Early Childhood Success by SHARON WELLS Principal, Meadow Ridge Elementary School What happens when you take 185 developmental kindergarten students and all of their teachers and put them in one school for the first time? Amazing collaboration and magical results! The 2011-2012 school year was the maiden voyage for having all of our youngest learners come together at Meadow Ridge Elementary School in the newly formed Early Childhood Center. Our year was filled with exciting opportunities for our developmental kindergarten (DK) students. All of them participated in our school walk-a-thon last fall and our mileage club this May, focusing on being healthy in the process. We had monthly whole group celebrations around academic themes such as the study of penguins, Dr. Seuss and his wonderful rhyming books, the “Polar Express,” and learning about water filtering systems used in undeveloped countries. Speakers were brought in to talk to the classes and special assemblies were held for the interest of our DK students. The DK teachers had the gift of being able to collaborate with each other in one building for the first time as well. Previously being in seven separate buildings, it was difficult to get together and share ideas and provide each other with support. The teachers met in monthly Professional Learning Community meetings, often ate lunch together to brainstorm new ideas, and had curriculum planning meetings throughout the year to develop and create an inspirational and effective program to best prepare their students for kindergarten. A new program doesn’t go without the need for problem solving. A critical part of our new journey was the transportation of students from all Rockford elementary schools to and from Meadow Ridge. Special identification tags were used to identify students in the DK program and buses were labeled with animals that coordinated with the tags. Paraprofessionals worked at each school to help transfer students to appropriate buses. Special thanks to the Rockford Transportation Department for the creativity, patience and coordination efforts for this to all happen with safety as a top priority. As our first year wraps up, we are looking forward to yet another opportunity for positive change and success when next fall our DK program moves to an all-day, everyday schedule (this change is pending Board […]
Reading is a Treat by CINDY KITZROW Principal, Cannonsburg Elementary School Director of Library and Media Services Rockford Public Schools March is designated as National Reading Month. Each year the library services staff of Rockford Public Schools offers a fantastic reading program to encourage reading with our PreK through eighth-grade students. This year, for our 15th annual reading celebration, we were pleased to announce our theme was “Reading is a Treat.” During the month, we invite students and parents to become involved in reading thousands of hours or a million pages. The students keep track of the time they read (or parents read to them). As the students read their allotted amount of time, they bring the reading slips to their library staff. The staff then records the hours and promotes the times throughout the building. Each library had a number of exciting events going on throughout the month in all of our buildings. We have several quest readers from the community to share their love of reading with our students. Dr. Michael Shibler, our superintendent, as well as Peter MacGregor, our state representative, read their favorite books to a number of students. Each building principal adds their encouragement for reading with many different reading incentives. For one building the class that read the most had an ice cream sundae party. One of the principals and cooks dressed up as Fiona and Shrek when the students met their reading goal. The students loved spending the morning with them. Another principal became an ice cream sundae. The students draped him with all their favorite toppings. Each building met and surpassed their building goal. Lakes Elementary set a huge challenge for their students to read one million pages. They read over a million pages—what an AWESOME accomplishment. On March 2, our buildings celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss. As part of the national program “Read Across America,” we joined the nation’s biggest reading party ever. We gave parties and read our favorite Seuss books. The movie the “Lorax” came out on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Thanks to Cannonsburg’s PTC we were able to take the whole school to a special viewing of the movie. It was an exciting event for all of our students. We have much to celebrate […]
Accept and Respect Week, 2012 by KELLY AMSHEY, Assistant Principal East Rockford Middle School East Rockford Middle School held the second annual Accept and Respect Week in March. The purpose of the theme week is to encourage students and staff to come together and promote a positive environment in the building. This year’s week was planned by a committee of staff and parents. Student suggestions were also important to the planning process. Each day had a theme and a challenge for students and staff. The week was kicked off with the help of students, who, along with the entire staff, wore shirts with the phrase “Be nice.” Those students also filled the halls with posters, and some handed out suckers to their classmates to build excitement. Wednesday was another highlight of the week, with the theme Celebrate Diversity. Sixth- and seventh-grade students were treated to popcorn and a movie, watching “Remember the Titans” in the gym. Students also played diversity bingo and engaged in discussion about the movie and other issues related to acceptance and respect for one another. During lunches, students and staff were invited to show their commitment to respect one another by signing a large banner, which now hangs proudly in the halls of East Rockford Middle School. Students and staff that signed the banner also received a silicone bracelet that reads “No Place for Hate,” to show the alignment with the school’s initiative to become a No Place for Hate school, where acceptance and tolerance are promoted and celebrated throughout the year. Feedback from students and staff suggest that the week was successful and will remain part of the framework for encouraging a positive culture in the school so that all students can feel accepted and appreciated.
Scouting for Opportunities: Rockford School’s Partnership with the Scouts by JIM VANDERKOLK Director of Operations Rockford Public Schools Springtime is here and the demands that come with outdoor activities bring a sense of urgency to the Rockford Public Schools’ grounds and maintenance departments. Falling behind is not an option as teams hit the fields as soon as the snow melts away. One of the sure signs of spring is the letter, phone call, or e-mail I will receive from local Scout troop leaders asking, “How can we help?” This outstanding program assists in spring clean-up for areas of the district that often are passed up for a later date when we are forced to prioritize. Looking back, I don’t want to take for granted the efforts to improve our community by the local Scout troops. In past years, the Eagle Scout projects completed for the school district and community are too numerous to give individual mention and recognition. These groups of outstanding individuals do not offer their assistance for the recognition, but rather for the opportunity to be productive members of the community. The individual perseverance and commitment to acquiring the signatures, materials, donations and approval to fulfill the mandatory requirements is commendable. In this day and age when Facebook, Twitter and video games dominate adolescent culture, it is refreshing to have a group of young people committed to hard work and traditional values. These individuals are not afraid to get outdoors, work hard, and provide a valuable service to their community. “The Boy Scouts of America believes—and, through over a century of experience, knows—that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible and productive society (see www.scouting.org). Rockford Public Schools is proud to partner with organizations like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America that share these core values. As a department, we are proud to share in an opportunity for young people to develop valuable skills, a sense of accomplishment, and ultimately a connection to their community. We truly appreciate all that they do, and hope to continue this valuable partnership for many more years to come. Thanks, Scouts!
SCHOOL BEAT Cell Phones: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly! by PRINCIPAL DAN ZANG Rockford High School Technology has afforded us the ability to do many wondrous and creative activities in education today. Our teachers and students have enhanced and enriched educational experiences to new levels. The immediacy of information and the countless ways to express and communicate are fascinating. Many of our students at Rockford High School are using their cell devices in a very positive, pro-educational way. Sadly there is great evidence that demonstrates there is also a downside to possessing the devices. Our high school, much like many in the U.S., addresses the issue of distracted driving. A recent study noted that more than 33% of teens 16-17 years of age have texted while driving on a regular basis; 50% of the same teens say they have been in a car while the driver was texting. Distracted driving at any age is a risk behavior; younger inexperienced drivers are at an even greater risk. Parents, please talk to your sons and daughters about distracted driving! To be very honest I did not see the next issue coming: sex and technology. Sexting is sending sexually explicit text or photographs via mobile devices. Teens will share the photographs voluntarily or at times be coerced to share. Once the photos are sent, some kids use them to bully, harass, intimidate or embarrass victims online or via mobile devices. Here are five things to consider before pressing send: 1. Don’t assume anything you send or post is going to remain private. Your message or images will get passed around at some point. 2. There is no changing your mind in cyberspace—anything you send or post will never truly go away. Potential employers, college recruiters, teachers, coaches, parents, friends, enemies, strangers, and others may all be able to find posts, even after you delete them. 3. Don’t give in to the pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable, even in cyberspace. More than 40% of teens and young adults say “pressure from guys” is a reason girls and women send and post sexual images and messages. 4. Consider the recipient’s reaction. Just because a message is meant to be fun doesn’t mean the person who gets […]