December 2017

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

Dear Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

As we prepare to welcome the New Year, it is energizing to think of the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead for our school community. As I reflect back on 2017, I am grateful for the many highlights we experienced.

Our youngest learners are benefitting from the launch of the Extended Day Kindergarten program this fall, the result of years of research and planning. We kicked off Future Ready D36 , our first Educational Master Facility Plan in 20 years. This is a holistic process that will measure, validate, quantify and qualify opportunities to align with our school facilities, our enrollment, and vision for teaching and learning in a fiscally responsible manner. Our commitment to strong financial stewardship remains paramount; over $30 Million from fund balances were used for early debt payment, resulting in taxpayer relief, and D36 maintains a AAA bond rating.

I am proud of how our school community embodies our Shared Vision and upholds the Winnetka Experience. Together, we provide our students with a whole child-focused environment where student voice is honored, a spirit of inquiry is fostered, creativity and collaboration flourish, and experiential learning is the norm. This year, students have presented to adults at national conferences, School Board and Future Ready D36 meetings, and the Illinois State Capitol. Two students were named elementary grand prize winners at the 2017 Google GEG Chicagoland Filmfest and Washburne students presented an original musical written by one of their peers, stellar examples of Progressive Education in action in D36.

We are deeply committed to lifelong learning and benefit from partnerships with Northwestern University, Apple, the Math Forum, and many other learning institutions. The Skokie School hosted its inaugural Career Fair, an opportunity for our students to learn from over 43 professionals in diverse fields. Esteemed leaders shared insight with our students and staff in 2017, including Dr. Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), and Stanford University math professor, Dr. Jo Boaler. We also welcomed hundreds of community members to engagement sessions on Future Ready D36 and Winnetka Parents Institute events in collaboration with organizations such as 50 Action 50.

As we celebrate this season, we remember that it is better to give than receive. I am proud to share that throughout the year, our school community has truly made "a meaningful difference in the world" by serving with organizations such as The Nora Project, The Floured Apron, and 15 non-profits as part of the National Day of Service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Thank you to The Winnetka Public Schools Foundation, our PTO volunteers, and to the entire Winnetka community for your commitment to excellence in our schools. May we continue to dream big as we work together to accomplish what is best for our children in the year ahead...and for many years to follow.

Sinc erely,  
Dr. Trisha Kocanda

Board Meeting Preview

The next School Board Regular Meeting will be held at Carleton Washburne School on Tuesday, December 19. There is a 5:00 p.m. Work Session on Reaching All Learners: Integrated Services and Special Education (a continuation of the November 2017 Work Session). There will be a Tax Levy hearing at 7:00 p.m. The Regular Meeting begins at 7:15 p.m. The following presentation is on the agenda:
  1. Educational Master Facility Plan:  Future Ready D36

As is always our goal in Winnetka, keeping our students at the center of all that we do is vital to the Future Ready D36 process. As part of our research on how facilities and learning environments best meet the needs of students today and prepare them for the future, the Future Ready D36 Core Team has toured several schools in and around the North Shore as well as California, Minnesota, and Virginia. Student-centered design elements observed include...

  • Flexible furniture that is easy to move, comfortable, and a variety of heights and sizes to meet students' learning needs and enhance collaboration
  • Abundant natural light, which research says creates a more positive learning environment
  • Walls that move, allowing collaboration amongst classrooms as well as a multipurpose use
  • Innovative technology to support teaching and learning incorporated throughout classrooms, common areas, and libraries
  • Accessibility for ALL students, staff, and visitors
  • Modern safety technology to best protect students and staff in the event of an emergency
  • Access to green spaces for hands-on learning both outside (i.e. a rain garden and green roof) and inside (i.e. a hydroponics lab and greenhouse)  
  • Energy efficiency resulting in cost savings and positive stewardship of natural resources
  • Thermal comfort to support research on temperature conditions ideal for learning
  • The incorporation of historic elements into new or renovated buildings

A video of local site visits is below:



The Future Ready D36 Core Team continues to research and explore solutions to best meet the needs of our students and school community. Upcoming community engagement opportunities will be announced after Winter Break. Meeting materials are available for Future Ready D36 at


Future Ready D36
-- Environmental Design & its Impact on Learning
Tuesday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m.
The Skokie School Community Room

Trisha Kocanda, Superintendent, and Barry Rodgers, Director of Innovation, Teaching, and Learning, will lead a discussion on best practices in environmental design and how this topic connects to
Future Ready D36. Why does access to natural light and green spaces matter in our schools? How does flexible furniture meet the needs of students? Learn more about what research says regarding environmental design and its impact on student growth and achievement. Representatives from the  Future Ready D36  Core Team will share reflections on recent site visits to schools, institutions of higher education, and modern workspaces.

For those who are unable to attend Winnetka Parents Institute events in person, most sessions are recorded and shared on the District website at

To pre-register your child for the 2018-2019 school year, please contact the District office at 847-446-9400 to begin the process. This early pre-registration process helps ensure we have proper staffing and most accurate school assignments.   Children who will be five-years-old on or before September 1, 2018, are eligible to enroll.   Click here for documents required for new students. Registration packets are available at the District Office ( 1235 Oak St .) Children will not be considered enrolled until residency documentation is verified and all forms are submitted. If you have any questions, please contact the District Office at 847-446-9400 .

Check out this video for a glimpse into Kindergarten in District 36:
Seven Winnetka Public Schools alumni are members of New Trier High School Swing Choir, which will have performed for over a dozen community events in December by the end of next week, including three local Rotary Clubs, Michigan Shores Club, and the downtown areas of Glencoe and Wilmette.

Alumni Rachael Chiao (Washburne Class of 2014), Lucas Kane (Washburne Class of 2014), and James Snyder (Washburne Class of 2014), all of whom attended Crow Island School, reflected on their D36 experience and how it has impacted their interests in high school. "Thanks to D36's commitment to the arts, I was prepared for the caliber of music classes at New Trier. The D36 schools solidified my passion for music, and I know that I'll carry music throughout the rest of my life," says Chiao. According to Kane, "For me the 'Winnetka Experience' has been a wonderful way to learn and explore creativity. All of the arts classes I was subject to in D36 have shaped my identity in high school and will continue to shape me as I grow up. I have always been encouraged to achieve my fullest and been allowed to flourish in a wonderful, accepting environment." Kane says he first fell in love with being on stage during a Crow Island Spring Sing. "Throughout my time at D36 I was offered lots of opportunities and the flexibility to pursue my interests," shares Snyder. He notes that his choir experience in D36 "established my love for music and my intention to pursue it through high school."

In addition to their Swing Choir involvement, Chiao, Kane, and Snyder are involved in a variety of other performing arts, leadership, and athletic activities at New Trier. They have enjoyed performing throughout the North Shore this month. "The holiday season is all about festivity and joy, and we hope that our music inspires those feelings," says Chiao. Snyder adds that, "We don't rehearse for ourselves as much as we rehearse to share our voices with others across the community."

Don't miss the talented group at the annual Winter Vocal Jazz Concert on Tuesday, December 19 at 7:00 p.m., in the new McGee Theater at the New Trier Winnetka Campus.  It will be the first official performance of the year in this new space, featuring the Swing Choir performing their holiday set of songs, directed by Nathan Landes, and Varsity Voices performing a variety of vocal jazz repertoire, directed by David Ladd. The concert is free and open to the public.

Important Reminder from 
The Winnetka Police Department
The Winnetka Police Department asks that everyone who lives and works in Winnetka read this important letter regarding locking vehicles. Please help us support the police department in keeping our community safe.

Ready to have a screen time conversation at home?  Subscribe to Tech Talk Tuesday (TTT) from the Screenagers' filmmaker, Dr. Delaney Ruston.  Dr. Ruston started weekly talks in her own home to foster healthy screen time and now shares TTT with thousands of families and teachers.  Topics include conversation starters about social media, video game use, and more.  

In the News

The Winnetka CurrentDaily North Shore, and  Winnetka Talk covered Dr. Arun Gandhi's visit to The Winnetka Public Schools.  Daily North Shore featured the District's Winnetka Parents Institute event in conjunction with 50 Action 50. Winnetka Living Magazine highlighted Carleton Washburne School student, Christopher Rider, for his charitable efforts for the past several holiday seasons.

For photos, news and more, follow The Winnetka Public Schools on social media. Connect with us by clicking on the icons at the bottom 
of this message.

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Board Meeting
December 19, 2017
7:15 p.m.
Carleton Washburne School

No School
Winter Break
December 23, 2017-January 7, 2018

No School
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
January 15, 2018

No School 
Institute Day
January 22, 2018


Fall in District 36

Dr. Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) visited District 36 this month. He shared memories and lessons learned while growing up with his grandfather, along with thoughts on making a meaningful difference in the world.

Over 35 parents and children--from preschool children to middle school students--participated in various coding and technology activities as part of the international event #HourofCode.

Skokie School students spent time exploring the question "Who are we?" by researching their family backgrounds and presenting their work at an Inquiry Open House.

Congratulations to Kate Forbes and David Rivera, Washburne students
who performed with the ILMEA District 7
Middle School Honors Jazz Ensemble at
Woodstock High School.  

Elementary students enjoyed Thanksgiving assemblies that included songs, dancing, entertainment from teachers, and
reflections on gratitude.

Crow Island students created beautiful
seasonal art.

Washburne students participated
in their annual
Walkathon to raise
money for Northwestern
Settlement House.

While Washburne students were reading To Kill a Mockingbird, they learned about
the appellate system from
Kent Law Professor,
Mr. Daniel Coyne.

From the Archives...

D36 students engaged in experiential learning. 

For a glimpse into The Winnetka Experience
and more information on the purpose of the 
Future Ready D36
initiative , please enjoy this video.

For a list of upcoming FAN speaker 
series events, 

Thanks to the
Green Team for
organizing the TREX Plastic Film Challenge, which runs
through April 2018.
Each year all schools participate in this program to collect
plastic bags and wrap, which are recycled
and made into
alternate wood products.
Collection bins are
now in our schools.
Please use these bins ONLY for recyclable materials.
School communities that collect the most plastic will be announced on Earth Day.

The Winnetka Public Schools community empowers every student 
to flourish in an innovativeexperiential environment. 
We support and challenge all learners
 to actively engage in their continual growth and achievement 
to make a meaningful difference in the world.

The Winnetka Public Schools

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