September 2016
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Superintendent's  Message: 
Palos 118 Referendum
Over the past two months, I've had the opportunity to talk with parents and community members regarding our proposed capital investments and building bond referendum.  By now, I'm sure you are aware that the Board of Education approved a question on the November 8 General Election Ballot that if passed, would allow the school district to issue $6.5 million in building bonds for capital improvements at our three schools. Through my chats with parents and residents, I've become aware of several misconceptions about this issue.  I'd like to take a moment to address two of those misconceptions.

Probably the biggest misconception is that voting "yes" for the referendum will raise taxes.  Voting "yes" for the referendum will not increase or decrease the property taxes you currently pay. The proposed new debt will be offset by retiring debt that will be paid off in December 2016.  As a result, the amount of taxes you pay will remain flat for the next four years until the new debt is retired in 2020.  At that time, the school district will be debt free.  To learn more about how this works, you can watch a short informational video by clicking on   this link.

The second misconception I've heard is that the proposed investments will only benefit our district-wide Pre-Kindergarten and Early Childhood programs.  The $6.5 million will benefit all students at all three of our schools.  Necessary boiler and hot water replacements will occur at Palos West and Palos South. A roof replacement will benefit students at Palos East.  The playground soft surface replacement at Palos West will eliminate existing tripping hazards for students in grades K-5. Energy efficiency projects will reduce utility costs so those savings can be redirected to classrooms.  And, all students will benefit from classroom and lab renovations at Palos South, Palos East, and Palos West that are designed to provide our students with 21st century learning environments.

In addition, the proposed capital improvements at Palos West include approximately $1.0 million to renovate existing kindergarten classrooms and to add at least one additional classroom, possibly two, in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten should the Board of Education decide to implement a full-day program in the future.

You can learn much more about our proposed projects at www.palos118.org or www.prek118.org.

To date, the board has held two informational meetings for the public.  I want to personally thank our outstanding Pre-K and Early Childhood teachers Lee Harwig, Jill Rafter and Stephanie Daley for volunteering their time to share with the community information regarding the proposed early learning addition at Palos West.  I encourage all residents to attend our final informational evening at Palos West on Wednesday, October 12, 2016, at 6:30 p.m.  The board is committed to making sure our parents and the entire community have the information necessary to make an informed decision in November.  I hope to see you there!

Warmest regards,
Dr. Anthony M. Scarsella, 
Superintendent of Schools
PFA's Cardinal Chase
Sunday, October 16, 2016

Foundation's Laps for Literature
Friday, October 7, 2016
MPA's Harvest Fest
Friday, October 14, 2016
Palos 118 Annual Back to School Picnic
The Palos 118 Back to School Family Picnic was held after the first day of school August 22.
People You Should Know:
Palos 118's
Early Learning Team

Pictured from left to right: Miss. Lee Harwig, Mrs. Suzanne MacLeod, Mrs. Jill Rafter, and Miss. Stephanie Daley


Miss. Lee Harwig is a pre-k teacher and has been with Palos 118 for 18 years. She holds a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Illinois State University, and a master's degree from St. Xavier, with an ELL endorsement from Benedictine. Outside of school, her hobbies include photography, reading, and spending time with family and her dog Chloe. "I love being a part of each child's individual journey," says Miss. Harwig. "There is nothing as exciting and rewarding than watching a student explore and discover something new for the first time."


Mrs. Suzanne MacLeod is in her first year at Palos 118. She earned her bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University in early childhood education, with endorsements in special education and ELL from Governors State University. When not teaching, Mrs. MacLeod is spending time with her three children at the ball park.


Mrs. Jill Rafter has been teaching in Palos 118 for 15 years. She holds a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Illinois, and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Governors State University and educational leadership from St. Francis. Outside of school, Mrs. Rafter enjoys spending time with her husband and three daughters, and going to Florida and Lake Lawn Lodge in Wisconsin. Miss Rafter's favorite part of being an early childhood teacher is "seeing smiling faces arrive at school, excited for all the opportunities that each day holds...I love sharing my students' beaming pride the first time they do something new all by themselves."


Miss. Stephanie Daley is in her second year teaching at Palos 118. She holds a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Lewis University with endorsements in ELL and early childhood special education.  Outside of school, Ms. Daley enjoys musicals or any type of theatrical performance. "My favorite aspect of teaching is watching the students learn and grow throughout the year," says Miss. Daley. "I love being able to experience the 'ah-ha' moments with them along the way."

CurriculumCornerEnVision Math 2.0
The EnVision Math 2.0 program is a comprehensive, blended digital and print mathematics program designed to help your child achieve the math proficiency levels established by the district, and it will help to provide the foundation for future math courses.
While using the program, your child will be actively involved in using concrete and digital tools to develop deeper mathematical understandings. You can expect your child to learn and practice math ideas and concepts in a variety of ways such as:
  • Solving problems and explaining their thinking
  • Using online tools to help build understanding in a visual way
  • Working individually, in pairs, and in small groups to solve problems and share thinking
  • Completing homework that promotes computational thinking, fluency, and application
  • Engaging in online practice that provides help as needed through worked-out examples and self-help videos
  • Experiencing a variety of math activities that include Math Games, Math & Science Activities, and Today's Challenge
By now, your child should have received a username and password from his/her teacher to access the program at www.pearsonrealize.com.  I encourage all parents to download the Bounce Pages App for quick access to the "Another Look Videos."  This will come in handy when helping your child with any part of his/her math homework. I have included instructions below:
  1. Go to the "App Store" or "Google Play" and search "BouncePages"
  2. Download onto your device.
  3. Allow to use your device's camera function
  4. Open the App.
  5. Scan the "Another Look" section in the student book or the online etext.  Click on English or Spanish, and a brief video will pop up to help your child review the concept. Just click the play button to begin. 
If parents have any questions pertaining to EnVisionmath2.0, feel free to contact your child's teacher or the curriculum office so we can help. 

ELA Common Assessments
Teachers assess student learning every day in a variety of ways. Whether it be asking questions, collecting classwork or homework, having students reflect on learning, teacher observations, giving quizzes, administering tests, etc., this feedback is essential when planning instruction. Beginning this school year, all grade levels have administered a common pretest in English Language Arts which reflects current instructional practices and standards. The K-6 pretests are from the Wonders Reading Program, and are designed to target grade level reading and writing skills. Students in grades 7 and 8 have taken a pretest that follows a similar format, and this information will be used at all grade levels to help teachers plan instruction.   
Districts utilize common assessment data as an added measure to help focus on higher levels of achievement for all students. This practice ensures that all students have access to the same essential knowledge and skills. When teachers review local data and have productive discussions about their students' strengths and weaknesses, there is a higher likelihood that they will identify areas of the curriculum that may need attention.
Later in the school year, students will take a similar posttest which will measure growth on the same essential knowledge and skills. By implementing these district-level common assessments, we are hopeful to become less dependent on third party venders and be able to maximize teaching and learning time. I am confident that this information will be helpful to our professional staff as they make instructional decisions to support all students in reaching their full potential.

Erin's Law
Each school year, students in District 118 will be participating in age-appropriate presentations regarding personal safety under the Erin's Law mandate which originated in Illinois in 2014.  Erin's Law requires school districts to teach child sexual abuse awareness education to all students. During the week of October 17th, children at Palos East, West, and South will be participating in age-appropriate assemblies regarding this very important personal safety topic. Once again, District 118 is bringing back Victor Pacini, motivational speaker and author, who has dedicated his work to helping children understand this sensitive topic. Victor's "Be Seen and Heard 2.0" presentation will be tailored to each grade level and picks up where he left off last year.    
A letter with the scheduled dates and additional information, including an opt out form, will be emailed to parents in early October. Parents can go to www.victorpacini.com/peace-of-mind-2 if you would like to preview the program.

District 118         Palos South         Palos East         Palos West