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STEM Saturday programs attract over 100 PPS middle school studentsPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 10/20/2017 12:00:00 PM
More than 100 Peoria Public School 6th, 7th and 8th grade students took advantage of two wonderful opportunities last weekend to explore STEM career fields.
The first event, with 97 Peoria Public School students attending was hosted by Bradley University, Peoria Public Schools and the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). Students gathered at Bradley’s Westlake Hall to explore topics such as chemistry, environmental engineering, physics, civil engineering, water filtration and more. Calvin Coolidge Middle School, Glen Oak Community Learning Center, Lincoln K-8 , Lindbergh Middle School, Manual Academy, Mark Bills Middle School, Rolling Acres Middle School, Sterling Middle School, Von Steuben Middle School and Washington Gifted Middle School were represented with student participants at the event. Students from Manual Academy and Richwoods High School served as volunteer student leaders for the program.
Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) is a nonprofit organization with 40 years of experience partnering with universities, training programs, and K-12 school systems in order to connect youth to STEM educational experiences.
Meanwhile, nine Roosevelt Magnet School 6th – 8th grade students attended an Introduction to Healthcare Engineering Saturday class at the Jump Trading Simulation Center. Students used 3D printing and molding to create silicone replicas of organs and body parts, including their own thumbs; learned about circuitry and coding, performed chemistry experiments and collaborated with students from other schools in bridge-building activities.
Jump Trading Simulation Center will offer Saturday STEM classes for middle and high school students again beginning in January. Classes will focus on mini-med-school, biochemical engineering, electronics in medicine and emergency skills.
Principal For a DayPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 10/18/2017 2:00:00 PM
I love my community
I love my district
I love all of my students and their families
I love my staff
I love all of Peoria Public Schools’ Supporters.
3rd & 6th grade students offered Saturday UniversityPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 10/11/2017 12:00:00 PM
This month Peoria Public Schools introduces Saturday University, a new learning program for third and sixth grade students. Beginning October 21 and meeting from 9 a.m. to noon on 20 Saturday mornings through April 14, Saturday University will be open to 100 students. The program will be held at Glen Oak Community Learning Center and bus transportation will be provided. Bradley University students and Caterpillar Inc. volunteers will work with students, as well as certified teachers and teacher aides. The program will include field trip opportunities, prizes and other incentives.
Springboard, is designed for third grade students who want extra instruction focused on reading and math. Instruction will combine reading and math online programs to build independent learning skills and small group learning. 50 third grade students will be accepted.
Math-Tastic is designed to strengthen the math skills of sixth grade students. This program will also use online and small group learning. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in math competitions. Math-Tastic will enable more PPS sixth grade students to prepare for the rigors of eighth grade algebra and subsequently pursue higher level math courses in high school. 50 sixth grade students will be accepted.
Saturday University is open to all Peoria Public Schools students in third and sixth grade, but parents are advised that the programs will not include services to meet IEP minutes and there will not be a nurse on duty to assist with medical needs.
Students will do their work on Imagine Learning and Power My Learning systems. Teachers and tutors will work with students in small groups to build learning strategies and skills students. Eureka Math will be used in small groups. MyOn learning will also be used for online reading. All students will be exposed to learning mental math strategies
More details on Saturday University, including a schedule of meeting dates, will be sent home with third and sixth grade students.
Parents of third grade students can register for Saturday University Springboard at: www.peoriapublicschools.org/SU3
Parents of sixth grade students can register for Saturday University Math-Tastic at: www.peoriapublicschools.org/SU6
God Bless AmericaPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 9/21/2017 3:00:00 PM
Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat was the keynote speaker on September 20, 2017 at the Naturalization Ceremony for 689 new U.S. Citizens. Following are her remarks:
Good morning to all, including the congressional and senatorial representatives, state court and federal judges, President of the Federal Bar Association Melissa Schoenbein, Henry Vicary from Caterpillar, Peoria Public Schools students and teachers, naturalized citizens and their families and friends.
To our newly naturalized Citizens, I would like to say Congratulations - My Fellow Americans!
Please give the person next to you – a high five!
When Judge Shadid asked, I checked and realized that I became a US citizen on May 1st 1987, 30 years ago, here in Peoria. Oh my goodness, I did not realize that it has been that long. Becoming a citizen, was part of the process for getting my teaching license after I graduated from Bradley University in 1986.
I grew up in St. Croix, a territory of the U.S. I remembered my mother saying “God Bless America.” I heard those comments time and time again. As a child, I always thought, “God Bless America for what? I thought you blessed people not places or things!” It did not make sense to me at the time. My mother was very patriotic and continued to say “God Bless America!”
In the early 70s when my mother moved from Dominica, West Indies to St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On St. Croix, she worked as a chef at a high end restaurant. At that time the borders to other countries were open. If you had documentation to prove you were gainfully employed and a burden on the government, you were in good standing to live and work in the U.S. territory, whether is was St. Croix, St. Thomas or St. John. I remember hearing my mother talking about having to get her bond renewed. I believe this legal arrangement was called a bond and the permit had to be renewed either every six months or annually.
(The Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean just 40 miles east of Puerto Rico and 1100 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. In recent weeks, those islands have been battered by hurricanes Irma and Marie.)
Once Dominica received its independence on November 3rd 1978, somehow the family was eligible to apply for the green card and we received the green card.
I spent my first nine years in Roseau Dominica, then moved to St. Croix, where I attended middle and high school. After graduating from high school I came to Peoria to attend Bradley University in 1983 and I have been here ever since.
Before I move on I want to have a conversation about accents -- our accents. Some people have accents and some don’t. In some cities, accents are considered to be cute and attractive.
Growing up, I was aware of different accents. St. Croix is a melting pot with people living from all over -- especially from the Caribbean -- St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbuda, Trinidad, Tobago, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat and many more.
My mother had a strong accent that never seemed to bother her. I remember my brothers mimicking her behind her back, of course. She was witty and confident as can be. I really respected her for that.
As new Americans, a good number of us have accents. The question is, do you think one can ever lose his or her accent?
I would say that it's entirely possible to continue to have an accent after spending several decades in a different country and mastering the language.
When everything is said and done, I think it's a very individual thing how much accent a person will retain. Much depends on when he or she started learning the second language and also how much the person is subjected to the language in everyday life. Some people seem to hear the subtle differences in accents and can mimic them, while others don't.
If you have one, do not let the accent bother you. Be yourself!
Over the years, I have since come to realize what my mother meant when she said “God Bless America.”
Eventually, she owned her own business and built the house of her dream.
“God Bless America” to her was a land where you get rewarded when you work hard.
She believed that being American is to waking up and giving your best and realizing your ultimate dream.
She believed that America is a place where you can be yourself; where you may or may not be accepted.
She realized that “an American” is not just about race, culture, or skin color but it is about making a positive change in the community.
Being American does not mean you have to be born in America.
Being American is waking up, walking down the streets and seeing different faces, clothing, culture, music and people.
“God Bless America” because America is a whole bunch of cultures in one.
My mom realized that America is about people from different cultures. “God Bless American” meant accomplishing big dreams and that America gives you the setting to achieve your dream.
As new citizens, you are officially making America more diverse, more dynamic and more competitive.
Most of us are aware that Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to become even more diverse in coming decades.
You may hear different views regarding immigration particularly concerns or threats regarding other religions. These views are mostly driven by political agendas.
We all know that our diversity is our strength.
Nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in the past 50 years, mostly from Latin America and Asia.
Today, a near-record 14 percent of the country’s population is foreign born compared with just 5 percent in 1965.
Over the next five decades, the majority of U.S. population growth is projected to be linked to new Asian and Hispanic immigration.
I must say that American attitudes about immigration and diversity are supportive of these changes, for the most part.
More Americans say immigrants strengthen the country than burden it, and most say that our increasing ethnic diversity makes it a better place to live.
I thank you for the privilege of speaking with you today. We have to be upbeat and hopeful as Americans.
To our 8th grade students here from Mark Bills, Rolling Acres, Lindbergh, Sterling and Calvin Coolidge Middle Schools…I want to thank you for the letters that you were so kind in writing to our newest fellow Americans.
Each of the 680-some new citizens here today will receive one of your letters. I have had the privilege of reading your letters and many of you talked about many places these new citizens can travel or your own favorite places they can visit while here in Peoria. Some of you talked about your own families being naturalized citizens. Thank you students and teachers.
To our new American citizens, by taking your oath, you’re exhibiting the ability to embrace your new homeland: Not an easy thing, but so rewarding.
Today, I also want you to think about your responsibilities as new citizens.
In light of the turbulent events regularly in our country, which play out as part of political campaigns and are characterized by sometimes ugly, divisive, demeaning words and hate-filled, name-calling, your responsibilities as new citizens have become more important than ever.
You will now be called upon to do your part to help build and maintain our country’s best values, highest principles and historic traditions.
As new Americans, you are adding to every aspect of the American life, work, worship, and play. Let’s keep America as the place of hope and opportunity.
So, I hope you will appreciate and exercise your right to vote.
God Bless America, the beacon to all willing to stake their post here and strive for their dreams for a better life and a better America.
We are a nation built by immigrants, the original dreamers, and today you continue to refresh America’s original promise.
God bless you and God Bless The United States of America.
Schools throughout the country are grappling with teacher shortage, data showPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Superintendent at 8/26/2017 10:00:00 AM
Public schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia report teacher shortages in math for the 2017-18 school year, according to the DOE. Forty-six states report shortages in special education, 43 in science and 41 in foreign languages.
Get involved in your school’s Parent Teacher OrganizationPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 8/25/2017 9:00:00 AM
The 2017-2018 school year is underway. Now is a great time for parents, guardians and grandparents to become an active participant in their students’ school.
The district calendar and handbook which was sent to all families in early August, lists Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) meetings for each school. For the next few weeks, each school PTO will meet for the first time. I strongly encourage you to attend these meetings.
The rewards far outweigh the time commitment. Becoming an active participant in your child’s school PTO sends a clear signal to your student that their education and academic success is a priority in your home. We know from our intensive work in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that every child needs at least one adult in their lives who is consistently involved and checking on their child’s wellbeing and progress in school. Being active in PTO is another wonderful way to keep that connection with your child strong and also to connect with other adults who care about your child.
Getting to know other parents in your school community is a great resource for you. Parenting is stressful job and having the fellowship and friendship of other parents goes a long way toward reducing that stress. Most Peoria Public School PTO organizations have a Facebook page to allow you to keep up with activities.
Being an active PTO member also sends a clear signal to school staff particularly classroom teachers. A strong, proactive group of parents who support the work of teachers by hosting fund-raisers, and promoting and volunteering at school events, makes their job easier and more rewarding.
PTO organizations are not limited to parents – grandparents, aunts, uncles or other guardians in our students’ lives are always welcome to pitch in and help.
Here is the schedule for the coming weeks’ PTO meetings and Back-to-School Nights, another great opportunity to meet your school administrators, teachers and other parents. Please contact the school to verify the meeting times.
Please check the 2017-2018 Calendar/Handbook as well as the online calendars for Peoria Public Schools and your school, for more events.
The more caring adults we have working for our students, the more likely we are to succeed at this year’s goal: More Success, Less Stress.
More Success Less StressPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 8/18/2017 2:00:00 PM
This week, I visited each Peoria Public School on the first day of the 2017-2018 year. It was a whirlwind tour, but a wonderful chance to thank our staff and to let our children know how much our teachers and administrators care about their success.
At Franklin Primary School, the day began with children and parents being greeted by 100 Men. Franklin has hosted monthly Real Men Read days, in which professional men visit school to read to the children. The program has gained a loyal following, thanks to school librarian Lafelda Jones.
At Trewyn School, students are using three new beautiful classrooms which were remodeled this summer. On Tuesday, we celebrated the exterior street work in front of Trewyn, which includes beautiful new sidewalks, planters, a speed-table on Folkers St., new curbs and lighting.
In the afternoon, nearly 200 Peoria citizens – business people, educators, retired educators, parents and grandparents, civic leaders – gathered at Manual Academy to cheer the students on as school was dismissed. It was an enthusiastic and heart-warming event and such a beautiful way for the community to show Manual students that we care about their success.
I wish to express my deep and sincere gratitude to everyone who showed up at Franklin Primary and to Manual Academy and also to the Peoria Fire Department. Fire Department trucks and staff members were at many schools, greeting children as they arrived for their first day.
At each school I visited, I gave students the same message: read every day for at least 30 minutes and be kind to each other. I encouraged them to use kind, caring and loving words and to help each other and to help their teachers every day. I know that just those two small actions can bring about monumental changes in our childrens’ lives.
At the end of the day, I gathered with my team of principals and assistant principals to review how our first day went. The reports were overwhelmingly positive. First day compliance -- now in its second year -- our summer registration hubs, the wonderful support from Heartland Health Clinics, Peoria City/County Health Department and UnityPoint In-School Health Clinics, and our Because We Care pre-first-day home visits, have combined to dramatically reduce first-day lines for registration. For the most part, our students arrive ready to head straight to class and begin learning. Principals also reported that we experienced very few transportation problems, thanks to our wonderful transportation team and our bus drivers. Our staff and community is focused on working together and providing our students with the best education possible!
At our All-Staff Convocation on Monday morning, I urged the entire Peoria Public Schools staff to make this the year when we have
#MoreSuccessLessStress. I think we are off to a great start!
Bradley University education students offered unique opportunityPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 8/9/2017 4:00:00 PM
School districts nationwide are facing teacher shortages. With the first day of school just three weeks away, Peoria Public Schools still have numerous positions to fill. The Peoria Public Schools have held three hiring fairs since January in our ongoing effort to make sure that every classroom has a teacher. The need is particularly great in the areas of math, science, foreign languages and special education.
We also have established another program to alleviate teacher shortages in years to come. In partnership with Bradley University, this program will cultivate education students to give them extra tools for classroom success. Through the program, we will identify 40 Bradley University teacher education students in their junior year who will gather for dinner six Sundays throughout the school year to meet with me and other members of the Peoria Public School administrative team.
The first-year pilot program will identify ten students from the initial group of 40 to student teach at Franklin Primary School, Whittier Primary School, Peoria High School and Calvin Coolidge Middle School, the four Peoria Public Schools closest to Bradley University. The Bradley students will be paired with select experienced Peoria Public School teachers who are particularly adept at achieving the standards of academic rigor we are establishing throughout the district. These student-teacher mentorship relationships will last a full school-year.
Following the pilot year, we hope to place all 40 student teachers in this year-long field experience.
How does this program differ from the typical field experiences and student teaching required of all teacher education students? Through this more intensive program, we want these student teachers to be highly developed with the rigor work we are doing at the Peoria Public Schools. They will become familiar with the Peoria Public Schools Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), our focus on developing student autonomy, productive struggle and equity practices. We intend this program to become a hiring pipeline for the District. We want Bradley University teacher education students to understand that participating in the Sunday Superintendent program will give them a competitive edge in the hiring process.
Through the combination of a teacher education pathway at Woodruff Career and Technical Center, the Teacher Education pipeline at Illinois State University and the Sunday Superintendent collaborative with Bradley University, we intend to establish a sustainable base of innovative and outstanding educators for the Peoria Public Schools.
MTSS provides academic, behavioral interventionPosted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 8/9/2017 3:00:00 PM
When students must struggle to cope with trauma, their ability to learn is greatly diminished. This fundamental fact is the basis of Peoria Public Schools’ focus on Social Emotional Learning. Classroom behavior problems, high absentee rates, bullying and similar problems prevent students from achieving academically.
Peoria Public Schools have used Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) frameworks for many years. RtI is required by federal and state laws to ensure that schools make decisions based on data and research. PBIS is the behavioral component of the larger RtI process. Peoria Public School students and parents are familiar with PBIS expectations.
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is best described as an expansion of the RtI concept. Susan Grzanich, PPS Chief Curriculum and Instruction Officer, explains “MTSS is the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) term for providing interventions both academically and behaviorally.”
MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on core instruction, differentiated learning, student-centered learning, individualized student needs and the alignment of systems necessary for all students’ academic, behavioral and social success. MTSS encompasses a more holistic approach to supporting students’ needs.
Our team has spent the past year refining our focus on the intent of the MTSS model. In classrooms, teachers will provide support or enrichment, depending on individual student requirements. Intervention can mean extra help or the extra challenge of enrichment, and students will be grouped according to their needs. Student learning and behavior are monitored over time to determine if additional intervention is appropriate. “The goal of MTSS is to provide frequent and intense support to students who need more help and provide ongoing enrichment for students who demonstrate gifted or talented abilities,” says Grzanich.
By providing and carefully monitoring support for each student’s unique social, emotional, behavioral and academic needs, our vision -- educating and graduating each student prepared and inspired to contribute to the world – becomes a reality.
As we prepare for our first day of school on August 16, I extend a couple of invitations to the Peoria community. First, please join us on August 14th from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. at Bradley’s Renaissance Coliseum for our Staff Convocation. If you haven't been to this event before, we would love to have you join us for this always-inspiring program that recognizes staff and community members with awards and sets the tone for our upcoming school year. Your presence, along with other community leaders and advocates for our district, would mean a lot to our staff! Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 672-6744 if you would like to attend.
Also, please plan to join us on the first day of school for Manual Academy students! We are asking for churches, nonprofits, community organizations, concerned community members, volunteer organizations and educators to come to Manual Academy at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 16. We will gather for brief remarks at the front of the school and hand out cards with words of encouragement to be given to students. The adults will then surround the school and hand out the cards as the Manual Academy students are dismissed for the day at 1:30 p.m. Please share this invitation so we can have as many caring adults as possible to help start the school year off right!
Back-to-School packets mailed; keep reading each dayPosted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat at 7/21/2017 3:05:00 PM
Peoria Public School students are a little more than halfway through their summer break. Back to school packets are in the mail to your home (for returning students) and should be arriving this week if they haven't already been delivered. The packets include important information such as school supply lists, health requirements (remember first day compliance is required!) and a school event calendar for your school, which can all be found at www.peoriapublicschools.org/enrollment.
The packet also gives important information as families begin planning for the new school year. We will be starting the school on a "back to school schedule" with a one-hour early release between August 16 and September 1. Regular, full-day schedules will resume on September 5th following the Labor Day holiday. Visit the enrollment website above for more details. Also, the handbook/calendar will be mailed to all families by the end of July so that parents and guardians can use the calendar for back to school event planning. Finally, as announced recently, I also made sure parents knew about a new initiative that will allow all K-8 students to visit the Peoria Riverfront Museum with their class once each school year for the next five years.
We are excited for the 2017-2018 school year and cannot wait welcome our students on August 16th! However, I encourage everyone to please help remind our students to read for the remainder of their summer break. Our students participating in our Remarkable Readers program will have spent at least 14 hours reading this summer. Remarkable Readers spend at 30 minutes reading four times a week throughout the summer. They are keeping track of the books they read and when school resumes, they will be entered in a drawing for raffle prizes.
Thanks to a generous donation from Adams Outdoor, billboards like the one below are appearing throughout Peoria to remind students and parents how important it is to keep reading. Reading during summer break keeps students’ reading skills sharp so they are ready to continue learning when they return to the classroom.
On steamy July and August afternoons, a trip to the quiet coolness of the Peoria Public Library or a bookstore can be as refreshing as jumping in a pool. Please remind your student to continue to read at least 30 minutes four times a week this summer. You will see a big difference in their academic skills when school begins in August.