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Trauma Recover Center, wrap-around services to bring services to 61605Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 4/13/2018 5:00:00 AM
At this week’s PPS Board of Education meeting, Director of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Derrick Booth shared the following information about 61605-zip code, the part of Peoria served by Trewyn School, Manual Academy, Roosevelt Magnet School and Harrison Community Learning Center :
- The median household in 61605 is nearly $30,000 lower than that in the rest of Peoria.
- Life expectancy for males in 61605 is ten years less than for males in the rest of Peoria.
- According to the Economic Innovation Group Distress Index only one zip code in Illinois and 48 in the entire nation are more economically distressed than 61605.
- In 1980, 61605 was home to 26,458 Peorians and the population was approximately half white and half black. By 2014, the population had declined by 12,143, about 70 percent black and 30 percent white.
In human terms, these numbers translate to chronic trauma for 61605 families and children. The problems faced by families are huge: physical and mental health issues including depression, anxiety and substance abuse; issues of abuse, neglect, lack of love and care, abandonment, homelessness, malnutrition and the inability to access services and resources. As we were painfully reminded last weekend, loss of life from gun violence is real.
Our teachers see this every day. Trauma impacts children’s ability to concentrate or find joy in learning and achievement. The natural fight or flight instinct brought on by trauma engenders aggressiveness, bullying, disrespect and hopelessness.
The concept of wrap-around services PPS is establishing at Trewyn School addresses the causes and results of trauma and chronic crisis. A key component of wrap-around services is a $1.1 million grant recently made to OSF Healthcare from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to fund a Trauma Recover Center (TRC). Working from Trewyn and Manual Academy, the TRC will serve the trauma recovery needs of victims of violent crime, including PPS students and their families.
In addition to trauma recovery, Trewyn School, in partnership with 19 (and growing) community organizations, will offer services in a wide-range of areas including:
- Physical, mental and emotional health and wellness;
- Basic needs such as food, clothing, housing assistance, access to technology and transportation;
- Financial education, job-search assistance, adult education, parenting classes;
- Before- and after-school programs and summer and school intercession programs;
- College and career transition assistance;
- Safety and justice services including legal aid, probation/parole services and personal safety training.
PPS administrators have studied the success of similar trauma recovery and wrap-around community service programs in California and Georgia. By providing workspace at Trewyn for organizations addressing a variety of needs, we will connect families to services quickly and efficiently. Families in crisis, who frequently do not have transportation, will find help under one roof. I believe this concept can move 61605 residents to lives of empowerment.
It is important to note that the TRC and wrap-around services will not be offered exclusively to PPS families and students. The services based at Trewyn and Manual will be offered to any 61605 resident and residents from other parts of Peoria.
For too long our schools have focused on only academic issues but successful adults must have healthy social and emotional skills to manage adversity. The Trewyn Therapeutic Program (TPP), which serves 107 students, is demonstrating how focusing on SEL can transform students’ lives. This program will also grow at the Trewyn site next school year. Check back here frequently for information on our wrap-around services at Trewyn.
VHECEC to offer dual language immersion pre-K classesPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/29/2018 6:00:00 PM
During a meeting this week at Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC), principal Michael Kuhn and his colleagues heard a loud and unusual noise coming from the second floor above his office. He realized it was children riding tricycles in the hallway. This week WCTC welcomed 54 4- and 5-year old, as Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center (VHECEC) expands with help from a $700,000 grant from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). PPS building and grounds staff renovated the space on WCTC’s second floor beautifully, including a gross-motor room featuring a slide, climbing areas and tricycles for the hallways. The WCTC pre-K has space to accommodate 100 children and we expect more students to attend following spring intercession.
Next fall, PPS will begin offering two dual-language immersion programs for pre-K students. The dual-language immersion program will be housed at VHECEC and accommodate 40 children. It will use a 50-50 model – half of the children will be first-language English and half will be first-language Spanish. Reading will be taught in Spanish to Spanish first-language students and in English to students whose first language is English. Math, science and social studies will be taught in both languages. Two bilingual teachers will be assisted by two bilingual aides.
This is an exciting pilot program for PPS. Significant research indicates that students in dual-language immersion gain many benefits. According to The Center for Applied Linguistics and The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, students in dual immersion programs achieve:
- Better understanding of how language works, an important factor in developing reading comprehension skills;
- Fared better than monolinguistic students in tasks which required divergent thinking, pattern recognition and problem-solving;
- Showed a greater understanding, tolerance, appreciation and respect for other languages and cultures;
- Students in dual-language immersion programs have greater gains in reading skills.
Becoming proficient in two (or more) languages is unquestionably an advantage in the job market and even, according to research, appears to provide a barrier against Alzheimers Disease and other dementias later in life. Our two dual-language immersion classrooms at VHECEC is a small first step toward helping students become truly multi-lingual.
Adopt-A-School program shows two years of growth, innovationPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/22/2018 5:00:00 PM
Two years ago this month, we announced an exciting new partnership with the Junior League of Peoria (JLP) to revitalize Peoria Public Schools Adopt-A-School program. JLP provided a three-year grant to fund an Adopt-A-School coordinator position within the PPS Foundation, which was filled by Sarah Oakford.
PPS Adopt-A-School has expanded in scope and in the number of partner organizations. The program currently has 98 community-based partners with 1,396 volunteers serving PPS. The types of programming is as varied as the partners, filling so many needs for our students, from donations of basic necessities like food, clothing and hygiene products to exposure to cultural events to one-on-one tutoring and mentoring for young men in high school. Adopt-A-School partners have contributed more than $144,000 in in-kind donations and $40,000 in monetary donations in two years.
Here is a sample of PPS Adopt-A-School partnerships:
- Second Chance Church built and installed Little Free Pantries at six schools, allowing the community to give and take as needed. Donations left include non-perishable food, hygiene items and school supplies.
- Friday Snack-Pack programs, which give students food to take home for the weekend, has expanded from serving 1,300 students per week to over 2,500.
- Girls Light Our Way (GLOW) hosted a Saturday Financial Literacy Workshop for 49 middle and high school girls.
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity members provide a mentoring program for high school boys. Go To High School, Go To College meets twice each month after school and on occasional Saturdays. Recently, boys in the program spent a Saturday volunteering at First United Methodist Church Loaves and Fishes food and clothing pantry.
- Franklin Primary School 4th grade students are working with WTVP volunteers to develop a leadership/broadcast team.
- Class Act Etiquette owner Cindy Winkler has taught after-school programs this year at Lincoln K-8. The weekly classes, one for 6th grade girls and another for 6th grade boys, covered manners, social media etiquette, public speaking, dining etiquette and more.
- Methodist College provides Sterling Middle School volunteer time for mentoring and tutoring as well as in-kind donations for PBIS behavior incentives and staff appreciation events.
- Recently, leaders of St. Paul Baptist Church visited Adopt-A-School partner Von Steuben Middle School at lunch time with a video camera in hand. They spent time asking students to tell them what they want from their community. Showing the video to their church members turned out to be a great way to recruit volunteers and gave them solid ideas on how to best help the school community.
I believe that support from the Peoria community, including Adopt-A-School, is resulting in better students and stronger, more successful schools. As reported by the 2017 Illinois school report card, for grades 3 – 8, every grade level and 15 schools showed gains in PARCC assessment scores. The 2018 assessment is now underway.
More help is needed. Please consider having your business, civic or professional organization or faith-based community become an Adopt-A-School partner. For information, contact Peoria Public Schools Foundation at www.ppsfoundation.org or call 309-713-3608.
DAPCEP brings STEM learning opportunity from the Motor City to the River CityPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/20/2018 3:00:00 PM
Nearly 100 Peoria Public School 5th through 8th grade students took advantage of an exciting opportunity during February and March.
Meeting each Saturday on the Bradley University campus, the students participated in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). The DAPCEP STEM Saturday program has served 10,000 students at over ten Michigan college and university campuses. This is the first time the program has been offered outside Michigan.
Bringing DAPCEP to Peoria was a combined effort by BU professor Dr. Jacqueline Henderson, BU Caterpillar College of Engineering Dean Lex Akers, BU Alum Stephen Lewis, DAPCEP director Dr. Michelle Reaves and PPS Academic Instructional Officer Dr. Jerry Bell.
DAPCEP STEM Saturday offered classes in:
- Fluids & Water System Engineering-the study of open channel flow systems. Students also applied engineering processes to make dirty water into clean drinking water.
- Engineering in Medicine: Participants explored the integration of engineering and its impact on medical training through patient simulation.
- Chemistry: Students studied polymers, environmental chemistry, biochemistry, and the chemical of enzymes and living things.
- Coding: Students explored coding through hands-on interactive tutorials where they learned concepts such as: inputs and outputs, loops, variables, logic, and function.
Perhaps as important as these specific STEM areas, students learned that following STEM professions can bring about amazing changes in our world. “STEM areas have transformed this country and the world,” Dean Akers told the students and parents at the closing lunch. “Someone in this room could be on the NASA crew that goes to Mars in 2030.”
Also speaking at lunch, Stephen Lewis told the students that after earning an engineering degree at BU and an MBA at Marquette University, he spent his career with Ford Motor Co. traveling worldwide. “I wanted to bring DAPCEP to Bradley University because I want to make sure that children have opportunities to learn STEM areas early and that they have the chance to be on the Bradley University campus,” said Lewis.
I am so proud of these students for giving up their Saturday’s for this amazing learning opportunity and I appreciate the efforts of Bradley University and DAPCEP to offer STEM Saturdays to Peoria area students.
Guided by our strategic plan, we are currently working to develop more STEM opportunities for PPS students, including the implementation of a STEM middle school.
Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center: 25 and growingPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/8/2018 3:00:00 PM
As Peoria Public Schools prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center (VHECEC), the center is entering an exciting new phase, which will benefit Peoria’s preschool children today and in coming years.
Currently, VHECEC serves 435 three- to five-year olds at the location on Romeo B. Garrett Ave. Under the leadership of Principal Katie Cobb, VHECEC staff consists of 24 early childhood teachers, 23 paraprofessionals, eight speech pathologists, two social workers, one psychologist and two clerical support staff members. The school has eight half-day and eight-full day classrooms, including 14 sessions meeting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The 14 IDEA sessions include 12 half-day and two full-day sessions, with programming for children with autism and deaf and hard of hearing children.
On March 26, through a $740,000 Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Preschool for All Expansion grant, VHECEC will begin serving an additional 100 four- and five-year-old children preparing for kindergarten. These classes will be housed at Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) and will be staffed by a lead teacher, five early childhood teachers, five paraprofessionals and a clerical support staff person.
In addition, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, through Title I funds, VHECEC will offer two Spanish-English dual-language immersion programs. Anna Rose, currently assistant principal at Harrison Community Learning Center, will be the District’s English Language Learner (ELL) coordinator next year. Rose is a strong advocate of bilingual education and points out that pre-school is the opportune time for children to learn a second language. At a recent school board presentation, Rose pointed out that learning two languages imparts benefits across the curriculum giving students cognitive advantages including increased retention. Dual language immersion programs produce students who are bilingual, bicultural and biliterate with increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. As adults, being bilingual is a professional advantage and, according to some studies, can provide a buffer from cognitive diseases like Alzheimers and dementia.
Offering preschool classrooms at WCTC coincides with the District’s addition of a PPS high school Teacher Pathway and Early Childhood Pathway programs, giving juniors and seniors in these programs early college credit and field experience opportunities.
By providing our youngest students a strong start to their learning and cultivating dynamic and innovative educators for tomorrow, we truly are attaining our vision: educating and graduating each student prepared and inspired to contribute to the world.
PPS students celebrate Black History MonthPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/27/2018 1:00:00 PM
Peoria Public Schools staff and students, particularly at our high schools, dedicate considerable time, energy and creativity to Black History Month celebrations.
Manual Academy held a Family Dinner Theatre on Wednesday, February 21. The evening opened with Walk-Through History Displays. During dinner, guests watched student performances.
The Manual Academy community also has enjoyed a Soul Cinema Film Festival each Tuesday and Thursday after school this month featuring films such as The Great Debaters, Dream Girls, The Pursuit of Happyness and many more. Guidance counselor Myskeshia L. Mitchell coordinated the month’s events.
At Richwoods High School, students involved in the Minority Academic Advancement Project (MAPP) coordinate and promote the school’s Black History celebration. The theme this year is 90s television, with daily trivia, a spirit week, 90s music and an assembly written and performed by students.
Peoria High School students are observing Black History Month with “Mic Drop,” every Thursday during 6th period in February. Students are invited to perform poetry, spoken word, short speeches and music. PHS is also holding daily trivia contests, an essay contest and class projects. On Friday, February 16, student assemblies featured guest speakers, dance, drama and vocal performances, PHS Divas of the Den and the PHS Student March.
BU students help PPS students prepare for SATPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/27/2018 10:00:00 AM
For the past two years, the PPS Board of Education has included three student members. The student board members, often through the recommendation of their principal, apply for the position, submit an application letter and letters of recommendation and are interviewed by two Board of Education members. The three students, one selected from each high school, attend the school board meetings as non-voting members. In addition, the student board members are asked to complete one project which will benefit all PPS high school students.
For 2017-2018 the three student board representatives are Mary Sherman, Richwoods High School; Selena Ruffin, Peoria High School; and Itiana Douglas, Manual Academy.
As you know, all Illinois high school students must take the SAT, which the State of Illinois adopted as a graduation requirement last year. Research shows that students who take advantage of SAT prep courses and tutorials have higher scores that students who do not prepare. Students, and their parents, who anticipate attending college often take SAT prep classes to increase their score. However, many classes and other resources are financially unattainable, and many students who do not anticipate attending college, do little to prepare for the test. While Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) addresses students’ mindset of low expectations, and each of our high schools schedule events and activities to help students prepare, resources for test prep are still greatly needed.
In early January, student board member and RHS senior Mary Sherman approached me with an idea to provide SAT test prep resources to all PPS high school students. She cited a newspaper report showing students from other central Illinois districts score significantly higher on the SAT than PPS students. Mary feels strongly that the difference is due, not to discrepancies in students’ intelligence or the classes various districts offer, but in the resources students have available to prepare for the test.
I suggested to Mary that she contact Becky Wood, of the Foster College of Business at Bradley University. Wood is the faculty advisor for BU’s newly formed chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for American (ALFA). The chapter has approximately 25 members. Most, but not all, are business majors. ALFA chapters nationwide aim to establish connections between student members and the community in which their college or university resides, and engage in community service projects.
Becky Wood agreed to meet with Mary, and the two brainstormed ways ALFA might help Mary achieve her goal. The project snowballed from there in very exciting ways. What has resulted is the donation of ten SAT prep books for each PPS high school library and a plan to connect Bradley University students with PPS high school students for mentoring and SAT coaching.
Dr. Simon Petravick, advisor for Bradley’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter (an accounting honor society) acquired grant funding from the national Beta Alpha Psi organization to pay for the books, as well as other expenses associated with the mentoring program.
Last week, Mary Sherman, Becky Wood, Dr. Petravick, representatives from the two Bradley student organizations, principals Dr. Annette Coleman, Brett Elliott and Elizabeth Zilkowski and PPS AIO Thomas Welsh all met to brainstorm strategies, that in addition to books, will help PPS students with the upcoming test. As a result of this meeting, BU students will mentor and coach PPS students at Saturday and after-school SAT prep classes in March. BU students also will visit AVID classes, grade level assemblies and other small group meetings at the three high schools.
Teens frequently will pay more attention and take more seriously advice and ideas from young people just slightly older than them, than from adults. Sage wisdom from BU students may encourage some of our students who thought attending college was unattainable to take a closer look at opportunities and how to overcome obstacles to achieve success after high school.
The Illinois State Board of Education has scheduled Tuesday, April 10th as the SAT Test day for all Illinois juniors. Students take the test at their own high school.Comments (1)
PPS launches four CBL programsPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/10/2018 6:00:00 AM
Peoria Public Schools (PPS) is one of nine Illinois districts selected last spring to pilot Compentency-Based Learning (CBL). After forming a district-level steering committee comprised of teachers, administrators and retired administrators, and collaborating with the other pilot districts, CBL programs are operating at the three PPS high schools.
What are competencies? Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and behaviors students must master in a specific content or performance area. With CBL, students advance upon mastery of essential skills and knowledge – competencies -- without regard to seat time or place. In other words, competencies might be mastered through employment, through an internship, through volunteer work or through online learning, in addition to in the classroom. Similarly, while typical students might require a full year to master specific competencies, some students might only require one semester. CBL gives students flexibility to advance once a skill or knowledge is mastered.
One CBL program that started in two schools this month is the Peoria Options Program, offered at Peoria High School and Manual Academy. Peoria Options is for 17 – 21 year olds who have earned fewer than 20 hours of high school credit. A rising senior must have a minimum of 19 credits, so the students in Peoria Options have freshmen, sophomore or junior status. The Peoria Options Program requires parents of the student to attend an orientation meeting. Peoria High School has two Peoria Options cohorts with approximately 40 students. Manual Academy has one group with about 20 students. Students are required to pass the Illinois and U.S. Constitution text and the flag code assessment; take the SAT exam (a state of Illinois high school graduation requirement); successfully complete the Capstone Portfolio Competencies; successfully complete 15 hours of classroom instruction weekly and successfully complete 15 hours of employment, internship or community service weekly.
The Peoria Options Program partners with community organizations including Center for Prevention of Abuse, the Peoria Park District, Neighborhood House, New Millennium, Unity Point Health and Junior Achievement.
We are excited about this opportunity for our students, along with other programs now underway, which will be announced soon. In coming decades, CBL may dramatically alter the high school experience for our nation’s students. By piloting Peoria Options and other opportunities for our students, Peoria Public Schools is leading the way.
A week of guest readers and speakersPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/9/2018 5:00:00 PM
This week Kellar Primary School hosted its 25th Annual Guest Reader Week. 100 local leaders including elected officials, business and non-profit executives, media representatives, educators and artists visited the school to read books to students. Each guest also spends time sharing with the children details of their professional lives. The visits engage students and introduce them to an enormous variety of professional pathways. Guest Reader Week is a program of the Kellar PTO, which purchases the books for the guest readers, which then become part of the Kellar library. Thank you to all of our guest readers for sharing your love of reading to Kellar students.
Bringing speakers into our schools shows students that the Peoria community is invested in their future. Thanks to the sponsorship of Rotary Club of Peoria North, Kellar, Roosevelt Magnet School and Northmoor Primary School students enjoyed the high-energy multi-media presentation by pediatric occupational therapist and author Stacey Glorioso. Glorioso’s book Joshua’s Dragon tells the story of a boy who learns to overcome challenges and obstacles – in other words “conquer his dragons.” The presentation helps children understand and manage their emotions and realistic ways to tame their own dragons.
Friday, February 9, another distinguished speaker will visit Manual Academy for a presentation open to the community. The Manual Academy Robo-Rams welcomes Dr. Luther Beegle, NASA scientist and SHERLOC principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Beegle will speak from 7 to 9 p.m. on The Robotic Exploration of Mars. Dr. Beegle worked on the Curiosity Rover which has been exploring Mars since 2012, and is leading a team building SHERLOC, an instrument for the next Mars mission which will search for potential signs of life. The presentation is the opening event for the FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifier on Saturday. The Manual Robo Rams are sponsored by Caterpillar Innovation and Technology Development Division and the Nannie M. Johnson Community Center, and the adult leaders are parent volunteers.
These are all wonderful examples of caring adults coming into our schools to work with our students. As I have written, for PPS students to succeed, we must create a two-way street. In coming weeks, I will be sharing exciting stories about our students going out into the community through internships and service opportunities.
Celebrating outstanding PPS teachersPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 1/27/2018 9:00:00 AM
I am fortunate to lead a team of outstanding and dedicated educators. This week I am happy to tell you about four of them.
I recently nominated three Peoria Public School teachers for the national 2018 LifeChanger of the Year award. Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, the national LifeChanger of the Year program recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 public and private school educators and employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.
I nominated Mrs. Hedy Elliott-Gardner, School-within-in-a-School teacher at Lincoln K-8; Ms. Jitske Miedema, Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) Culinary Arts Teacher, and Mrs. Debra Redington, the dance teacher for the Preparatory School for the Arts (PSA) at Peoria High School.
I nominated these three teachers because their programs are somewhat unique in our district and because all three essentially built those programs from the ground up. Most importantly, I nominated them because one of the criteria for the national LifeChanger Award is to create a nurturing environment for students, and I believe these three teachers do an amazing job in that respect by cultivating caring, respectful relationships with their students.
I invite you to visit www.peoriapublicschools.org and follow the link to each nominee’s profile on the LifeChanger of the Year website. I think once you read their profiles you will understand why I nominated these teachers. If you know Mrs. Elliott-Gardner, Chef Jetty or Mrs. Redington, as a friend, colleague or PPS alum, I encourage you to leave your comment of encouragement and support. Support from the community is one consideration in choosing the final LifeChanger of the Year, so please join me in supporting these outstanding educators.
I am also very excited to tell you about Manual Academy science teacher Lori Ettinger. Ettinger has been selected by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to be a writer for the National Science Test – only one of 19 U.S. educators selected and the only teacher from Illinois. NGSS is charged with upgrading national science standards to reflect major scientific advances and greater understanding of children’s cognitive development and the learning process. Ettinger has served as an Illinois Science Assessment Grader for the past two years, grading over 22,000 test items from middle and high school students. Now, Ettinger will take the next step in her professional development and become a test writer, writing questions describing science-related scenarios with a list of accompanying questions.
Current national science standards are based on the National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council and Benchmarks for Science Literacy from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The current standards have been in use for 15 years. The National Research Council created NGSS to develop standards reflecting major scientific advances as well as greater understanding of students’ cognitive development and the learning process.
Peoria Public School students and families are so fortunate to have outstanding teachers such as these and many, many more to guide our children to a successful future.Comments (1)
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