April 2020

The Winnetka Wire
Monthly News from The Winnetka Public Schools
Superintendent's Message

Dear Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

At this afternoon's press conference, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all Illinois schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Like many of you, we are heartbroken that we will not be able to meet with our students in-person for the rest of the year. This is not the end to the school year that any of us imagined. We want to assure you that our community will see our way through this together, and we will put our students first as we always do.  We know this news will be especially difficult for our 4th, 6th and 8th graders. Please know we are identifying special ways in which we can lift spirits and honor some of our treasured end-of-year activities. We will update you in more detail next week regarding the impact of the school closure on school events, activities, and transitions.

This has been, without a doubt, a harrowing month for all of us. In the midst of many challenges, we have truly seen the resilience and collective strength of the entire Winnetka community in action. We are incredibly thankful for your support as we unexpectedly closed our schools and swiftly shifted to Remote Learning. We have been encouraged by the many positive and uplifting messages we've received from you.

We continue to have regular meetings with partners throughout the Village to ensure that all civic entities are up-to-date, communicating effectively, and following best practices based on guidance.  We also meet regularly with the leaders in the New Trier Township schools to ensure we are working collaboratively and sharing helpful resources. 

We appreciate the unwavering dedication of our teachers for their creativity and flexibility to ensure that teaching and learning continues for all of our students. We are proud of our families and know that many parents are balancing a plethora of responsibilities as they oversee their students' Remote Learning. We are thankful for our students for their resilience and positivity in light of our current situation. We look forward to when we are able to safely return to school and engage with each other in person again. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of our students engaged in expressing gratitude to our community earlier this week

Finally, our District remains grateful for our healthcare providers, first responders, and essential workers on the front lines.  If you or one of your family members is one of these people, please know the entire school community is behind you and thinking of you often.  


Dr. Trisha Kocanda

P.S.  A special thank you to our Winnetka Fire Department for sharing these special read alouds with our students this week. We are grateful for our incredible community connections!

Remote Boa rd Meeting Announcement

The School Board meeting will be held remotely via Zoom on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The Board's Organizational Meeting is at 7:00 p.m. The Regular Meeting is at 7:15 p.m. and will include the following presentation on the agenda:

1. Update on Remote Learning
The 2020-2021 calendar will also be voted on at the meeting. 

Public comment process : For those who wish to make public comment, please communicate with the Board via email to the Board address (board@winnetka36.org) or phone (847-999-3336 and leave a message with your name) and request that your statement be read or played for the public record.  Please note, the duration of public comment is limited to three minutes, per School Board policy. These communications need to be received by 2:00 pm on 4/21/20 to be read or recorded at the meeting.

This Board Meeting format complies with the recently updated Open Meetings Act requirements. A recording of the meeting will be posted on the District website within the week.

Grey Day: Monday, April 20 Preview

On Monday, April 20 we will have our second District-wide Grey Day, with a focus specifically centered on Earth Week.  A guide of activities for this day, organized by grade level bands, will be shared with families via email on Sunday, April 19 at 6:00 p.m.

Associates & Remote Learning

A shift to Remote Learning has required our teachers, students, administrators and parents to adapt to an entirely new way of receiving instruction.  As such, all of our roles are being reinvented as we seek to support our students. Under normal circumstances, our Teacher Associates play a critical role in the classroom, supporting students on an individual and small group basis, providing review of instruction, reinforcement, assistance in classroom management of routines and practices.  As we settle into a second phase of Remote Learning, we have taken some time to establish guidelines for our Teacher Associates so that they are able to maintain their own role in contributing to Remote Learning and support of students.  

Our Kindergarten and First Grade classes each have a dedicated Classroom Associate.  In addition, we have Special Education Associates throughout all grade levels that are present to provide supports specifically designated within Individualized Education Plans (IEPs/Special Education).  If you do not have a student in Kindergarten, First Grade or within our Special Education program, it is likely that you and your child will not interact with a Teacher Associate during Remote Learning. 

If you do have a student that may be interacting with a Teacher Associate, expect to see any of the following from this dedicated team:

  • Participation in Synchronous Lessons
  • Supporting Small Student Groups 
  • Checking in with Individual Students requiring specific supports
  • Leading a game, story, review session, song/dance with students

In addition, our Teacher Associates are using this time to collaborate with teachers on lesson development, differentiation and modification of materials and professional development specific to Remote Learning and support individual needs of students.  We are working together to continuously monitor how our Teacher Associates are supporting our students so that we can make adjustments where necessary.  

Inquiries Regarding School Access

Schools have been receiving questions from parents to access our school buildings for student belongings and materials. Due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation and in accordance with the Stay-at-Home Order issued by Governor Pritzker, we are limiting public access to our school buildings at this time. We will be able to help facilitate the pick up of student items when the Stay-at-Home Order is lifted. Our first priority is supporting our public officials in taking measures that help protect the collective safety of our community. 

Family Resources/Support Opportunties

Please visit our Family Resources page to access information to help your family during this time. Our partners at New Trier have provided this helpful list of community mental health resources . District SEL partner, CASEL, is hosting CASEL CARES webinars on Fridays through the end of April. To register or listen to past sessions, visit the CASEL website . Our Principals shared this helpful article from Harvard Business Review that may be beneficial to you as you cope with the current situation .

Our partners in District 39 have shared this opportunity, open to our families:
Tuesday, April 21st 7pm
Topic: Connecting Kids: How to Virtually Connect Kids at a Time When They Can't Be Physically Connected

Description: Tony DeMonte from Wilmette School District joined by Dr Dominguez from Family Service Center will talk about strategies on how to maintain social relationships during these unique times. Tips on how to facilitate digital connections and example apps/tools will be discussed.
Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UyPcgLKEQYW0TfiIQ5DrKw

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Students Expressed their Gratitude to our Community this Week... 

The Winnetka Public Schools is one of only 150 organizations that has been named a Top Workplace in Chicago. 

The award is based solely on the feedback that District staff offered through an employee survey administered 
by a third party. 

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