Speaking with Stawick
Speaking with Stawick is the blog of District 146 Superintendent Dr. Jeff Stawick. Please subscribe for update notifications to be sure you don't miss the latest news and information from the administration.

Recent Posts
1  2 
It has been a year unlike any other. Although 2020 began normally, March brought everyone many challenges to face. Our teachers, staff, and families stepped up to help our students continue learning at home for the remainder of the school year. The District 146 community pulled together hosting drive-by parades, virtual clubs, and even a recognition event for our graduating eighth grade class in an effort to bring joy and a sense of normalcy.

As it became obvious the 2020-2021 school year would have to begin remotely, our administration and teachers worked together to develop an enhanced remote learning plan for our students. As the second trimester grew closer, we determined our students could safely return to in-person learning. Once again, our administration and teachers came through and put together a hybrid experience that allowed all families who chose it, a chance for their children to return to the classroom.

Since then, our families and staff have done a remarkable job keeping our COVID-19 positive cases down, and our cases of on-campus close contacts very low. By monitoring for symptoms, keeping students who aren’t feeling well at home, and completing daily health and temperature checks, we have so far avoided any major outbreaks. You can follow these statistics by visiting our COVID-19 Dashboard, which is updated weekly.

As most cases are being traced to personal and community events and gatherings outside of school, please continue to carefully consider nonessential activities and observe the advice of health experts who remind us to practice social distancing and wear a mask. If our families and staff remain vigilant and cautious, the number of positive cases at our schools will remain low.   

I am so grateful for our teachers, staff, administrators, and families for the efforts you have all taken to continue offering our students a quality education. My wish for 2021 is that you all remain healthy and happy, and that we can return safely to normal school as soon as possible. Happy Holidays and I wish you a wonderful new year.
Posted by superintendent  On Dec 23, 2020 at 4:23 PM
On November 4, our schools will once again open for many of our students. Our staff are very excited to welcome back those students who have chosen our hybrid model. Staff teaching students in remote classes are just as excited to continue the virtual learning with fun and engaging activities.

Per Illinois State Board of Education guidelines, students attending in person classes must wear a mask at all times (in school and on the school bus) unless they are eating and at least 6 feet apart. Please be sure to send your student to school with a clean mask each day. Masks should be washed after every use.

Prior to entering school, parents must complete a self-certification for their students using a District Symptom Checker and certify that certification by signing a printed slip that will be supplied to families prior to the start of school. These slips will be required to get on the school bus or enter the school building. If your child is showing any signs of illness, please keep them home from school. Staff is also asked to stay home if feeling ill.

Student temperatures will be taken in the classroom at the beginning of school. Increased hand washing and sanitizing will occur throughout the day, including upon arrival and dismissal. Foam hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in every classroom. Teachers may still provide small group instruction when possible with physical distancing or the use of plexiglass dividers.

With class sizes reduced by approximately 50%, students can be comfortably seated 4-6 feet apart.  Materials will not be shared and, when possible, students in the A.M and P.M. sessions will not be sharing desks. In order to minimize hallway travel, students will be staying in the same classroom whenever possible, with teachers rotating to them. Halls are marked with spacers and direction indicators.

Between the A.M. and P.M. sessions, custodians will be cleaning and sanitizing classrooms and restrooms. High-touch areas (desks, doorknobs, light switches, faucet handles, etc.) will be cleaned and sanitized more frequently throughout the day. All staff members also have access to cleaning supplies to use throughout the day as necessary.  

Any individual, including staff and students, showing a symptom of COVID while at school will be brought to a designated room. Parents of symptomatic students will be notified and required to pick up their student as soon as possible. Contact tracing will be implemented to identify those in close contact at school with individuals identified as COVID positive or probable.

The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. I know we can count on our families to work with us to ensure the health of our students and staff is not compromised. Please reach out to your school’s office if you have any questions or concerns.
Posted by superintendent  On Oct 23, 2020 at 11:38 AM
Families still have an opportunity to participate in this year’s 5Essentials survey. The District will now be sending the 5Essentials survey to our families annually to help our schools continually gather parent input to help principals develop their school improvement plans. 

As a parent, I know how busy this time of the year can be. School and extracurricular activities are in full swing and the holidays are right around the corner. That’s why I would not ask our families to take the time to complete a survey unless the results were important and useful to our schools.

Past survey results have changed the way the District communicates with our families and has changed the way teachers communicate with parents. Based on survey responses, we have also worked to improve parent involvement during the school day and at after-school events. 

The University of Chicago, who administers the survey, asks that a minimum of 20% of families respond at each school in order to get data that is usable and not skewed. The percentages are calculated based on the total number of students and not the number of families. Therefore, we ask parents to take one survey for each student, even if they are in the same school. Experiences between grades may be different, and we want to learn about them all.

The District receives aggregate (whole-group) data from the survey only. We never know how an individual parent answers the questions. Responses are never tied to you or your student; they are completely confidential.

Please click here to complete the 5Essentials survey. You can read more about the 5Essentials survey and past results here. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Posted by superintendent  On Jan 08, 2020 at 3:21 PM
As I’m sure you all know, construction is complete at our four elementary schools. I am pleased to say the first few weeks of school have passed and the staff and students are truly enjoying their new spaces. Here is what I’ve heard from our elementary schools.

The early learning and kindergarten students are definitely enjoying the new early learning playground, with a soft surface that makes navigation easy, especially for walkers and wheelchairs. The kindergarten teachers enjoy being back in the same wing and having adjoining doors, making collaboration quick and easy. The new music room is also a hit with both students and staff. The sound boards absorb the sound so it isn’t too loud for students, or a distraction for other classrooms. 

Kindergarten students on playgroundKindergarten students on playground

Students are loving the bright and spacious cafeteria and the new kindergarten and music rooms. There is plenty of space for movement and discovery in the new rooms and students are definitely taking advantage of it. The new space has also opened up old spaces for repurposing. There is a new sensory room, instructional space for Reading and Math Specialists, and a dedicated art room with ample space for supplies and creativity.

student in a kindergarten roomFierke students at lunch

The new turn around space for arrival and dismissal has made that process more efficient for Kruse. The students have been taking advantage of the new playground and landscaping for both recess and class discovery time. Students were also very excited to have height-appropriate sinks in the new art room to wash their hands! With the addition, existing space was repurposed to offer more resource spaces, including a collaboration room, calming room, and sensory space.

Kruse students in art roomKindergarten students using lockers

Teachers and staff have both expressed love for the new space. All of the windows, colors, and space has made lunch, indoor recess, and performances much more enjoyable in Memorial’s new multipurpose room. The outdoor learning space has also been a hit with students taking to the “blue mounds” to read during the nice weather.

Memorial students at lunchStudents reading in outdoor learning space

On behalf of the Board of Education and everyone at District 146, I would like to thank our parents and community members for their support during the planning and construction of the new additions. The new space has already proven beneficial and will continue to help the District offer the high-quality education our community expects.   
Posted by superintendent  On Sep 23, 2019 at 8:22 AM
On April 22, parents will be receiving an email from ECRA Group inviting them to take part in a survey for the District 146 Strategic Plan. It is very important for all parents to complete the survey so their values and beliefs can be taken into account as the District creates its Strategic Plan.

In 2014, the District began our first strategic plan journey. The outcome was a plan that guided us through years of improvement. I wanted to share some of the enhancements that were ushered in because of the efforts in 2013.

Addressing the Whole-Child
District 146 prides itself on teaching the whole-child. We focus not only on academics, but help shape upstanding, well-rounded, and effective citizens. At the elementary level, classroom teachers incorporate social/emotional curriculum into their everyday classes in collaboration with school counseling teams and social workers. Central students begin each day with an advisory class that focuses on social, emotional, and academic goals. They also take part in Encore classes that teach real-life skills tied to classes they enjoy like band, FACS, or art.

Full-Day Kindergarten
Full-day kindergarten is a reality today in part due to the 2014 Strategic Plan. We are already seeing the benefits of our full-day, play and discovery-based program. Teachers and families have commented on the growth and advantages of their students and are pleased with the results.

Enhanced Curriculum
The District has developed and adopted more rigorous curricula for kindergarten through grade 8 that align with the Illinois Learning Standards. Essential skills for students at all grade levels have also been identified and are being utilized by staff to drive instruction.

Time and Resources for Staff Collaboration
Collaboration between our staff is important as they share data, techniques, ideas, and information. Our staff has opportunities each week to meet in teams. Each year, some District staff attend a Professional Learning Community (PLC) conference that expands upon the best ways for our teachers to collaborate. 

The District’s Strategic Dashboard is currently built upon the Strategic Plan created in 2014. You can see more strategies we use to meet the Strategic Plan goals by visiting the Dashboard

Again, please take the time to complete the survey once you receive an email invitation from ECRA Group. It will only take about 15 minutes to complete, but will help the District for years to come. I really appreciate your time and commitment to District 146’s continuous improvement.
Posted by superintendent  On Apr 17, 2019 at 11:57 AM

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “If you see something, say something.” The phrase was developed by the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to help citizens be active in keeping our schools and neighborhoods safe.

With recent events close to home, the phrase takes on a special meaning. I feel like it is an appropriate time to send a reminder to students, families, staff, and community members to follow this advice. If you see something, say something.

When reporting suspicious activity, whether it be to 911, a school official, or police officer, always remember to be as specific as possible when describing what you observed. If possible, include:

  • Who or What you saw
  • When you saw it
  • Where it occurred
  • Why you feel it is suspicious

Please explain the importance of this concept with your children. Our students may be the first to hear or see something, and should always feel comfortable reporting anything suspicious to their teacher, principal, or other school staff. 

At times, it may seem like raising the alarm is an overreaction. However, we would much rather be safe than sorry and there is no harm in a false alarm. Please join me and everyone at District 146 in keeping our schools safe. Always remember: If you see something, say something.

Posted by superintendent  On Feb 19, 2019 at 11:05 AM

As you may know, we have begun the process of updating the District’s Strategic Plan. The current plan was launched in 2014 and has driven our improvement over the last four years. We are very proud of the progress we have made on our goals. You can see our progress, along with some fast facts about the District, on the District’s Strategic Dashboard.

We are very excited to update the plan to identify our new goals for the future, which will be developed using feedback from our stakeholders. We have already conducted focus groups of parents, students, staff members, community leaders, and Board members. On Tuesday, January 15, a parent town hall meeting will be held in the Fulton Cafeteria at 6 p.m. If you are available, I encourage you to attend and share your input. Surveys will also be sent to make certain we gather information from all of the District’s stakeholders.

The inclusive, research-based strategic planning process assures our decisions are based on data rather than intuition. Most importantly, it helps us create the future of our schools in the image our stakeholders desire.

We have once again partnered with the ECRA Group to develop our new strategic plan. ECRA Group is a leader in educational assessment, research, analytics, and strategic planning, and assisted the District with our original Strategic Plan.

I will keep you all updated on the strategic planning process, and look forward to sharing the finished result with you later this year.

Posted by superintendent  On Jan 14, 2019 at 10:31 AM
Even with the cold weather and early snow, construction crews at our elementary schools have continued their progress on the additions and improvements to our elementary buildings. As you know, the construction will add additional space for new full-day kindergarten program. 

All additions will be ready for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. It has been exciting to watch the new structures rise up and begin to take shape after several years of planning. Even from the outside, the new rooms and spaces are beginning to take shape. 

The District and school websites have pages dedicated to the construction. You can click here for detailed updates on the construction projects. 

This year is the first for our full-day kindergarten program. Students are thriving in the play-based, discovery-centered kindergarten classrooms and are actively questioning and seeking answers through investigation. 

Each classroom is an interactive place for our students to learn. The curiosity corner, math area, and construction area are used by students to spur questions; count, add, and subtract using various objects and techniques; and to compare the height and length of their creations, for example.

As always, our students are very excited for story time. After their teacher reads to them, they are guided in a discussion about their favorite characters, or how the story made them feel. They are also encouraged to become authors and write stories about themselves and their learning.

For more information on our full-day, discovery-based kindergarten program, including teacher and parent interviews, please click here

Once completed, our buildings will have enough space to accommodate the full day kindergarten program without putting a strain on the space necessary for other classes and resources. The new facilities will help the District continue to offer Learning for All.
Posted by superintendent  On Dec 14, 2018 at 11:38 AM
As you know, many government offices, banks, and schools will be closed on Monday, November 12 in observance of Veterans Day. However, District 146 schools will be in session.

We see the Veterans Day holiday as an opportunity to teach our students why we have a day to honor Veterans. The intention is for students to interpret Veterans Day as a time for reflection and thanks rather than a day off of school.

Throughout the day, our students and staff reflect on the sacrifices made by Veterans and current service members. Each school will be doing something special on that Monday. Some will have ceremonies, some will display a Missing Man Table, and some will have in-class discussions. All schools, however, will stress the importance of thanking our Veterans.

Each year, Central Middle School invites Veterans who are family members of students and staff to a ceremony at the school. All CMS students attend the ceremony. The band and chorus perform, students hand out small tokens of appreciation, and a guest speaker reminds us why we are there. 

I invite you to view the Veterans Day Ceremony as we stream it live at facebook.com/CMSTwisters. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, November 12. A video of the ceremony will remain on the Facebook page afterwards. We hope you can join our students and staff as we honor our Veterans.
Posted by superintendent  On Nov 06, 2018 at 3:30 PM
This post corrects and offers additional information on the designations written about in the previous post, "Telling Our Story."

In my last post, I mentioned Central Middle School was designated by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as Underperforming. This designation came as a result of PARCC scores for two student subgroups.

Just today, I received word from ISBE that after further review, Central will not be designated as Underperforming, but as Commendable. As a matter of fact, Central, Fierke, Fulton, and Memorial are have all been designated as Commendable. I am also excited to announce that Kruse has been designated as Exemplary. Schools designated as Exemplary are in the top 10-percent of all schools in Illinois. 

As stated in my previous post, the District values more than just PARCC scores and data from the Illinois State Report Card. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take a look at the District’s new Dashboard to see first-hand how our schools strive to educate the whole child.

When we first heard that Central would be designated as underperforming, we began working on an improvement process that targeted the two subgroups identified by ISBE. Be assured that we will continue this work to achieve high levels of learning for all students in District 146. 
Posted by superintendent  On Oct 31, 2018 at 11:09 AM
1  2 
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.