Character Counts! Week and Food Drive

We celebrate Character Counts! Week, beginning Monday, October 22. The Pillars of Character are something that Willowbrook emphasizes every week at Friday Flag Raising. Next week, we will recognize a pillar each day. Be sure to wear the corresponding color. Our schedule includes:

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

The annual Kids Care Food Drive to support the Northfield Food Pantry will also be held next week. My Spirit Committee has been busy planning this event. We will keep grade level totals each day. At the end of the week, the grade level with the largest numbers will receive an extra recess or a dance party in the gym.

Here is a short video the Spirit Committee created to advertise the food drive.

Posted in School Events | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Character Counts! Week and Food Drive

Nadine Lee, a Willowbrook Historian

Most of the staff in Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 know Nadine Lee as the Learning Enhancement Coordinator. She coordinates professional development, orders curriculum, runs the mentoring program, provides counsel to building principals, and more for the past 9 years. However, her contributions to the school district go back further. Did you know Ms. Lee taught at Willowbrook for 34 years?! She began teaching fourth grade in 1975 when Willowbrook School served students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Eventually, Ms. Lee moved to fifth grade (room 211).

Ms. Lee was recently interviewed by the current fifth-grade students as research for their fall musical program. She explained that our building was very crowded back in the 1970s. There were mobile classrooms on the blacktop. Students had to bundle up in winter coats, hats, and boots to walk between the Kindergarten and music classrooms. Art was delivered on a cart for all elementary students and everyone shared lockers. There was no formal library when Willowbrook was first opened. Books were stored in room 206.

The gumball machine is one thing that has not changed since the school first opened. It began as a seventh and eighth-grade art club project and was repainted around 8 years ago. Most alumni come back and ask to get a picture in front of the classic mural.

Ms. Lee told the fifth-grade students that the Northbrook/Glenview District 30 schools had a very different grade-level arrangement before 1976. Wescott had grades K-4 and Maple had grades 5-8. When Willowbrook opened in February of 1969, it serviced students in grades K-8.

Here are some other facts or details about Willowbrook’s past that Ms. Lee shared with the students:

  • There was no differentiation. Everyone received the same lesson at the same time, on the same day. Today, teachers are expected to individualize their instruction and reach each student. Teaching is much more complicated.
  • Paul Szerszen, a former P.E. teacher, started Field Day. You may have seen his sneakers hanging in the gym.
  • Willowbrook teachers and students used to dress in more formal attire. Teachers didn’t wear jeans on Friday. Children changed their clothes after school before they went out to play.
  • There was no orchestra, only band.
  • The first principal was Tom Oakson. He was followed by Tony DeGrazia, Brian Teal, Don Lazarus, Robert Olsen, Barbara Rieckhoff, Melissa Hirsch, Jill Weininger, and Scott Carlson.
Posted in School Events | Tagged | Comments Off on Nadine Lee, a Willowbrook Historian

Parent Teacher Conferences

You can register for your fall parent-teacher conference anytime between 6:00 a.m. on Monday, October 1 and 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10. You will register at

Parent-teacher conferences are on October 17 from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. and October 18 from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. Please note, there is no student attendance on October 18.

This fall conference is a great time to share academic and social goals that you have for your child. Ask your teacher for help refining or focusing these goals. Some other questions you might ask:

  • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • How does my child get along with the other students in class?
  • What can I do to support him/her at home?
Posted in Learning | Comments Off on Parent Teacher Conferences

Patriot Day

I would like to thank the Glenview firefighters who took time out of their busy day to attend Tuesday’s Patriot Day flag raising. Glenview police officers Joel Detloff, Jim Foley, and John Calvey were also in attendance. Willowbrook parent & Des Plaines firefighter, Jarred Milton, came in his dress uniform. And we had a return appearance from Des Plaines police officer Dustin Kauth (Mrs. Kauth’s husband).


Following our National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, I shared some thoughts on this National Day of Service and Remembrance. We talked about what it takes to be a Patriot and who we were remembering today.

I told the students that a small group of men tried to hurt America 17 years ago. Patriots, like our firefighters, police, paramedics, and soldiers came to the rescue. American were scared, but we took care of each other. We all helped each other on that day. We remember the people hurt on September 11 and the bravery of the Patriots who helped that day. This is a day to be proud of our country, our people, and our community.

In honor of Patriot day, I challenge all students to reach out and thank a Patriot. Shake the hand of a police officer or fireman/woman they see on the street. Thank a soldier for his/her service.

We close our flag raising by singing the first verse of My Country ‘Tis of Thee, followed by a moment of silence.

Posted in School Events | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Patriot Day

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

The annual PTO Ice Cream Social was a big success, despite the rain. We fit nicely into the gym. Our PTO presidents welcomed everyone at the door. You might have even seen school board member, Jeff Zuercher, mopping the floor and keeping it safe for the children.

Thank you to the PTO volunteers who organized this party. This is an important event that helps build community at Willowbrook School. It is a time for families to reconnect and see each other after the summer months. Plus, who doesn’t have time for free ice cream!

Posted in School Events | Tagged , | Comments Off on I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

Parent Communication

As you heard from your classroom teacher at Curriculum Night, we are trying to narrow our parent communication streams. We know how busy you are and we appreciate how hard it is to juggle multiple forms of communication. Any feedback on our communication strategies is welcome.

It can be overwhelming for a teacher to manage multiple communication vehicles. We are trying to help them focus on one major communication tool at each grade level. Many of our teachers will continue to use Twitter, blogs, or other mediums they are excited about. However, we have established some basic expectations for grades K-2 and grades 3-5.

Primary teachers (K-2) will be using Seesaw to help parents stay connected to the classroom. Seesaw is an online learning journal. After entering an access code, you can choose to receive notifications via email or push notification. Your child and/or classroom teacher will be sharing student work and sending classroom announcements via this application.

Intermediate teachers (grades 3-5) will focus on the use of Schoology. Schoology is a complete learning management system. Among other things, it can be used to boost communication within the classroom and between the home and school. Our district’s expectations are that teachers post daily homework, create and share resources with each other within this application. Your classroom teacher will send you a unique access code. Here is a link to parent instructions on how to sign up.

Finally, I would stress all parents should read our weekly flyer. “What’s Up Willowbrook” is sent on Friday afternoons as an email blast. Stay up-to-date and get all your questions answered by reading our flyer. An archive of our Friday flyers can be found here.

Posted in Parents | Tagged | Comments Off on Parent Communication

Happy New Year!

It was a successful week back to school. The Willowbrook teaching staff and I were thrilled to see the smiling faces of students as they streamed into the building. We welcomed 115 Kindergarten students and another 27 preschool students this year.

Four new teachers joined our staff over the summer. Rachel Hawkins is teaching our 6th section of Kindergarten. Katie Greenawalt joined 2nd grade. Molly Shanahan joined 4th grade. Ana Stockler assumed the role of learning/behavior specialist supporting students in the primary grades. We also welcomed 3 new teaching assistants.

At the opening ceremony, I announced Willowbrook’s 50th anniversary. Our school opened in February 1969. We presented the students with a giant birthday cake. Watch the surprise in this short video. 

We have also created a Facebook page to inform current and past Willowbrook Wildcats about this year’s celebrations. We hope past students and staff will share memories or post pictures from their time at Willowbrook. Visit us at

Posted in School Events | Tagged | Comments Off on Happy New Year!

Summer Reading

Research has shown that kids who do not read regularly over the summer can lose up to 3 months of progress. Think about that cumulative reading loss over the course of elementary school! We think it is very important that children maintain strong reading habits throughout the summer.

The Glenview Public Library & Northbrook Public Library have terrific summer reading programs designed for kids, teens, and adults. You may consider signing up the whole family and making it a weekly event to visit and log your reading. Often times, the library provides rewards or incentives. There will also be hands-on activities and projects. Registration begins June 10.

Here is a link to TumbleBooks (ebooks and audio books) through the Glenview Public Library. TumbleBooks are animated, talking picture books that teach kids the joy of reading. There are many iPad-compatible TumbleBooks now available. Students will need a public library card to use this service.

The Willowbrook Library has purchased a subscription to Axis 360. You can read ebooks and listen to audio books. In order to use the service, student should download the app or visit this website. You will also need your Willowbrook student email username and password. Here are directions explaining how to register.

Posted in Learning | Tagged | Comments Off on Summer Reading

Dance Party!

The Willowbrook PTO provided our school with another incredible artist-in-residence experience this week. We hosted 2 dance artists from the Old Town School of Folk Music. Over the course of 3 days, these artists worked with each grade level on the basic elements of creative movement: Space, time, and energy. We learned new vocabulary words such as locomotion, contrast, and choreography. A couple of before school staff workshops provided teachers with examples of how they could bring dance and creative movement into their classrooms.

Using our school-wide Play Pack structure, students formed 17 different dance groups this morning. Each pack created a short dance representing the theme of “summer”. Out on the Willow Park grass field, each pack performed their dance. Next, the dance artists led the whole school in a 8-movement composition. Finally, we turned the music up and let the kids have a wild dance party. The attached video illustrates the multi-age play.

Posted in School Events | Tagged , | Comments Off on Dance Party!

Thank you parent volunteers

This afternoon, the Willowbrook Staff and I held our annual “tea” to thank the many parent volunteers who have contributed to our strong school community. Willie the Wildcat was on hand to pass out small thank you gifts. Our PTO presidents recognized the outgoing and incoming board members. Finally, each grade level came to the gym and performed 2 songs from their student musical. It was a great review of the year.

We are grateful for the time and talent of our parent volunteers. They add so much to the children’s elementary school experience. It most certainly takes a village. A special thank you to Mrs. Melissa Carr, outgoing Co-PTO President.

Posted in Parents, School Events | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Thank you parent volunteers