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District News

  • Peoria Public Schools celebrated the achievements of Those Who Excel at its annual All-Staff Convocation event Monday morning.

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  • Teachers and administrators will be knocking on doors to encourage students to be in class every day this school year.

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  • Students' physical and immunization requirements must be in compliance on the first day of school, August 15, 2018. Make your appointment today.

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  • The Peoria Riverfront Museum announced an increase from 1,800 to 8,000 Peoria Public Schools students participating in educational field trips at the museum this past school year, as part of the museum’s curricula-based Every Student Initiative program for all Central Illinois students.

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  • The Peoria Public Library Bookmobile stops at Harrison Community Learning Center, Lincoln K-8, Jamieson School, Hines Primary School, Roosevelt Magnet School, Glen Oak Community Learning Center and Von Steuben Middle School during June.

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  • Here are links to Peoria Public School Class of 2018 feature, published online by the Journal Star.

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  • Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat delivered the annual State of the Schools address, Wednesday, May 2 at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette. The speech outlined Dr. Desmoulin-Kherat's vision for Peoria Public Schools, "an education that is personalized. One where attainment is built on discovering the individual talents of each child, that puts students in an environment where they want to learn and can naturally discover their true interests."

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Superintendent's Blog

  • Preparing for a new school year

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 8/10/2018 3:05:00 PM

    It’s our final week to prepare before school starts on August 15. Preparation is the key to a success school year for our staff, our students and their families.


    The fleet of Peoria Public School buses is out on the roads this week. Transportation staff practice to-and-from school routes to make sure buses are in top mechanical shape and that they know their routes well before our students return to class. With multiple areas of construction throughout Peoria to maneuver, this period of preparation is particularly important.


    School staff from principals to maintenance staff are in schools organizing classrooms, offices and libraries, installing hallway displays, polishing floors and finishing last-minute maintenance and cleaning. 


    With the First Day Compliance policy, students must have documentation of required physical and dental exams and immunizations submitted to their student’s school on the first day of school. It’s not too late to call the Peoria City/County Health Department at 679-6555 to make an appointment. Heartland Health Services’ five locations in Peoria are also taking appointments for physical exams and immunizations. The East Bluff Heartland Clinic at 2321 N. Wisconsin Ave, offers evening and Saturday hours. For a list of Heartland locations and to make your appointment, please visit or call 680-7600. Students can begin school on August 15 if they have proof of a scheduled appointment for exams and immunizations and then keep the appointment.


    Peoria Public Schools will be on a back-to-school schedule from August 15 until August 31. Schools will dismiss one hour early during these weeks. The regular schedule will begin on Tuesday, September 4, following the Labor Day holiday. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how very important it is to make sure that children attend school every day during these beginning weeks and throughout the first grading period. When strong attendance is a habit, it becomes easier to keep that habit going! Remember: we want to see every student in every class, every day!


    Many schools will host Unpack Your Backpack and orientation events on Monday, August 13 and Tuesday, August 14. Those events are listed in the enrollment packets mailed to parent’s homes and are posted on each school’s website calendar. I encourage you to take the time to attend these events and meet your student’s principal and teachers. 


    I am always excited when the beginning of the school year approaches. The new year brings the promise of a fresh beginning and the excitement of learning new things. I hope Peoria Public School students and their families are fired up and ready to go for a great new year!

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  • Celebrating our new teachers

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 8/3/2018 9:45:00 AM

    It takes a remarkable team to teach our remarkable Peoria Public School students, and recently our team has grown to include nearly 70 new teachers. These fresh faces have come to us from far and wide, and they are spending time at our Administration Building for New Teacher Week.

    This week is full of instruction and conversations on a variety of topics – from basic logistics and foundations for effective teaching, to social-emotional learning and instructional resources and tools. I had the chance to speak with this group on Monday; I hope I conveyed my own enthusiasm for the work we do, and maybe even provided some motivation and inspiration. This week is a wonderful first step on these teachers’ careers with Peoria Public Schools. They have the chance to connect with each other while getting acclimated to our PPS culture. I believe that when our teachers succeed, our students succeed. When our teachers feel supported, they are better positioned to support our students. That’s what this week is all about.

    At this time, we are about 95 percent staffed for the 2018-2019 school year. We are still hiring certified teachers; in fact, we hope to find another 45 to join our ranks. We also need about 15 special education teachers, which is a difficult skill set to find. In addition to certified staff, we have a number of other positions available, including bus drivers and monitors. Anyone interested in joining our remarkable team can learn about open positions and apply online at

    Our first day of school is quickly approaching. Our new teachers are excited, and so am I. I can’t wait to see all of our students walk through the doors on August 15. Parents who still need to enroll their students can visit for more information, including physical and immunization information. We’ll have shortened days until after Labor Day, with each school dismissing one hour early for the first two weeks. This is one of our busiest times of the year, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  • PPS welcomes Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/30/2018 11:00:00 AM

    Last week, on a picture-perfect summer day, the primary school on Forrest Hill Avenue became Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School. Formerly named for U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, the name-change honors Peoria’s first female and African-American physician. 


    I was delighted to be joined by members of Dr. Sanders’ family, her former office manager, former patients, Principal Kelly Schuler, members of the school board and PPS administrators for the renaming ceremony.


    Dr. Maude A. Sanders graduated from medical school in 1939 and completed her internship and residency at a black charity hospital in St. Louis. She moved to Peoria in 1942 and opened her first office above an auto parts store on S.W. Adams Street.  For nearly five decades, Dr. Sanders delivered babies, made house calls and cared for patients at her office and in the hospital.  She provided care for Peoria’s minority population and the poor.

     Maude Sanders family at renaming ceremony   Dr. Kherat speaks at renaming ceremony

    During the ceremony, Dr. Sanders’ daughter, Carol Caldwell Graham, described her mother as a humanitarian. “She never turned anyone away – it didn’t matter whether they had insurance or a medical card. If she had a dollar for every patient she treated who couldn’t pay, she would have been rich,” Graham told the audience.


    During the ceremony, PPS building and grounds staff members removed the previous sign and unfurled a temporary Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School banner.  Later this fall, buildings and grounds staff will install an electronic sign in front of the school, other exterior signage, paint the new name on the gym floor and hang a new valance for the stage.  The Sanders family donated a portrait of Dr. Sanders and school board member Mrs. Ernestine Jackson donated the portrait framing. The portrait will hang in the school foyer.


    Dr. Sanders’ memory will be carried out further each year on October 17 when the school will host a career fair for students, featuring visits from Peorians representing a variety of professions. 


    The memory and example of Dr. Sanders’ life will be an inspiration for PPS students. Dr. Sanders truly personifies Peoria Public Schools’ vision for its students: to be prepared and inspired to contribute to the world. 



    Registration hubs at Peoria High School, Glen Oak Community Learning Center, Harrison Community Learning Center and Kellar Primary School will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 4. It is crucial that parents make sure students have physical exams and immunizations by the first day of school on August 15. 


    Peoria Public Schools, Northwoods Mall and Wal-Mart stores of Peoria are collecting school supply donations. Donation drop-boxes are located at the Northwoods Mall center court and the Wal-Mart stores on University Ave. and Allen Rd. 



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  • Looking ahead to 2018-2019 and doing things differently

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/23/2018 2:00:00 PM

    Peoria Public Schools had many successes during the 2017-2018 school year that I hope to build upon in 2018-2019. One area we saw real improvement in was student discipline. Overall, our discipline numbers are trending in the right direction. We're seeing fewer students suspended and expelled, which means more students are in classrooms. 

    While we have come a long way in how we think about school discipline, we and many other Illinois school districts have a long way to go. We must change how we think about and implement discipline. As we continue to engage all students and look for ways to provide individualized educational experiences, we will move the needle in the right direction on school discipline. 

    I encourage you to take a few minutes to read Kalyn Belsha's recent article for The Chicago Reporter - As school discipline disparities worsen, Illinois has yet to require reforms. This thought-provoking article takes an in-depth look at a very tough issue. 


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  • Preparing for the new year: registration hubs open June 24

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/20/2018 6:00:00 AM

    This week students at Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center (VHECEC) and Knoxville Center for Student Success (KCSS) return to school. Next Monday evening, KCSS students who take advantage of the center’s evening classes begin attending. It is wonderful that these “non-traditional” students, who often are juggling adult responsibilities of family-care and employment, are determined to earn their high school diplomas and that Peoria Public Schools can provide the means to do so. We intend for the Peoria Public School District to continue to move steadily toward this ideal – personalized education that fits the needs of our students, their lives and the lives of their families, while preparing them for 21st century well-compensated professions. 


    We have many important events in the next few weeks, so here are some reminders:


    PPS students who have not moved residences, and who are not required to have physical exams and immunizations, may register for the 2018-2019 school year online beginning Monday, July 23.


    Families who are new to PPS, PPS families who have changed addresses and students entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, grade six, grade nine or grade 12, must register at one of the registration hubs. Three forms of proof-of-address are required. 


    The registration hub locations and times are:

    • Tuesday, July 24, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., at Kellar Primary School, Peoria High School,
      Harrison Community Learning Center and Glen Oak Community Learning Center

    • Thursday, July 26, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., at Kellar Primary School, Peoria High School,
      Harrison Community Learning Center and Glen Oak Community Learning Center

    • Saturday, July 28, 9 a.m. – noon, at Dream Center Peoria (Backpack Peoria)

    • Wednesday, August 1, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., at Kellar Primary School, Peoria High School,
      Harrison Community Learning Center and Glen Oak Community Learning Center

    • Saturday, August 4, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Kellar Primary School, Peoria High School,
      Harrison Community Learning Center and Glen Oak Community Learning Center


    All PPS students must have health requirements and immunizations up-to-date in order to start school on Wesndesday, August 15. The Peoria City/County Health Department is now making appointments for immunizations. Their phone number is 309-679-6555. In addition, staff members from Heartland Community Clinic will be at the registration hubs to make appointments (often for the same day) for physical exams and immunizations. 


    We’re now less than a month before the new school year begins. I hope you and your students are feeling the excitement! As always, keep reading 30 minutes a day so you have a chance to win one of the Remarkable Reader raffle prizes!



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  • July busy with preparations for coming school year

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/16/2018 12:00:00 PM

    Preparations for the 2018-2019 school year accelerate during the last weeks of July.


    Next week, Peoria Public Schools will host two job fairs. On Tuesday, July 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., we host a traditional job fair at the Administration Building for classroom teachers, teacher aides, substitute teachers and transportation staff. On Thursday, July 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be an online/virtual job fair for certified teachers. 


    In coming weeks, families will receive the 2018-2019 Calendar/Handbook and registration packets in the mail. The packets outline registration and enrollment procedures. Online registration for returning families whose students do not require immunization and physical exam opens on Monday, July 23.


    Peoria Public Schools requires all students to be in full compliance with health and immunization requirements on the first day of school, August 15. Our registration hubs open on Tuesday, July 24, and these are a great chance to take care of first-day compliance. Staff members from UnityPoint Health and the Peoria City/County Health Department will be available at the registration hubs to give immunizations and physical exams. In addition, representatives from Heartland Community Clinic will be available to make same-day or future appointments at their clinic locations for physical exams and immunizations. Families must visit a registration hub if:


    • They are new to Peoria Public Schools and must verify their address.
    • Their student is entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, grade six, nine or 12 and must present proof of immunization and physical exams.

    Registration hubs locations:


    • Harrison Community Learning Center
    • Peoria High School
    • Glen Oak Community Learning Center
    • Kellar Primary School

    Dates and hours:


    • Tuesday, July 24, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Thursday, July 26, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Wednesday, August 1, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Saturday, August 4, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Dream Center of Peoria’s annual Backpack Peoria event will be held Saturday, July 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. Families can register their students and set appointments for required physical exams and immunizations. Backpack Peoria is a wonderful opportunity to meet your child’s principal and assistant principal and, of course, pick up a backpack of school supplies!


    From Wednesday, July 18 through August 14, PPS, AMP Radio, Northwoods Mall and Wal-Mart team up for Stuff-A-Bus school supply drive. Many PPS families struggle to purchase supplies for their students. Please consider picking up extra school supplies when you are shopping and dropping them in the boxes at Northwoods Mall and the University St. and Allen Rd. Wal-Mart stores. 


    On Wednesday, July 25, Principal Kelly Schuler, PPS administrators, Board of Education members and members of the Sanders family will gather to officially unveil new exterior signage at Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School and usher in an exciting new phase for the school which began as part of the Charter Oak district before it consolidated with Peoria Public Schools.


    With so many Back-to-School preparations and events underway, I encourage families to check the PPS website and social media outlets frequently.  We have some busy weeks ahead, but we will be ready to jump into a new school year on Wednesday, August 15.

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  • Competitions and specialized camps keep students busy in June

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/11/2018 12:00:00 PM

    June was busy and rewarding for PPS students, recent graduates and staff members.



    John Marsh, Richwoods High School Class of 2018, represented the RHS speech team at the National High School Speech tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He competed in the final round of the Prose Reading competition, placing 4th in the nation. Marsh will attend Bradley University, competing with its nationally-recognized speech team. 



    After placing first in the state in February and competing in the National Restaurant Association ProStart competition in Rhode Island in April, the Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) Culinary Arts team traveled to Louisville KY in late June to compete in the Skills USA National Culinary Arts Contest. The competition tests students’ skills in sanitation procedures, organization, cleanliness, safety, attitude and cooking techniques and procedures. Team members demonstrated their skills in nine types of vegetable cuts, butchery, and a total of six cooking techniques for a main entreé, a sauce, a vegetable and a starch.  Following the cooking demonstration portion, they completed a written exam. We are waiting to learn the results of the competition. 



    Meanwhile, two groups of PPS students participated in innovative and creative summer camps. The first, held at Knoxville Center for Student Success, taught students to use cell phone cameras and computer software to shoot and edit videos. The camp was sponsored by Doug and Eileen Leunig and taught by Allison Welsh and Keller Anderson. The students will be able to screen their final projects at the Big Picture Film Festival at the Peoria Riverfront Museum in October.



    At Bradley University, PPS middle school students worked with BU Interactive Media Department for two weeks of game-design camp, learning coding and interactive game design.  The students are all part of the PPS Foundation Horizons program. 



    Finally, a group of PPS staff members also earned honors this summer. The PPS Transportation Department recently hosted the Illinois Association for Pupil Transportation conference, trade show and training. PPS mechanics and technicians have the hugely important responsibility for keeping our school buses running and student safe. During the conference, mechanics from all over Illinois competed during the conference, with a PPS mechanic placing third in the competition.



    In July, students who placed first in the Tri-County Urban League Academic, Cultural, Technology Scholarship (ACT-SO) program, head to Texas to compete in the national ACT-SO competition. We wish them all the best of luck!



    Congratulations to these outstanding PPS students and staff members!

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  • Keep reading all summer!

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/2/2018 10:15:00 AM

    Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling said, “I think it’s the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever.” I have wonderful memories of reading as a child, with favorites like Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.


    As we approach the end of June and the halfway-mark of summer break, please keep encouraging children to read every day. Reading is a crucial investment in the future!


    Here are some tips to help keep everyone reading:

    • Let your child choose what to read. This can include magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, comic books and even audio books, if children follow along with text. You can check out printed books with accompanying audio on CD at the library. Many children prefer to read nonfiction books, including biographies of their favorite athletes or celebrities or books about science and nature. If you have access to a computer and internet, many children’s books, including one of my childhood favorites, Dr. Seuss’ Marco Comes Late can be found on YouTube or myON Online Reading.
    • Make sure your child’s choice is the appropriate reading level. For primary-grade readers, the Child Mind Institute offers an easy way to decide called the “five-finger rule.” Have your child choose a book, read the first page and raise a finger for each word they don’t know. If they have more than five fingers raised at the end of page one, the book is probably too difficult. Your librarian can also help you choose books that are the right level for your student.
    • Make reading an adventure! Pack up your books, a flashlight, a blanket and head to the back yard to read under the stars.
    • Make reading social. Many parents read to their children during their pre-school years but stop once children can read on their own. Reading a chapter book together, one chapter each day, is a joyful experience for a parent, grandparent or caretaker. This is particularly true if a student’s reading skills are behind their maturity level.
    • Be prepared! Errand time can be reading time. Keep books in your car. Or if you ride the bus, have a tote bag with a few books ready to grab as you walk out the door. If your child goes to daycare or day camp, be sure to pack a book or two in their backpack.
    • Create a reading spot at home. Find a quiet corner away from tv and computer screens where your child can retreat with their favorite books.

    I hope all Peoria Public School parents will help their student create great reading memories!


    Peoria Public Library branches and hours

    Main Library

    Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Closed Sunday.

    Lincoln Branch

    Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

    Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

    Sunday – noon – 6 p.m. 

    Closed Wednesday.

    Lakeview Branch

    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

    Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

    Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

    Closed Thursday.

    McClure Branch

    Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

    Closed Sunday.

    North Branch

    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

    Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

    Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

    Closed Tuesday.

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  • University of Chicago to make ACT/SAT optional

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 6/20/2018 4:00:00 PM

    The University of Chicago announced several significant changes in its admissions policies last week. The new policy will be initiated with the class of 2023 or students who will be high school juniors in 2018-2019.  According to USAToday, the new policy is intended to even the playing field for low-income and underrepresented students.  

    Other changes include providing full-tuition scholarships for students whose families earn less than $125,000 per year, increased scholarships to veterans and children of police officers and firefighters. Applicants also will be allowed to submit a two-minute video introduction instead of sitting for an interview.  

    You can read the complete article here:

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  • STEP-UP fellows build future PPS teaching force

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 6/20/2018 10:00:00 AM

    Currently, Peoria Public Schools has more than 50 teaching positions to fill for the 2018-2019 school year.


    While we diligently pursue meeting our immediate need for teachers, we also are developing connections with future educators through the Peoria Teacher Education Pipeline, a collaborative program with Illinois State University (ISU). 


    This month, through ISU’s National Center for Urban Education, PPS welcomes three Summer Teacher Education Partnership for Urban Preparation (STEP-UP) fellows and five Summer Teacher Education Partnership for Urban Preparation, First Look Experience (STEP-UP FLEX) fellows. The eight ISU students are spending between one and four weeks in Peoria. Residing with host families, the educators-in-training follow a rigorous schedule of classroom teaching in the PPS summer school program, volunteering at community-based organizations, classroom instruction and mentoring from veteran PPS teachers, study and reflection time and explorations of the Peoria community. The program aims to introduce ISU students, many of whom originate from the Chicago suburbs, to Peoria Public Schools and the Peoria community with the expectation that, upon graduation, they will establish successful and fulfilling teaching careers with PPS.


     STEP UP fellow works with students at Hines summer school


    According to Peoria Teacher Education Pipeline associate director Cliff Cobert, many ISU education students come from suburban or rural communities and have minimal exposure to urban schools. In response, approximately 90 courses at ISU have been redesigned to focus on urban education. Through the STEP-UP and STEP-UP FLEX fellowships, ISU students serve in the Chicago Public Schools, Decatur Public Schools or Peoria Public Schools.


    The three PPS STEP-UP fellows – Erika Barber, Traevon Parnell and Ranija Turner – spend mornings teaching at Hines Primary School. In the afternoons, they work on projects for The Dream Center Peoria, East Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Peoria. In the evenings and on weekends, the students work with PPS teachers on such topics as classroom management, AVID and curriculum planning.  During their weeks in Peoria, they also attend a Peoria Chiefs game and tour the Riverfront Museum, Forest Park Nature Center, Springdale Cemetery and Luthy Botanical Garden.


    The Peoria Teacher Education Pipeline is grounded in social justice and intended to cultivate innovative and effective educators for urban schools and their communities.  In addition to working with ISU faculty to integrate experiences of urban schools in education courses, Cobert designs clinical experiences that integrate school and community. For example, during the 2017-2018 school year, an ISU teacher-education class and a Peoria High School literature class worked together, primarily through video-conferencing. The Peoria Teacher Education Pipeline also places ISU student teachers in PPS and coordinates two-year induction and mentoring programs for ISU graduates teaching in PPS.


    Through the work of the Peoria Teacher Education Pipeline and the STEP-UP program, we are making a wise investment in the future of Peoria Public Schools and our community.  

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