Speaking with Stawick
Speaking with Stawick is the blog of District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Stawick. As pertinent information arises, or when a certain topic is of interest to the District 146 community, Dr. Stawick will post a new blog entry. Check back regularly to be sure you don't miss the latest.
Coming Soon: Communication Improvements!
July 24, 2017
As the District gears up for the 2017-2018 school year, I wanted to update everyone on some changes to District communications occurring later this summer.
We are very excited to announce that the District website will soon be updated with a new design and fresh content. The new website will make it easier for parents, students, and staff to find the information they need. Even more updates to the website are planned for the near future, so please stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
In the last few years, the District has included less information on the printed wall calendar and has utilized online calendars, social media accounts, and the websites to relay more current information about upcoming events, club meetings, and sporting events to parents. This shift has been beneficial as event logistics can sometimes change, making a calendar printed at the beginning of the school year inaccurate by the time the year ends. Therefore, the District has decided to not distribute a wall calendar for the 2017-2018 school year.
A new online calendar system is built into the new website. For you, viewing the calendar will not change much. You will still be able to see daily events, with more information available after one click. You will even be able to “subscribe” to your school’s calendar to receive notifications of changes and updates. Staff at our schools will be able to more easily add and update events, making information to our parents more accurate and timely.
We hope these new means of communication with our parents will assure the most recent and relevant information is available at all times. I hope you all enjoy the remainder of the summer. We look forward to seeing all of the students in August.
Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities: "What Happens Next?"
April 21, 2017
As I am sure you know, District 146 has hosted a Community Forum at each of our elementary schools to discuss with our families and community members the facility options for Full-Day Kindergarten. I want to thank everyone who attended the forums, shared their ideas, and learned more about each option.
Now that the forums are complete, you may be wondering, “What happens next?” At the end of each forum, attendees were asked to complete a brief survey, selecting their preferred option and offering any additional comments. The survey results and the accompanying comments have been compiled and shared with the Board of Education.
The Board will consider those comments and results, along with the research the District has completed on all of the options, when making a final decision for how to house the additional students from the Full-Day Kindergarten program. If the Board needs to discuss the options together, an open meeting will be posted. I will see to it that you are invited.
At this time, it is still our intention to offer Full-Day Kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. The administration is already looking at ways to temporarily house additional students until enough space is created via one of the three options. If registration numbers or other factors prove that we do not have enough space in our current facilities to house the students temporarily, the Board will decide whether to postpone the program until the 2019-2020 school year.
Again, I want to thank everyone who participated in the Community Forums. Your ideas, comments, and concerns have been heard and are very important to us. I will keep everyone updated as the project progresses.
Foundations of Engagement
Parents take part in one of the Ready for School classes.
January 30, 2017
After my first blog entry was published, a number of parents contacted me echoing the importance of parent engagement. I want to thank everyone for the feedback and I hope the conversations continue. Based on the comments, I decided it would be worthwhile to dig deeper into the subject through my next few posts.
Research shows the first three years of life are the most explosive in terms of development. That is why it is critical to set the foundation for engagement early on, making it easier to continue throughout the duration of the child’s education.
In an effort to stress to parents the importance of engaging in their children’s education from the earliest stages, District 146 offers a number of parent education opportunities. The program, funded through a state grant, includes services for parents and soon-to-be parents.
An Early Learning Family Fun Night focused on music.
Here are some services offered by the District:
- Home Visits – Home visits are offered to the District’s most at-risk families. Parent Educators visit the homes of families to demonstrate activities that engage children, and then help the parent carry out the same activities. The family is left with books to ensure reading is taking place in the home.
- Ready for Kindergarten – These classes take place three times each year and are divided by age group. Parents attend a 45-minute class taught by District teachers and receive educational toys to use at home to utilize the ideas they learned. Parents leave with information to help their young children prepare for Kindergarten
- Ready for School – Parents of District 146 are able to take advantage of weekly classes that include English literacy and nutritional education. These classes are offered free of charge by the District and aim to teach parents the information necessary to help their children prepare for school.
- Family Fun Nights – Throughout the year, the District’s Early Learning families are invited to a fun evening focused on a certain topic that demonstrates how much fun learning can be.
- Parent Advisory Committee – Parents involved in the Parent Advisory Committee meet monthly with members of the District’s Early Learning Program to discuss ideas to better improve the District’s offerings.
- Parent-to-Parent Night – Hosted by the Early Learning Parent Action Committee, the first Parent-to-Parent night will be Thursday, March 9 from 6 to 7 p.m. Parents will be sharing with those in attendance how their experience as parents of children with disabilities.
The services offered through the Early Learning Program are just a few examples of how the District partners with families to assure students are receiving the best education possible. When families, teachers, and administrators work together, students achieve more.
As I said at the beginning, I hope this blog will continue to keep open the dialogue between families and myself. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas about parent engagement with children from birth to 5 years old, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Partners in Education
December 1, 2016
The final month of 2016 is upon us. The school year is in full swing as our staff and students have already welcomed parents into the schools for many events, honored our Veterans during assemblies, and become engrossed in clubs and sports activities.
For many, the holiday season is the time of year we think about and appreciate all we are thankful for. Like many others, I am personally thankful for my family, friends, and good health. On a professional level, I am always thankful for the support and cooperation we feel from the parents and families in District 146.
Everyone at District 146 believes that parent and guardian involvement improves student success. When schools and parents come together, student learning and achievement is enhanced. Students excel when they are shown support from those who surround them on a daily basis, and when school and family are on the same team.
According to a study by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (2002), students with parents and guardians involved in student learning are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, be promoted to the next grade level, miss less school, adapt well to school, and pursue a college education.
In 2006, the University of Chicago’s Consortium for Chicago School Research conducted a study that measured parent involvement in 104 schools. Among those weak in parent involvement, just 10% of schools showed substantial improvement in reading and 4% showed substantial improvement in math. In schools that had strong parent involvement, 40% of schools showed substantial improvement in reading, and 42% showed substantial improvement in math.
Those are just two of the numerous studies focused on the correlation between student success and family and guardian involvement. All of those I have seen come to similar conclusions as those mentioned above. Because parent involvement is imperative, the District strives to engage our families.
Information taken from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
Educating children is a partnership. Teachers and administrators look to parents to be active in their children’s education not only by helping with homework and attending parent/teacher conferences, but also by interacting with their children on an educational level when students leave the school grounds. This interaction provides students with consistency in their learning.
At District 146, we take pride in bringing families and educators together. We know how important it is to families, students, and teachers to work together. Each school hosts numerous events each year, like family reading and math nights, which focus on bringing parents into their children’s educational lives. These events are planned to be fun and educational for both students and parents.
Administrators and teachers also wish to bring parents into the school during school hours. When parents volunteer to help in the classroom or media center, they gain first-hand knowledge of the techniques used to help students learn. These techniques can then be utilized outside of the classroom. Students also enjoy having parents present in the school. For instance, students become so excited when they see someone new volunteering in the media center, helping them choose a new book or offering to read to them.
Even though the District is proud of the steps already taken to engage our families, we are mindful that there is always room for improvement. So in my first post to this blog, I ask you in the spirit of cooperation: How can we improve parent engagement? What can the District offer our families to further enhance the way we work with you?
Your input is among the most valuable to the District when making decisions. I also invite you to send any ideas and suggestions directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to our continued work together as partners in education. Together, we will assure the students of District 146 receive the finest education possible.