Superintendent's Blog

  • Check out these wonderful videos of Woodruff Career and Technical Center programs

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 10/3/2020

    Woodruff Career and Technical Center has transformed in recent years into a hub of work-based learning for high school students in Peoria Public Schools to learn career skills as well as earn certifications and college credits. 

    Take a look at these informational videos highlighting each of Woodruff's programs and the extraordinary work being done by students in those programs.

     

    Autobody program: https://youtu.be/lUYu4HJ0Ook

    Barbering program: https://youtu.be/1u0GhG10iAo

    Construction program: https://youtu.be/RtIuwrxTi5s

    Cosmetology program: https://youtu.be/790XnCY9Lak

    Criminal Justice program: https://youtu.be/97T97KWBaEM

    Culinary Arts program: https://youtu.be/KFXBk_gfvFA

    Emergency Services program: https://youtu.be/KZs3V61AiyE

    Hair Braiding program: https://youtu.be/75M3C3ql44Y

    IT and Coding program: https://youtu.be/NwZksWPPpMM

    Work Based Learning program: https://youtu.be/BwglcJN0Db0

     

     

    Comments (0)
  • Maude Sanders Teacher named Regional Teacher of the Year, Finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 10/1/2020

    Marricea Page, 4th grade teacher at Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School has been named Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Teacher of the Year for the 20-county West Central Region. Page was named Peoria Public Schools Donald M. Phares Classroom Teacher of the Year in August. She is now in the running for the 2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year – the state’s highest honor for exemplary educators. 

     

    Page has taught 4th grade at Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School since 2011. She previously taught 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) at Trewyn School. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Bradley University, and M.Ed. from both Concordia University and Indiana Wesleyan University. She has been a Grow Your Own Mentor and worked extensively to provide mentoring, professional development and support to colleagues throughout Peoria Public Schools.

     

    According to Dan Hiles, principal of Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School, “Mrs. Page shows an incredible depth of knowledge across all content areas as evidenced by clear learning objectives and carefully scaffolded instruction. What really makes her instruction stand out though is her ability to make it exciting and relatable to her students. Mrs. Page is not just known for instructional prowess with students, her ability to reach parents and staff through professional development is well known, too.”

     

    “Having my students achieve academic success is very important, however, having my students feel safe, nurtured and loved is even more important.” Page explained. “This approach to teaching engages each student, regardless of ability, because I focus on each student as an individual with different backgrounds and cultures. I strive each day to be intentional in how I interact with my students, so they leave our class feeling better about themselves as a student, and as a person.”

     

    The Illinois State Teacher of the Year will be announced on October 21 at the ISBE virtual board meeting. We are so proud of Mrs. Page – she is a remarkable representative of Peoria Public Schools and we wish her all the luck as she vies for the top teaching honors in the state.

     

     

     

     

     

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Comments (0)
  • Manual High School's E4L students begin internship with Caterpillar

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 9/24/2020

    As it enters its fourth year, Manual High School’s Education 4 Life program is its strongest yet, according to manufacturing technology teacher Andrew Rice.

     

    More than 25 Manual High School seniors are participating in the Caterpillar Inc. internship program. Students work at Caterpillar’s KK, LL and SS buildings Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and take their regular classes there, either through Peoria Public Schools Distance Learning or Virtual Learning options.

     

    The students attended two days of orientation at the PPS Admin building before starting their internships.

    E4L

    The Education 4 Life paid internship is an outstanding opportunity for Manual students. The team rotates through hands-on units in assembly, welding, heat treat, machining, logistics, quality, measurement and STEM.

     

    Manual High School’s Business and Manufacturing Academy students can be chosen for the Education 4 Life internship as seniors. The academy, which is open to students district-wide, combines academic classes with career-technology classes including accounting, manufacturing and welding.

     

    The Business and Manufacturing Program and Education 4 Life internship is preparing Manual students to enter the workforce upon graduation with sustainable job skills for well-paying jobs.

     

     

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Comments (0)
  • Richwods MCJROTC cadet receives national recognition

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 9/17/2020

    In the past two years, the RHS Marine Corps JROTC program’s two instructors, First Sergeant Shawn Martin and Gunnery Sergeant Miguel Chavez, have grown the program from 79 cadets to nearly 180 cadets by focusing on building discipline, teamwork and leadership skills, and frequent community service projects.

    Recently, their efforts have garnered national acclaim. The RHS MCJROTC program has been designated a Naval Honor School, ranking it in the top ten percent of MJROTC programs nationally, and Cadet Captain Shreeya Pattekar, an RHS senior, was selected as one of four Legion of Valor winners in the country.

    The United States has 260 high schools with MJROTC programs, divided into four geographical regions. Each school competes annually to be named a Naval Honor School. Schools are judged on the scope of their program including cadets’ GPAs and attendance, how many cadets enter college after graduation, community service hours and rifle team competition results. RHS principal Carly Emken points out that many of the winning schools are military academies. “It is huge for a public school in the Midwest to make this list!” she says.

    Each school nationally also nominates one cadet to be named a Legion of Valor winner in their region. Pattekar is the first student in the history of the RHS MJROTC program to win the Legion of Valor, the highest honor a cadet can win. Legion of Valor recipients are selected by a board consisting of three-star Marine Corps officers or retired officers, based on academic transcripts, records of volunteer hours and ROTC awards, and letters of recommendations. It is worth noting that community service comes naturally to Pattekar. Her parents, Mandar and Mugdha Pattekar, led of a team of amazing Trewyn School volunteers who won the PPS Those Who Excel award in 2016!

    The RHS cadets in the MCJROTC program are heavily involved in the community. In early September, the city of Peoria reached out to MCJROTC to request assistance for a disabled veteran whose yard had become dangerously overgrown and a code violation. The cadets spent a rainy week cleaning two dumpsters worth of weeds, brush and trash from the yard. This summer, once pandemic restrictions were lifted, the cadets prepared and served meals to the homeless at Neighborhood House.

    We know that in education, one size does not fit all. We are grateful that 1st Sgt Martin and Gy Sgt Chavez have built a program that many students find a perfect fit.

     

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Comments (0)
  • Peoria Public Schools puts more than 8,000 devices in the hands of its students to equip them for Distance Learning and 21st Century skills

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 9/10/2020 11:00:00 AM

    With nearly three weeks of Distance Learning complete, Peoria Public Schools staff, students and families are becoming comfortable with this method of learning.

     

    Peoria Public Schools staff have distributed over 8,000 Streams to students and continue to tweak the technology to give teachers and students flexibility and maintain differentiated instruction. For example, teachers can address their classes as a whole group, set up private channels within MSTeams to work with small groups of students or schedule one-on-one meetings with students who require individualized instruction. In a school district that serves a student population that is more than 70% low income, the access to a personal laptop and the ability to hone those 21st Century computer skills will be valuable experiences for Peoria Public Schools students.

     

    During device pickup at schools and during home visits, school staff work one-on-one with parents, grandparents and other caregivers so they know how they and their students should log onto MS Teams, how to check student’s progress and grades, and how to best communicate with teachers and counselors. Last week, Glen Oak principal Ilethea Suggs and Glen Oak assistant principal Matthew Durr, four Elite staff members and Student Resource Officer Brown visited more than 100 student homes to assist them with technical issues and encourage them to help their student log on for each class.

     

    Just as a typical school year, attendance is crucial. Our attendance goal is 95 percent – Every Student, Every Class, Every Day. Students are required to check in to each class every day to be marked present. When students check in, our teachers and support staff have the opportunity to observe students social, emotional wellness and address any concerns.

     

    Michelle Obama said, “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it's important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”

     

    There is no doubt that Distance Learning presents challenges to educators, students, parents and caregivers. However, I feel certain that when we meet these challenges head on, we will all become more dedicated lifelong learners.

     

     

     

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Comments (0)
  • First Day of School Op-Ed

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 8/23/2020 8:00:00 AM

    The annual rite of the first day of school always brings me great excitement and hope.

     

    As educators, we view the start of school as the first step in a remarkable year-long journey. We meet our new Peoria Public Schools students, sense their current promise and potential and then picture how much they will grow in the coming year.

     

    Admittedly, the start of this 2020-2021 school year looks and feels a little different than usual. In the past five months, we have experienced the twin pandemics – the novel coronavirus and the continuing pandemic of racism. Our reckoning with both of these pandemics has upended our norms and routines and altered our sense of normal. At Peoria Public Schools, we will begin the school year with Distance Learning for the majority of our students after initially planning to implement a hybrid model.

     

    But I remain steadfast in having great hope at the start of this 2020-2021 school year. I’ll tell you why.

     

    When the Shelter in Place order was issued by Governor Pritzker, we had to tackle a substantial question mark around how we would continue to provide the consistent nutritious meals our families rely upon in sending their children to school five days a week.

     

    Through the collaboration of our staff, volunteers, Regional Office of Education and the Salvation Army, we stepped up to fill that absence by setting up meal sites at our schools and serving every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. As of this last week, Peoria Public Schools has served more than half-a-million meals since March 17th – an astounding figure that brings us great pride as it relates to feeding the children in the City of Peoria.

     

    I also have hope after witnessing the monumental effort that was undertaken by Peoria Public Schools staff since May to prepare for this upcoming year. Our Return to School committee put us in a great position with the hybrid model adopted in June, and we spent July filling in the details in exacting fashion for that model to succeed.

     

    We also kicked off the school years of our two balanced calendar schools – Knoxville Center for Student Success and Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center – in mid-July. The first month for both schools has been highly successful, with Knoxville adeptly executing an all-distance learning model while our Pre-K students receive in-person instruction.

     

    Even though our original plan of a hybrid in-person instruction model for the rest of our schools shifted to all Distance Learning due to rising cases in our area, the Peoria Public Schools staff has not missed a beat and exhibited exceptional leadership, fortitude and resiliency in preparing for a different model of instruction in a short period of time.

     

    There is not a perfect solution for education during the time of COVID-19, but what I have observed is Peoria Public Schools administrators, principals, teachers and other staff putting every available effort into providing a quality educational experience for our Peoria Public Schools students. We owe that much to our families.

     

    On Monday, our students will log-in to their devices (either a district-issued laptop or a personal device) and begin the school day with a live teacher the entire time, 7:30 a.m. for some and 8:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. for others. Through our MS Teams learning platform, the students will be able to customize their background, see and interact with their classmates and receive daily instruction. Families also have a choice to select a virtual platform option. Over 1600 students are on this path.  This provides flexibility to families with pre-recorded lessons, activities, a later start and also support from a teacher.  We also have an intricate mapping system in place for students who are not participating in Distance Learning – for whatever reason – and will have a number of follow-up resources and supports to assist those students.

     

    The strength, perseverance, positive mindset, patience and flexibility of our Peoria Public Schools community have inspired me so much these past five months. We will emerge from COVID-19 stronger than ever and with a different perspective on what public educational systems are capable of.

     

    On August 24th, I will continue my annual first day tradition of visiting all 27 school buildings in Peoria Public Schools. It will look a little different than previous years, but I have more hope than ever at the start of this school year.

     

     

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Peoria Public Schools

    Comments (0)
  • In reopening schools, state must address educational recovery plans

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/15/2020 2:00:00 PM
     
     

    Superintendents Tony Sanders, Arthur R. Culver, Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat and John Price wrote an editorial in the Daily Herald.

    From the editorial:

     

    For months, we have witnessed in awe the resilience displayed by our students, families and school staff as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis that has shuttered our campuses. Although many school buildings remain closed through the summer, educators and parents around the state are working diligently to ensure that learning continues.

     

    However, we know this past semester had and will have an impact on our students. Many children were without access to the tools they needed to learn effectively during remote learning. This was particularly acute where parents in "essential" jobs continued to leave the home, even as child care disappeared. For others, being absent from the classroom and their caring teachers, peers, support staff and administrators compounds the trauma they experienced more generally due to the coronavirus. And, while some schools are hosting limited in-person summer school, we know that's not sufficient.

     

    We look forward to the fall, when we can begin to reopen our schools, resume in-person learning and restore the achievement gains that are being lost to the pandemic. With that said, like everyone else, we know this virus has a life of its own, and we continue to prepare for every eventuality and recognize this school year may not go as planned, yet again.

     

    Although our districts have different demographics and needs, two things are certain. First, this crisis is affecting every student in the state. Second, making sure all students get what they need in Illinois will require "all hands on deck" and a multi-year statewide learning recovery plan that provides flexibility for schools and districts and that is comprehensive, well-resourced and rooted in equity.

     

    Absent serious effort, this period of emotional and academic turmoil will follow Illinois' children into adulthood.

    Comments (2)
  • July 2 Update from the Superintendent

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 7/2/2020

    Peoria Public Schools families,

    I would like to share a few updates with you. From the beginning of this Return to School process, we have said that as ISBE guidance continues to change, Peoria Public Schools will also adjust its Return to School plan for the fall.

    Right now, our focus is to continue finding more options to increase in-person instruction, and we are working together with all stakeholders to achieve that goal.
    We do believe that in-person instruction is the most ideal for our students, and we are committed to providing those options while also balancing the health and safety of students and staff.

    As a result of the June 29th ISBE guidance, the Blended Learning model adopted by our Board will now feature alternating Friday in-person instruction. Under the A/B model, Week 1 Friday will be A students; Week 2 Friday will be B students. The rotation will continue in the following weeks. Students who are not in person on a Friday will still be participating in off-campus independent learning as assigned by the teacher.

    I also want to remind our families that we are offering a Virtual Only option. To find details about this option, please visit the district website under the Fall 2020 Reopening tab.

    Lastly, please be on the lookout for a Childcare survey that will be sent to you today. We strongly urge that families fill out this survey in order for us to determine the childcare needs for each building and how we can assist.

    As you remember, we were proactive in putting a tentative plan in place with board approval early in the summer, which included over 131 participants and over 70 meetings.

    I suspect that the guidance from ISBE may continue to evolve throughout the summer, and Peoria Public Schools will be dynamic in updating our Return to School plan primarily with a focus on increasing in-person instruction. All updates will be posted to our district website under the Fall 2020 Reopening tab or by visiting psd150.org/reopening



    Have a safe and relaxing Fourth of July weekend,

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Comments (1)
  • June 29 Update from the Superintendent

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 6/29/2020

    Peoria Public Schools families,  

     

    Following the special Board of Education meeting on June 22, I want to formally announce Peoria Public Schools is adopting a Blended Learning model for the upcoming fall semester.

    The plan is based on ensuring the health and safety of our students and employees while also addressing the need for in-person instruction.

    The plan is aligned with the current guidance from the federal, state and local health officials.


    Here is an overview of what you need to know right now:

    • The intent of the blended model is to allow students in person instruction while maintaining safety guidelines for physical distancing through a reduced number of students in each building.
    • Students will follow an A/B style schedule Monday through Thursday. Students on the A schedule will attend school in person on Mondays and Wednesdays.
    • Students on the B schedule will attend in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
    • Friday will be virtual only *(with exception of potential on-campus flexible scheduling for high school) 
    • Families will be assigned the same schedule for student continuity across schools.
    • For those families that do not want their child attending in-person, families will have the option of choosing a 9-week full virtual learning schedule. That option will be available to sign up for starting with online registration opening on July 8th.
    • Students who choose the virtual option will be using an online learning platform. This online K-12 program allows students the option of working in all content areas​ virtually and independently. Students listen to a pre-recorded lesson from a certified teacher and then complete independent activities to practice their new knowledge.
    • We understand that childcare is a top concern for our families. The Return to School Childcare committee continues to work with existing community partners while building new partnerships to provide our families with options for affordable childcare.

    We will start the school year safely and cautiously with our approved plan, and my team and I will continue to explore additional ways to increase in-person instruction for the benefit of our district students.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding in what has been a rapidly evolving several months.

    Peoria Public Schools is committed to keeping your student safe while continuing to provide excellent educational opportunities. Remember the plan is flexible and will continue to evolve.

     

     

    Thank you and be safe,

     

    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

    Superintendent

    Comments (0)
  • Statement from the Superintendent

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 6/1/2020 4:00:00 PM

    Dear Peoria Public Schools students, families and staff,

    While I have not historically weighed in on national matters, I am finding it hard to remain silent as I see our community hurting as protests and riots broke out locally and across the country in response to the horrific death of George Floyd.

    What I keep thinking about is the over 13,000 students in Peoria Public Schools, and the pain our African American students, especially, and others are feeling right now, and how this is a pivotal moment for our country. We know that a recent study by Harvard Public Health Professor Dr. David Williams shows that police shootings of unarmed African Americans cause severe psychological and physical trauma within the African American community, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. We also must acknowledge the missed opportunities and inequities of the past, both socioeconomically and in education.

    As the leader of Peoria Public Schools, a backbone and important foundation of our community, we have an opportunity to be a voice for change and a healing presence in our communities. Choosing silence and indifference may not be what our community needs right now. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

    Now is the time to do everything we can to make sure students and staff feel safe and are treated equally. We have our work cut out for us, but I know Peoria Public Schools is up for the challenge. We need to be leaders and encourage everyone to choose kindness, tolerance, understanding and empathy. It’s time to love each other and come together to treat everyone with respect and dignity.


    Yours Sincerely,

    Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat
    Superintendent

    Comments (0)