Customized learning gives student space to explore passions; ignite creativity

Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 5/6/2019 9:00:00 PM

Note: This letter was written for the Superintendent’s annual State of the Schools address this week.


I sense the urgency that is needed to re-imagine Peoria Public Schools as our world continues to experience significant and rapid change. I agree with the 1,500 executives who reported that creativity is the most important leadership skill.


We are being tasked with preparing our students for a future that will transform in ways we can’t fully predict right now. For our students to succeed in this modern era of innovation, we need to give students the space to pursue their passions and interests, which will unlock a customized learning plan for each student that will heighten engagement, ignite curiosity and accentuate each student’s true talents.


Instead of the same report card template that has existed for decades, I envision students being assessed on their progress on the 21st century skills:

  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity


Forty percent of our schools will be fully one-to-one at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, which means that every student in those buildings will be able to work on a laptop device – a significant number for a district of our size. With this technology in our classrooms, students will be able to harness their personalized learning in a way that reflects our modern world.


A key building block in preparing our students to be career ready will involve our new approach to teaching reading. The approach is called balanced literacy instruction, which includes reading, writing, speaking and listening through the lens of student engagement and instructional support. The goal for this new literacy blueprint calls for every student to be reading at or above grade level by third grade.


Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center currently has two Two-Way DualLanguage classes. Students are learning English and Spanish in content areas to promote biliteracy. The classes contain native English and native Spanish speakers. We will expand the dual-language program for kindergarteners at Whittier Primary School next year.


Finally, we ask that you review the Career Development handout at your seat. Review the options and fill out the form to let us know what type of career experiences you can provide to our remarkable students.


Thank you for the tremendous and ongoing support of Peoria Public Schools.