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Thank you Peoria Public School staff membersPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 5/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
This week Peoria Public Schools observed Staff Appreciation Week to coincide with Teacher Appreciation Week, which is observed the first full week in May throughout the country, and School Nurse Appreciation Day, observed annually the Wednesday prior to May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
As adults, we look back at our own childhood and can identify teachers who had a positive effect on our life – perhaps inspiring us to pursue a professional direction or helping us face challenges and setbacks with determination and patience. Frequently we remember other adults – a school secretary, custodian, athletic coach or guidance counselor – who served as a role model, gave encouragement, lent a listening ear or simply made us laugh.
Peoria Public Schools employ just over 2,800 people including part-time staff and substitutes. Just over one-third of staff members are full-time teachers. Each and every one contributes to the success of our students.
- Our students learn in buildings and ride school buses that are clean and in safe working condition.
- Our staff, students and parents use technology chosen, installed and maintained by outstanding information technology experts.
- Last week, a group of PPS administrators enjoyed a presentation by Sodexo food service general manager Mark Streamer and assistant director of food service and warehouse operations Gabriele Klein on improvements and menu choices for students’ breakfasts, lunches and after-school meals. Sodexo staff at every level know their work keeps our students, many of whom come from food-insecure homes, healthy.
- One-on-one guidance provided by speech and language, occupational, physical, art and music therapists and therapy assistants, school social workers, guidance counselors and school psychologists contribute to the success of hundreds of PPS students.
- Finally, with over 13,000 students and over 30 buildings, dozens of support staff keep the district operating smoothly every day.
Undoubtedly, most PPS staff members would find success in the private sector but choose to pursue their career in the service of our city’s children. Please join me, my administrative team and the Board of Education in thanking them for their contribution.Comments (0)
Customized learning gives student space to explore passions; ignite creativityPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 5/6/2019 9:00:00 PM
Note: This letter was written for the Superintendent’s annual State of the Schools address this week.
I sense the urgency that is needed to re-imagine Peoria Public Schools as our world continues to experience significant and rapid change. I agree with the 1,500 executives who reported that creativity is the most important leadership skill.
We are being tasked with preparing our students for a future that will transform in ways we can’t fully predict right now. For our students to succeed in this modern era of innovation, we need to give students the space to pursue their passions and interests, which will unlock a customized learning plan for each student that will heighten engagement, ignite curiosity and accentuate each student’s true talents.
Instead of the same report card template that has existed for decades, I envision students being assessed on their progress on the 21st century skills:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
Forty percent of our schools will be fully one-to-one at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, which means that every student in those buildings will be able to work on a laptop device – a significant number for a district of our size. With this technology in our classrooms, students will be able to harness their personalized learning in a way that reflects our modern world.
A key building block in preparing our students to be career ready will involve our new approach to teaching reading. The approach is called balanced literacy instruction, which includes reading, writing, speaking and listening through the lens of student engagement and instructional support. The goal for this new literacy blueprint calls for every student to be reading at or above grade level by third grade.
Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center currently has two Two-Way DualLanguage classes. Students are learning English and Spanish in content areas to promote biliteracy. The classes contain native English and native Spanish speakers. We will expand the dual-language program for kindergarteners at Whittier Primary School next year.
Finally, we ask that you review the Career Development handout at your seat. Review the options and fill out the form to let us know what type of career experiences you can provide to our remarkable students.
Thank you for the tremendous and ongoing support of Peoria Public Schools.
Learning in many languagesPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 4/29/2019 12:00:00 PM
In September 2018, the Board of Education awarded the Remarkable Spirit award to Rolling Acres Middle School science teacher Lacy Haefli. When a new student arrived from Yemen speaking only Arabic, Haefli found an online translation program to translate her assignments and content so her student could succeed despite the language barrier.
Of the 13,222 Peoria Public School students, about 780 are English Language Learners (ELL).
Our students come to us speaking 35 native languages other than English. Eighty-two percent of Peoria Public School ELL students are Spanish-speaking. The most common languages after Spanish are Arabic, French, Vietnamese, Pilipino, Cantonese, Mandarin and Gujarati.
More and more educators must meet the needs of ELL students, not only helping them linguistically to become proficient readers, writers and speakers of English, but helping them learn across all content areas.
Many Peoria Public School teachers and teacher aides are trained in The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model. According to the Center of Applied Linguistics (CAL), SIOP is a research-based and validated instructional model designed to meet the academic needs of English-learning students.
The SIOP model consists of eight interrelated components:
- Lesson Preparation
- Building Background
- Comprehensible Input
- Lesson Delivery
- Review & Assessment
This year, Peoria Public Schools launched three dual-language immersion pre-kindergarten classrooms at Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center. Pre-school is an ideal age to learn a second language. According to PPS ELL coordinator Anna Rose, students who learn a second language show cognitive advantages including increased retention. Students who are bilingual, bicultural and biliterate develop increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. As adults, being bilingual is a professional advantage and, according to some studies, can even provide a buffer from cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. We are excited to expand the dual-language program for kindergartners at Whittier Primary School next year.
RHS principal Brett Elliott honored by IJEAPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 4/12/2019 7:00:00 AM
Congratulations Richwoods High School Principal Brett Elliott on being named Illinois Journalism Education Association (IJEA) Administrator of the Year.
The award was announced by Richwoods students in the broadcasting program, the Excalibur yearbook staff, The Shield newspaper staff and Richwoods media advisor Dr. Dan Kerns.
Since 1995, the IJEA has honored administrators who:
- demonstrate commitment to scholastic journalism and a free press
- recognize outstanding performance in student media
- and cultivates and maintains positive working relations with student journalists and the adviser
The IJEA Awards Committee noted that Elliott, “provides a nurturing environment for student growth, for all students, in all endeavors from academics, athletics, to extra-curricular activities. He allows the print and broadcast students the freedom, with responsibility, to be the best that they can be.”
Elliott will receive his award in June at the Illinois Press Association headquarters in Springfield.Comments (1)
Lindbergh principal Sue Malahy awarded Golden ApplePosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 4/8/2019 7:00:00 AM
Congratulations to Charles A. Lindbergh Middle School Principal Sue Malahy, who was awarded the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership last week in a surprise ceremony at the school. In her six years as principal at Lindbergh, Malahy has worked to create an ecosystem of support between teachers, allowing educators experienced in working with challenging students to guide and mentor peers with less experience.
This mentorship and support model also enriches teaching practices throughout the school. Malahy recruited leaders in each content area, creating vertical teams which use peer observation and regular discussions to understand and implement best practices. She is a proponent of using data to see how Lindbergh students perform compared to their peers nationally. As a result, teachers make data-supported decisions for students. Two years ago, Malahy introduced Leader in Me, a program based on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habit of Highly Effective People, which helps school staff build leadership qualities so they, in turn, can help students develop the same skills.
Malahy’s use of comparative date also helps students develop a more comprehensive awareness of their academic progress. This is just one of many ways Lindbergh students, under Malahy’s leadership, take ownership of their learning. A portfolio system, student-led parent-teacher conferences and the Leader in Me program help students become proactive participants in their education. As a result, they can take advantage of before-school Spanish and high school Enriched Algebra and online courses for remediation and enrichment.
Golden Apple is a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to recognizing exemplary educators and developing future educators. This was the first year that school leaders from all of Illinois were eligible for nomination. Leadership award nomination increased by 42 percent and were received from 28 Illinois counties.
Peoria Public Schools is fortunate to have dedicated and passionate educators like Sue Malahy.
Learning targets spell out expectations and plan of actionPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/29/2019 12:00:00 PM
Educators know which specific skills students must master each step along the way from kindergarten to high school senior. To be successful, however, we also must make our expectations and our plan of action for each grade level clear to parents. When parents know which specific skills their children must master, they become partners in their student’s success.
To that end, Dr. Sandra Wilson, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and Lisa Gifford, literacy/social studies coordinator, have produced the English Language Arts Learning Targets publication, which lists exactly what skills PPS students are expected to acquire in grades K through 8 in reading, writing, speaking and listening and language. These detailed lists will help parents determine whether their student is falling behind or excelling past grade-level expectations in a particular area, and by working closely with their teacher, can help their student build skills to the appropriate level or devise content that will keep them stimulated and advancing.
Here is an example of how reading skills progress from kindergarten to grade 8:
- Kindergarten – I can listen to a story and decide which parts are the most important to use when I retell the story.
- 1st grade – I can explain how the key details reflect the central message or lesson.
- 2nd grade – I can determine how a story, fable and/or folktale helps teach a lesson, moral or central message.
- 3rd grade – I can use key details from a story I recount to determine the message or lesson and explain how it is conveyed in the text.
- 4th grade- I can refer to explicit details from the text to explain and support my inference or conclusion.
- 5th grade – I can determine the theme of the text using key details to support my thinking.
- 6th grade – I can describe how the plot of a story or drama unfolds in a sequence of events and explain how the characters change as the story moves toward resolution.
- 7the grade – I can explain how the contrasting points of view increase the complexity of the story but may limit the reader’s identification with (or sympathy for a single procrastinator.
- 8th grade – I can use details from the text to determine the central ideas of a piece of informational text, analyze the development and relationship to supporting ideas, and provide an objective summary of the text.
The English Language Arts Learning Targets publications are available at your student’s school or at www.peoriapublicschools.org/curriculum/ELATargets or you can pick up a copy at your child’s school.
Soon PPS curriculum administrators will post similar publications to list expectations for math and other subjects.
By giving parents a comprehensive list of learning expectations, we empower them to become an even more important advocate for their student.
Manufacturing pathway opens to all PPS studentsPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/22/2019 11:00:00 AM
Peoria Public Schools will open the Manual Academy Dual-Credit Manufacturing Pathway to all district high school students beginning in the 2019-2020 year. Thanks to the investment of state-of-the-art equipment from Caterpillar, Inc., our partnership with Illinois Central College (ICC) and the work of Industrial technology teacher Andrew Rice, the manufacturing education facility at Manual Academy is second to none. This pathway offers outstanding opportunities for our students.
For example, a student who wants to be a welder – a skill that is in high demand – will learn industry compatible MIG, Stick and TIG welding through this program and earn ICC credit for those courses. After high school and further education at ICC, that student will enter a profession that, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology and U.S. Labor Dept., anticipated five percent growth through 2026, with salaries that will provide a solidly middle-class lifestyle. Because the student earns college credit while attending Manual Academy, they will enter their profession with minimal or no student loan debt.
For students who wish to continue to a Bachelor’s degree, the earning potential is even greater. The skills learned in the Manufacturing Pathway can lead to even greater income potential. For example, a production manager or plant engineering manager can expect to be earning a six-figure income after completing a bachelor’s degree. They will graduate from high school knowing how to use computer-aided design software (CAD) and three-D printing and with college credit, which will reduce the cost of continuing their education.
Finally, students in the Manufacturing Pathway can possibly pursue a one-semester internship at a Cat facility during their senior year to earn academic credit and an hourly wage. This is invaluable hands-on, real-world experience.
Our country’s manufacturing workforce, like our skilled trade workforce, is aging and retiring. We will need skilled and trained young people ready to fill those positions.
Peoria Public School administrators, high school principals and Mr. Rice will host two information meetings for parents and students on Wednesday, April 3 in the Peoria High School library from 6 – 7 p.m. and another at the Richwoods High School library on April 4 from 6 – 7 p.m. We highly enourage you to join us at those sessions.
Parent University: A Literacy FeastPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/18/2019 10:00:00 PM
Peoria Public Schools will host its final Parent University of the school year on Thursday, March 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Peoria Public Library Main branch. Parent University gives parents and students the chance to visit Peoria-area cultural and recreational venues together and participate in workshops to enhance student achievement and family well-being.
This month’s event, entitled Literacy Feast, will be an evening of family engagement featuring presentations by community partners as well as reading and writing workshops by favorite children’s authors and storytellers.
Families can take buses beginning at 4:45 from Trewyn School, Manual Academy, Peoria High School, Glen Oak Community Learning Center and Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC). We will be providing a free dinner featuring walking tacos and winning healthy Tex-Mex recipes from our recent Future Chef competition.
Families will rotate through a series of presentations including:
- Erin’s Law by Starshe Richards of The Center for Prevention of Abuse
- Wraparound Center by Derrick Booth, PPS Director of Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
- Newly introduced Crisis Go app by PPS Public Safety Director DeMario Boone
- AlignPeoria’s Literacy Committee focus on helping students read by the third grade by Executive Director of Primary Schools, Dr. Nicole Wood
- Peoria Public Schools Online Academy by Director of Innovation, Dr. Susan Grzanich
- Snack-A-Demics, by Sodexo and Future Chefs
Families and students also can participate in reading and writing workshops featuring these authors from around the state:
- Natalie Rompella (for students in PreK through grade 2)
- Sarah Aronson (for students in grades 3 through 7)
- Bradley James Webber (for students in grades 3 through 5)
- Alexandria LaFaye (for children in grades 6 through 8)
To top it off, guests can see Expressive Voices, an exhibit of artwork by PPS students in the art gallery, enjoy musical entertainment by Peoria High School Preparatory School for the Arts (PSA) students, and students can have their photo taken with Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dora the Explorer or Dr. Suess!
All students who attend the Parent University will receive a uniform-free pass for Friday, March 22.
PPS families can make reservations for Parent University at www.peoriapublicschools.org.
I hope to see many of our PPS families on Thursday, March 21.
Celebrating achievements of PPS students and staffPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/8/2019 4:30:00 PM
Every day, Peoria Public School students and staff members celebrate achievements. Some victories may be barely noticeable but truly life-altering – the second-grade student who cracks the code of reading comprehension or a middle-school student who successfully masters self-regulation, one of five Social Emotional Learning (SEL) core competencies.
Other achievements are more public and this week I offer congratulations on some recent accomplishments by students and staff.
Two Peoria Public School students competed in the IHSA State Speech tournament. Manual Academy senior Tyra Johnson, competed in the Prose Reading, placing 5th and in the Poetry Reading events. Richwoods High School senior Lily Mura competed in the Impromptu Speaking event.
The Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) Culinary Arts restaurant management team, placed first in the Illinois Restaurant Association ProStart Tournament. This is the second year in a row the WCTC Restaurant Management team, coached by Chefs Jitske Miedema and Kevin Roecker, have taken the top prize in Illinois. The team advances to the national tournament in May in Washington D.C. Team members are Gabriel Hernandez, Peoria High School, Timia Weldy, Richwoods High School, and Keshawna Sledge, Richwoods High School. Each student won a $20,000 college scholarship.
Congratulations also to the Richwoods High School Swim and Dive Team and Coach Lynn Thompson on their 2019 IHSA Sectional Championship. Six team members advanced to the IHSA State Finals: Blake Torrey, Jared Aviles, Jacob Greenan, Zack Dollman, Yohan Bopearatchy and Daniel Matlock.
At last week’s board meeting we recognized the top-scoring readers in the district’s winter break Accelerated Reader (AR) competition. Our primary school winners for participation and percentage of students passing AR tests with over 85 percent were Charter Oak, Kellar and Whittier. The middle school winners were Von Steuben, Mark Bills and Washington Gifted. Harrison, Lincoln and Trewyn were the top scoring K-8 schools.
We also recognize recent achievements of PPS staff members.
Mrs. Diane Hines, a staff member at Knoxville Center for Student Success (KCSS), was recently inducted into the African American Hall of Fame Museum.
Lindbergh Middle School Principal Sue Malahy was one of eight Illinois finalists for the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Leadership. The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school who has had a significant and sustained positive impact on the school, created a culture of inclusivity, and delivered dramatic student growth.
Finally, six Peoria Public School teachers recently earned National Board Certification, a rigorous and challenging professional accomplishment. Congratulations to Dee Hagen, Katie Hobin and Susan Martin, all of Northmoor Primary School, Ashley Naleway and Beth Perce, Rolling Acres Middle School.
Kudos to our remarkable students and staff!
Peoria Public Schools invites community to tour the Wraparound CenterPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/5/2019 4:00:00 PM
The Peoria community is invited to an open house at the Wraparound Center on Thursday, March 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Wraparound Center, located on the Latrobe Street side of Trewyn School, opened its doors last October. The one-stop shop provides greater Peoria individuals and families support systems and resources within their community. The goal is to keep individuals from transitioning to a higher, more intensive level of care or to successfully transition from a higher level of care back to stability.
Currently the Wraparound Center has eight community partners:
- The Center for Youth and Family Solutions
- Chestnut Health Systems
- Family Core
- Hand Up
- Juvenile Probation
- OSF (STRIVE) Trauma Recovery Program
- Positive Health Solutions
- Unity Point Methodist
- HULT Center for Healthy Living
Through these partners, Peoria residents can access counseling services, substance abuse services, a food pantry, financial education and counseling, STI/HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, and much more. In addition to these in-house partners, Wraparound Center case managers connect individuals and families with external community services and resources.
The Wraparound Center evolved from Peoria Public Schools’ focus on the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) needs of our students, and the vital mental, emotional and physical health and safety needs of our community, particularly the 61605 zip code. Many of the services we offer were unavailable to neighborhood residents with limited transportation options.
We believe the services offered at the Wraparound Center are a necessary first-step in strengthening our community and achieving our vision: educating and graduating each student to be prepared and inspired to contribute to the world.
Please take the time to visit on March 7 so we can share this community resource.
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