Volume 26, No. 10 | Thursday, May 25, 2023

News from the May 23, 2023 meeting

Science Program Shifts to Exploring and Observing 

A new K-5 science curriculum is centered on learning experiences designed to inspire a sense of wonder in natural phenomena and develop every student’s ability to think and problem-solve like a scientist or engineer. 


Following a two-year study by a committee that included teachers from all grades and schools as well as consultation with the Glenbrook North science department, the district adopted the K-5 curriculum developed by the Smithsonian Education Center. Junior high science teachers, who are content specialists, are also refreshing their lessons with more experiential learning and assessments.


Students in the elementary grades will spend 40 to 45 minutes daily on either science or social studies, alternating between the subjects. In addition, students in grades 2-5 will participate in 45-minute STEM labs 18 times each year.

“Children are born investigators. We want that excitement and interest in the natural world to continue all the way through junior high school and beyond.”

--Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer

“We want kids to see themselves as true scientists and engineers through collaboration and discourse,” Dr. Raitzer said.


Resources developed by Smithsonian will be used for kindergarten-5th grade while ongoing collaboration with the high school will continue to inform improvements and enhancements for the junior high grades. The Board of Education approved purchasing the Smithsonian program for K-5, which includes teacher guides, children’s books, science experiment materials, student activity guides and teacher training.


The Smithsonian program is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Illinois Learning Standards for science. The coursework is less about answer-finding and more about applying what they have learned to what they are observing, and how they collaborate and debate to arrive at conclusions.

Teachers will participate in training leading up to the start of next school year.


Northbrook Junior High science teachers are collaborating with colleagues across the township and the high school to refresh lessons and implement new assessments.

World Language Review Work Begins


The elementary and junior high World Language teachers are collaborating with the Glenbrook North World Language Department to revise and align the curriculum and review course pathways.


Currently, all students in 1st through 5th grade have 30 minutes of world language a day. At the junior high, students can choose Spanish or French.


Some 578 families participated in a world language survey and provided very positive feedback for the program, said Dr. Kris Raitzer, Assistant Superintendent. Those findings include:

  • 95% of parents agreed that learning a world language is important to student success, and
  • 91% of parents agreed it is important to start a program in elementary school.


“We want students to develop languages with cultural competency, empathy and understanding,” Dr. Raitzer said. The focus is to develop students’ critical thinking, reading, writing and listening in a world language. It is also important to develop students who want to be lifelong learners of language, she said.

School Calendar Adjusted for Primary Election

The school calendar has been adjusted to create a non-attendance day for the 2024 presidential primary election on March 19, 2024. Cook County designates polling places and has notified districts that the practice of using schools is expected to continue.

March 19, 2024, will be a School Improvement Day for staff, replacing a half-day that had been scheduled for January 12, 2024. 

In addition, Young Explorers and elementary parent-teacher conferences were adjusted for Valentine’s Day, moving evening conferences to Feb. 13. Afternoon/evening conferences will also be held on Feb. 15. 

Download the updated 2023-24 Calendar at a Glance.

Health Teacher, NBJH Receive State Blue Ribbon

The Board recognized Northbrook Junior High and Health Teacher Wendy Concklin for receiving the Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Health Education from the Illinois School Health Association and the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. 

The award recognizes the quality of the health education NBJH students receive. Each student participates in nine weeks of health education each year. Ms. Concklin has built this curriculum from the ground up, using multiple sources to develop customized, age-appropriate coursework at each grade level. Health education focuses on health promotion, wellness prevention, and maintenance of positive health. The curriculum complies with all state standards.

In addition to the health curriculum, NBJH was noted for focusing resources on the whole child and offering diverse extracurricular activities. Ms. Concklin and NBJH will be recognized at the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Association on November 30.

Above, NBJH Health Teacher Wendy Concklin is presented with a certificate of recognition by Board President Jennifer Gallinson for receiving the Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Health Education.

Buildings & Grounds

NBJH Gym Gets Facelift This Summer

Summer is prime time for building projects that help the district maintain quality learning environments for students during the school year.

Chief School Business Official Jessica Donato summarized this year’s projects, including:

  • New HVAC unit for the Greenbriar Auditorium
  • The large gym at Northbrook Junior High will have a fresh look next year, with a new divider to replace the original wood panel divider, new lighting and fresh paint, including wall graphics. 
  • An elevator will be replaced at the junior high as well.
  • A security fence will be installed around the Westmoor playground. The village recently approved a 4-foot-high ornamental fence for the area.
  • Lighting upgrades throughout all school buildings are being funded by a ComEd grant and will help save energy costs next year.

Students Offer Ideas for School Building Improvements

Facilities Master Plan research is in full swing as DLA Architects visited with students at all four schools. Students reviewed a board of newly designed learning spaces and identified what they liked and why. The architects also asked what the students wished they had in their school and a little bit about color, light and space. Parent/staff small-group sessions are set for next week.

New Staff

The Board of Education approved the following new staff:

Ryan Hamilton – Physical Education, Meadowbrook School

Ms. Hamilton joins District 28 with 20 years of experience from Chicago Public Schools where she taught students in kindergarten through 9th grade. She has a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies Curriculum & Instruction from National Louis University.

Kylene Birrell – Special Education teacher, Northbrook Junior High

Ms. Birrell joins District 28 after having served as a long-term substitute in District 225 and with clinical experience in Chicago Public School. She has a bachelor’s degree in special education from Northeastern Illinois University.

Cesar Barraza joins the district immediately as a custodian.

Want to Know More?

Livestream/Archive Video

The Board of Education meetings are live-streamed on the District 28's YouTube Channel. The live streams are also archived for later viewing.

Next Meeting is June 20 at 5:30 p.m.

The Board of Education meets in the HOH Community Room at District office, 1475 Maple Ave., The meetings are also live-streamed on the District 28 YouTube channel. The next regular meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 20th.

Board of Education

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