs.

“Teachers work very hard to build those relationships with students, but they have to problem-solve with their teammates and champion each other to best support those students,” she said. 

As a result of the environment of success that staff has created, District 54 has been recognized as one of only two All Things PLC Districts in Illinois and 18 nationwide. 

“Our teachers collaborate often and their focus is not on teaching, it is on learning,” Goldberg said. “They share and analyze best practices all for the purpose of bettering the results for the students they serve.” 

District 54 Open Enrollment Fair scheduled for January 29, 2020

A goal of the School District 54 Board of Education is to provide options for parents in the selection of their child’s school. In addition to the neighborhood school, School District 54 has developed programs at several district schools, which it can now offer as choices.

District 54 invites parents to its annual Open Enrollment Fair on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. The fair will provide parents with information on eight elementary schools in the district:  Blackwell, Campanelli, Dooley, Enders-Salk, Hanover Highlands, Lincoln Prairie, Link and MacArthur. Each school houses a unique program and School District 54 anticipates openings at each site next year.

The fair will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the District 54 Professional Learning Center, 522 E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg. Each school will have a table at this event, as well as employees available to talk to families about the schools and the programs they host. You will also be able to sign up at the fair to visit these schools and see the programs in action.

If you would like your child to attend one of these schools, applications are due March 6, 2020. You do not need to arrive early at the fair, as all student applications received by March 6 will be placed in a lottery. Schools will send letters to all applicants on March 20. Students must be registered before they will be accepted. Kindergarten registration begins Feb. 5, 2020.

A short description of each school is listed below.

Blackwell Elementary School: Blackwell, in Schaumburg, offers sign language as a mode of communication. Students learn signing from their teachers and communicate with both traditional oral and sign language. Blackwell also houses the District 54 program for students who are hearing impaired. Supporting this communication theme, Blackwell has a full production lab so students can participate in video production projects and classes. For more information, call Principal Jillian Sagan at (847) 357-5555.

Campanelli Elementary School:  The goal of the Chinese Immersion Program is for students to communicate effectively in Mandarin Chinese as well as develop a deep understanding of the Chinese culture at this Schaumburg school. For more information, call Principal Amy Christie at (847) 357-5333.

Dooley Elementary School: Dooley, in Schaumburg, offers a Dual-Language Japanese Program and Early Instrumental Music Program. Students learn Japanese and English together in this dual-language setting. In addition, early instrumental music (violin) is available to primary students at Dooley. Individuals can sign up for the Dual-Language Program only or the Dual-Language and Early Instrumental Music programs together. For more information, call Principal Holly Schlicher at (847) 357-6250.

Enders-Salk Elementary School:  Dual-Language Spanish kindergarten classes started in 2000 at Enders-Salk in Schaumburg. The goal of this program is for students to communicate effectively in both languages by the time they exit the school at the end of sixth grade. For more information, call Principal Michael Henry at (847) 357-6400.

Hanover Highlands Elementary School:  Dual-Language Spanish kindergarten classes started in 2004 at Hanover Highlands in Hanover Park. The goal of this program is for students to communicate effectively in both languages by the time they exit the school at the end of sixth grade. For more information, call Interim Principals Maribeth Kanoon or Debbie Ancona at (630) 736-4230.

Lincoln Prairie School:  Lincoln Prairie, in Hoffman Estates, is a community school founded on the premise that students learn in a variety of ways. Lincoln Prairie is the only District 54 building housing children from kindergarten through eighth grade. Students are grouped in multiage classrooms, working with teams of teachers on integrated curriculum. Project Development Time, in which students choose learning projects offered by staff, is a popular activity. Parent participation is an expectation at Lincoln Prairie. For more information, call Principal Amanda Stochl at (847) 357-5955.

Link School: Dual-Language Spanish kindergarten classes started in 2009 at Link, based in Elk Grove Village. The goal of this program is for students to communicate effectively in both languages by the time they exit the school at the end of sixth grade. For more information, call Principal Quinn Wulbecker at (847) 357-5300.

MacArthur International Spanish Academy:  The original Dual-Language School in District 54, MacArthur, in Hoffman Estates, has been offering a full dual-language Spanish program for 25 years. Kindergarten students will learn Spanish and English from classroom teachers who are fluent in each language. For more information, call Principal Sonia Esquivel at (847) 357-6650.

People interested in viewing the programs in action can visit the schools. If you cannot attend the fair, please call the school you are interested in to schedule a visit or receive an application. For more information about open enrollment visit sd54.org/openenrollment or contact Terri McHugh, community relations executive director, at (847) 357-5028 or TerriMcHugh@nullsd54.org.

District 54 to hold kindergarten registration on Feb. 5

District 54 will hold kindergarten registration for the 2020-21 school year on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Registration will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. at all elementary schools.

Parents should go to their neighborhood school to register their child, even if they are applying to attend a school other than their neighborhood school. (Lincoln Prairie is not a neighborhood school). Residents who are unsure of their neighborhood school can can click on the Find My School tool under Popular Links on the District 54 website – sd54.org.

If your child is currently enrolled at the District 54 Early Learning Center and will be going to kindergarten next year, you do not need to register your child at this time. District 54 offers a free full-day kindergarten program at all of our elementary schools, although options are available for students to attend a half-day program.

A child whose fifth birthday falls on or before Sept. 1, 2020 is eligible to enroll in kindergarten in 2020.

To expedite the registration process, families are encouraged to register online prior to Feb. 5.  If you have a student currently enrolled in District 54, you can register through your Infinite Campus Parent Portal account.  If you do not have your login, please contact your child’s school.

Families new to District 54 can register through our Online Registration link.   In either case, parents or guardians will still need to visit their school to present the documentation listed below and sign documents to complete the registration.

Registration Procedures

Parents or legal guardians must provide the following information to complete the enrollment process at their neighborhood school.

  • Printed confirmation of online registration
  • Proof of immunizations
  • Birth Certificate (original with seal). Official birth certificates are issued by the county clerk in the county in which the child was born. Hospital certificates are not acceptable.
  • Proof of residence (details listed below)

Proof of Residence

Families new to District 54 must provide documented proof of their residence within the boundaries of School District 54 at the time of kindergarten registration.  Current District 54 families will provide this documentation when registering their current students for the 2020-2021 school year. All documents must be current, valid for 2020-21, and reflect names and addresses within the boundaries of District 54.

Parents or guardians must provide a copy of at least one of the following documents:

  • the most recent real estate tax bill for the residence showing the owner as the taxpayer,
  • a signed lease for the residence including a beginning and end date, or
  • a closing statement for the purchase of the residence.

They must also provide a copy of at least two of the following documents reflecting a home address within District 54 boundaries:

  • Illinois driver’s license,
  • gas, water, electric, internet, television, telephone bill or letter confirming service connection,
  • public assistance documentation,
  • voter registration card,
  • home or vehicle insurance certificate,
  • Illinois automobile registration, or
  • receipt for local city vehicle sticker where applicable.

Any person asserting legal custody over a student, who is not the student’s parent or legal guardian, must provide current documentation from a court supporting the student custody arrangement.

Consumable Materials Fees

Parents or guardians are required to pay a $50 consumable materials fee per student prior to the start of the school year. Payments can be made by credit card through your Parent Portal account or by check or money order at the child’s school. This fee covers the cost of workbooks, paper, art supplies and other items used by students.

For those students who may qualify for special education services in the district, the parents may be referred to our Special Education Department.

District 54 officials can better plan for kindergarten placements if they get most of the registrations on Feb. 5, so parents are urged to register their children for kindergarten on that date. For transportation/boundary questions, call (847) 357-5104. For general questions, call your neighborhood school.

Brief from the Board Meeting on Dec. 12, 2019

Discussion – 25 Years of Dual Language and Immersion Education:

District 54 is celebrating a significant milestone this year: 25 years of providing dual language programs and fostering bilingualism, biliteracy and cultural competency among students, staff and the community. The Spanish Dual Language Program began with one kindergarten class at MacArthur School in 1994. Since then, District 54 has expanded the Spanish program to three additional elementary schools, has added a Japanese Dual Language Program, began a Chinese Immersion Program at Campanelli and has expanded these programs to the junior high schools.

Across the district, more than 1,600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade are engaging in academic conversations in Spanish, Japanese and Chinese across all curricular areas and building relationships that broaden their cultural understanding. Many graduates are choosing career paths that utilize their skills in both languages, and former students are returning to the district to teach in the program and enroll their own children in a dual language or immersion school. In November, District 54 received the Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program Award from the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. Click here to read more about the history, development and long-term impact of District 54’s dual language programs.

Discussion – Early Learning Center Update:

For more than 40 years, thousands of students who were at-risk of not being successful in school have been supported by the District 54 early childhood program and started kindergarten prepared for success. In 2014, District 54 opened the Early Learning Center, which currently serves more than 900 at-risk and special education students and their families. In the last year, the Early Learning Center has made changes to enhance the experience for students. A curriculum was adopted that is tied to the Illinois Early Learning Developmental Standards, encompasses social-emotional learning, and includes high quality texts that celebrate diversity. Adjustments were also made to the screening for the Preschool for All program, a state-funded program designed to meet the neediest children.

The District 54 Early Learning Center has received multiple awards of excellence, including the Outstanding Practices in Inclusion Award and the Gold Circle of Quality from ExceleRate Illinois for meeting the highest quality standards in three areas: learning environment and teaching quality, administrative standards, and training and education. Click here to learn more about District 54’s dedicated approach to early childhood education.

Public Comment: No one asked to comment.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Four requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding contracts and leases related to copiers and printers, as well as managed or outsourced print, IT and document management systems; purchasing records; information about custodial positions and terminations; and the District 54 budget year start date.

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

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Nov. 14, 2019
  • Resignations, leaves, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Nov. 22 and Dec. 6, 2019
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for October 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for November 2019
  • The continuation with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the excess loss carrier for the district health care plans
  • The purchase of custodial cleaning products and paper products
  • The purchase of art supplies
  • The purchase of classroom and art paper supplies
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Franczek P.C. to intervene in appeals proceedings for assessment year 2019 before the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn to intervene in appeals proceedings for assessment year 2019 before the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • A resolution authorizing attorneys Franczek P.C. to intervene in tax objection complaint proceedings for assessment year 2019, pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County
  • The Illinois State Board of Education School Improvement Plan for Addams Junior High School
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings held on May 17, 2018; May 31, 2018; and June 6, 2018

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss talked about leadership in District 54. It starts with the Cabinet helping all 65 administrators create the right conditions so students and staff can thrive. This year District 54 has focused on the impact of the 3 P’s – people, PLCs and positivity. Through this work, the district is ensuring that every child has a champion and is developing a leadership pipeline, developing the future leaders of District 54.

Dr. Erin Knoll shared a mid-year update on various instructional projects.

  • The Social Science Task Force has been meeting since October to select and develop a high quality curriculum to replace current resources that have been used for 12 years. A final proposal will be presented to the School Board in the spring for potential adoption for the 2020-21 school year.
  • The Report Card Committee is examining the current report card and making adjustments to provide a more comprehensive profile of each student, focused on both academic and social-emotional success. Recommendations will be shared with the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee for feedback and a proposal will be brought to the School Board in the spring.
  • The district issued iPads to all kindergarten through second grade students and Chromebooks to all third and fourth grade students this fall. These resources are part of a blended learning environment across the district.
  • Innovate 54 teams from each school continue to explore effective instructional strategies that foster deep student learning; and all staff attended grade level Innovation sessions this fall.
  • A new science Project Based Learning was designed and implemented across all grade levels. A second trimester Project Based Learning opportunity, called Championing Kindness, aligns to the social-emotional learning curriculum.
  • Student ambassadors has expanded this year into the elementary schools, creating student leaders at all buildings.
  • District 54 staff have been highly involved in professional learning, having taken more than 1,300 classes since the start of the school year. In addition to in-person classes, the district also offered learning opportunities online and via podcast.

Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan reported that the holiday card from STR Partners this year featured the artwork of eight District 54 students.

District 54 Education Foundation:
The Foundation is currently selling tickets to the Windy City Bulls game on Jan. 10. Tickets to this fundraiser can be purchased through a link on the Foundation website.

New Business:

  • The Board approved the appointment of an additional community representative to serve on DCAC for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 2:120(b) – Board Conferences, Conventions and Workshops with Resolution Regarding Board Member and Employee Expenses.
  • The Board had the first reading of the following policies:
    • 2:120(a) – Board Member Orientation,
    • 2:140(a) – Communications To and From Board,
    • 2:220 – School Board Meeting Procedure and
    • 2:80 – Board Member Code of Conduct.
  • The Board awarded a three-year contract to Schools by Floodlight for the design and hosting of the District 54 and school websites.
  • The Board approved Nicholas & Associates to act as construction manager for a building addition at Collins School.
  • The Board approved the appointment of Christopher Schmid as principal of Frost Junior High for the 2019-20 school year.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:59 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters.

Students of all ages engage in coding lessons

The school library at Dirksen Elementary School was abuzz with excitement as groups of second-grade students worked together to get a small wheeled robot named Dash to accomplish that week’s coding challenge: moving in a figure-eight pattern around two wooden blocks.

Three boys coding a robot“OK, he needs to turn. Then after he does that, he needs to go forward,” Recep told his teammate Moksh, who was adding a sequence of command blocks to their coding workspace in the iPad app Blockly. 

“Now you need to turn him left again. Yes, that’s it! That’s the correct way!” Recep exclaimed as Dash followed the first part of the path. 

“What? He’s supposed to turn right now,” Moksh said, leaning in to investigate as Dash zipped off in a direction his programmers hadn’t intended. “Let’s try again – we can do this!”

Kindergarten through sixth grade students at all District 54 elementary schools are engaging in coding activities this year as the district focuses on teaching students collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The lessons at all grade levels are tied to computer science principles. 

“I love that every week builds on a different skill, and they can apply what they learned the previous week,” Enders-Salk Learning Resource Teacher Katie Montalbano said. “The lessons take them step by step – this is how you code, this is the language you need – then every week it builds on itself.”

Students work on codingAs kindergarten through second grade students code robots to engage in progressively more difficult challenges, third through sixth grade students are creating interactive digital stories using a block-based visual programming language called Scratch. They began by creating characters and have progressed through choosing backgrounds, crafting dialogue and action sequences, and adding other elements, such as interactive choices.  

“Sometimes it’s really hard, but you can figure out how to do it,” said Chloe, a fifth-grade student at Enders-Salk. 

“They really have to do some critical thinking about where they want to go with their story,” Montalbano said. “Do they want to add motion? Dialogue?” 

Recently at Enders-Salk, one fifth-grade student worked on a story involving a happy dinosaur who dances and breathes fire, then gets hungry and goes to 7-Eleven, while another added to his story about a baseball game. That morning the class had learned how to add interactive choice elements – if/then coding – in which a character asks the audience a question and the audience’s answer determines what happens next.  

“If you want the audience to decide whether your character walks through a door or not, you have to pick two backgrounds and determine what happens for each choice,” Montalbano said. “If I walk through the door, where am I going? If I say no, where am I going?”

“It took a while, especially for the younger grades, to get comfortable, but now week in and week out students are willing to try new things,” Dirksen Learning Resource Teacher Benjamin Johnson said. “They can see that once they are willing to take those risks, they are able to be successful in anything they try.”

Students are also learning from each other by watching videos of work done by other students or groups, making observations and asking questions of other students to improve their own thinking and products. The skills students are learning from the coding activities – such as working together, finding and fixing problems and persevering through challenges – apply across all subject areas, Johnson said.

Students coding a robot“Instead of raising their hand for help when something goes wrong, they are more often willing to persevere through it, and we are seeing that carried throughout their entire day,” Johnson said. “By allowing students to experiment, try new things and fail – to work through that and solve problems on their own – we are providing them an opportunity to grow.”

“I like using Dot and Dash because we get to do new things and learn new things,” said Emi, an Enders-Salk second grade student as her group programmed Dash to scoop small balls into a bulldozer attachment.

“We’re doing it slowly so the balls don’t fall out,” noted Emi’s classmate Balian. “You have to use patience.” 

“They’re realizing they need to communicate and talk with their group,” Montalbano said. “I’ve done Hour of Code with students, and they understand sequencing and trial and error. If they don’t get it the first time, they have to talk about what they can do differently.” 

Three students work on codingTwo Dirksen second-grade students summed it up well as they worked together to program Dash.

“We’re playing!” Hadeel said.

“We’re not playing, we’re experimenting,” her teammate Siya said. 

“We’re experimenting – it’s a fun one,” Hadeel agreed.

Make a difference in families’ lives with donations to District 54 Community Closets, Food Pantries

Sections on this page

District 54 knows that in order for students to succeed in school, their basic needs must be met. The district works to meet these needs via our in-house Community Closets and Food Pantries. Community members can help make a difference in the lives of local families by donating to these outreach efforts.

Community Closets

The District 54 Community Closets, located at multiple District 54 schools, collect gently used shoes and clothing from members of our community to give to financially struggling families in our schools. Coats, hats, mittens and other cold-weather clothing, particularly in children’s sizes, are greatly needed at this time of year. Packages of new socks and underwear are also needed.

Families who need clothing can contact their school social worker.

Donations can be dropped off at any District 54 school or office. Please label the boxes “District 54 Community Closets.” For more information, visit sd54.org/closet or contact Meagan Kasper at MeaganKasper@nullsd54.org or (847) 357-5027.

Food Pantries

District 54’s Food Pantries, located at multiple District 54 schools, are open to families on an as-needed basis and during two open houses. Families struggling financially are invited by their school social workers to visit. All nonperishable donations for the District 54 Food Pantry can be sent to the Rafferty Administration Center, 522 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, 60194. Please label the boxes “District 54 Food Pantries.”

Visit sd54.org/food-pantry for a list of the “Most Wanted Nonperishable Goods.” Other products to donate include feminine products, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, facial tissue, paper towels, dish soap, laundry soap, other cleaning supplies, diapers (all sizes), baby food and baby wipes. Please make sure to check the expiration date before donating.

If your organization or business would like to host a food drive, please contact Julie Goolish at JulieGoolish@nullsd54.org or (847) 357-5113.

District 54 Takeover Night at Windy City Bulls to benefit D54 Foundation

The Windy City Bulls will host a District 54 takeover night on Friday, January 10 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, and a portion of the proceeds from each ticket purchased will be donated back to the District 54 Education Foundation.

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets!

The District 54 take-over night will feature District 54 students participating in performances and other on-court experiences before and throughout the game, and a District 54 Special Olympics basketball match at halftime.

Addams receives national recognition from Special Olympics

Addams Junior High School, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, received national banner recognition on Nov. 26 for meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect.

Addams is one of only four schools in Illinois to attain National Banner designation this year, and one of eight Illinois schools ever to achieve the recognition. Mead Junior High School in District 54 received National Banner recognition in 2018. More than 400 schools in Illinois and more than 6,000 across the country participate in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming.

A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community. The primary activities within these standards include Special Olympics Unified Sports (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement.

“It is truly an honor to be given this recognition. The students and staff here at Addams work hard to advocate for respect and inclusion in the classroom and beyond, which includes all of our clubs, sports, and activities like the school musical,” said Addams Club Unify co-sponsor Ann-Marie Cerny, who submitted Addams’ application for recognition. “Together we are working toward a Generation Unified and we hope that having programs like Unified PE, Club Unify and all-inclusive competitive sports will help us get there.”

Addams offers unified sports through the school, including a new Unified Bowling team and a dance competition in December, and through District 54 Special Olympics. The school ensures whole-school engagement by hosting events such as Respect Week/Colors for a Cause, in which students wore a different color each day to promote awareness and support for causes such as blue and yellow for Down Syndrome awareness. Addams fosters inclusive youth leadership through participation in the statewide Youth Activation Summit and school activities such as Club Unify, Community Crusaders and Spirit Council. The club promotes inclusion awareness through a variety of activities including public service announcements, motivational assemblies and Special Olympics speakers at Career Day.

“Addams is so deserving of this recognition. The students and staff always strive to be sure everyone is included, regardless of ability,” District 54 Special Olympics Specialist Kelly O’Reilly said. “There are only three junior high schools in the state with this honor and District 54 has two of them.  We should be very proud of being leaders in the Inclusion Revolution.”

Public invited to review social studies materials

Community members are invited to provide feedback on social science instructional materials under consideration for adoption in School District 54.

To preview the materials, visit the Rafferty Administration Center at 524 E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg. You will be given an evaluation form to complete as you preview the material. The final day for material evaluation will be Dec. 20. Materials are on display from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Rafferty Administration Center.  Materials are also being reviewed by the District 54 teachers, support staff and administrators.