Battle of The Books!

Congratulations to the Willowbrook 4th and 5th graders who participated in this year’s Glenview Public Library’s Battle of the Books.  Go Wildcats!  The library had over 330 students participate this year.  Willowbrook sent 40 students.  That’s nearly half of our 4th and 5th grade!

I would like to recognize the following teams for a strong performance: Bedazzled Beauties, Book Owlettes, Darth Paper, Dolphin Artists, and Book Slayers.

I would like recognize our teams that earned a place on the 2017 honor roll.  These teams earned one of the top five scores of the season:  Cute Little Fluffy Bunnies Plus One, Fluffy Unicorn Readers, Solid Dot, Angels and Golden Readers.

Finally, special recognition goes to the Angels and Golden Readers.  These two teams earned PERFECT SCORES!  What an amazing showing for our school.

We are so proud of all the students who worked with their teams to read a list of 28 books and then came to the library to test their knowledge.  Thank you to Willowbrook Librarian Sue Sparks, Glenview Librarian Rachel Snyder, and the classroom teachers for their encouragements and support.  Of course, thank you to the parents for their time and support.  Our parents recognize the importance of a rich reading life.

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Exploring School Community Through Drama

What does it mean to be Willowbrook?  Who or what makes a community?  What does it look like, sound like, and feel like?  These are some of the essential questions that our students explored this week with our Artist in Residence.

With the financial support of the PTO, we hosted teaching artists from The Writers Theatre of Glencoe.  They worked with each individual class and guided the students through dramatic exercises and creative movement.  Their play was guided by this year’s school-wide theme of #bewillowbrook.

Kindergarten and 1st grade students created tableaus (3D pictures with their bodies) that represented the qualities of a safe and strong school.  At 2nd grade, students used creative movement to generate ideas for a class poem about Willowbrook School.  The teaching artists helped the students stretch out their ideas with sentence stems:

  • Willowbrook is…
  • 2nd grade is…
  • I am…
  • I am…
  • We are…

At 4th grade, students were led through a variety of ensemble exercises.  One of my favorites included the sharing of personal stories.  Students were challenged to share their stories and then let them go.  It is difficult to let someone else tell your story and act it out!

Once the 5th graders were warmed up, the teaching artists asked which school experiences shaped them?  They were also asked about their best days, worst days, and challenges they faced over the years.  With all of these individual moments, the students made statues of their feelings, smells, and sights.  This collage of individual moments represented BOTH a piece of their individual story and the collective story of OUR Willowbrook School.

The teaching artists appreciated how the classroom teachers jumped right into the dramatic exercises and played with the students.  The students were able to take risks and demonstrate vulnerability with their peers as they took on different aspects of an ensemble.  We all walked away from this experience reflecting on the impact that our feelings and memories have on the choices we make, because the choices you make build your identity and the identity of your community.

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Actions that impact energy

Dave Wilms, former Stevenson HS teacher and current energy consultant, visited our 4th grade for the third time this year.  He has been exploring the concepts of energy efficiency, conservation, and the impact on our environment.  What is the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency?  I will give you a hint.  One has to do with behavioral changes and one has to do with technological advances.


These classroom visits were scheduled to augment a recent unit of study.  As you may have heard, we have been replacing our old science units and aligning our curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards.  Here is a link to the 4th grade standards.  We are grateful for the leadership of Kery Obradovich, Math/Science Coordinator and Kristin Cioffi, Math/Science Coordinator.

The students explored common items and how much energy could be saved by recycling.  Did you know that it costs less to recycle than to pay for garbage removal?  Only a small amount of things need to go to the dump.  Most city waste is paper (27%).  The second biggest item is food (14%).  Yard trimmings (14%) is third.

Our students were able to “describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment”.  They were able to “generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans”.  Having observed the student discussion today, I am confident these students will grow up to solve the energy problems of today and tomorrow.

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Maple Student Visit

Wednesday offered a special opportunity for 7th grade students from Maple School to interact with our Kindergarten students.  Each year, we bring together the Maple child development students and our Kindergarten students.

The child development students assisted our Kindergarten classroom teachers with the reading workshop.  They led literacy games and activities.  Following the reading workshop, everyone came down to the gym for a performance of Pinocchio.  The afternoon showtime students performed the Glass Slipper.  These experiences help to make our school community feel smaller and more connected.

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Love Is Out There

Love and kindness are out there.  They certainly were on full display at Willowbrook this week.  The Spirit Committee hosted a week of random acts of kindness.   With the help of the Kindness Connection, we made care packages for hospitalized veterans in the Chicagoland area.  Below is a short video that a few of the 5th graders made, reflecting on the week.

On a related note, I found this Google year in review video in my news feed.  See what the world searched for in 2016.  Fantastic!  It has a difficult beginning, but ends on a positive note.  It is worth a watch.  There is kindness in the world.  There is love out there.  At Willowbrook, you don’t need to search too far.  It’s all around us.

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Buddy Benches

We know the importance of a kind and inclusive school culture.  We work hard to “Be Willowbrook!” and ensure that all students feel welcome and included.  Recess and lunch are times of the school day when students may feel left out.  Watch this new video on the history and purpose of the playground Buddy Benches, produced by two of our talented 5th grade students.

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5Essential Survey

You are invited to share your thoughts on the important elements of school effectiveness in a survey about Willowbrook School.  Parents and teachers are invited to complete the Illinois 5Essentials Survey between November 16 and January 16 at

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey is administered online by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago, on behalf of the Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE).  This survey identifies five indicators that can lead to important student outcomes, including improved attendance and greater test score gains.  The five indicators that have been identified by the University of Chicago to significantly improve school success are:

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

School-level reports will be generated if at least 30 percent of parents respond to the survey and will be sent to schools and districts in June.  Results will also be included in the Willowbrook School report card, released by ISBE each October.  Parent identities will be kept completely confidential and responses will not be linked to any individual (see Privacy Policy

Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts in responding to this survey about Willowbrook School.

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We gathered this morning as members of a proud and grateful nation.  The sacrifice and service of our military veterans has given us the peace and freedom that we enjoy today.  We owe our veterans thanks and deep respect. 


Our honored guest today was US Army Captain Michael Beslow.  Cpt. Beslow served as a helicopter pilot in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The students were excited to learn that he was a Willowbrook student!  You can see his photo across from our school gym.


Our 5th grade Spirit Committee ran a beautiful assembly this morning.  The 5th grade Girl Scouts served as flag raisers.  Students learned about the history and significance of this national holiday.  They learned various ways to thank Veterans (Willowbrook will be making care packages for hospitalized veterans next month).  Mr. Barker closed the assembly by leading us in singing “America the Beautiful”.


Each week, we pass out Character Counts! awards to students.  We certainly had a number of deserving students this week.  However, I felt the need to give the teaching staff of Willowbrook special recognition.  Thanks to their service, we are raising a generation of kind and generous Americans.  Our District 30 teachers serve as important role models of honesty, character, and compassion.  Families of all backgrounds are welcome at Willowbrook School.  We are an inclusive community of learning and respect.  I am filled with optimism for the future of our country.  I look forward to these students leading our country in a positive direction.

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Spirit Committee Members Reflect on Food Drive

Article written by Spirit Committee members Madhura Chavan and Michael Schick.  Edited by Principal Carlson.

One of the reasons that we do the can food drive is because it represents the Pillars of Character.

Willowbrook’s Food Drive collected over 5,230 food items and over $1,000 in cash donations.

All of the food and money we donated was passed on to the Northfield Food Pantry and from there they will give it to all the people who are in need of the food.  Every donation is counted.  To make the food drive a little bit more competitive, we measured which grade levels gave the most food and money each day.  You can see our bar graph below.


Have you ever noticed that the Kids Care Food Drive is always on the same week as Spirit Week?  They want you to think about Character Counts, so they have Character Counts! Week.  It is supposed to make you think about all the good things we can do for one another.  One of the many ways we show character for our community, is by donating our money and food to people who are in need of food.  This shows responsibility, caring, respect and citizenship!  That shows four of our six pillars.  Trustworthiness and fairness also play a big role.  If you don’t have those traits, the competition part would be no fun.  You couldn’t trust anyone because you thought that they might take your cans away.

To conclude this article I will leave you with a few questions.

  1. What can we do to help people everyday?
  2. Where can we go to help people in need?
  3. Why are people hungry and how does this affect you?
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Character Counts! Week

Our recognition of Character Counts! Week is going strong.  A highlight was tonight’s Village of Glenview Board of Trustees Meeting.  Two of our current students received awards for their entries into the annual poster contest.  Second grade student Naomi took 2nd place and 5th grade student Sophia took 1st place.  In addition, former Wildcat Darshan took 3rd place in the middle school video contest.  They are pictured below with other contest winners from Maple, Lyons Elementary, OLPH, and St. Catherine’s School.


We are so proud of our students.  They are an example to us all.  As seen on Twitter, our students at Willowbrook have been recognizing the pillars of Character by wearing a different color each day.  Students wore blue on Monday for Trustworthiness.  Tuesday was red for Caring.  Wednesday was purple for citizenship…



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