Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 7 Issue 13
Friday, April 22, 2016
Greetings from Dr. Cremascoli: District reviews parent survey results

Dear District 58 Community,
Thank you to the many parents who took the time to respond to the District's recent parent survey. Last month, more than 650 parents completed the School Environment and District Reporting Systems Survey. This month, our third-through-eighth grade students are taking the Student School Environment Survey.  
Results from these surveys will be used by our schools, district committees and district leaders to help guide our ongoing improvement efforts.
District 58 currently has two Report Card Committees working to review and recommend improvements to the District's current reporting tools at both the elementary and middle school levels. Results from the District Reporting Systems Survey are being used to help inform and guide their work, along with a careful review of best practices. These Committees will use this valuable feedback as they work to develop recommendations for revisions and improvements to the District's reporting systems.
In addition, our School Improvement Teams and district teams will be reviewing the parent and student School Environment Survey data as part of their school improvement planning for the upcoming school year.  The District uses these results to inform district goals and action planning. 
The District plans to review and discuss these results at the June Board Meeting, and the results will be published online at that time as well. We received many thoughtful insights, and sincerely appreciate the feedback. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete this survey.

Kari Cremascoli, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools
Whittier student wins contest, presents at TEDxIIT conference

Kate (center) poses with the Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Cremascoli and Teacher Mrs. Lyons at the Board's April 11 meeting.
TED Talks are short speeches that convey big ideas. BrenĂ© Brown on vulnerability.  Ken Robinson on education. Kate Cesario on empathy.
Yes, we mean Kate Cesario, the 10-year-old girl who attends Whittier School. And why yes, she was the youngest person to ever present at the TEDxIIT Conference.

Kate's had an incredible past couple of months. She won a prestigious writing contest, presented her essay in front of a large crowd and attracted the attention of a TEDxIIT producer, who asked her to participate at the April 10 TEDxIIT conference. So she did, and she impressed everyone! 

O'Neill's Janette Syverson named District 58 Teacher of the Year  
Hillcrest's Dr. Sue Anderson wins Local Stalwart Award
Janette Syverson, center, with Asst. Principal Melissa Sawisch & Principal Matt Durbala
The Downers Grove Elementary Education Association has named Janette Syverson as its 2016 Teacher of the Year! Ms. Syverson teaches seventh grade science at O'Neill Middle School.  
Teacher of the Year judges selected Ms. Syverson for this honor after reading and scoring an incredible nomination essay -- secretly compiled by her work colleagues --  that described Ms. Syverson's countless contributions throughout her long and fulfilling career as a teacher, both in District 58 (for the past 23 years) and in her previous school districts. 
The DGEEA congratulates and thanks all of the 2016 Teacher of the Year nominees for their dedication and service: 

- Janette Syverson,  seventh grade science teacher at O'Neill
- Jen Gorman , school psychologist at Kingsley and El Sierra
- Amy Kilner , seventh/eighth grade resource teacher at Herrick
- Sarah McJoynt , seventh grade reading/ELA teacher at Herrick
- Patti Cepeda , behavior specialist in District 58
- Julie Batkiewicz , fifth/sixth grade teacher at Henry Puffer
- Diane Claver,  third grade teacher at El Sierra

Dr. Anderson, center right, poses with DGEEA members.
The DGEEA also congratulates Dr. Sue Anderson, Hillcrest fifth grade teacher. At the April 21 IEA/Region Dinner, the  DGEEA presented Dr. Anderson with the Local Stalwart Award.

"This is an award that is given to a DGEEA member for going above and beyond the duties of any member," said DGEEA President Marla Gilbert. "Sue has given so much to the DGEEA through her position as a Region Council Rep and an Executive Board Member."
Grove Children's Preschool qualifies for a Gold rating on state report

District 58's Grove Children's Preschool made many improvements this past year. The program enhanced its curriculum, increased social-emotional skill instruction and improved parent communication, to name just a few examples.

These efforts paid off:  on this year's Preschool for All state audit report, the program scored so well that it qualifies for a Gold rating, the highest score possible! The preschool previously earned a Silver rating, the second highest distinction.
"It's been a tremendous couple of years. The work of staff and students in the program is remarkable. Preschool is a little piece of District 58 that makes a big impact on our entire school system," said Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Jessica Stewart.
Preschool uses Seesaw app to enhance parent communication  
This school year, many District 58 schools, including Grove Children's Preschool, introduced Seesaw to their classrooms. This parent password-protected app offers a new way for teachers to communicate student progress to parents. Seesaw serves as a digital portfolio highlighting each student's daily work.
"Preschool teachers take photos of preschoolers engaged in learning and post the photos to Seesaw, along with a brief description," said Preschool Coordinator Jackelyn Cadard. "Parents can see exactly what their children are learning through the pictures and descriptions.'
Preschool Teacher Nancy Hildreth said she enjoys the ease of taking photos with her iPad and posting them to the app.
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that's certainly the case here," Hildreth said. "Our parents - especially parents who might be traveling for work - love to see pictures of their kids at school each day. It keeps them better connected to what their children are learning."
Students learn writing and illustrating skills from the pros at Author Fest

Tom Watson (left) draws Stick Dog, while Lester 3rd graders follow along (right).

Author Fest 2016 was in full swing last week! Four popular children's authors --   Laura Huliska-Beith, Chris Rylander, Liesl Shurtliff and Tom Watson -- visited several District 58 schools, where they led hands-on writing and illustrating demonstrations and offered aspiring writers tips to success. The event concluded with  a public Book Sale and Signing on April 15 at the Downers Grove Public Library.

District 58 offers summer school; Register by Friday, April 29

Summer art
District 58's summer art classes are very popular!
Looking for educational and entertaining summer activities? District 58 will once again offer its Summer School and Extended School Year programs for families. Please sign up by Friday, April 29. Summer School courses include math, reading, art, digital gaming design, band, orchestra and kindergarten prep. Extended School Year provides enrichment for students who qualify through their IEP.

Looking for summer sports camps?  Herrick Middle School will offer a variety of co-ed summer sports camps for children entering fifth through eighth grades. Each camp runs for one week, and campers will receive one-on-one instruction, structured skill work and game play, and a camp T-shirt. 

Looking for other summertime options? District 58's community partners, including the PTA and the Downers Grove Public Library, will again offer educational summer camps. District 58 will share more information about these opportunities in the coming weeks.
Video Spotlight
A Glance at our Grants: Whittier learns empathy through literature

Not only does Deb Krygeris teach sixth grade at Whittier, she also co-leads The Reading Games. Naturally, she encourages her students to read and has built an impressive classroom library.

Research shows that classroom literature is one of the best ways to teach intangible subjects, such as compassion and kindness. So this year, Mrs. Krygeris requested and received an Education Foundation grant for several books that broaden student perspectives and cultivate empathy.

School Spotlight
Students excel at Illinois Young Author's Conference Contest

Several District 58 students participated in this year's Illinois Young Author's Conference Contest. Congratulations to the students whose stories qualified them to participate at the Illinois Young Author's Conference, taking place May 14 at Illinois State University!

Taran Mellacheruvu, Belle Aire
Sally Lichner, Indian Trail
Payson Horno Salerno, El Sierra Sam Brockway, Lester
Gabrielle Chen, Highland Josiah Hsu, O'Neill
Mary Kosowski, Highland Madeline Riske, Pierce Downer
Olivia Bouvier, Henry Puffer Ana Barnett, Whittier
Connor Lyons and Ben Paladino, Fairmount
Rachel Rodi and Jenny Dinkel, Kingsley

Henry Puffer students interview Mayor Tully for Genius Hour

Henry Puffer third graders Nate and Isaac recently had the unique opportunity to interview Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully, as part of Nate's research for his Genius Hour project.

"Nate's Genius Hour project was to learn more about how the city government works," said teacher Mrs. Katie Hurckes. "He is learning about similar topics in Boy Scouts and wanted to extend what he was learning. He asked if he could interview the mayor so I sent an email to see what would happen!"

El Sierra fifth grader places in national swimming competition
Andrea Paradis, a fifth grader at El Sierra, swims for the Hornet Swim Club. She and four teammates recently qualified for the NCSA Age Group Junior Nationals swimming competition! Last month, the team traveled to Orlando for the competition, where they finished in 30th place at the meet!
Individually, Andrea came in ninth place in the 50-yard breaststroke race and in 15th place in the 100-yard breaststroke. C ongratulations, Andrea!
Fresh snacks delight Pierce Downer Survivor Challengers

Having students try new foods is not an easy task - especially when it involves fruits and vegetables! But Pierce Downer kids were brave and eager to try fun, new snacks - and they rose to the challenge.

There were 254 students (a 75 percent participation rate) who accepted the Survivor Snack Challenge! Students anxiously lined up in the gymnasium and were able to taste chocolate hemp milk, ginger candy, aloe juice, rainbow baby carrots dipped in baba ganoush, dehydrated goji berries and fresh papaya! It was a pleasant and welcome surprise by the challengers! 

Photos by Amy Goray Photography; Story by LaVonne Czech.

Highland travels the world at PTA's Geography Night

The Highland PTA recently hosted a fun and educational Geography Night.  Families "traveled" around the continents, learning new skills and information. They met a sloth from North America, learned to write their names in Chinese, celebrated African dance, studied the South American rainforests, discovered facts about sharks and koalas, and more!

Thank you, parent Luis Rizo, for contributing this information and photos!

In this issue
Greetings from Dr. Cremascoli: District reviews parent survey results
Whittier student wins contest, presents at TEDxIIT conference
O'Neill's Janette Syverson named District 58 Teacher of the Year
Preschool uses Seesaw app to enhance parent communication
Students learn writing and illustrating skills from the pros at Author Fest
District 58 offers summer school; Register by Friday, April 29
A Glance at our Grants: Whittier learns empathy through literature
Students excel at Illinois Young Author's Conference Contest
Henry Puffer students interview Mayor Tully for Genius Hour
El Sierra fifth grader places in national swimming competition
Fresh snacks delight Pierce Downer Survivor Challengers
Highland travels the world at PTA's Geography Night
2016-17 registration is due May 13
Board news
Community e-flyers

2016-17 registration is due May 13

Remember to register your child for the 2016-17 school year by Friday, May 13!

The District sent parents personalized registration information via email and backpack mail (or U.S. postal mail for current seventh graders) on April 11. These messages included your child's personalized "snapcode," a password that lets you log onto your child's registration page.   

Board news

The District 58 Board of Education held a regular meeting on Monday, April 11. The meeting included the following highlights:

* A spotlight presentation on Grove Children's Preschool

* A flag salute and presentation by the Hillcrest Student Council, Principal Michelle Rzepka and PTA President Gina Stark

* Superintendent's, Business and Committee reports

* Recognition of Kate Cesario, a Whittier fifth grader who won the regional Celebrate America immigration essay contest and presented at the recent TEDxIIT Conference

* Recognition of this year's Young Author's Conference students

* Bid approvals for several summertime buildings and grounds maintenance projects, including playground excavation and mulch installation, classroom furniture, painting, etc.

* Discussion on the Board's increased community engagement efforts

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The mission of District 58, in partnership with parents and community, is to challenge and engage each child by providing quality educational programs and support services in a safe, nurturing, and child-centered environment in order to prepare all students to be lifelong learners and contributing members of a global society.  
Communicate 58 shares timely, relevant information about District 58 with parents, community members and others who are interested in how we are living out our mission. If you have any questions/comments regarding Communicate 58, or have an article/photo idea for the publication, please contact Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt at or 630-719-5805.