CCSD59 Hosts Local Lawmakers for School Visits
“As a teacher myself, I get to see a lot of what’s going on in education. And even I was impressed with the wide variety of experiences offered in District 59. At every level I saw, there was an element of self-directedness on the part of the students matched very well with guidance from the teachers. One of the goals we like to talk about in education is teaching as ‘the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.’ That mindset really seems to be taken seriously in the district.”
– Illinois State Senator Tom Rooney, 27th District
On Friday, October 20, several of CCSD59’s schools hosted important local government officials for a visit: Illinois State Senator (27th District) Tom Rooney and Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek. CCSD59 Board Members Janice Krinsky, Mardell Schumacher, and Sharon Roberts helped host the tour, along with Associate Superintendent Tom Luedloff and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Maureen McAbee.
The tour began with a light breakfast and a walk through of the Early Learning Center (ELC). Principal Michele Ramsey explained the many features the ELC offers, providing the students an engaging, safe place to explore and learn. She showed how children discover their interests, acquire skills, and learn in ways that are both developmentally appropriate and fun. She also stressed the importance of addressing the development of the whole child so students can get off to the best possible start in school. The tour was very interactive, with the curious students coming over to see their guests, asking who they were, and waving from the playground as the tour proceeded.
“We hope a take-away is that we are reaching children during this important time (ages 0-5), when a vast amount of brain growth and learning is occurring, and setting the stage for future success,” said Ramsey.
The tour group then went to Holmes Junior High, where Principal Rob Bowers hosted the visit.
He first explained the collaboration between Holmes and ELC students, including how Holmes students read to ELC students weekly and lead PE classes for them. He discussed the workshop model of learning in their language arts classes, the Holmes’ dual language program and heritage classes, and technology classes that provide students with choices to help find their passions. The touring group also went into classes to provide the guests with the opportunity to see firsthand some of the student-driven teaching methods being utilized.
“We are responsive to the way the world has changed and kids’ needs have changed,” said Bowers. “It’s no longer about the teacher imparting wisdom on the learner; students are challenged to do their own thinking and find answers to authentic questions. We were very proud to be able to show our guests how this is an experience we are providing to our students.”
The group ended the visit with additional visits to classrooms at Juliette Low Elementary. Juliette Low Principal Susan Ejma led the tour through classrooms where kindergarten, first and second grade students were engaging in their guided reading time. Ejma discussed the choices children had in writing, reading, and/or using technology to have stories read to them, with teachers supporting them. The group also visited a 2-way first grade dual language classroom, where they saw a teacher using a teaching method called total physical response (TPR) and sentence starters to support students’ language skills.
“Our board is always supportive of our work and it’s important for them to see the successes of this support,” said Susan Ejma, principal of Juliette Low. “As the educational landscape shifts for modern learning practices, it’s great to visit classrooms at different points in the year to see this shift. Principals and district administrators are so fortunate to see it on a regular basis, but it’s really important for our community to see them as well.”
The visits provided students a unique learning opportunity too. They saw firsthand their community representatives interacting with CCSD59 staff and board members, exchanging information and ideas. Some students spoke to the group during the tour, explaining what they were working on or why they chose that particular project or subject.
It also helped students to see they truly matter to local representatives, who want to be involved with schools in their jurisdictions; that the students and their families are an important part of the global community.
“I hope our students come away with a reassurance that the entire community is here to support and nurture them and their families,” said Mayor Juracek. “While each of our institutions has differing responsibilities and resources, we are part of a community team designed to provide a safe and supportive place in which our students can work towards achieving their dreams.”