BSD2's Community Newsletter | November 1, 2018
Photo of a BSD2 Teacher Conducting a Home Visit
Laura Negrete, a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Tioga School, conducting a home visit.
District 2’s Home Visit Program earns an Award of Excellence in the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2018 Those Who Excel awards program.
District 2 launched its Home Visit Program three years ago with a goal of strengthening families’ connections to their schools simply by meeting them where they’re at -- their homes.

Along the way, the District discovered that the program achieves this goal while simultaneously changing the way participating teachers relate to their students.
Image of the Those Who Excel logo
"The opportunity to visit a family strengthens the connection with our students on many levels,” said Nancy Donohue, who teaches bilingual students in Blackhawk Middle School’s Newcomer class. “The Bensenville community has a wide variety of incredible people, so offering services like language support, legal advice and even an answer to a simple question allows parents and caregivers to feel safe. This translates to a secure student, and their chance to make a difference at school grows! A plate of cookies helps, too."

Teachers in the Home Visit Program aim to visit each of their students’ homes twice during the school year. On average, this requires these teachers to conduct at least one home visit a week.

During these visits, they don’t discuss academics. Instead, they aim to get to know their students better simply by meeting their families and experiencing their home lives.

“These teachers really begin to learn who their students and their families are when they sit down in their living rooms or at their dinner tables and engage them in casual, friendly conversations,” said Dr. James Stelter, District 2 Superintendent of Schools. “And they can’t help but personalize the environment when they walk into their students’ homes. Those experiences change their assumptions about their students, and provide them with a new context about the students when they leave the classroom and return home.”

“That changes the way these teachers relate to all of their students,” emphasized Dr. Stelter. “It changes the way they teach them. It makes them better educators.”

Getting 100 percent participation from families is one of the goals of teachers in the Home Visit Program. Three years in, that goal remains a tough one to achieve, as they average a participation rate of around 60 percent.

Of course, that means 60 percent of their students’ families have opened their doors to them!

“That’s exciting because -- again -- our broad goal was always to increase family engagement,” said Dr. Stelter. “And the feedback we’ve received from these families indicates they’ve enjoyed these visits and now feel more connected to their child’s teacher and school. They’re comfortable reaching out to their child’s teacher now, and we hope they’re more likely to sign up for parent-teacher conferences, attend school-wide events, become part of their PTA, and consider themselves part of their school community.”
Image of the logo for the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation & Improvement
More great grant news for District 2.
In September, Bensenville School District 2 received the U.S. Department of Education’s Full Service Community Grant for $2.5 million. The District is one of just 15 schools nationwide selected to receive this grant. 

This is just the latest good grant news the District has received.

In June, the Illinois State Board of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants program awarded District 2 and Fenton High School $3 million to fund critical community schools initiatives over the next five years. The 21st Century grant will fund new before- and after-school RISE Academies at Bensenville’s four public schools. Those academies will provide programming focused on such topics as Academic Enrichment, Arts Integration, Technology, Social-Emotional Learning, College and Career Readiness, and Parent and Family Support. 

Now, this $2.5 million Full Service grant will provide District 2 $500,000 a year for the next five years to support the following:

  • High-quality early childhood education programs.
  • High-quality school and out-of-school time programming.
  • Support for children's transitions into elementary, middle, and high school, and on to post-secondary education and the workplace.
  • Family and community engagement supports for at-home student learning.
  • Social, health, nutrition, and mental health services and supports.

Look for more details about the exciting opportunities to be made possible by these grants in the weeks and months to come!
Johnson and Tioga students team up with Nashville hitmaker to write and perform their own songs.
On October 15 and 16, hit Nashville singer/songwriter Steve Seskin returned to District 2 to team up with fourth and fifth graders at W.A. Johnson and Tioga Schools.

Together, they wrote and performed two news songs to add to the growing catalog of tunes written by District 2 students with Mr. Seskin’s assistance.

At Johnson, they wrote and performed "Rise and Shine," which will serve as the theme song for the District’s new RISE Academies.
Click above to watch Johnson students and Steve Seskin sing "Rise and Shine."
Click above to watch Tioga students and Steve Seskin sing "Learning and Leading."
At Tioga, they wrote and performed "Learning and Leading."

This is the fourth year Mr. Seskin has visited District 2. The goal of his student songwriting program is to instill a love of creative expression in students, and to help them create their own songs that speak to issues that affect their entire school community, such as bullying, respect, peer pressure, diversity, and self-esteem.

“When students write their own song, they’re more apt to live by the words and quietly convince other students to do the same,” said Mr. Seskin.

To date, District 2 students have written eight songs with Mr. Seskin, including this year’s District 2 theme song, " I Belong ." Mr. Seskin will now take these two newest tunes to Nashville, where they, too, will be recorded by professional singers and musicians for release this spring.
Village Manager Evan Summers (left) and Village President Frank DeSimone (right) put on their Halloween costumes and posed for plenty of photos with trunk-o-treaters at Blackhawk Middle School.
BSD2 COMMUNITY TRUNK-O-TREAT: Trunk-o-Treat was a ton of fun Tuesday night. Thanks to everyone who came out to share their costumes, and to all of our event sponsors for sharing their treats.

Photo of students marching in Tioga School's Halloween Parade
HALLOWEEN PARADES: It was a perfect day for Halloween parades at Tioga and W.A. Johnson School. Thank you to everyone who was able stop by and cheer our students on Wednesday afternoon. If you missed it, don't worry! We bet you'll see some costumed kiddos that you know if you check out all of our fun photos.

Photo of students marching in Johnson's Halloween parade
Photo of folkloric dancers performing during an assembly at W.A. johnson School
District 2 schools celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month ran from September 15 to October 15, and was celebrated in a variety of ways across District 2.

At Blackhawk Middle School, students of herencia hispana (Hispanic heritage) spoke during the morning announcements each week throughout the month-long celebration. They shared a short biography and quotes of inspiration from famed guitarist, singer and songwriter Jose Feliciano; comedian and actor George Lopez; Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros; New York politician, educator and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; and Chicago Cubs star Javier Báez.

Blackhawk also hosted back-to-back concerts celebrating Hispanic culture. On Saturday, September 15, the Consulate of Guatemala held a marimba concert in Blackhawk;s auditorium to celebrate the country’s Independence Day. Then on Sunday, September 16, Sones de México, a Grammy-nominated folk music ensemble from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, took the BMS stage for a free concert sponsored by the Bensenville Arts Council in partnership with Bensenville Community Public Library and Bensenville School District 2.

The District’s elementary schools also recognized Hispanic Heritage Month. Artists from the Frida Kahlo Community Organization visited W.A. Johnson School to perform several special folkloric dance demonstrations. At Tioga School, calaveras -- the colorful, decorative skulls commemorating Mexico’s Day of the Dead -- featured prominently among the artwork displayed in the hallways for International Night, which also featured Mexico and the Caribbean Islands among the five different stations that gave students and families opportunities to learn about and share their cultures.
Click above to watch the Frida Kahlo Community Organizations folkloric dancers perform at W.A. Johnson School.
Click above to watch e ighth grader Samantha R. shares a short biography on Jose Feliciano during Blackhawk Middle School's morning announcements.
Bensenville School District 2
210 S. Church Street
Bensenville, IL 60106