The Skokie Home Scoop

Dear Skokie Families,

Thanksgiving break is upon us, and many of our families are preparing for travel, a full house, a full belly, cooking, shopping, time to relax.  Wherever next week's holiday may bring you, now is a great time of year to remind our children (and ourselves) of the power of gratitude.  This theme has come up a number of times in our newsletter this year.  I am reminded often of its importance, and have seen the impact it can have on shifting the tenor of a conversation, the outlook of someone who is struggling and its ability to inspire charity on many levels. 

Interestingly enough, practicing gratitude has known biological influence on brain health.  There are a number of articles that talk about this, but one caught my eye recently, published in Greater Good Magazine (a periodical provided by UC Berkeley--click here to view the article).  Their magazine's tagline is "Science-based insights for a meaningful life."  Whether you are someone who is motivated by fact, faith or a combination of both, this type of tagline is appealing to all in that it can be hard to argue with proven results.  We like those (proven results) as parents and educators, and seek out advice from resources that attempt to ensure they will be ours.  The article speaks of a study involving 300 participants in which there were incredible shifts in the outlook and mental health of those who made time for gratitude within their daily habits.  Practicing gratitude is not novel or a recent discovery, but becoming harder and harder to do in our fast-paced, instant gratification world.  Most questions can be answered with a solid Google search.  Most things can be ordered on Amazon.  Most people can be reached wherever there is a cell tower.  For so many in our community, there is little to want for, and yet, we can so easily lose sight of that.

As we head into the coming holiday week, think about just that...what can I learn from my family members this week that no amount of Googling will uncover?  What gifts will I receive this week that cannot be bubble wrapped in the signature A to Z box?  And how hard would it be to ask my family and friends to put away their cell phones while we spend time together this week looking at each other in the eye without a screen in between.  The moments worthy of gratitude can easily be born from simple changes like these.  That is my challenge for you in the coming days.  

There will not be a Home Scoop next week, so please enjoy the time together with your family.  Stay warm, dry and safe in your travels.  We look forward to seeing everyone back at school on Monday, November 26.

Most Sincerely,

Kelly Tess

#beatree  #everybodyin

This year's Home Scoop will feature the "AP Corner," giving our Assistant Principal, Betty Weir, an opportunity to share information each week. You can follow Betty on Twitter at @BettyWeirEdu.

A Window Into Our Classrooms

As I walked around to classrooms this week, I witnessed a wide variety of wonderful learning taking place. Here is a glimpse of what was going on inside our classrooms:
  • Students in drama have memorized poems and are acting them out.
  • Some of our sixth graders were constructing buildings using the knowledge they learned from a reading about strong engineering practices. They they put the structures they built on a table that simulates an earthquake to see if the structures would stand. Then they kept building or learned from what didn't work to try again.
  • In World Language, students practiced speaking the language as they acted out a variety of situations narrated by the teacher. They were immersed in the language and had the opportunity to practice articulating it.
  • During writing, students across the school were engaged in the writing process and were working to add sensory details into narrative stories. They were also learning how writers use sentence structure and paragraphing to impact their reader's experience.
  • Students were learning about team building in KW. They spent time engaging in an activity in which they had to make their way across the gym with a limited number of materials. Then, they reflected on how their communication contributed to their success or failure.
  • Our band and orchestra students were fine tuning their performances for the upcoming winter concert.
  • Students were in book groups and engaged in conversations about character traits and how characters change over time.
  • In art, students had the opportunity to engage in a Virtual Reality experience.
  • Our 5th grade math students were learning how the standard algorithm for multiplication is similar and different from the partial product strategy.
  • During inquiry, students on one 6th grade team generated important questions that require much investigation, such as, "How can we help people without homes get homes or create more homes?", "Why do we prefer certain foods?", and "What is beyond our universe?"

What strikes me the most as I spend time in our classrooms is how engaged our students are in the work they are doing. Overall, they are thinking critically and really challenging themselves to grow. We continue to remind our students that failure and struggle is an inevitable part of that growth, and to see it as a learning opportunity rather than a defeat.


The Skokie/Washburne MathCounts team is designed to engage students who have a deep passion and motivation for Math.  Its members engage in the opportunity to compete on several levels (MathCounts teams exist in all 50 states). The competing team consists of up to ten 6th-8th grade students.  Although 5th grade students will not be able to compete in the competition, they will train with our 6th-8th grade students and be more prepared to compete next year.  The first MathCounts meeting took place this past Wednesday, but new members are still encouraged to join.  See Mr. DeGiulio if you are interested or click here to register.  

An Opportunity to Give Back

District News

Future Ready D36 Update

This letter was shared on Friday, October 26 from Superintendent Kocanda and School Board President Kristen Hertel on the approval of the Educational Master Facility Plan: 

As planning begins immediately to define the first phase of our long-range EMFP, we are also looking ahead to an April 2, 2019 referendum. You may continue to follow the process by accessing future dates and meeting materials at

EMFP Update at a Special Central PTO Meeting on Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
District administrators and a School Board member will share an update on the Educational Master Facility Plan (EMFP) on Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at The Skokie School . The update on the EMFP, which was finalized in October 2018, will include the important steps leading to an April 2, 2019 referend um. Superintendent Kocanda and team will share commitments to key components of the EMFP including:
  • Classroom additions to Crow Island to support K-4 enrollment
  • Consolidation to a grade 5-8 campus at Washburne
  • Infrastructure upgrades for safety and security, Health-Life Safety and HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems
  • Multi-tiered modernization for instructional and common spaces
  • Sustainability
Learn about work in progress to define a Phase I Facilities Plan in December and and the key elements of the Redistricting & Implementation Plan to effectively revise elementary school attendance boundaries and balance enrollments long-term, with a priority of bringing Kindergarten back to Crow Island.

Please note, if you have already attended a PTO presentation at your child(ren)'s school, this is the same presentation.
Winnetka Public Schools Foundation Annual Report

The District is incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Winnetka Public Schools Foundation. The Foundation's Board is committed to raising funds that enable District 36 to go above and beyond what is possible with tax dollars alone. Please review the 2017-2018 Annual Report to learn how Foundation grants support innovation in our schools .  Thank you, Winnetka Public Schools Foundation, for the incredible opportunities you continue to provide for our students!

Winnetka Parents Institute Events
Hour of Code
December 5, 2018
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Crow Island School MakerSpace, 1112 Willow Road
December 3-9 is Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. CSEdWeek is held in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).  Each year, millions of people participate in #HourofCode, the largest learning event in history, to promote the importance of Computer Science Education. We encourage families and community members of all ages to join us as our students guide various coding and technology activities as part of the international event #Hour of Code.  RSVP here: .

Hold your phone camera up to the QR code to open the RSVP or visit this link-

Update to the District's Bullying Prevention Plan

The District's Bullying Prevention Plan, first piloted in 2015-2016, educates students on how to identify bullying behavior and how to report an incident. When the Plan was piloted, two mechanisms for reporting were provided. Paper forms were made available within classrooms and a collection box for those forms placed in a centralized location providing access for all students. Alternatively, an online communication form was placed on each school's website (Students/School Documents/Bullying Communication)  and accessible from the District's home page (Parents/Registration & School Forms/Bullying Communication)

Each year since the plan was piloted, an end-of-year review has been held to ensure that the objectives of the Plan are being met. Last year, we heard from students, staff and parents of middle school students that paper forms were not being utilized and that accessing the form from the website required too much intentionality.  To ensure that middle school students have a method of reporting bullying behavior, they will soon have access to the communication form via an "app" on their iPad.

And now, in conjunction with Bullying Prevention Month, students in grades 5-8 will be informed, in their advisories, of this new system. This information will be part of an ongoing conversation with students about bullying prevention, identification, reporting, and taking a stand to do their part to stomp out bullying.

**After-School Sports and Climbing Club will NOT meet next week due to the holiday.**
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Dates to Note 

Thanksgiving Break
November 21-23

End Trimester I
Friday, November 30

Begin Trimester II
Monday December 3

Progress Reports Mailed Home
Week of December 10
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