Excellence + Communication + Fiscal Responsibility
Excellence for All
I am committed to excellence for all River Forest children and recognize that our students deserve an education that allows them to
Clear and Transparent Communication
I am committed to clear and transparent communication as a candidate and will keep this commitment if elected to serve on our Board of Education by supporting
Continued Fiscal Responsibility
I am committed to continued fiscal responsibility by District 90 and recognize that every taxpayer has the right to expect their school district to
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
I support UDL as an instructional model that gives kids a variety of ways to access materials and show what they know. The goal of UDL is to remove barriers to learning. It recognizes that everyone learns differently and allows for students to be met at their individual level and be challenged. It is not 30 different lesson plans. It is not kids teaching kids. It is just good teaching. I am excited about UDL and think it is a great addition to our schools.
Project Based Learning (PBL)
PBL is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges, and acquire a deeper knowledge. I support this teaching strategy as a way to best prepare our kids for the modern world. Our kids learn foundational academic skills but also gain key real-world skills like problem-solving and critical thinking. Students are still assessed and graded as part of PBL. PBL allows for kids to engage in more meaningful ways and supports intellectual curiosity. PBL is used at D200, in many college courses, and graduate school programs. Implementing PBL in a more uniform way at D90 will better prepare our kids for their future.
Standards Based Grading (SBG)
I support SBG as a way to gain better and more meaningful data. It allows for improved tracking of students’ progress towards state standards. It means better communication between teacher and student, and teacher and parent. An example, that many parents may already be familiar with, is the pieces of paper that are frequently stapled to the top of assignments that give specifics as to where our kids are in meeting individual state standards.
Improved Communication and Engagement
We need to improve communication and engagement between the board, the district, and the community. I support live streaming meetings, videotaping and posting key presentations, modernizing email communication, and increasing social media presence. I would also like to explore increased opportunities for board members to engage with community members, such as continued Town Halls, Board Member “office hours”, and presence at various community events throughout the year.
Better Alignment with D200
We need to improve alignment with D200. We should use data analysis, parent feedback, and collaboration with OPRF faculty to improve alignment between D90 and D200. It is important to note that many classes at OPRF utilize project based learning and D90’s efforts to further incorporate project based learning into our classroom sets our kids up for success at the high school, college, and beyond.
Increased Focus on Social Emotional Learning and School Culture
Based on the recent Illinois Youth Survey, 28% of Roosevelt 8th graders exhibited warning signs of anxiety. We must do more to address the rise of anxiety and depression among our students as well as evaluate our school culture. We need professional development for all our teachers relating to anxiety and depression. We should explore a curriculum to address issues related to social media and technology similar to the curriculum that Roosevelt Middle School adopted to address the vaping issue. We must also remain attentive to efforts to ensure a welcoming and safe environment for all our children.
All Day Kindergarten
All day kindergarten is a “when” rather than “if” situation. Half-day kindergarten is a logistical challenge for many families and can be a challenging classroom experience for many students and teachers. It is important to discuss the option of all-day kindergarten while recognizing the limiting factors of space and cost. It is time to consider creative options like alternate locations, and a sliding scale option for paying for all day kindergarten.
The change to block scheduling is driven by the math teachers requesting more time to cover the curriculum and ensure that more students meet the new rigorous state standards. I support the move to a block schedule and agree with the decision to revisit the process to determine other schedule options and offer additional professional development. Proper implementation will lead to success. D90 already uses block scheduling in our elementary schools. Block scheduling allows our kids to go deeper into material and engage in experiential learning. It gives more time for teachers to offer support and interventions and get to know kids’ strengths and weaknesses. It is not just teachers lecturing.
Our teachers chose our current math curriculum through a lengthy process which included piloting the program in classrooms across the district. It aligns with state standards and allows for kids to engage in conceptual thinking. It is not kids teaching kids. It is whole group instruction, paired work, and small group work. No curriculum is perfect and teachers are continuously seeking out supplemental material to challenge high achievers, increase interest for all levels, and support struggling learners.
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Paid for by Friends of Kathleen Avalos for D90.