Illinois 5Essentials Parent Survey

On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois 5Essentials Survey will be administered online by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago. The survey gathers data related to five indicators that can predict important student outcomes, including improved attendance and larger test score gains. These five indicators that affect and predict school success are:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environments
  • Ambitious Instruction

Your participation in the parent portion of the survey will help us understand the conditions at Willowbrook School and guide improvement. Your identity and survey responses will be kept completely confidential and will never be connected to you or your child.

The Parent Survey Supplement will be conducted through February 14. To take the survey please visit and select the appropriate survey to begin.

For more information about the Illinois 5Essentials Survey, or to view previous years’ Reports, please visit If you have any questions or concerns, please contact 5Essentials Client Services at 1-866-440-1874 or

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Collaboration vs. Collegiality

Collaboration is very different than collegiality. Do know the difference? We are really good at being collegial. We are respectful and careful with each others’ feelings. We share. However, this is very different than the messy and complicated work of collaboration.

What does collaboration look like in your school or your office? We launched our school year talking about this as a staff. Our teachers have been working hard on the implementation of new protocols and collaborative planning practices. Our work is directed by Board Goal #1: Increase District 30’s capacity to systemically collaborate within grade-level teams to execute the cycle of continuous instructional improvement. There is an update to the Board of Education scheduled for January 9.

District 30 has a vision of cohesive instruction. We want to get better at using formative assessment data to drive our instructional planning. However, we also recognize the importance of valuing teacher autonomy, and individual personality or passion. Drawing upon the seminal work of Richard DuFour, our teachers are asking the 4 big questions:

  1. What do we expect our students to learn?
  2. How will we know they are learning?
  3. How will we respond when they don’t learn?
  4. How will we respond if they already know it?

What does professional collaboration look like at Willowbrook and Wescott? Well, a team of teacher leaders completely reimagined our master schedules. As a result, each grade level now has an hour of common plan time every single day! Our district math coaches have been leading Professional Learning Team (PLT) meetings every Tuesday. English Language Arts meetings were added to Thursdays just this week.

Most of our PLT meetings begin with looking at a common data point (a.k.a., fresh data) – What are the common patterns or data trends that we see in our students? Can we sort our students into beginning, approaching, meeting, and exceeding standards? Next, our teachers discuss what guided instruction will look like for the coming week. What will the students be doing? What will the teachers be doing?

The results of these collaborative planning efforts have already borne fruit. Our grade-level teams are diving into the curriculum maps to add assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards (and our draft report cards). Some grade-levels are working on inter-rater reliability or how they judge student work samples. Some teams have made changes to the pacing or sequence of instructional topics in response to trends found within the standardized assessment data (i.e., Illinois Assessment of Readiness, Measures of Academic Progress).

Teaching has become an increasingly complicated profession. Teachers require the support of teams. However, this professional collaboration requires our teacher teams to demonstrate a high level of vulnerability. It requires setting meeting norms. How will we handle conflict or differences of opinion? How will we come to a consensus? How will we keep the commitments we have made to each other? Our staff are doing an incredible job. They have met these expectations. The result – terrific things are happening for kids, and we are getting better at our craft.

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Attitude of Gratitude

I am using this holiday season to recommit myself to an attitude of gratitude. It’s easy to do when you work and live in a community like ours. We have so much to be thankful for at Willowbrook School. We are grateful for the hard-working, creative students. I love how these Wildcats come running into the school each morning at the 8:40 bell. Our students are passionate and curious. They are respectful and responsible.

We are grateful for our supportive parents. Parents routinely share their talents and time with the school. The PTO is inclusive and responsive. Our teachers and parents enjoy a strong partnership. We have a common goal. I witness formal and informal meetings every day – before school, on teacher planning breaks, over lunchtime.

We are grateful for our talented teachers. Willowbrook is a special place. We “honor childhood and foster intellectual, physical and social-emotional growth”. This does not happen by accident. We attract strong teachers, provide ongoing professional development and support. Leadership and decision-making are distributed across the organization. There is a culture of continuous improvement and a school board that models life long learning and (appropriate) risk-taking.

I wish all Wildcats a Happy Thanksgiving. Please take a moment this holiday season to reflect on all the positive aspects of your life. I know I will.

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Character Counts! Poster & Video Winners

We were very excited to participate in the annual Character Counts! in Glenview poster and video contests this fall. Willowbrook Wildcats joined other students from District 34, OLPH, and Wescott. There were 342 total poster entries and 59 total video entries this year. Barbara Littlefield of the Glenview Public Library coordinated the poster contest. Lynn Stiefel from the Village Manager’s Office coordinated the video contest.

Sophie from Mrs. Greenawalt’s class is the 2nd place winner in the grades 3-4 category. District 30 took all 3 spots in the video contest for grades 5-6. Zach & Atticus from Wescott took the top spot. Adriana, Claire, and Julia from Willowbrook came in 2nd place. Naomi from Willowbrook came in 3rd place. We played their videos at Friday Flag Raising.

Monetary prize awards are generously sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Glenview-Northbrook. Prize awards will be presented to the winners at the November 21, 2019 Village of Glenview Board of Trustees meeting.

Sophie (3-Greenawalt)
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Father’s Book Club

I would like to thank all the fathers who joined Dr. Brown and me for our Father’s Book Club. I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss parenting and learn from each of them. Our two book club meetings were grounded in the new Michael Reichert book, “How To Raise A Boy: The Power of Connection To Build Good Men”.

Our boys receive so many confusing and frankly destructive messages from popular culture and media. It is important to remember that only connections or relationships will keep them safe. Parenting is less about outcomes than it is about relationships. The same could be said about teaching.

One of my biggest take-aways is the realization that boys will often “test” their parents and teachers. It is always the responsibility of the adult to repair or maintain the relationship. Dr. Reichert goes further by saying, “To help a boy develop his own internal self-regulation, unreasonable or inappropriate behaviors should be met with a relaxed limit offered by a connected caregiver. Being relaxed when confronted with bad behavior is a key to effective discipline” (p. 42).

We have an amazing community of caring and thoughtful parents in District 30. This book club was another great way of strengthening that community. I hope the participating fathers formed new connections and friendships. I hope we can continue the conversation. Parenting is a verb.

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Spooky Story Contest

Our teaching staff is always thinking up creative ways to build children’s reading and writing life. In addition to explicit classroom instruction, we encourage students to participate in enrichment activities, book clubs, and contests. Our school librarian facilitates a fun annual writing contest around her favorite holiday. The Spooky Story Contest has produced some great short student stories over the years. I know our staff enjoys voting! Here is this year’s top story.

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Book Fair

Our Fall book fair is about more than just raising money for the school. And while getting books in the hands of children should always be our goal, the book fair is so much more. It is another example of how we build community at Willowbrook School. Peter Block describes associational life as essential and central for community transformation. He states, “In assocational life, creating connectedness becomes both an end and a means”. Our Parent Teacher Organization chooses to connect for a common purpose.

Thank you to our parent volunteers and all the families that visited during parent teacher conferences. We also collected an impressive amount of book donations for Bernie’s Book Bank. It was a terrific couple of days of goal setting, conversation, community… and books!

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Willowbrook began recognition of National Bully Prevention Month on Monday by wearing the color blue. Each week, we are giving students a new challenge. This past week, students (and staff) were invited to go out of their way to make a new friend.

Next week is Stand Up for Others. We challenge all Wildcats to stand up and speak out when they see teasing or other unkind behaviors happening. It’s called being an Upstander. Below is a short video that I shared at today’s flag-raising.

Every student and staff member has the responsibility to stop teasing and enforce the norms and expectations of Willowbrook School. We are a kind school where everyone is welcome and free to learn.

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Technology & Learning Space

Our 1:1 iPad program has been in existence for grades 3-8 for many years. Before students can take the school-issued iPad home, they must “pass” our digital citizenship curriculum. Our instructional technology specialist and classroom teachers co-teach lessons for the first 5 weeks of school. Topics are wide-ranging from the construction of a proper email to building a positive digital footprint. We also address cyber bullying to being “internet alert” (avoiding phishing scams). An important conversation topic for students, teachers, and parents is finding a healthy media balance (a hot topic in my household). Here is a short video from Common Sense Education.

As students use technology more and more for communication, collaboration, and learning, it is becoming increasingly important for schools to explicitly teach students the necessary skills and behaviors to remain safe and productive. Of course, teachers and parents are growing in their own understanding and mastery of technology. When adults take a healthy and responsible approach to screen time, they set a powerful example for the children.

Technology is transforming team collaboration in both the workplace and in the classroom. For example, companies are dramatically changing office space by introducing high definition video-conferencing systems, smart meeting rooms, and cloud-based collaboration tools. In schools, you no longer see rows of student desks… or teacher desks. Shared table space, soft seating, and a variety of work surfaces are now found in our intermediate rooms. Learning management systems, such as Schoology, are changing how materials are stored and organized, assessments are delivered, and how teachers and students interact.

Despite all these changes to technology and learning space, it is important to remember that all good teaching and learning happens within the context of relationships. Nothing is more important than the relationship between teacher and student. There is no technology that can be used to build that relationship. It comes from mutual respect, compassion, giving and receiving feedback. That is the constant.

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Character Counts! Poster & Video Contest

CHARACTER COUNTS! week will be observed October 21 – 25. We encourage
all of our Kindergarten through 4th grade students to celebrate this event by participating in the annual poster contest. Create a drawing or painting that best illustrates one or more pillars of good character. Entries will be reviewed by judges from the Character Counts in Glenview Committee. A 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner will be chosen in each of the two grade categories K-2 and 3-4. Monetary prize awards are generously sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Glenview-Northbrook. Awards will be presented at the November 21 Village of Glenview Board of Trustees meeting.

Only 8.5 x 11 size poster entries will be considered. Entry form (sent home in backpacks and available at our front desk) must be filled out completely and attached to the poster. The entry deadline is Monday, October 28. Willowbrook students can submit their entries to the front desk. Contest rules and details can be found at

Students in 5th grade are invited to participate in the annual video contest. I spoke to the students yesterday afternoon and explained how entries will be submitted via Google Drive by Monday, October 28. Below is a video explaining the contest rules.

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