Superintendent's Message, 3.8.2017

As we prepare to register our returning students and plan for the year ahead, I want to tell you about some changes in the next school year that I’m eager to share with you.

I’m very excited about the opportunities the new middle school schedule will give our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders!

First, some background information…. Work on envisioning this new middle school schedule began three years ago. The process included examining how other highly achieving middle schools organize their daily minutes, surveying our parent community, and generating ideas and eliciting feedback from all of our own middle school teachers. Our work together throughout has been comprehensive, thorough, and reflective, including regular feedback to our Board of Education.

Why make a middle school schedule change? Our goal was to create a middle school schedule that accommodates the need for more minutes for learning in all core content subjects; that includes flex time during the school day for supporting students’ learning in a variety of areas; and that adds the opportunity for learning a world language beginning in the 6th grade–a request we heard frequently in KCSD96 parent responses in surveys we administered.

The new schedule is the result of many hours of collaboration, countless iterations, and an unwavering conviction to do what will best equip our students to succeed. The length of the school day remains the same, but the organization will be new and significantly beneficial for your sons and daughters, offering them opportunity for choice as they move through their middle school years. So, what will the new schedule look like?

What will be a part of every KCSD96 middle school day? Every day, all of our middle school students will have 60-minute periods of math, science, social studies, and language arts–the Core Classes. In addition, all students will have a 40-minute Flex Period for learning intervention or extension and the opportunity for cross-curricular connections. Note that the Flex Period is not a study hall, but will engage students in varied ways we will explore to develop their communication/interaction, problem-solving, creative, and higher-level thinking skills. Also, recognizing its importance to healthy lifestyle and well-being, our students will continue to have physical education (PE) class each day.

Every other day students in grades 6–8 will participate in Spanish and one other Exploratory Class (art, music, or the Art and Science of Living) , rotating by trimester. That is, every other day one trimester will include Spanish and art, another trimester Spanish and music, and another trimester Spanish and the Art and Science of Living.

Does your student participate in band or orchestra? If so, his or her schedule will vary in this way:
If a 6th grader, there will be rotating pull-out band/orchestra rehearsal sessions during Core subjects (math, science, social studies, language arts) as well as after-school full-band/orchestra rehearsals in keeping with the current model.

If a 7th grader, your student will attend band/orchestra instead of an Exploratory Class, but will have the option to select an independent study in one of the Exploratory Classes (art, music, or the Art and Science of Living) for a portion of the 7th-grade Flex period. Full band/orchestra rehearsal will be after school.

If an 8th grader, your student will attend band/orchestra instead of an Exploratory Class, but during Trimester 3 will have the choice of band/orchestra or an Exploratory Class (and can attend full-band/orchestra rehearsals after school).

We recognize that you will have questions and want more details about this new schedule and how your student will benefit from and navigate it. For that reason we have scheduled a Parent Night at each middle school and encourage you to attend. Parents of students currently in Grades 5–7, please plan to come to either school on the date most convenient for you:
Wed., Apr. 5, Woodlawn, 6362 Gilmer Rd., Long Grove, 7–8 p.m. OR
Thurs., Apr.13, Twin Groves, 2600 N. Buffalo Grove Rd., Buffalo Grove, 7–8 p.m.

Still have questions? Attend a Parent Coffee and get answers at Woodlawn or Twin Groves on Tuesday, April 18, 8–9 a.m.

I’m pleased to share that at their meeting last night our Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Robert Hanrahan as principal of Ivy Hall School, effective Aug. 1, 2017.

Mr. Hanrahan brings valued relevant experience from both the classroom and as a school district administrator. He is, in fact, returning to District 96, where in 2011 he began his work with teachers as an educational technology coach, delivering and supporting their tech training. His commitment to student learning led him to become a technology coach at Country Meadows Elementary the next school year, where he provided leadership, academic coaching, and co-teaching support while increasing teachers’ competence and confidence in best use and integration of digital teaching tools.

For the past several years, Mr. Hanrahan has served Skokie School District 73½ as the director of innovation and instructional technology. He has led highly successful implementations and associated staff professional development. In addition, his role has required his leadership in anticipating infrastructure needs and managing implementation of several significant projects, increasing his understanding of essential 21st-century skills for students.

During his previous years in District 96 Mr. Hanrahan was highly regarded by his colleagues and peers and was awarded a District 96 Foundation Crystal Apple Red Schoolhouse Award in 2014 for his exceptional commitment to students’ learning and educating the whole child. He holds an undergraduate degree in business/pre-law from Michigan State University and has earned master's degrees in education from Dominican University and in school leadership and teaching from Concordia University.

Mr. Hanrahan will succeed Mrs. Amy Gluck in his new role, effective August 1, as she assumes the responsibilities of our director of educational services. That position currently is held by Mrs. Heather Friziellie, who has accepted new responsibilities beginning in the 2017–18 school year as superintendent of Elementary District 114.