Superintendent's Blog

  • New diploma/degree program offers exciting opportunity for our students

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 1/14/2019 8:00:00 PM

    Peoria Public Schools is proud to announce, in partnership with Illinois Central College, an innovative new program for academically motivated current high school sophomores. 


    The D² Diploma/Degree pilot program will provide students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma at the same time they earn an Associate of Arts degree during the last two years of high school. A student participating in D² will accelerate their completion of a Bachelor’s degree, and families will receive significant cost savings as the district will pay the full Illinois Central College tuition rate. 


    Students who have completed the D² program will be better prepared for college and beyond, and their credits will transfer to all 4-year institutions in the state of Illinois. Though it is a rigorous course of study, both Peoria Public Schools and Illinois Central College are fully prepared to provide the necessary support to our students during their two years in the program. 


    Students entering their junior year in the fall of 2019 are eligible to participate in the first cohort. Families of current sophomores who are interested in the program can hear more about it during the informational meetings in the coming weeks. The schedule for those meetings is as follows: 


    • 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16 in the Manual Academy Auditorium 
    • 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16 in the Peoria High Library 
    • 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17 in the Richwoods High School auditorium  
    • If you cannot attend those informational session, one last meeting will be held at the district's administration building at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24.

    For more information, contact Tracey Jones at 672-6768 or 

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  • Students visualize success from Peoria area guest speakers

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 12/17/2018 12:20:00 PM

    Champion athletes often mentally visualize themselves making the perfect jump shot, line drive or tennis serve. They know that visualizing success can make success a reality. The same concept drives Align Peoria’s See It – Be It K-5 Career Awareness pilot program. As the first semester of the pilot winds down, See It – Be It is helping Peoria Public Schools’ kindergarten through 5th grade students visualize career success.


    Through See It – Be It, guest speakers representing manufacturing, engineering, health and fitness, government and business visited 4,612 kindergarten through 5th grade Peoria Public School students in 285 classrooms. Over three-quarters of PPS K-5 students learned about each professional’s day-to-day job responsibilities, educational background and the multitude of jobs available in central Illinois. Field trips to Peoria City Hall and Jump Simulation introduced students to the workplace environment. For example, students learned how game designers at Jump Simulation create programs to train prospective surgeons.


    See It – Be It demonstrates the positive impact of community synergy. We really can accomplish wonderful things for students when we work together! In this case, Align Peoria recruited volunteers from Caterpillar, Peoria Park District, Bradley University, Farnsworth Group, Advance Medical Transport of Peoria (AMT), Morton Industries, Peoria city and county governments, HRFit, Jones Bros. Jewelers and Jump Simulation. Peoria Public Schools Foundation staff and board members then worked with principals, teachers and the PPS Transportation department to coordinate speaker visits and field trips. The generosity of our community is clear in the many volunteer hours contributed and the transportation costs of field trips which were underwritten by AMT, the OSF Foundation and at-large city council representative Sid Ruckriegel.


    The work continues next semester with classroom presentations and field trips focusing on careers in agriculture, media and communications, medical professions, natural resource management, education and training, and information technology.


    Children visualize and imagine their future through play and pretend. This program helps them visualize a stimulating, rewarding and well-paying professional future. Cheryl Sanfilip, a PPS Foundation and Align Peoria board member believes the See It – Be It Career Awareness program is bringing life-changing experiences to Peoria Public School students. The future for our students grows brighter by the day from the generosity of the community, and we thank all of those people who have shared their time and energy in support of the children from Peoria Public Schools.


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  • Remembering Chase White

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 12/11/2018 10:00:00 AM

    Peoria Public Schools would like to honor the memory of Chase White, a deputy U.S. Marshal and Manual graduate who was killed in the line of duty in Arizona on November 29.


    Chase, a Manual alum from the Class of 1995, made the school's honor roll his senior year and also garnered all-area honors as a football player that year. He had retired from the U.S. Air Force and served as a Lt. Colonel for the Air Force Reserve.


    We as a school district extend our condolences to Chase's wife, four children, friends, and his mother, the Rev. Lynnda White.



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  • Peoria Public Schools Online Academy offers more choices

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 12/7/2018 2:00:00 PM

    Peoria Public Schools Online Academy, offering virtual learning coursework, will launch in January 2019. Through Online Academy, Peoria Public School middle and secondary coursework will be available online to current Peoria Public School students and to home-schooled students, students enrolled in parochial or private schools and even to students residing outside the district’s geographical boundaries.


    Students enrolling in Online Academy will receive Peoria Public School credits for completing online courses, just as students enrolled in traditional classes. Virtual learning experiences offer exciting opportunities to students in a variety of circumstances. For example:

    • Students can work at their own pace. A class that might traditionally require a full academic year to complete could be completed more quickly.
    • Students can take extra electives that may not fit into their class schedules.
    • By completing coursework online, students can pursue internships, community service opportunities, travel opportunities, part-time employment or attend to family responsibilities.
    • Home-schooled students taking Peoria Public School online courses can earn a high school diploma which can be an advantage in college admissions and scholarships.
    • Middle-school students can use Peoria Public School online courses to get a head start earning high school credits including algebra or languages.

    Each Peoria Public Schools Online Academy class will be monitored by a certified teacher and students will be able to access one-on-one or group tutoring if necessary.


    Peoria Public School Online Academy does not conform to the school district academic calendar. Students can enroll and begin classes any month of the year.


    Details on Peoria Public Schools Online Academy are available at


    Dr. Susan Grzanich, innovation and grants officer, will hold information meetings for parents and students on Monday, December 10; Wednesday, December 12 and Tuesday, December 18 from 9 – 10 a.m., 1 – 2 p.m. and 5 – 6 p.m., and on Friday, January 4 from 9 – 10 a.m. and 1 – 2 p.m.


    To RSVP for the parent meeting or if you have questions, please call Dr. Grzanich at 309-672-6758 or email


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  • Custom-designed education: one size does not fit all

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 12/4/2018 9:00:00 PM

    Peoria Public Schools continues to change the high school experience in dramatic and exciting ways. Next year high school students will be able to pursue two new career pathways which will enable them to enter Illinois Central College or an Illinois state university with a semester’s worth of credits already earned, saving them time and tuition costs.


    The Computer Coding pathway includes 12 semester hours of dual-credit web development, HTML, cyber-security and advanced computer science courses. The classes will receive Illinois Central College credit, and these students will be well on their way to high-paying jobs in a profession expected to experience huge job growth in the next decade.


    Similarly, the Teacher Education Pathway, offers dual-credit courses including Intro to American Education, psychology, field experiences in education and Teaching Diverse Populations. Again, students completing these courses will enter college a semester ahead of many of their peers. Peoria Public School guidance counselors are identifying students interested in pursuing careers in education to guide them toward this outstanding opportunities and high school are forming after-school clubs for future educators.


    Soon we will launch Peoria Public Schools Online Academy which will allow middle and high school students to take online classes. This exciting development will serve the needs of so many young people:

    • Middle school students can get a head start on secondary math, science or language classes;
    • High school students can take extra electives, moving forward at their own pace;
    • Students with family responsibilities can complete graduation requirements in the evening and on weekends.

    While students will complete classwork online, they will have regular contact with course teachers and testing will be completed with a teacher supervising.


    Currently, a Manual Academy senior is attending Midstate College on a scholarship during the day and completing her high school Spanish and AP biology classes online. 


    This is just one example of how Peoria Public School career pathways and Online Academy will make custom-designed education a reality for all students.

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  • Giving thanks for all who support Peoria Public Schools

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 11/15/2018 5:00:00 PM

    November is a time when many of us pause to reflect and give thanks for the blessings we have in our lives.


    I am thankful that Peoria Public Schools had a great start to the 2018-2019 academic year, and I appreciate the hard work of the students, staff and administrators who made the start of our year so strong.


    I am thankful that we have such amazing support from our community. Our partners at Alignment Peoria are doing remarkable work, engaging business leaders and stepping up to ensure all of our students are exposed to a variety of potential future careers. The Peoria Public Schools Foundation continues to support teachers and classrooms with grants; provide student assistance through the Uniform Fund and scholarships; build school-community partnerships through the Adopt-A-School program; and educate students on possible future careers through Horizons.


    I am thankful for the many community partners who are part of the Wraparound Center. They are helping to connect our students and their families with vital resources, supports and services, strengthening our focus on educating the whole child.


    Most of all, I am thankful for our remarkable Peoria Public School students. They are at the center of everything we do, and I am grateful that we have the chance to support them every day.






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  • 5Essentials survey open for parents

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 11/6/2018 5:00:00 PM

    The annual 5Essentials survey is a diagnostic assessment of a school's culture and climate. It is designed to identify organizational strengths and areas of opportunity on the five essential factors that drive school improvement.


    The parent survey is open now and will remain open through Feb. 15, 2019. Parents can access the survey here:


    The survey solicits teacher, parent and student feedback on five essential factors: Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Involved Families, Supportive Environment and Ambitious Instruction.


    It is important to have a high level of participation in the 5Essentials Survey. Parents, teachers and students in grades 4 - 12 take separate components of the survey. The survey is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed on a smart phone. The 5Essentials for Parents takes only about 10 minutes to complete. Parents with more than one student can participate multiple times whether they have more than one student in the same school or students in more than one school. Only one parent per household may participate. In coming months, schools will make computer time available at school so parents can take the survey.


    I urge Peoria Public School parents to take the time to respond to the 5Essentials survey. Your responses will help Peoria Public Schools dig into data, formulate strategic actions and track improvement.


    Teachers and students will be able to complete their components of the 5Essentials survey Nov. 15, 2018 through Feb. 15, 2019.

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  • Helping students imagine their futures

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

    Alignment Peoria’s K-5 Career Awareness Framework is bringing new career ideas to Peoria Public Schools’ youngest students. The kids are learning about different fields and possible career paths, sparking their imaginations and allowing them to dream about who they could become.


    The framework highlights specific industries to students at each grade level. The students will take field trips and hear from classroom speakers whose careers match the identified industries. Semester one and semester two will feature different industries:

    • Kindergarten – Emergency Services and Agriculture
    • 1st grade – Entrepreneur/Business and Media/Communications
    • 2nd grade – Health/Fitness and Natural Resources
    • 3rd grade – Government and Information Technology
    • 4th grade – Manufacturing and Medical
    • 5th grade – Engineering and Education/Training


    Many partners have stepped up to help make the Career Awareness Framework a reality. Speakers and field trips will be provided by:

    • Kindergarten – Advanced Medical Transport
    • 1st grade – WTVP
    • 2nd grade – Peoria Park District
    • 3rd grade – City Hall
    • 4th grade – Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center
    • 5th grade – Jump Trading and Simulation Center


    The Alignment Peoria work continues to bring together a remarkable collaboration of businesses, community partners and volunteers. To learn more or get involved, visit

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  • Attendance Counts!

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 10/15/2018 9:00:00 AM

    Research has shown that good attendance is vital to students’ learning. Increased attendance means increased success at school, increased graduation rates and even increased revenue for the school district. In fact, state funding is based in part on a school district’s average daily attendance for its best three months of attendance, generally the first three months of the year.


    For those reasons and more, each of our Peoria Public Schools works hard to promote good attendance. This school year has started off strong with 15 of our 27 schools achieving 95 percent attendance in August and September. That is outstanding! Those schools are: Charter Oak Primary School, Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School, Harrison Community Learning Center, Hines Primary School, Kellar Primary School, Lindbergh Middle School, Mark Bills Middle School, Northmoor Primary School, Richwoods High School, Rolling Acres Middle School, Roosevelt Magnet School, Thomas Jefferson Primary School, Von Steuben Middle School, Washington Gifted Middle School and Whittier Primary School.


    Of course, we’re always looking to improve. That’s why we also celebrated the three schools with the top most improved attendance over September 2017 at the October 8 Board of Education meeting. In third place was Von Steuben Middle School, improving attendance by 1.65 percent, from 93.58 percent in 2017 to 95.23 percent in 2018. Manual Academy placed second, improving attendance by 2.08 percent, going from 84.29 percent in 2017 to 86.37 percent in 2018. Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center won the top most improved attendance spot, increasing attendance by 2.20 percent, from 90.55 percent in 2017 to 92.75 percent in 2018.


    Attendance counts. Every student. Every class. Every day.


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  • A note from Dr. Robert Prescott, Bradley University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 9/18/2018 6:00:00 PM

    Dear Dr. Kherat,


    On behalf of our Dean, Chris Jones, and all the LAS leadership team, I’d like to thank you for your participation in our panel discussion last Wednesday night.


    I have heard from many students, faculty, and staff in the last two days, all of whom expressed how grateful they were to be there.  The insights and the personal stories you shared confirmed the most important values that tie us together as a learning community, and they inspired us to return to our daily tasks with a renewed pride in what we do.


    I was especially glad that you shared your passion for finding new ways to offer effective education, including social and emotional education, to all the students of the district.  Likewise, you powerfully illuminated the power of study abroad to be transformative for a student, with lifelong impact.  And by sharing the nature of your friendship with Henry Vicary, and how that collegial friendship helps you both lift up the Peoria community, you demonstrated the importance of inter-disciplinary teamwork to leadership.


    All these things—commitment to community need, engaged learning, the ability to work in multi-disciplinary teams—all are vital elements in our strategic plan, and you vividly illustrated how an LAS graduate takes those experiences and values into the world to make a constructive difference.


    We knew that by bringing the three of you together, good things would happen.  Still, your discussion went beyond our hopes, and you encouraged everyone to recommit themselves to the mission and vision of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


    Thank you again for making time to be with us,

    Rob Prescott

    Dr. Robert Prescott

    Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    Bradley University

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