Superintendent's Blog

  • A Message From Peoria Public Schools Condemning Hate Toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities

    Posted by THOMAS BRUCH on 3/28/2021 2:00:00 PM

    A message from Peoria Public Schools 


    I am devastated over the senseless acts of violence and hate toward the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Georgia and throughout the country. As the Superintendent of the largest school system in in the Peoria area, I strongly denounce this violence against our Asian and Pacific Islander community members. I am disheartened by the failure of recognition of our shared humanity. We hold the people and families impacted by these tragedies close to our hearts. 


    Our district and our lives are enriched and strengthened by the presence and contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. We stand in solidarity and support of those who work every day to stop violence against them. I am committed to moving beyond statements of condemnation and toward harnessing the full power of our collective will to name and fight hate speech and violence in our district. 


    Below are several resources that are available as we work together to create the conditions at PPS so that every student feels a strong sense of belonging, a connection to caring adults, and receive the support needed so they are prepared to lead a more socially just world. 


    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat 



    Reading- Asian American authors and books with video links

    Watching- How to Talk to Children About Asian American Identity and Racism, 

    IHI History of Anti Asian Hate

    Classroom resources- Asian American Mental Health Activity Book and Coloring Book 

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) offers 6 Ways to Be an Ally.

    How to Support Asian American Colleagues Amid Anti-Asian Violence

    Reporting a Hate incident Hollerback Bystander Training 

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  • Dr. Kherat interview with the Illinois Association of School Administers

    Posted by THOMAS BRUCH on 2/9/2021 9:00:00 PM

    Read the interview with Peoria Public Schools superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat here:

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  • Peoria County Vaccination Campaign

    Posted by THOMAS BRUCH on 1/20/2021 8:00:00 PM


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  • First Day of In-Person Review from the Superintendent

    Posted by THOMAS BRUCH on 1/19/2021 5:00:00 PM

    Dear Peoria Public Schools community,

    Peoria Public Schools’ Return to School implementation went exceptionally well for students and staff Tuesday, as planned, especially at the high schools.


    • The COVID-19-testing went extremely well, both the PCR and the Antigen tests
    • About 15 Antigen tests administered to students and all were negative. Our nurses who administer these tests have significant specialized PPE and have been trained by the State.
    • About 150 high school students were tested with PCR today, and all results came back negative. Testing will be administered to high school students Monday through Thursday.


    Again, today was a joyful day for the students who attended in person. I do believe we have a very strong Return to School Plan. My estimate is that we had about 3,400 “B Day” students in school Tuesday. Tomorrow will be a new group of students on the “A Day” schedule. We are thrilled to have them all back in our buildings.


    With Gratitude,


    Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat


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  • 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.


    Collision Repair/Auto body program:

    Barbering program:

    Construction program:

    Cosmetology program:

    Criminal Justice program:

    Culinary Arts program:

    Emergency Services program:

    Hair Braiding program:

    IT and Coding program:

    Work Based Learning program:



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  • 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


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  • 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.


    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


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  • 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


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  • 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


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  • 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


    Peoria Public Schools

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