You may have heard some buzz about the Hour of Code, or coding in general. Coding, in the simplest of terms, is telling a computer what you want it to do, by creating step-by-step commands for the computer to follow. All websites, apps, calculators and even microwaves rely on code. Coding is the next generation of computer science for the classroom!
Earlier this month Minnesota Early Learning Academy hosted an Hour of Code event for Kindergarten through Third Grade students! Check out this article that was featured in the Sun Post newspaper:
Interested in learning more about coding, or how you can get involved? Check out these resources:
Distinctive Schools Guide to Winter Learning!
Winter break is a great opportunity to keep learning! While students and teachers will get a well-deserved break from the classroom, it doesn’t mean children need to stop learning. Here are a few tips to keep children’s minds sharp and challenged during the winter break!
Distinctive Schools will be spotlighting and featuring trailblazer educators across our network. As our schools work to personalize education, trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform. “Those who take the first steps in restructuring are trailblazers, for they are willing to go –in terms understood by Star Trek fans –without maps to places where no person has gone before them, without the benefit of empirically based models…” (Schlechty 47). We will focus on highlighting the innovative work happening with personalized learning and the outstanding staff commitment to our mission and organization.
Please join us in congratulating Ms. Holton for being our first Featured Trailblazer!
Schlechty, Phillip C. “On the Frontier of School Reform with Trailblazers, Pioneers, and Settlers.” Journal of Staff Development, Volume 14, No. 4, 1993, p. 46-51.
CICS West Belden was recently featured by Thinking Maps, for their work to build a Common Framework for Personalized Learning. Distinctive Schools use thinking maps with students, teachers, and staff, to establish consistent language for learning. Check out the story here, or in the attachment below!
We are so honored and excited to celebrate CICS Irving Park Director, Karin Breo! Karin has been awarded a Chicago Principals Fellowship, through The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund). This opportunity is for rigorous professional development for top Chicago principals. You can read more about Karin below, and on The Fund’s website. To find out more about The Fund, or this incredible opportunity for Karin, and the entire CICS Irving Park Community, read the complete press release here.
Karin is currently the School Director at CICS Irving Park, managed by Distinctive Schools. Karin began serving as Director of CICS Irving Park in the 2012-2013 school year and has implemented various innovative teaching approaches at the campus with the support of the Breakthrough Schools: Chicago NGLC planning grant. Karin has led CICS Irving Park through transformative change in implementing a personalized learning pilot model throughout the 2015-2016 school year. She works collaboratively with her staff to ensure her school is a positive place to teach and learn every day, and she is committed to high-quality instruction, innovation, collaboration and personalization for both teachers and students. Karin and her team were awarded a $280,000 NGLC Breakthrough Schools: Chicago grant to implement an innovative personalized learning model at her campus.
Prior to leading CICS Irving Park, Karin was the former Director of Afterschool Programs and Community Partnerships for Distinctive Schools. In this role, she developed and maintained the strategic relationships that Distinctive Schools continues to rely on today to support their model. Prior to working at Distinctive Schools, Karin held both teaching and leadership roles at CICS Bucktown. After eight years teaching second grade, she went on to be an Instructional Coach, where she supported elementary teachers and the enrichment program. Her experiences with instruction, community partnerships, development and coaching lend to her ability to oversee a variety of important components within the Distinctive Schools model. Karin obtained her undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and her Masters of Education in Supervision & Administration from Concordia University.
Karin is always looking for ways to improve so that she can model growth mindset for her students and staff. Through the Chicago Principals Fellowship, she hopes to learn strategies that will support her goals in transforming the role that all students, teachers, staff and families have in creating dynamic classrooms and a school culture that catalyzes and supports powerful learning experiences for her students. By explicitly teaching and modeling high expectations and maintaining accountability, Karin is committed to collaboration among all stakeholders to achieve the best for each and every student as well as to foster relationships and growth among the school community. (http://thefundchicago.org/teammembers/karin-breo/)
We are so honored and excited to celebrate CICS Bucktown Dean of Students, Bryan Jackson! He was selected as part of an elite group to be awarded the Surge Fellowship for 2017. The Surge Institute is actively working to change the face of educational reform, and we are thrilled to celebrate this opportunity for Bryan and the entire Bucktown community!
Surge Institute was founded in 2014, in response to a dearth of leadership of color at the decision-making tables within education reform. Surge provides leadership development resources to individuals to create a pipeline of diverse leaders in education.
The Surge Fellowship, the Institute’s signature program, is described to identify and groom emerging talent in education, and provide them with leadership development as well as access to networks and visibility, empowering them to bring new ideas, perspectives, and solutions that change the landscape of education. To learn more about the Surge Institute, explore their website here, or follow them on Twitter here!
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Dear Distinctive Schools Families,
I hope you’re all enjoying the start of the summer break — and that this note might make it even better.
Today, after months of negotiation and advocacy, our elected leaders in Springfield passed legislation that provides additional funding for our schools next year, and builds a foundation for finalizing education funding reforms in the coming year.
This is an exciting moment for our district, and for Distinctive Schools. The bills voted on today provide more than $600 million to our District, which means we can open school on time in the fall, and better protect our classrooms in the year ahead.
Your support played a crucial role in making today a reality, and I want to thank you for all you’ve done over the past year. Despite the challenges, you’ve played an active role in our school community, showing up and speaking out; sending a loud and clear message for reform to Springfield, and showcasing our students’ accomplishments to demonstrate this is a school system worth investing in. Thank you.
So what happens now?
Next week I’ll learn more about the budgeting process for next school year from CPS, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as that process gets underway. The additional funding from Springfield will do so much to protect our classrooms, but it’s worth remembering that it does not entirely close the CPS $1 billion deficit. As we work towards a balanced budget, strict spending policies will still be enforced and some strategic adjustments will still need to be made.
We took a big step forward last week. Not only am I more confident about the ability to provide for our students in the year ahead, but I know this momentum will help us continue our fight for permanent funding equality this fall.
COO/VP of Distinctive Schools
July 5, 2016
Estimadas familias de Distinctive Schools,
Confío en que estén disfrutando del comienzo de las vacaciones de verano, y que las noticias de esta carta les resulten excelentes.
Hoy, después de meses de negociaciones y gestiones, nuestros funcionarios electos aprobaron en Springfield leyes que proveen recursos adicionales a nuestras escuelas en el próximo año y sientan las bases para finalizar las reformas educativas en el año venidero.
Este es un momento de mucho entusiasmo para nuestro distrito, y para Distinctive Schools. Las leyes aprobadas aportarán más de $550 millones a CPS, lo que significa que podremos iniciar el año escolar en el otoño y proteger mejor a nuestros salones.
Su apoyo fue crucial para lograr esta realidad y quiero agradecerles todo lo que hicieron durante el año pasado. A pesar de los desafíos, ustedes desempeñaron un papel activo en nuestra comunidad escolar, participando y hablando; asegurándose de que nuestros estudiantes fueran exitosos y de que los responsables de las decisiones en nuestro Distrito, y nuestro estado, lo supieran. Gracias.
¿Qué sucederá ahora?
La semana próxima vamos a saber más sobre el proceso del presupuesto para el próximo año escolar, y los voy a mantener informados una vez que ese proceso se ponga en marcha. Los fondos adicionales votados por Springfield son muy importantes para proteger nuestros salones de clase, pero es bueno recordar que no cubren completamente el déficit de CPS de $1 billón. Mientras trabajamos para lograr un presupuesto balanceado, todavía se seguirán aplicando políticas estrictas de gasto y serán necesarios algunos cortes estratégicos.
Dimos un gran paso adelante la semana pasada. No solamente tengo más confianza en las posibilidades de atender a nuestros estudiantes en el año venidero, sino que sé que este momento nos ayudará a continuar con la lucha por la obtención de fondos equitativos en el otoño.
Lo mejor para ustedes,
COO & VP de Distinctive Schools