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 https://survey.5-essentials.org/illinois/

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 http://survey.5-essentials.org/privacy/).

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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Kids Care Food Drive

October 17-21 is Character Counts! Week and our annual food drive to benefit the Northfield Food Pantry.  This annual event brings together the schools in District 30, District 34, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.  At Willowbrook, our food drive is sponsored by the 5th grade Spirit Committee with significant help from parent sponsor, Erin Sommers.  We engage students’ head, heart, and hands.  Here is a video that Mrs. Sommers and the Spirit Committee made to promote the food drive.  Please share!

The 5th grade Spirit Committee would like to encourage students and staff to wear a different color each day next week.  Each color represents one of the pillars of character:

    • Monday Blue – Trustworthiness
    • Tuesday Red – Caring
    • Wednesday Purple – Citizenship
    • Thursday Orange & Yellow – Fairness & Respect
    • Responsibility – Green

Character Counts! is woven into the fabric of Glenview and District 30.  We are so very proud of the character of our students.  It goes to the heart of what it means to #bewillowbrook.

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IPA Principal For A Day Program

In conjunction with Principal Appreciation Week, the Illinois Principal Association facilitates a “Principal for a Day” program.  This program matches state and federal legislators with local schools.  We were honored to host State Representative Laura Fine this morning.

In addition to representing the 17th District, Rep. Fine is an alum of Willowbrook School.  She returned to Glenview to raise her children.  She is also a proud aunt of a 2nd grade student at Willowbrook.  We are fortunate to have such a strong advocate for our schools and families.

Representative Fine participated in our Walking School Bus this morning.  She joined us for flag raising and received a building tour from a couple of our 5th grade Spirit Committee members.  We finished the morning with a second cup of coffee with the PTO Presidents and our Superintendent of Schools.  Issues related to school funding, accountability, and school district consolidation were discussed.

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Escuela Nueva

What is the future of education?  As we prepare students for the 21st century world of work and collaboration, are we focused on the right things?  Is our curriculum too narrow?  Some lessons on progressive education can be learned from passionate educators working in the most surprising of places!

I just heard a great piece on NPR’s Morning Edition.  It was a profile of a one-room school house in the Colombian Andes.  This innovative pedagogy is focused on experiential learning, critical thinking, and social emotional development.  The progressive education movement is not new and many of the elements are seen at our school now.  What is amazing is that this type of education can be accomplished in the poorest of regions.  It has the potential for transformational change and growth in all communities.

As we explore the intersection of learning + space through our District’s master facility plan development, I cannot help but think about the education programming decisions that we will need to make in the coming years.  What do we value?  How do we prioritize our instructional time?  Lessons can be learned from this educational case study.  Enjoy!

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Parent Education Consortium Calendar

The Parent Education Consortium of the North Shore is centralized source of information on parent programs and resources.  The 2016-17 calendar of events was recently released.  You may be interested in some of the topics covered in the speaker series.  Several of the topics connect with themes that our teaching and parent community have been discussing.  For example, our district elementary staff read “Grit” by Angela Duckworth over the summer.  District 30 invited Devorah Heitner to speak to our staff and parent community last year.  Mindfulness is a topic of discussion in all schools.  Below are some highlights taken directly from their calendar of events.


Wednesday, September 28, 7:00 PM, New Trier High School, Winnetka Campus, Gaffney Auditorium, 385 Winnetka Ave., Winnetka, 60093.  Family Action Network (FAN) is proud to present Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D., the renowned Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, the “mother of mindfulness” who has written extensively on the illusion of control, mindful aging, stress, decision-making, and health.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in the Digital Age, 7:00 PM, Glenbard West High School, 670 Crescent Blvd., Glen Ellyn, 60137. Presented by the Glenbard Parent Series: (GPS) Navigating Healthy Families. Many parents feel that their kids are addicted, detached, or distracted because of their digital devices. Media expert Devorah Heitner Ph.D., however, believes that technology offers huge potential to our children—if parents guide  them on their way.  For further information, visit glenbardgps.org or contact Gilda Ross, Glenbard District 87 student and community projects coordinator, at 942-7668 or gilda_ross@glenbard.org.


Friday, September 30, A Pause in the Season: A Time for Moms to Reflect, 11:00 AM-2:00 PM, Lakeview Center, Gillson Park, 800 Gillson Park Dr. (enter at Lake Ave. and Michigan Ave.), Wilmette, 60091 (RSVP; $). Join in for a mid-day meditative gathering and reflective lunchtime to mindfully consider the Eisenhower Principle: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent.” Explore how this could be useful when addressing anxiety. Lori Smith, BSN, will help us learn to reflect and to pause, to be present and to prioritize. Discover new ways to slow down, to be mindful in our lives, just as nature in the fall prepares its own pause. Lunch included. www.womens-exchange.org/programs/


Friday, October 7, 2016, Mindful Communication: Your Teen & You, 9-10:30 AM, Wolcott School, 524 N. Wolcott Ave., Chicago, 60622 (RSVP). Presented by Timothy Dohrer, Ph.D. and Thomas Golebiewski, Ph.D. Drs. Dohrer and Golebiewski will focus on the development of two essential skills for mindful communication, self-awareness and self-management.  RSVP to Varisa Lertburapa at vlertburapa@wolcottschool.org or 312-610-4900.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016,  Connecting with Your Digital Native Offline, 6:15-7:30 PM, Oriole Park Chicago Public Library Meeting Room, 7454 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago,  60656 (RSVP). Chicago Gifted Community Center invites family therapist Brandon Tessers, MA to provide an interactive presentation helping parents define the digital cultural divide between themselves and their children, occurring due to increased flow of information through technology.  RSVP to tinyurl.com/tessertalk. Questions, contact: LeslieContos@gmail.com


Thursday, October 27, 2016, How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, 10:00 AM, Lake Forest Country Day School, Green Bay Atrium, 145 S. Green Bay Rd, Lake Forest, 60045 (RSVP). Lake Forest Country Day School Special Speaker Series presents New York Times best-selling author, educator, and speaker Jessica Lahey. Her talk will explore why parents must refrain from stepping in when children experience disappointments and frustrations, so children can learn from life’s inevitable mistakes and setbacks and grow up to be successful, resilient, self-reliant adults. The talk is free and open to the public. To reserve your seat, please RSVP at lfcds.org. If you have questions, please call 847-234-2350.


Saturday, November 5, 2016, Special Needs Resource Fair, 11:00 AM-3:00 PM, Evanston Public Library, Main Community Meeting Room, 1703 Orrington Ave., Evanston, 60201. Exhibitors include approximately 40 local clinicians and nonprofit agencies whose work serves or supports children with special needs (and their families!).  This is an excellent opportunity for families to meet new clinicians and find much needed programming and support. The event is free and open to the public. More info at www.evanstoncase.org


Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Queen Bees and Masterminds, 7:30 PM, Barrington High School Auditorium, 616 W. Main S.t, Barrington, 60010. Barrington Speaker Series invites you to an evening with New York Times bestselling author Rosalind Wiseman.  Through years of working with teenagers, Ms. Wiseman has become a keen observer of behavior and social structures. She is an internationally recognized expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice and ethical leadership. This community event is hosted by the Barrington Speaker Series and generously sponsored by the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation and PTO Presidents’ Council.


Thursday evenings (9/22-11/10), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program, 6:30-8:30 PM, Integrative Pathways to Healing, 540 Frontage Rd., Ste. 1035, Northfield, 60093 (RSVP; $). An 8-week, 9-session course designed to develop and integrate mindfulness practices into everyday life, using meditation, body awareness, and gentle movement. Learn tools to reduce stress and live with greater ease, strength and resilience. Registration required – space is limited. Course is facilitated by Betsy Murphy, MS, RN, HNB-BC ERYT, a holistic nurse and mind body specialist. Website: www.mindbodyrn.com. For more information or questions please contact Betsy:  info@mindbodyrn.com or call 847-254-3910.


Second and Fourth Tuesdays of each month (9/27, 11/15, 11/29, 12/13, 12/27), Parent Support Group, Response Center, 9304 N. Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 60077 (RSVP; $). Is your teenage child using words you don’t recognize? Do you sometimes feel your adolescent is living in a different world? Why do they act like that? And what does “gender-fluid” mean?? We are here to help!! Response Center is starting a group offering support to parents of teens ages 12-21. We plan to provide space where parents can receive support toward understanding their teens’ emotions, communication, and behavior. We hope to help you identify ways you can support teens as they make the challenging transition from child to adult. We will offer skills to understand how you can continue to guide your child while fostering their blossoming independence. This is an open group which means you can attend as many or few sessions as fit in your schedule. Cost of the group is $30/session, single or couple. For more information please contact Elizabeth Ellis LSW at 224-625-2923, or email at elizabethellis@jcfs.org


Thursday mornings (10/13, 10/27, 11/10, 11/17), I Just Want My Kids to Listen!, 9:30-11:00 AM, Panera Bread conference room, 1199 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 60091 (RSVP; $). Do you feel frustrated when your kids don’t listen to you? Do you question yourself regarding parenting and discipline? Would you like greater peace and less chaos in your home? This interactive class provides insight and tools to help! Learn practical, effective communication and problem solving skills that encourage cooperation and enhance family relationships. Gain tools and strategies to deal with challenging behaviors. Receive tips to develop resilience and confidence in your children and positive changes in your family. Inspired by research from leading experts and facilitated by Beth Miller M.Ed., PCI Certified Parent Coach with over 25 years of experience as an educator, counselor and coach, this class is open to parents of children ages 6 to 10. To register email beth@bethmillerparentcoach.com. Cost is $125. Space is limited. Visit www.bethmillerparentcoach.com for additional information.




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Wednesday’s Ice Cream Social was another reminder of the strength of our Willowbrook Community.  I was quickly lost in conversation with a parents & students on the blacktop.  When I looked up and saw kids playing and parents gathered across the green space, I was reminded how fortunate we are to have this inclusive and diverse community of families who honor childhood.  PTO volunteers served free ice cream… with a smile.  Mothers reunited lost children with their parents.  Alumni (now at Maple) were excited to come back.  They spoke fondly about their elementary school and reassured new members of the school community that they too would fall in love with Willowbrook School.  I am grateful to be included in this positive community.  Wednesday night was another opportunity to #bewillowbrook

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