Monday, April 29, 2019

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

Wednesday is National School Principal's Day, next week Teacher Appreciation Week, and May 17th is District 95's Annual Staff Recognition Program.  And as the year ends our schools hold student recognition events and the high school and middle schools hold their graduation and promotion ceremonies, respectively. So it is an exciting time as we celebrate our community of learners.

Staff Excellence
In that vein, last week included my very favorite day of the year, when I visit classrooms across the District to recognize staff members nominated by parents, students, and colleagues and who have won one of our annual recognitions - Teacher Appreciation, Distinguished Staff Member, or Meritorious Service.  Below are pics of this year's winners.
Chuck Vozas at LZHS

Annette LaVine at May Whitney
Brian Denesha at MSS

Emily Coaklan at LZHS

Jeff Bivin at District Admin
Jill Kragseth at MSN

Justina Doll at LZHS
Dana Petraglia and Kim Davis at LZHS

Liz Delzell at Spencer Loomis
Nick Juknelis at LZHS

Student Excellence
Student excellence couldn't be better exemplified than by our high school robotics team.  The team acquired an invite to the First Robotics World Championships in Detroit and from a field of 68, went 9-1 and placed 5th in their division.  Congrats to Coach Keyzer, our mentor coaches, and our student competitors on Bearbotics.

Strategic Plan Highlights (4 C19A - Mobile Learning Initiative in Grades 6-12)
At its April 25 meeting, a team of staff members presented the Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI) Review (for grades 6-12) for the Board of Education.  MLI is our name for the 1:1 iPAD program in grades 6-12.  The presentation was prefaced by the Board receiving a 70 page iBook two weeks earlier.  That comprehensive document outlined the review by a committee of more than 25 stakeholders, including parents and a high school student.  The review focused on academic, financial, and social-emotional considerations of MLI and made recommendations to the Board for the future of the initiative in grades 6-12.  More detail is available in the iBook, but the focus of those recommendations are:

  • Continue with the District commitment to iPADS
  • Develop authentic performance assessments that integrate instructional technology
  • Integrate SEL competencies into our students' digital lives
For the comprehensive report, please click here

Welcome to District 95's Newest Board Member
And congratulations to Marty Cupples, our newest Board of Education member.  Marty was elected in April and took his seat at the April 25 meeting.   Marty is a District 95 parent who has two students currently enrolled in our schools. He replaces Tony Schneider, who retired after serving one term.  I would like to personally thank Tony for his service.  He was always a consummate professional and citizen leader who believed in good schools and good governance.

Board Review / Preview (please click here for Board Docs)
April 25
  • Report on Mobile Learning Initiative
  • Review of Bond Issuance Parameters - Discussion
May 9
  • Report on High School Assessment Practices
  • Support Staff Wages - Discussion
  • District Handbook - Discussion
  • Bond Issuance Parameters - Action
Thanks for catching up with me on all the amazing things going on in District 95.

Have a great week,

Monday, April 15, 2019

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

Community Excellence
Nothing could speak more to our community's excellence and values than last week's activities during National Volunteer Week. With coordination between the District 95 Education Foundation, our Parent Teacher Organizations, and each school's staff, students at every school had the chance to engage in meaningful volunteer activities - from making dog toys for Orphans of the Storm, to collecting food for pantries, or raising funds for the Rizzo Foundation or Heifer International - every school "gave back" in way that speaks to our community vision to make a positive impact on the world.  Thanks to all the partners I mentioned who collaborated on such a great week.  You can read a Daily Herald article about the event at Isaac Fox here.

Of course, our Education Foundation was key in coordinating this effort and it can't do such great work with out raising important funds.  The next great opportunity is on June 10, 2019 at Steeple Chase Golf Club when the Foundation hosts its annual golf outing.  Even if you don't play golf, you can attend, participate and have a great day out while supporting a good cause.  Click here to learn more.

Student Excellence
Two prime examples of amazing student performances have come to the fore recently.  This week, our Bearbotics First Robotics Team received a team invitation to compete at Nationals in Detroit April 24-27.  Their first appearance at Nationals in 12 years and a recent award at Regionals for design show the creativity, innovation, and perseverance embodied in our students, staff, and mentors work together.

Another amazing example of student and staff excellence was on display this weekend at Middle School North, where the production of Wonder was exactly that - wonderful.  Putting on the stage version of the book telling the story of a boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome is amazing enough and such a display of student talent. But our staff and parents coordinated the production with a visit from Peter Dankleson, a Libertyville High School student with a similar craniofacial disorder.  Peter spoke students at MSN about being comfortable with one's self, so others too can be comfortable around you - a message that serves as a lesson for all of us. To learn more about Peter, click here.

Staff Excellence
Congratulations to LZHS Social Studies Teacher Kim Ferraro, who was awarded the 2019 James Madison Fellowship for the State of Illinois! One scholarship is awarded for each state, and is awarded through the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, and includes a $24,000 scholarship to pursue graduate studies in American Constitutional History, political institutions, political theory, and American Government.

Strategic Spotlight
At the April 11 Board Meeting, staff members serving on our Staff Engagement Committee made a presentation on their strategic work.  Focusing on better communications and building trust among staff members, the team has identified steps to improve staff engagement.  To learn more, see their presentation in Board Docs (link below).

Senator McConchie - Infrastructure Town Hall
On Monday, Aprill 22 at 7 p.m. at Middle School North, Senator Dan McConchie will be providing constituents with the latest information on the condition of Illinois' infrastructure as legislators determine the need for a capital bill to fund the construction and repair of roads, bridges, and buildings.
Sen. McConchie will be joined by experts from engineering firms and the Illinois Department of Transportation.  To learn more, click here.
Board Review / Preview (click here to access Board Docs)
April 11
  • Report - Staff Engagement
  • Report - Facilities Update
  • DRAFT 2020-21 Calendar - Discussion
  • PE Uniform Bids, Used iPAD Bids, Projector Bids - Discussion

April 25
  • Recognitions
  • Seating of New Board
  • Report - Mobile Learning Initiative Recommendations
  • Bond Financing - Discussion
Have a great week,

Monday, April 1, 2019

Dear D95 Parents and Guardians,

Welcome back!  Spring is slowly springing and Winter fading quickly.  I hope your break was restful and fun.  Our final stretch is before us and it is an exciting time to be a member of the District 95 Community.

Examples of Excellence
Last week I highlighted a D95 parent who made extra efforts to bring her STEM career into the classrooms with our students.  This week I am happy to highlight another type of parental excellence.  Cindy Malin at MSN has been a true leader, with other parents and staff and students, to build and grow the MSN Connect initiative.  This new engagement connects middle school students to opportunities to support those in need.  Whether feeding the hungry, reaching out to those touched by trauma, or making the school itself a better, kinder place, MSN Connect has contributed to our vision for students "Aspiring to make a positive impact on the world" and Cindy Malin has been integral to making that happen.  Thanks, Cindy!

And student excellence in District 95 was recently exemplified by Darby Nieponmik.  Darby is a 4th grader at Sarah Adams and her recipe for Mexican Stuffed Avocados won the Future Chefs competition sponsored by our food service partner Sodexo.  Way to go Darby and thanks Sodexo.

Government Excellence
Election Day is upon us and reminds me how lucky District 95 is to have such great partners in our local governments.  ELA Township, Lake County, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer all regularly work with us to make the lives of our students better.  The Village of Lake Zurich particularly, the government we partner with the most, has been exceptional in my time here as Superintendent.  The Village Manager, the Mayor, and all the trustees have never failed to consider how the District and the Village can collaborate.  I know my successor will be lucky in his partnership with our local governments.

Strategic Spotlight
As you can see from recent meeting agenda, my leaders have been updating the Board of Education on important strategic action plan items.  In recent months we have provided updates on SEL planning, PLC development, and Facilities.  In coming weeks and months, we will provide more updates on: Staff Engagement, the Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI), High School Grading, and Classroom Furniture.  I encourage you to watch the videos of these presentations to the Board and email me with any questions you have.

Board Review Preview (see BoardDocs for details)
March 19
  • Recognitions
  • Bids for New phone system - Discussion
April 11
  • Staff Engagement - Strategic Action Plan Report
  • Bids for new phone system - Action
Have a great week,

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

Examples of Excellence
My greatest sense of gratitude at being the superintendent comes from having served such an amazing community.  Our students, staff, and parents, along with the community at large make up the "diverse learning community" that is part of the District 95 Vision.  

An example of collaborative excellence can be found in the newly released book You Are Not Invisible, authored by Middle School South students and facilitated by Science teacher Cindy Milone.  This is a rare moment for a school and community when its passion for anti-bullying takes the form of such impactful action.  I encourage you to go to Amazon today and buy a copy of this moving book (click here) - proceeds will go to the Anthony Rizzo Foundation.

And today I include a shout out for a parent whose contributions have really empowered personal excellence.
Jodi McCarthy, a civil engineer, has made herself available to students on an endless number of occasions since I arrived here, most recently in Billy Heisler's 8th grade Computer Tech classes at Middle School North.  Jodi came into the class on five different days for the entire class periods. She discussed the importance of design thinking and being an empowered learner (e.g., setting small goals, using resources), and gave personalized feedback to students as a “guide on the side.” Above you can see a pic of Jodi working with some of Mr. Heisler's students. Thanks Jodi!

Superintendent Search
If you have not already had a chance to do so, please complete the survey from SchoolExecConnect regarding characteristics you are seeking in the next D95 Superintendent.  Please click here for the survey.

Student Opportunities
Although only for high school students, another connection to the community is through summer internships.  Part of our Strategic Plan includes creating more opportunities for students to experience real world career-oriented learning.  Luckily, we have an amazing community of businesses ready to step up.  Right now we have twelve different internship opportunities with the following local businesses:
Casten Body Shop
Gewalt Hamilton Engineering
20/10 Engineering
Lamp, Inc. (Construction)
Clay Monet
HM Manufacturing
Ancient Oaks Foundation
Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce
District 95 Education Foundation
Nothing Bundt Cakes
DLA Architects
On Occasion Catering

For more specifics, please click here, and contact Beth Slaughter if you are a local business person who is interested in bringing on an LZHS intern this summer or in the future.

Board Review / Preview (please see Board Docs for details)
March 7
  • 2019-20 Staffing - Report
  • Social Emotional Learning - Strategic Plan Report
  • Summer 2019 Field Trips - Discussion
  • Superintendent Search Contract - Action
March 19
  • Recognitions
  • Bids for New Phone System - Discussion

Have a great week and Spring Break!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Dear District 95 Parents and Guardians,

Cold Weather
This first week of March is still promising some cold weather that can be dangerous if we are not prepared.  Please make sure students extremities are covered when they are waiting for their bus.  And when the wind chill is zero or below, know that elementary schools do not have outdoor recess.

Superintendent's Position
If you received my School Messenger last Friday, March 1, you know that I have announced my departure from District 95 effective June 30th.  I have accepted the job as Superintedent for Avoca District 37, which serves parts of Wilmette, Glenview, Northfield, and Winnetka. My message and recent news articles recount some of the background, but I do want to be clear about how thrilled I have been to serve in District 95.  Our community, our students, our staff, and our Board of Education have all been unparalleled in the service of our mission to "Empower every student to achieve personal excellence."  And our Board and staff are committed to our Forward95 plan and all it promises. Likewise, I look forward to supporting the Board and leadership in establishing a successful transition in the coming months.

Community Excellence
One example of our community's excellence was on display at Saturday's Educational Foundation Gala.  Held at Concorde Banquets, tens of thousands of dollars (totals are not in yet) were raised to support: under-resourced students with the basics, the recent author-in-residence program with Gordon Korman, the First Lego League, the STEAM Summit, the Film Festival, teacher innovation grants and more.  You can always find out more by clicking on this link

Academic Excellence
Congrats to our seven National Merit Semifinalists at Lake Zurich High School.  Mitchell Bader, Gretchen Guimarin, Annie Katherine Li, Anagha Rajagopalan, Sarah Elizabeth Sobol, Andrea Tyson, and David Zaccarine are seven students among 16,000 in the country selected based on their scores on the National Merit Scholastic Qualifying Test.  If our students make it to the round of 7,500 they will be eligible to access millions of dollars of scholarship money applicable to tuition at universities across the U.S.

And a great way to experience our students' excellence is to do it as a community. This Friday we are excited to host the first district-wide field trip of its kind.  Approximately 100 First Lego League participants will take a field trip to the UIC Pavilion to cheer on our LZHS Bearbotics team as it competes in the First Robotics Competition.  More than three dozen other teams will be competing for the chance to go to nationals.   If you want to learn more about this year's competition, click on this link.  Thanks to the Education Foundation for funding this trip and to our many Bearbotics sponsors, including Northrop Grumman, Smalley Steel, and especially ECHO Robotics.

Board Review / Preview (you can find out more by accessing Board Docs)
February 28

  • Recognitions
  • Financial Projections Report
  • Custodial Contract for 2019-20

March 7

  • Social Emotional Learning Report
  • 2019-20 Staffing Report
  • Summer 2019 Field Trip - Discussion

Have a great week,