News from Homewood School District 153/ September 2, 2016
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Jason Benetti shows his 153 pride during the District's opening day staff institute.
A Back-to-School Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Friend of District 153:

Yesterday was the one-week mark of the 2016-17 school year. Baseball, softball, and cross country are already underway at James Hart. Students at Churchill are deciding if they want to try a band or orchestra instrument and/or join the choir. Kindergartners and preschoolers at Willow School are getting adjusted to their new surroundings and making new friends.
 
The Usual Suspects
The past week saw our staff and students tacking all those familiar "start of a new school year" tasks that prepare our students to have a successful and safe year, including:
  • Reviewing rules and behavior expectations
  • Conducting safety drills
  • Class picture taking
  • Working on the bus transportation issues that inevitably come with the beginning of a new year
 
The Unusual Suspects
Our new teachers and staff pose for a group photo during their orientation to District 153.
In addition to the "familiar," this year we also welcomed some new and exciting things to the start of our school year.  
  • We welcomed 22 new staff members during a two-day orientation, Aug. 15-16.
  • Our staff took inspiration from White Sox and ESPN play-by-play commentator Jason Benetti at our staff institute day on Aug. 22. Benetti, is an alum of Districts 153 and 233, credits the education and support he received here as being crucial to his success.
  • We opened the doors to our new SMARTLab at James Hart and started exposing students to all the learning possibilities there.
 
About student enrollment
James Hart students are exploring the new SMARTLab.
School districts must report their official enrollment to the state on the 6th-day of school.  Our "6th-day enrollment" is 1951 students, just shy of the 1959 enrollment we had predicted last spring.  
 
For some reason, we have a bumper crop of 6th-graders this year! James Hart has hired an additional teacher to handle this "bubble" of students. Dr. McAlister and Mrs. Ugo will work their magic to adjust the schedules of some 6th-grade and 7th-grade students to insure they are placed in appropriate level classes with the just the right teachers.
 
So, yes, we are off to a great start! But it was summer's long journey to get here. None of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of this district's staff. Consolidating schools meant that two-thirds of our teachers would have to physically move classrooms, telephones and computers had to re-connected and re-programmed, and new ways of doing things had to be developed. And this was in addition to our usual summer chores of deep cleaning our buildings, entering thousands of pieces of student registration data, and setting and revising student schedules.
 
Change is hard. However, our staff has met the challenges with seemingly unlimited flexibility, creativity, and an incredible, collective sense of humor.

I am grateful for their efforts, and I am grateful for this community's continued support. Let's have a great 2016-17!

Best wishes for a wonderful Labor Day weekend,


Dr. Dale Mitchell, Superintendent
Congratulations to 153's "Those Who Excel" Honorees!

District 153 is proud to report that several members of the District 153 family have earned recognition from the 2016 Illinois State Board of Education's "Those Who Excel" educator recognition program. The "Those Who Excel" program annually recognizes and honors people who have made outstanding contributions to public and non-public elementary and secondary education throughout the state.

Below are the names of the winners, the type of award they received and a quote about each of them that was provided by the individual(s) who nominated them.

Cece Coffey (Award of Excellence, administrator category)

"Cece has high expectations for both students and staff. From the building custodians to the teaching staff and assistants, she never lets anyone settle for anything less than their best effort. Most importantly, she does it in a manner that makes people feel supported and appreciated."

Stephanie Hess (Award of Recognition, student support personnel category)

"Stephanie has created a school environment that is caring, exciting, and respectful. Parents recognize her as someone with whom they can talk openly, who listens and values their opinions and concerns. She enlists the parents as partners and help them understand and utilize the tools needed to best help their child."

Connie Johnson (Award of Merit, classroom teacher category)

"Connie's vast knowledge of the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of first graders has made her a leader of our first-grade team. Connie is one of the most creative teachers we know, and she makes learning fun for everyone."

Terry Keigher (Award of Recognition, community volunteer category)

"His passion for the community and school district has always been evident for his own children, but after assuming the role of chair of Citizens for Homewood Schools, it was clear that his desires extended to all students. He has clearly demonstrated his devotion to all of our district's children through his sacrifice of time and giving of himself to the detriment of his own wife and children."

Reilly Robertson (Award of Recognition, early career educator category)

"From her first days in the classroom, Reilly has demonstrated a maturity and competency rarely seen in a beginning teacher. [Her] classroom is a model of warmth, engagement and efficiency."

Meg Sweeney (Award of Recognition, educational support personnel category)

"Meg provides a positive environment in which students feel safe to take academic risks. Her calm and supportive presence is a great asset to any classroom."

Citizens for Homewood Schools (Award of Excellence, team category)
Team Members: Alex Bosch, Tom Brabec, Jim Collins, Anne Colton, Vito D'Astici, Tom Dockweiler, Steve Johnson, Terry Keigher, Shelly Marks, Tracie Moxley, Nick Quirke, Jason Stamps, Tabitha Stine, Anne-Marie Webster, La'Shone Zinnerman

"Their hard work and selfless donation of literally hundreds of hours of time paid off for the school children of District 153. The referendum not only passed, it passed by a very large margin with 80.5 percent of the vote."

They will be among the individuals from across the state to be honored at a banquet in Normal, IL on October 22, 2016.


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Homewood School District #153 | 708.799.8721 |   hsd153.org