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D54 seeking student performers for 2019 Multicultural Event, will host informational meeting Dec. 6

District 54 is excited to once again host our annual Multicultural Event in collaboration with the Schaumburg Park District. Our 2019 event will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2019, at the Community Recreation Center (CRC) in Schaumburg. During the event, student groups have the opportunity to give performances that reflect various cultures.

If you are interested in performing, please complete the online Performance Interest Form no later than Monday, December 17. If you are unable to complete the online form, please contact your school secretary for a paper copy and submit it to the school office. You will be notified whether your performance has been chosen to participate via e-mail by January 11.

There will be an informational meeting on Thursday, December 6 at 3:30 p.m. at the Professional Learning Center, 524 E. Schaumburg Road. During this meeting, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the performances, as well as how you may be able to help.

If you have questions about the Performance Interest Form or the informational meeting, please contact Nancy Hellstrom at (847) 357-5068 or Nicole Lumpp at (847) 357-5072.

Printable copy of Performance Interest Form Flyer – English

Printable copy of Performance Interest Form Flyer – Spanish

Innovate 54 teams helping to ensure student success

Addams Junior High School students were given an assignment last spring: Come up with ways to make the transition from elementary to middle school easier for incoming seventh-graders.

They talked about reasons students might be nervous about coming to junior high, such as getting lost and following a schedule, and developed solutions. Some students created videos. Some devised maps. Some interviewed teachers. One group devised temporary tattoos of schedules that students could affix to their arms and refer to as they moved through their day.

“They were so motivated to complete the work, and so proud of what they created,” said Stefanie Veit, a language arts teacher at Addams Junior High and a member of the school’s Innovate 54 team.

The Addams project was a deep learning task, in which students explore real-world challenges and create projects that address solutions to those problems. District 54 students will be participating in more deep learning tasks, also known as Project-Based Learning, as the district’s new Innovate 54 teams explore the District 54 Strategic Plan’s focus on “Cultivating Innovation in Learning Space and Instructional Design.”

The Innovate 54 teams were formed at the recommendation of the district’s 70-member Instructional Innovation Task Force. The teams include 10 to 12 teachers and administrators at each elementary and junior high school, including the school’s Learning Resource Teacher.

Teachers work together to design a learning spaceThis fall, the Innovate 54 teams began an intensive, ongoing professional development around the core principles of 21st century learning and innovative teaching practices emphasizing student development of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills (often called the 4C’s). Innovate 54 teams also have been charged with writing and reflecting on the implementation of Project-Based Learning lessons.

In addition to deep learning tasks, the Innovate 54 teams are also exploring technology as an accelerator to learning, and focusing on teachers acting as facilitators or guides to student learning.

“The ultimate goal of all of this is for our students to function as autonomous, individual learners that can manage the learning process for themselves,” said District 54 Associate Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Myers, who is leading the district’s work with the Innovate 54 teams.

Members of Hale's Innovate 54 team try out iPadsThe large group has come together monthly to explore concepts, try out new technologies and share ideas.

Hale Literacy Coach and Innovate 54 team member Jennifer Clark noted that everyone is excited about trying new tools and techniques and integrating them into their classrooms.

“The Innovate 54 task force is really answering the question of why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said John Siemieniec, Hale’s Learning Resource Teacher and a member of the school’s Innovate 54 team.

Technology as enhancement

At their October meeting, Innovate 54 team members from across District 54 spent the morning trying out innovative teaching and learning tools.

Teachers try virtual reality gogglesThey donned virtual reality goggles to explore various environments, including the landscape surrounding Dorothea Lange’s well-known photograph of a mother and her children during the Great Depression. In the augmented reality environment they took apart a car and examined details of its design, and they solved math problems and annotated texts on the interactive touch screens.

According to Learning Transformed, by Eric C. Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray, when implemented well, technology can close achievement gaps and dramatically improve learning outcomes. Well-trained and supported teachers equipped with powerful technology can revolutionize teaching and learning, they note.

Teachers try out an interactive whiteboard“We lead with learning and the learning goals. The technology simply exists as an accelerator to that process,” Myers told the teams prior to their exploration of the new tools. “Let’s dig deeper to find different ways to use it to truly bring learning to life. We know kids can be highly collaborative with technology they have at their fingertips — we need to be very intentional with that.”

Technology makes the creative process more feasible for more students, allowing them to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways such as through video, multimedia presentations, visual displays, podcasts and artistic creations, Myers said.

Teachers discuss Future Ready ClassroomsThe teams spent the afternoon at their October meeting discussing Future Ready Classrooms, which is the redesign of learning environments to engage students and enable enhanced delivery of the curriculum. They also worked in teams to design their ideal learning space.

On November 9 the teams worked with Learning Transformed co-author Thomas C. Murray. At the end of November the district will launch its STEM Leader Corps partnership with Discovery Education. Administrators and instructional coaches will be trained in December, and Innovate 54 team members will begin their three-year training in spring 2019.

Impact of innovation

Members of the Innovate 54 teams say they are already seeing the results of the work to redefine education in District 54. For example, students are collaborating and persisting at deep learning tasks.

Innovate 54 team members try out Zspace augmented reality“I already see our engagement increasing,” said Addams math teacher and Innovate 54 team member Kailey LaRocque.

Hale students are incredibly excited about the deep learning tasks, Siemieniec said.

“They’re really dreaming so big — we guide them into what’s attainable at this point,” he said. “The kids are highly motivated, I’m highly motivated.”

When Hale students were tasked with creating an item out of cardboard in their Makerspace (a dedicated area in each elementary school where students can engage in the engineering design process) two students told him they wanted to make a Tic-Tac-Toe game. When Siemieniec asked them to tell him more about what they had in mind, they explained that they wanted to make a version of the game featuring hearts and kidneys to give to a friend who was in the hospital with cancer.

“That’s why you become a teacher — to get to work with kids like that,” he said.

Blackwell School art teacher Melissa Gluskin, a member of the school’s Innovate 54 team, said she has seen student collaboration skyrocket as they explore more open-ended questions and engage in creative work, such as building construction paper habitats and constructing cardboard creations. As the students work together, they are teaching one another and refining their ideas.

“It’s a new take on learning in that students are able to have unique ideas and collaborate and think critically,” she said. “All of those elements are being brought together through project-based learning. The students have the free space to talk and to share and know it’s accepted. I feel like (this approach) really empowers all learners so they can take ownership of their work in a way that’s meaningful to them.”

Gluskin said that after the students created paper habitats in art, one student responded to his teacher’s writing prompt about how they shine that week by talking about the project. At first his team didn’t agree, he wrote, but they came together as a group and were successful.

Blackwell Principal Jillian Sagan noted that deep learning tasks give students who might struggle in math or reading a chance to shine, and they also provide staff an opportunity to look at their students in a different light.

“Before, we were looking at getting them ready for the next grade or for high school,” she said. “Now it’s about how we get them to be people who will contribute to society and be successful in life. That’s how we’re approaching our instruction.”

Earlier this year students were given paper and tape and worked in teams to build and test a bookshelf.

“Some failed — but our philosophy is failure leads to success, and they tried again and again. At the end of it the whole room was working together,” said Blackwell Learning Resource Teacher and Innovate 54 team member Karen Buzek. “It was this huge collaborative activity.”

Looking ahead

Innovate 54 team members try out iPadsExciting developments are ahead as the district seeks to cultivate innovation in learning space and instructional design. Innovate 54 team members said it’s an exciting time to be an educator — and a student — in District 54.

“Everyone is so excited about the work — when we bring that energy into our classrooms, our kids will pick up on that energy and feel the same,” said Lauren Patano, an Addams P.E. teacher and Innovate 54 team member.

“Instilling these life skills in my students is going to help them be lifelong learners,” said Blackwell third-grade teacher and Innovate 54 team member Marissa Hopkins. “Those concepts, those ideas, those traits help students be successful, and that’s ultimately what we’re helping them to be.”

District 54 takeover night at Windy City Bulls to benefit Foundation

The Windy City Bulls will host a District 54 takeover night on Friday, December 14 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’s Food 4 Thought program. The Foundation is raising funds to provide breakfast programs for students from financially struggling families at all District 54 schools to ensure that they begin their day ready to learn.

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. The Windy City Bulls will host an assembly at the school that sells the most tickets.

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets!


Special Olympics to host Pack the Stands Jan. 8

Come support District 54’s Special Olympics athletes at the Pack the Stands event Tuesday, January, 8, 2019 as they compete on the basketball court against the District 15 Blue Jays! The event begins at 6 p.m. at Frost Junior High. At halftime District 54’s Special Olympics Poms team, the District 54 Sensations, will perform their routine.

District 54 parents encouraged to participate in Illinois 5Essentials Survey

All District 54 parents are encouraged to participate in the Illinois 5Essentials Survey to provide us with their perspective and help guide our school improvement efforts.  The parent survey will be available online through February 15, 2019 at

The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete and is available in English and Spanish. Note: the survey will time out and you will need to start over if you don’t finish in one sitting.

If you have more than one child, you may complete the survey for each child. You will be asked to select your county and then your child’s school. Be aware that there are often schools with the same or similar names in Illinois. The state is not providing hard copies of this survey. If you do not have access to a computer, you can visit one of our local libraries or call your child’s school and we will let you use a computer at the school to take the survey.

The survey is administered by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago on behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education. If at least 20 percent of parents at a school complete the survey, a supplemental parent report will be generated and shared with schools. We are hoping to meet the target this year in our schools.

A similar survey will also be administered to teachers and to students in fourth grade through eighth grade. District 54 students will take the survey at school before winter break. You can review the questions asked of students by visiting the 5 Essentials website.

Junior Journalist Update from Mead – By Ananya M.

Mead Junior High is more than just a school. The way the school works can be compared to that of a beehive. Every individual has their own responsibility they are held to, and a triumph is considered the hive’s as a whole. No one stands alone. Everyone is supported. They are a family.

The school has shown just how accurate this analogy is recently. Just a week before the school year began, one of Mead’s own beloved staff members was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mrs. Hulina, who has been teaching in District 54 for 15 years as an ESL and guided teacher, is not present at the school this year. As melancholic as this makes the staff and students at Mead, they did not let it discourage them. In fact, the school did the exact opposite of that.

Last year, Mead hosted a charity walk to support the Children’s Advocacy Center, a therapy center for abused children, and raised more than $1,000 for the cause. The school hosts an event similar to this every year, and the tradition continues today.

This year, Mead students and staff put the generosity overflowing from their big hearts into supporting Mrs. Hulina and her family through this difficult time. On October 19, Mead hosted Hoops for Hulina which raised more than $4,000 for Rush University Medical Center, where Mrs. Hulina receives treatment. Tickets were sold after school on the 19th for $2, or three for $5. There were six divisions created to compete in: Mother/Daughter, Father/Daughter, Mother/Son, Father/Son, Staff/Student, and open ended. Sessions were held at 2:30 and 5:15 p.m. Throughout the week leading up to Hoops for Hulina, there were multiple events to support the cause. Bracelets were sold during lunch periods and order forms for pink shirts were handed out to the students and staff. It was an entertaining way to raise money for a good cause.

At the start of the 2:30 event, no one had the courage to get up out of their seats and onto the court. Knowing all eyes in the gym would be on you, who wants to embarrass themselves in front of their peers? To break the ice, math teachers Ms. Busato and Ms. Lorenc took on the challenge of starting the show. In the blink of an eye, the crowd came to life. Students were cheering, standing up out of their seats to support their favorite teachers. Music spilled out of the gym’s speakers not long after that. They could almost feel the floor vibrating beneath their feet. Now, people left and right were jumping at the opportunity to shoot basketballs to show their love and appreciation of Mrs. Hulina. Mrs. Hulina’s extended family was at the school the day of the 19th to support the cause, as well as many other members of the Mead, District 54 and Elk Grove community.  Across the risers, you could watch in amazement the sea of pink. From shirts, pants, and socks, all the way to eyebrows and full faces, everyone was enjoying themselves. The turnout for both sessions was more than anyone could have asked for.

Junior Journalist Update from Frost – By Aishani W.

The first half of October held an everlasting experience for most Frost students. There were many sentimental thoughts and moments shared as well as some joyous and rewarding ones. But even more memories were about to come, with the first ever Halloween “Boo Bash” in the Frost gym on October 26 for all Frost students and an orchestra and band concert to showcase all that we had learned so far in our daily lessons.

Last month for anti-bullying month, we had an assembly that addressed the matter of bullying. There was a guest speaker that shared some experiences that he had with his own child who had committed suicide at a young age, due to the amount of hatred he had received by his peers. This shows how much the words that we say to others might impact and lead them toward this path in life. The emotions that were shown by the audience were signs that we felt like we needed to make a difference in someone’s life. Mr. Smalley, our guest speaker, had told us his story so now it was our turn to share ours. Within our advocacy class that was held shortly after the assembly, the students shared some of their own experiences with bullying and some even with a close relative of theirs that committed suicide. Overall, this topic was a tough but well needed one since many people do not understand how much one word can mean to someone.

On a happier note, the girl’s basketball tournament finals were held in the Frost gym on October 16. After fighting a tough battle against the Mead Mustangs, the seventh-graders earned fourth place while the eighth-grade girls took home the title of second place and the tournament champion runners-up. Great job Frost Spartans! During the game, I realized something very important. This would be the last game that I would ever play in with these same exact people. That thought just crushed me. Basketball is a big part of my life and the bond that I have created with this group of girls is like a second family to me. That is when I realized how much of an important role the key of “This Is It” played in my life. The key teaches us to live our life as it each day were our last and to make the most of every moment because this time in your life will never come back again. This is when I understood the true meaning that this key held in my life.

On October 23 there was an orchestra concert at Schaumburg High School. This concert showcased the many songs that eighth-graders had learned so far in the year. We also played a piece of music with the freshmen of Schaumburg High School. This let us fellow Spartan Strings know how much we have to practice to become star musicians like the Saxons.

This year, Frost held a Halloween dance or “Boo Bash” on October 26. There were a lot of fun games and prizes to win, and even a costume competition. The Frost Spartans  had a blast at the dance and continued to have a great time throughout the entire month!

Junior Journalist Update from Keller – By Aditi S.

The Stand for the Silent (SFTS) assembly last month was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Keller students to learn that bullying people could damage their loved one’s hearts. There is a big effect on the family because once they are gone … they are gone forever. For SFTS a speaker by the name of Mr. Smalley came in and taught us about the actions kids take when they get bullied by someone else. Unfortunately kids make fun of other people so they can feel better about themselves.

As Mr. Smalley stated, bullying other people could hurt you.  We  just get this guilty feeling inside knowing that it isn’t right.  It’s advised that we should never laugh at or not include others because of the way they dress or how they speak. For someone to even think of tormenting others is outrageous. Imagine putting yourself in a peer’s shoes who gets harassed every single day. It is not going to make us feel very happy or positive. When people say something that is hurtful, it changes a lot for the victim in a negative way. Words cannot be taken back.

Another note he mentioned is that the person who gets bullied could potentially cause harm to themselves. Once family and friends find out that the person is no longer there, they start to miss them for who they were. This shows that they did care about that person and did not know how to convey it to that person. If you are a witness who is watching a person getting bullied, go and stand up for that person. Just by doing that, you are showing gratitude to the person and that you don’t want people to get harassed.

However, we should always be true to ourselves. We can do this by taking a stand and not laughing with them. We don’t have to change who we are because they tell us that we’re different. On a final note, just be yourself and not who someone else wants you to be. As Mr. Smalley advised, we should go talk to someone we trust so we know that we are not alone.

Therefore if you get bullied for even any little thing don’t be afraid to stand up for yourselves and remember there are people out there for you. Also if you see someone getting bullied, don’t just stand there – actually help them.

School Board honors teachers with 1,000-book classrooms

The District 54 School Board visited six teachers across the district this month to praise them for filling their classroom libraries with more than 1,000 books.

A significant body of research states that the more children read the better readers they become. Our goal in District 54 is for every classroom to have 1,000 books in order to meet the wide range of abilities and interests of the children. With this in mind, we embarked on a campaign in 2006 to fill the bookshelves in each of our rooms. With new teachers joining our district every year, our commitment is ongoing.

Although District 54’s SuperKids: Powered by Books Committee raises funds to buy books for teachers, many of the teachers being recognized have assembled these large classroom libraries on their own – by purchasing the books themselves, scouring garage sales, placing Scholastic book orders, receiving some as gifts, etc.

These teachers listed below, join 284 other District 54 teachers who had previously been recognized for achieving this milestone – for a grand total of 290 teachers.

  • Emily Whipple from Armstrong Elementary School
  • Debbie Dubinski from Churchill Elementary School
  • Amanda Herdegen from Dirksen Elementary School
  • Tara Mershon from Hoover Math and Science Academy
  • George Schaupp from Hoover Math and Science Academy
  • Emilio Saraga from Muir Literacy Academy

Brief from the Board Meeting on Nov. 15, 2018

Public Hearing on the 2018 Tax Levy:
No one asked to speak. The 2018 levy is regulated by the Cook County Property Tax Cap. District 54 can only receive up to the rate of CPI (2.1% in 2018) from existing property owners, and additional funds from new property owners.


  • The School Board presented Ambassador for Excellence Awards to 19 students who represented District 54 in the Honors Orchestra at the Illinois Education Association (ILMEA) Music Festival held Nov. 3.
  • The Board also recognized Giovanni, a fifth-grade student at Churchill, who was named the WGN Student of the Week for his volunteer work. Click here to hear the interview.
  • The Board presented an Above and Beyond Award to Patty Waterloo, a paraprofessional at Blackwell who made more than 100 weighted lap pads and neck rolls for the district’s occupational therapy department.

Public Comment:
A former District 54 resident suggested strategies for bullying prevention.

Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA):
District 54 responded to four FOIA request since the last report to the Board, related to the custodial supplies bid, window replacement bid and purchasing records.

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. 1, 2018
  • The resignation, leave, termination, employment and salary adjustments of personnel
  • Checks dated Nov. 9, 2018
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for September 2018
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for October 2018

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss highlighted three portions of the District 54 Strategic Plan – the 54 Promise.

  • Innovation – On November 9, the Innovate 54 teams attended a presentation by Thomas C. Murray, co-author of Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today.
  • Whole Child Success – On November 8, representatives from all District 54 schools and the administration center came together to share how they have embraced a positive culture in their buildings and how to sustain this positivity.
  • Exceptional employees – Superintendent DuRoss shared three videos highlighting employees who embrace the exceptional employees we have in District 54. Click on their name to watch the videos about Pete Tschammer, Roy Hansen and Apryl Cano.

Board President Report:  President Mary Kay Prusnick presented each board member with a Smile File, which is an idea being used in several District 54 schools. The file is a place to keep letters, notes, photos or other mementos that remind board members why they serve this role.

District Citizens’ Advisory Committee:  Board Member Barbara Hengels reported that DCAC heard a presentation on the social-emotional learning curriculum.

District 54 Education Foundation:  Board Secretary Bob Kaplan reported that the Foundation is partnering with the Windy City Bulls on December 14. The evening will include the participation of a number of student groups, including a Special Olympics basketball game at halftime. Click here to buy tickets or for more information.

PTA Report:  This year 22 schools participated in the PTA Reflections program, with a total of 250 entries. To view the projects, all are invited to attend Reflections Showcase at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in the District 54 Professional Learning Center.

New Business: 

  • The School Board approved a resolution estimating the 2018 tax levy will be $180,000,000, exclusive of debt service. Click here for more information.
  • The School Board approved a resolution authorizing the Cook County Clerk to reduce the education levy by 80%, the operations and maintenance levy by 10%, and the transportation levy by 10% if in excess of the limiting rate.


  • Board members visited schools this month to present gift books to teachers who have reached the milestone of having 1,000 books in their classroom library.
  • The board also talked about the amazing Veterans Day activities across the district.
  • Board members thanked everyone who made the Partnership Breakfast a success, including the Keller orchestra and band for performing.
  • The Board expressed appreciation to everyone for the notes in honor of School Board Association Day and added that it is a pleasure to serve the District 54 community.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 8:19 p.m. for school matters.

Schaumburg Parent University to host Family Game Night

Calling all board gamers! Is Monopoly your game choice? How about Pie Face? Maybe Pictionary? They’ve got nothing on this night! Come to our Family Game Night and not only will you learn some new games, you are going to actually make them from scratch! In this session families will get to spend one hour creating and playing their own games together; it will be an hour of uninterrupted, no electronics, family together time. The best part is you get to take your game home with you so that the fun can continue! Parents and kindergarten through third grade students are welcome. This event will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on December 4 at the District 54 Professional Learning Center, 522 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg.