Superintendent's Message, 8.14.2015

What happened to summer? It flew by in a blur of bike rides and ballgames, camp sessions and cookouts. Next week a new school year begins. The mood in District 96 is definitely one of excitement and celebration….

You’ll want to know….
I hope you’ll take some time to read my STATE OF THE DISTRICT REPORT. You’ll
be informed on the important work and accomplishments in your school district in the areas of curriculum, professional development, and technology; in education and business services; in facilities/ transportation, and more. You’ll learn about our Board of Education’s abatement to taxpayers, the District’s bond rating, and capital projects approved. You’ll take a look into our future, including recommended goals addressing delivery of instruction, professional development, parent engagement, and communication. And you don’t want to miss the “Fun Highlights and Facts” that demonstrate so effectively why District 96 is a carefully researched, deliberate destination of new residents wanting to prepare their children to excel in high school, in college, and in 21st-century careers.
What we did on your summer vacation….
Like you and your students, we’ve made the most of every summer week. With not a minute to waste, improvements were underway the day school ended in June.

Earthmovers, cranes–and even a helicopter–were needed to accomplish the work involved in a variety of planned capital projects this summer in District 96. Among others, the projects include outdoor tracks at our middle schools, roof replacement at Twin Groves, and a rooftop air handler unit system replacement at Ivy Hall. Extensive cable/wiring upgrades support the technology that is an essential tool for learning for our students today.

An additional 22 middle school classrooms were renovated this summer specifically to support collaboration and instruction. The District now boasts 32 state-of-the-art classrooms (16 each, at Twin Groves and Woodlawn Middle Schools) with optimal design reflecting a 2013-14 focused learning environment study and ongoing feedback from our classroom teachers.

New gym floors and light fixtures at Twin Groves, an expanded playground with new equipment at Prairie, crushed rubber playground surfaces at Prairie and Country Meadows, and fresh paint and new floor coverings make District buildings look brighter and better than ever. Without exception, District 96 schools are carefully maintained, efficient, inviting places for our students to learn.
It begins next week….
Like me, our principals and administrators are eager to welcome back our students, teachers, and support staff. All District faculty and staff will enjoy time together on Monday morning as we center ourselves on the work to be done in the year ahead. Our guest speaker will discuss the research around what great teachers do.

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, our students at Willow Grove and in Grades 1–5 can meet their teacher and Grades 6–8 can set up their lockers and locate their classrooms. Please be sure to see the schedule of BACK-TO-SCHOOL EVENTS–including Curriculum Nights for parents–happening before and after school starts next week.
Well worth your valuable time….
We’ll be welcoming more students to District 96 this year. To date, enrollment already is over 50 students more than it was at the start of the last school year, with families continuing to register. One strength of a great school district like ours is an active, informed parent community. We have many opportunities planned for D96 parents to learn together and connect with one another. Our busy lives can make it a challenge, but I encourage you to participate fully.

As the parent of a 4th-grade daughter, I speak from experience! Don’t underestimate the importance of your participation during these years for your children. All too quickly, these opportunities disappear as our sons and daughters grow up. So discuss with your kids what they’re learning, volunteer in our schools, attend District informational and Parent-to-Parent (P2P) Network programs, and consistently read our Principal’s Message and E-NEWS96 weekly emailed communications. Let your children see that their education is your priority and equip yourself as a parent to support their academic and social/emotional growth.

Your opportunities to learn and connect as a parent begin at the start of the school year. In addition to Curriculum Nights (see Back-to-School events referenced above) mark your calendar for the following:
Tues., Sept. 15: Effective Discipline Techniques
A Parent-to-Parent Network (P2P) program for D96 parents presented by guest speaker Dr. Michael Maniacci
The program is from 7 - 8:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Prairie School, 1530 Brandywyn Lane, Buffalo Grove. Following this popular speaker’s presentation of techniques for parents of elementary and middle school students, there will be Q&A. See E-NEWS96 for more info.

Wed., Sept. 16: Literacy Night for Parents of KDG – Grade 2
This informative program presented by D96 faculty is for all D96 parents (Willow Grove, Country Meadows, Ivy Hall, Kildeer AND Prairie) whose students are in Kindergarten – Grade 2.
7 p.m., Ivy Hall School Mat Room, 1072 Ivy Hall Lane, Buffalo Grove
See your Principal’s Message for more info.

Sun., Sept. 20: The 5th-Annual District 96 Dash
Join the D96 Coordinating Council PTOs as they work together to host this fun tradition: a 5k run/walk/stroll event. Your participation benefits the District 96 PTO Coordinating Council Kids in Need Fund, helping meet the needs of D96 students whose families are facing financial hardship.

Hurry! Register by Sept. 6 for the discounted Early Bird Rate. The walk-run steps off at 8:30 a.m. from the Twin Groves Middle School parking lot. It’s fun fitness with your family–and helps others! What could be better? MORE INFOREGISTER NOW (webpage may open slowly)

Our PTOs (Parent/Teacher Organizations) welcome all parents to volunteer and help with fun family events in our schools. It’s a great way to make new friends and increase opportunities for students and teachers. Get involved – even if you work outside the home and have only a little time to offer.  CLICK HERE

Our Parent-to-Parent (P2P) Network gives drop-in, informal discussion opportunities. Meet other D96 parents and talk about topics of interest. Benefit from each others’ experiences and lose that uncomfortable feeling of “I’m the only parent experiencing this….” MORE INFO
It’s hard to see the summer end, but the school year ahead offers exciting opportunities. Many of our teachers have been working together this summer continuing their own learning and preparing curriculum that will engage your children and help them excel. Be assured that–right from the start–our full focus is on every child in every D96 school every day.
Best wishes for an outstanding year!
Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools