District Highlights

Trimester 1 2016-17

  • Summer School 2016: Our Summer Program continues to grow successfully each year and offers a variety of summer programing for all D123 students, ranging from enrichment and athletics, to music, art, EL, and special education.  The program this year offered many new opportunities and engaged approximately a 27% increase in enrollment and staffing compared to 2015.
  • Professional Learning Communities:  We have worked together to reinvigorate our commitment to our PLCs.  The year began with an opportunity for staff members to reflect on their particular team’s strengths and areas for growth relative to key characteristics of PLCs.  The data from that self-reflection is being used to develop Late Start activities designed to assist teachers leverage the power of their teams to support students who are struggling, as well as challenge those students who need enrichment. 
  • RtI Task Force: Over the past year we have engaged teachers and administrators in a Response to Intervention (RtI) Task Force. The group has focused its work in the areas of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Teaching Strategies, Tier 1-3 Guidelines, English Language Learner and IEP Case Study Guidelines, and Problem Solving Forms and Documentation.  The task force group has also been charged to examine ways to leverage technology as a tool to better organize and archive RtI action plans and progress monitoring.  One key outgrowth of this group has been the development of a District-wide RtI Guidebook.
  • EL Professional Development:  Teachers across the district were introduced to the CAN DO statements for English Learners (ELs).  The CAN DOs are a tool to be used by teachers to differentiate instruction based on what ELs at different levels of English proficiency can be expected to do or produce.
  • Curriculum Renewal Cycle:  The first Curriculum Council meeting will take place on Nov. 30th.  This council will serve in an advisory capacity to give various stakeholders an opportunity to have a voice in curriculum development, revision, and evaluation.  Sub-committees will be formed to carry out the actual work in an ongoing curriculum renewal cycle.  One of the first tasks of the board will be to identify the common elements that will form the basis of our district’s written curriculum. 
  • Written Curriculum:  We are in the process of examining open source software platforms that we help us better house and write curriculum in the district.  Our primary goal is to ensure that we have a platform that is flexible, user-friendly, and helps make curriculum useful and organized for teachers on a daily basis.  We have been closely researching the Chalk.com platform and hope to further build out this idea by invovling our teachers, curriculum facilitators, and district administrators.
  • EL Professional Development:  Instructional Coaches and many other teachers have been trained in the “Go To” Strategies for teaching English Language Learners.  These Sheltered English instructional strategies are also beneficial for other struggling learners in the general education classroom, and are included in the newly developed RtI Guidebook.
  • QFT:  A universal instructional strategy called the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) was introduced to staff members.  This strategy is designed to give students voice and choice over their learning as it facilitates the formulation of higher level questioning which stems from students’ natural inquiries around a given prompt.  This strategy can be used to further develop our students’ skills around the district’s success indicators as well the Standards for Mathematical Practice and the Science and Engineering Practices that form the basis of the Common Core and NGSS Standards.
  • Professional Development (K-5):  Curriculum Facilitators have led Grade Level Meetings (GLMs) with our K-5 staff focusing on a renewed commitment to balanced literacy through close reading strategies and the integration of science non-fiction reading material.  Additionally, mathematics discussions have focused on supporting teachers in helping students master the key ideas in each of our math modules.  
  • Professional Development (Middle School):  The Middle School staff has focused efforts around a continual feedback model called Plan, Do, Study, Act.  This model is used to guide teachers in the intentional development of responsive instructional strategies targeting students who are not meeting with success.  Also, the development of the Algebra Extension program and the Makerspace Club is helping to address our students who can benefit from STEM-based enrichment opportunities.  
  • Instructional Coaching Model:  The initial work of the Instructional Coaches this year was to clarify their mission and vision.  After spending last year developing trust and confidence with their peers, this year they renewed their commitment to various delivery models designed to empower and challenge our teaching staff to continuing to grow their practice through customized paths such as: individual consultation, modeling of lessons, lesson study, coordination of peer to peer observation, PLC support, data analysis, dissemination of professional development resources and Student Learning Objectives (SLO) support.  Instructional Coaches and Mentors have been great excellent resources and serve as professional models in supporting all of our staff growth their instructional capacity.  
  • Quality Review:  In addition to the Data Review and Progress Monitoring meetings that take place during each trimester, the district has added another layer designed to help support the learning of all students.  After goals and action plans are set for our students upon analysis of student achievement data, district administrators will meet on a trimester basis with each principal to better understand and support the achievement goals for all our students.
  • Instructional Rounds Process:  Student voice is an important element in an engaging classroom environment where students have the opportunity to take ownership over their own learning, practice critical thinking skills, and develop collaborative work habits.  District level administrators partnered together with each building principal to conduct a series of instructional rounds this past fall.
  • Special Education Program Expansion:  As a result of our recent withdrawal from the AERO Cooperative, we have significantly expanded the infrastructure of our Special Education continuum of services. Additional programmatic expansion has included three program supervisors, a BCBA, and additional co-teacher and social work support.
  • New Website, & Google Classroom:  We are excited to have launched the new d123.org. We hope that the site is easy to navigate and user friendly. The new d123.org even looks great on your mobile device and smartphone, and the “Social Hub” on the homepage is a great place to experience all of the learning that goes on each and every day at D123. Additionally, take a look at the A-Z Index of resources, it was designed to get visitors to the the information they need no matter what term they use. We welcome feedback about the new site, and have been encouraging all visitors to use the contact us link to offer suggestions and enhancements.  As indicated last spring, the ‘teacher page’ is no more, instead, ‘staff pages’ feature the most relevant information about each staff member. In place of the ‘teacher page’ we are encouraging staff members to use Google Classroom. 
  • Technology to Engage Parents:  Staff members have been working hard to leverage technology such as Google Classroom, Remind, and various social media resources such as Twitter to invite two-way communication with our families.
  • Southland Learning Conference:  The Southland Learning Conference was a big success.  We were pleased that we had approximately 150 local educators attend and 30 session offerings.  The initial feedback was highly positive, and many of the attendees mentioned interest in returning again next year and hoped to talk it up more with their colleagues. Many of the 150 educators came from our direct community, public school districts in Burbank, Evergreen Park, Chicago Ridge, Alsip, Frankfort, North Palos, and Orland Park, as well as about 35 participants from 6 parochial schools in the area. We hope this event will continue to be used as a way to get teachers excited about each new school year and see the value in sharing local expertise together. 
  • 1 to 1 Roll-out Pre-K-8: The technology team has successfully rolled out all Chromebooks to students in Grades 1-8. The Kindergarten and Early Learning iPads are have been enrolled into our management system and placed into classrooms across the district. We opened up discussions with all Kindergarten teachers focused on finding the best learner-centered “Apps” to provide a base set of applications that would be beneficial to students at the grade level.
  • Newspaper Engagement: We have begun to issue some of the good news stories from District 123 to newspaper outlets through in a pre-packaged and intentional format. With the decline in the staffing levels of the newspaper newsroom, many written publications are looking for pre-produced content that does not require much work to go to print. To meet the changing dynamic of the contemporary newsroom, we have begun to issue D123 stories in a format that allows our message to flow more freely from District 123 to the printed page. We are releasing stories in an AP (Associated Press) format, along with images, captions and credits. We have seen an uptick in stories that are published in the higher distributed printed newspapers like the Southtown.
  • Social Media Strategy: Our social media reach continues to grow. Over the same period last year we have doubled our reach into the the hands and homes of the District 123 community. Last year our average “reach” was 588 each day between September & December. This year our “reach” during the same period has grown to 1156 each day. Reach is defined as, the number of unique people who viewed and/or interacted (reacted/commented/shared) our content. 
  • Parent University:  We’ve had increased participation at our 3 Parent Universities so far this year.  We may be able to contribute that, in part, to the new format.  Our August meeting focused on helping parents create a safe and engaging environment where children can learn about the dangers of sexual abuse, resources to protect themselves, and the prevention of future incidents of abuse.  Our September meeting afforded parents the opportunity to learn more about the various tools we use in D123 to engage learning and promote communication.  In October, parents were invited to meet with each of their building principals to learn about the value of family conferences and how to maximize its benefits.
  • “Friday Final” Concept:  To ensure that the District 123 story is consistently heard outside of social media, monthly Insight123, and website we will be releasing a weekly e-newsletter each Friday highlighting some of the incredible things happening in and around our district. Members of the community will be able to sign up on the website as well.
  • Universal Communication Practices:  We have worked collaboratively with our leadership team and instructional coaches at developing a series of universal D123 Communication Practices. Some of the communication tools featured on the matrix are Skyward Message Center(Email), Remind (SMS/App), Google Classroom, and social media. We are excited to begin thinking through how these tools can have a larger impact on home-school communication.  
  • D229/D122/D123 Articulation Meeting:  As we seek to build more connected relationships with our neighboring educational partners from D122 and D229, we are continuing to help organize and lead regular articulation meetings together with leadership from D229 and D122.  Our most recent meeting included topics such as developing future joint professional learning opportunities, 9th grade placement and testing, sharing information about the D123 website dashboard, as well as developing a more collaborative approach to school safety meetings each fall. Our hope is to help lead a more formal articulation process with High School District 229 and District 122 to include regular meetings and calendar reviews, as well as efforts to better align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to assist our students and families transitioning between middle school and High School.
  • Balanced Budget: For the 4th year in a row, the D123 Board approved a balanced budget for the 2016-2017 school year.  
  • Multilingual Reading Materials:  High-quality multilingual books and materials were purchased from Rainbow Books for use with our English Learners.  These materials are especially beneficial for our growing population of newcomers.
  • Network Infrastructure/Backbone: The installation of approximately $220,000 worth of networking & infrastructure equipment has been completed. The Federal E-Rate program provided 80% of the funds needed for the $220,000 project, which amounted to a total of $175,823.71 from the federal E-Rate program. The equipment that has been replaced with this grant, makeup the backbone of the District 123 network across all of our locations, and has provided us 10x capacity boost that leaves District 123 in a great position for future expansion and the exponential growth we are seeing with data traversal and usage.   
  • English Language Workshops:  Many staff members from the English Language department have registered to participate in high-quality professional development workshops related to the instruction of English Learners.
  • Life Safety Audit:  All D123 facilities were evaluated and passed the annual Life Safety inspection for the 2016-2017 school year.  This insures we continue to provide a safe environment for learning at all school sites.
  • Voice Services: The transition has been made to Comcast for all D123 voice services. In doing so, we have increased calling capacity 50%, and provided failover over services housed at OLHMS if the District Office Network Hub were to become unavailable. Additionally, we will realize approximately a 50% reduction in the costs associated with voice services.
  • IBB Negotiations Process:  The D123 board and union began negotiating a new contract using an Interest-Based process (IBB) to better understand and address the issues related to the collective bargaining agreement.  IBB is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a “win-win” solutions and focus on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the organization. All staff have been routinely updated via email following each IBB Team meeting.
  • Summer Projects:  We successfully completed our 2016 summer improvement projects that included new boilers at Gaddis and McGuggan, new comprehensive controls for our district-wide HVAC systems and exterior security lighting.  
  • Teladoc Benefit:  In partnership with our health insurance cooperative (EBC), D123 began offering no-cost, online based physician consultation via “Teladoc” as part of our regular health insurance.  This offering is in addition to the regular plan benefits, and will hopefully increase access to medical consultation and intervention for our staff and their families.   
  • Substitute and Paraprofessional Recruiting:  Over the summer months we have been working toward expanding our substitute teacher pool. A key strategy to help advance this effort was the designing and sending of postcards to individuals within Oak Lawn and Hometown, and on social media.  As result of this focus we are fully staffed with paraprofessionals and our substitute teacher pool has increased 55% to 106 people, compared to 68 last year at this time and has grown by 125% since 2013.
  • Children’s Museum Parent Interaction Event: On Wednesday evening, November 9th we partnered together with the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum to help organize an “Importance of Interaction” Event. The purpose of the event is to target families with children ages 0-8, and raise their awareness of the value of positive parent-child interaction during free play.  The Children’s Museum was awarded a small grant to help fund the event and we had about 15 families attend. Our D123 Early Learning Program Supervisor, Gina Lovett, helped present to families during the event.  We received some very positive initial feedback from the families who attended and hope to grow the idea out to other locations in the community.
  • Community Leaf Raking Success:  We had a great turn out for the annual community leaf raking event on Saturday, November 12th  We had over 160 volunteers and completed 106 yards. We effectively partnered together with our parent organizations, the Village partnership, Oak Lawn Police Department, and Oak Lawn High School to help manage and organize the event.  Our phone call strategy yielded increases in more yards to rake than last year and helped foster a more positive relationship with the seniors in our community.  Linked below is a highlight video of the event on the District 123 Facebook Page. https://www.facebook.com/district123/
  • BPAC:  The Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee (BPAC) has held two very successful meetings so far this year.  The first meeting was a celebration of our students who exited the program at the end of last year, and the second was an opportunity for parents to learn about the requirements for the EL programs in D123.  
  • World Visions 6K:  District 123 hosted their first annual 6k for Water on October 1st with the World Vision Organization. The World Vision Organization works to put on the 6k events partnering with schools and other organizations.  Six kilometers is the average distance people is less fortunate countries have to walk to get to a water source, often times not even clean water. More than 100 participants came out to raise awareness and funds to help those who live in countries where clean drinking water is not easy to come by.  Linked below is a highlight video of the event.  https://www.facebook.com/district123/videos/1201851006552012/
  • Oak Lawn Park District Youth Athletic Advisory Board:  We have been invited to sit on the Oak Lawn Park District Youth Athletic Advisory Board.  This board is designed to provide the Park District guidance and feedback about the many youth athletic programs offered to students in the Oak Lawn and Hometown community.  Numerous D123 students participate in Park District programming and having a School District 123 voice on this board will help steer future programmatic decision making with our families needs in mind. 
  • Oak Lawn Community Garden Partnership: The community garden has greatly developed throughout the summer. We have been working to build senior citizen invovlement and the support of about 25 food pantries in the suburbs and Chicago area.  We have coordinated meetings with all local food pantries including St Linus, St. Germaine (includes St. Catherine) and St. Gerald. Small harvests have been performed on a trial basis with a few designated local pantries this fall and we are working together with the Park District regarding more outgrowth opportunity next growing season.
  • Open Classrooms:  We have encouraged each school to create opportunities to invite parents into our classrooms to experience, first hand, the learning that our students enjoy each day across our district.  Our Covington families, just last week, were invited to shadow their students during the day.  This met with great success as parents got a clear window into the meaningful and engaging  learning experienced by their children every day. Prior to Halloween, Sward 1st grade parents were invited to lead various stations during a math lesson focusing on measurement. Students enjoyed using pumpkins to help them explore various aspects of measurement and parents enjoyed the opportunity to support their student during a fun learning activity.
  • Stroke Education Partnership with Advocate Christ Medical Center: As we work this year at expanding our community health partnership opportunities we had the chance to work together with the Advocate Christ Stroke Outreach Program. The Stroke Outreach program provides free student workshops on the topic of “Being a Stroke Hero,” which educates children from K-8 on the signs and symptoms of stroke, how to reduce risk factors, and how to respond if you or a loved one is showing sign of having a stroke.  We have partnered together with this organization to have them present to D123 students this year as part of our Health and Physical Education program.