Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

This week's post will be brief, as we are all back and launching into 2019 full steam ahead (see related note below!)  As our high school students prepare for finals this week, it was great to see authentic, real world learning demonstrated by our Bears that related to our vision for them to "aspire to make a positive impact on the world."

First, last Thursday afternoon, I was invited to hear Ms. Sullivan's Public Speaking students give a "Ted" style talk on the importance of sleep.  A real world and prominent issue for our teenagers couldn't provide a more engaging and empowering topic for them to address.  

That night, Charity Bash leaders presented this year's results ($25K raised!) to the Board of Education.  Again, our students were aspiring to make a positive impact on the world - here the work of the Keep Swimming Foundation (led by LZHS alumn Bill Coon) - and practicing their public speaking skills.  We couldn't ask for better teachers, students, or opportunities.

And more is to come. I have already mentioned the ongoing MSN Connect Initiative (see September 30th 2018 post), and soon we will be sharing news about our MSS Anti-Bullying initiative's major publishing debut!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - January 21
January 21st is a non-attendance day in commemoration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The influence of Dr. King's work on American liberty and culture cannot be understated, and that emphasized non-violence sets him apart as a leader.  At this time of year, I often look to a resource on Dr. King that I can review to reacquaint myself with the details of his life and work.  Author Taylor Branch's volumes are ones I have re-read in the past, but there are others I recommend, such the PBS site on black culture and Dr. King, which you can peruse here.

And don't forget the exciting events mentioned in my last post
Board Review / Preview (click here for previous meetings)
January 10
  • Charity Bash - Report
  • Field Trips - Discussion
  • Budget Transfer - Action
January 24
  • Summer 2019 Preview - Report
  • Benchmark Performance Data - Report
  • Bond Financing Update - Report
  • Non-resident tuition - Discussion
  • Field Trips - Action
Please continue to monitor this blog for exciting updates in the coming weeks and months.


Monday, December 31, 2018

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

Happy 2019!

I am sure many of you with your families are getting a lot of "down time."  My younger son did have a park district basketball tourney (went 1-1), but otherwise vacation has been family, PS4 and STEAM gift cards being used, and keeping warm and dry.  But with school just a week away, it's exciting to see all that's coming up in just the first few months of the new year.

February 2nd - STEAM Summit
D95 STEAM Summit -  February 2nd - Signup Now!
The STEAM specialists on our staff have topped themselves each year with new and engaging activities and panels for our student to experience, and 2019 will be no different.  Local global medical device giant MEDLINE is partnering with us on some activities, among others.  Please make sure to register early! Click here to register

February 9th - Joanie's Closet Valentine's Dance
The biggest 'dress up' affair for our elementary students and their families takes place  in the big gym at May Whitney from 5 to 8 p.m.  Proceeds go to Joanie's Closet, the district-related charity that supports needy families with winter wear, backpacks, and other necessities.  More than 500 attended last year, so click here to get your tickets now

February 12th - 7th Annual District 95 Film Festival
2018 was the biggest year yet for entries to the film festival and hundreds attended the viewing in the Performing Arts Center at the High School.  Enter a film of your own or just come see the amazing video artistry at work in District 95.  Get the details by clicking here

A familiar thread connecting the above events is the District 95 Educational Foundation whose mission is to raise funds and provide resources for additional innovations that "empower every learner to achieve personal excellence." The Foundation plays a key role in supporting the STEAM Summit, Joanie's Closet, and the Film Festival, and its work is not possible without your support. To find out more about the Foundation and especially about its 2019 Gala, click here

Other notes - Online Safety Reminder
Parental awareness is the most effective way to be sure students are practicing safe online habits.  A recent global phenomena - whose credibility is still in question - is a good reminder of why parents should regularly monitor their kids social media habits.  This Washington Post article reports on the "Momo Challenge" and the risks that social media engagements can create.

Board Review / Preview (you can find out more by accessing Board Docs)
December 13, 2018

  • Student and Staff Recognitions
  • New Website Update - Report
  • Facilities Update - Report
  • FY20 Budget Timeline - Discussion
  • Registration Fees for 2019-20 - Action (fees are unchanged)
  • New Bus Bids for 2019-20 - Action
  • Temperature Control System Bids - Action
  • Resolution to sell 400 S. Old Rand Rd - Action

January 10, 2019

  • Summer 2019 Preview - Report
  • Charity Bash Review - Report
  • Non-Resident Tuition - Discussion
  • Sale of 400 S. Old Rand Rd. - Possible Action

Have a great 2019 and good first week back at school!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

Our students and staff inspire us daily. While we are an academically high performing district, our excellence is also defined in ways that nourishes souls and lifts spirits.

Our LZHS girls' basketball coach, Chris Bennett, just notched his 200th career win and was recognized at half time of the boys' game Friday.  The number of wins is not the most impressive facet of Chris' tenure.  He plays one of the toughest schedules in the state, hosts tournaments, and inspires players to give back in multiple ways - like raising hundreds of dollars Friday night for this year's Charity Bash recipient.  Way to go Coach Bennett!

And the LZHS Charity Bash is another example of our students' and community's excellence.  Last year students raised nearly $40,000, and in the life of Charity Bash nearly $500,000.  This year's recipient foundation was started by LZHS grad Bill Coon! You can find out more about Keep Swimming here

Your feedback is Essential
And our excellence is dependent upon your participation and support as a parent. One of the important ways you can do this is through the Five Essentials Survey.  Your feedback will help our schools see where are our strengths where are our opportunities for improvement.  Please visit the link below to find the survey. Thanks in advance for taking this survey.  Click here for the link to survey

Feedback and insight from you or your students can sometimes play a different role, a crucial role in our success.  Over the last year at the high school and middle schools we have rolled out the "See Something, Say Something" anonymous tip line.   
Sometimes, students or parents are not sure how best to report certain concerns.  We always encourage you to reach out to a staff member, but when you have a concern about bullying, harassment, or a potential for harm, you can also use this tip line is available at the middle school and high school level - learn more here.  Note that this line is not monitored 24-hours per day or on weekends.

And community feedback played an integral role in The Village of Lake Zurich's recent decision to enact a "Tobacco 21" ordinance and a moratorium for one year on any new vape shops in the village.  Thanks to our village trustees for taking a tough position, but one that is informed by what we know is best for youth health. Specifically, delaying tobacco use (in this case raising the legal purchase age to 21) dramatically decreases the likelihood of a lifelong addiction, and that has health benefits for the whole community.  Furthermore, the moratorium on new shops will enable the village to assess if they have zoned shop locations in a way that reflects the community's values.

Strategic Spotlight - Facilities
The 4th pillar of our strategic plan is where we "Prioritize resources to achieve the district's mission, vision, and goals."  Specifically, one of our strategies is to "Optimize facility design, usage, and maintenance to further teaching and learning."  At our November 29 Board meeting and our December 13 meeting, together the Board will have approved all of the contracts necessary to install Air Conditioning at Isaac Fox and Middle School South in the Summer of 2019.  Those contracts totaled almost $3,000,000 less than budgeted.  This means more flexibility for subsequent projects and/or to apply to capital projects identified in the community engagement process but not put on the ballot, like the rehabilitation of second floor classrooms at the high school.  A huge thanks goes to Vicky Cullinan and Lyle Erstad at our District office for their leadership.

Board Review / Preview (for details, see Board Docs)
November 29
  • HS Course Proposals - Discussion
  • Registration Fees - Discussion
  • Brierwoods Estates Designation (7 undeveloped home sites) - Discussion
  • Bus Bids - Discussion
  • A/C at IF & MSS Bids - Action
  • Adoption of Levy - Action
December 13
  • Website update - Report
  • Facilities Committee - Report
  • HS Course Proposals - Action
  • Registration Fees - Action
  • Brierwoods Estates Designation - Action
  • Sale of 400 S. Old Rand Rd. - Action
  • Bus Bids - Action
Have a great week,

Monday, November 26, 2018

Dear District 95 Families,

Winter is here!  Thanks to all of you for your patience with our decision to cancel school Monday.  Decisions about opening and closing schools are never simple and many factors go into such decisions.  Student and staff safety are our foremost concerns.

Excellence in D95
Congrats to LZHS student-athlete Sophia Gouschina for taking 2nd place in the state in the 100 yd backstroke and 9th place in the 100 yd free style.  LZHS has never had facilities to support a swimming program, so Sophina's perseverance and high expectations for herself are even more remarkable.

Another type of excellence, that of service, was on display on Veterans Day when choral students from Sarah Adams, under the direction of music teacher Adam Hjerpe, sang the national anthem for the crowd.  We are so lucky in our talented students and staff and in their vision of "aspiring to make a positive impact on the world."

Community Engagement - Vaping

I  encourage you to join us on Wednesday, November 28th from 7 to 8:30 at 832 S. Rand Rd. for an engaging presentation and dialogue on vaping.  I recently appeared before the trustees of the Village of Lake Zurich to support their pending ordinances related to vaping -a "Tobacco 21" ordinance and a moratorium on vape shops for one year while they consider specific zoning needs related to vape shops.  If you have thoughts on these ordinances, I encourage you to contact your village trustees.  And, please, come out for our session this Wednesday night. You can learn more by visiting this webpage

Board Review / Preview (see Board Docs for details)
November 8
  • Learning Progress Report (including School Improvement Plans)
  • Intent to Levy Taxes - Action
November 29
  • Course Proposals - Discussion
  • Registration Fees - Discussion
  • Brierwoods Estates Designation - Discussion
  • Bus Bids - Discussion
  • A/C at IF & MSS Bids - Action
  • Adoption of Levy - Action
Have a great week!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

First, a profound thank you to our Veterans on this Veterans Day.  100 years ago today WWI ended, the most horrific conflict in human history by that time, and our American troops were pivotal in ending that war.  We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our Veterans for their selfless service, whether in conflict or in peace.  Below are some pictures from Sarah Adams Veteran's Day breakfast.  In future years, as we hold school on Veteran's Day, we anticipate more and more honoring the day with our students.


Parent Excellence
Thanks to all who could attend our HS and MS parent-teacher conferences.  Elementary conferences are this coming week and early next week. Connecting with your child's teacher about his or her progress and working together to continue to support it is an essential part of a successful school.

Speaking of "essentials," starting November 15, the window opens for our annual 5Essentials Survey. It is your opportunity to respond to research-based questions that indicate how well a school is performing.  Staff members and students (down to 4th grade) take a version of the survey too.  The standards in the survey and the responses help school improvement teams set goals and help me set goals with principals.  You can find out more here:  5Essentials Parent Survey

And parent participation in important school events is a pillar of the school-family partnership.  One example is the MSNConnect initiative at Middle School North, which I posted about previously.  On October 28th, 11 staff members and 115 parents/students completed food packages at Feed My Starving Children.  And on November 1st, 63 students made 20 activities kits for the Make A Wish Foundation and wrote 72 letters for Macy's Believe Campaign.  It is so amazing to see how collaboration helps fulfill our vision to "make a positive impact on the world."

Community Engagement on VAPING - November 28
Vaping continues to be an increasing problem for high school and some middle school students in the community.  In partnership with our local police and The ELA Township Coalition, last year we provided our first community update on vaping.  This will be an update on that topic and an opportunity for you to ask questions from our panel of experts.  The event will take place at the Sfire Family Education Center at 832 S. Rand Road (District Office) from 7 to 8:30 on November 28.

Strategic Plan Highlight - Standards Based Grading
Our Strategic Plan calls for shared best practices across the District whenever possible, and an area of focus is grading and grade reporting. One action plan is currently laying the groundwork for reporting grades based on curriculum standards for grades K-8.  That work takes time and will only be piloted in the early grades in 2019-20, then will be phased in slowly over time.  Traditional grading and grade reporting do not provide students or parents much useful feedback regarding a student's learning progress or where students can improve.  By taking our time, we will produce a high quality grade reporting system that will lead to greater student achievement over time.

Board Review / Preview (you can see details at Board Docs)
November 8

  • Learning Progress Report
  • Resolution of Intent to Levy - Action
  • IASB Resolutions - Action

November 29

  • Levy - Action
  • Bids - A/C at Isaac Fox and Middle School South - Action

Have a great week,