Updates from Avoca West — 5/18

Thank you all who were able to come out and volunteer for this year’s Viking Walk. Based on the wackiness of the weather these days, we certainly lucked out with a day for the kiddos to get outside to move! Whether your child chose to elicit donations from family and friends or not, it was lovely to see the students push themselves to move more!

Congrats to our orchestra and choir on a job well done last week. Though this was their last formal concert of the 2014-2015 school year, I hope many of our kiddos will continue to stretch themselves musically all summer long!

In planning for the summer season ahead, the 2nd grade team met with parents this past Thursday to talk about how to support reading over the summer months. For those of you who were unable to make it, you’ll find a link to the presentation here. —->2nd Grade Title I copy

Additionally, there is a wonderful opportunity to keep your children up to speed in math this summer as well.

Research shows that most children lose 2-3 months of math learning over the summer.  I am excited to inform you about a free program offered by TenMarks that will provide your child with access to a powerful, personalized summer math program designed to help them reverse summer learning loss.

The program is called TenMarks Summer Math Program and here is how it works:

1. You can visit http://summer.tenmarks.com to pre-register for the program.

2. Before summer break, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to get started.

3. At the start of the program, your child will receive a short diagnostic assessment based on the grade s/he is completing.

4. The assessment will be automatically graded and TenMarks will create a personalized program designed to prepare your child for the upcoming year.

I have already signed up my own two kids to try it out, and many of our teachers use the program already with their students. What I like especially about it is that it is personalized and it only takes an hour a week.  I know from experience that it is hard to fit in some review over the summer and for the most part  I just want to let my kids enjoy the summer, but they still nag me for screen time. This is a nice compromise for our family! The TenMarks Summer Math Program will guide your child through their personalized program, one topic at a time, helping them refresh what they know, and learn what they don’t. Each assignment contains embedded instruction (hints, video lessons, and interventions) to ensure success.

The 3-month program starts at the end of May. To get started, pre-register at


Enjoy the chilly week ahead and the promise of a three day weekend! Be well, and stay healthy, my friends.

Avoca — There’s No Place We’d Rather Be!

For those of you who have never spent any time away from the Avoca District, you may not know how remarkable a place this is to spend your days. Last week was spent honoring the many teachers and staff members who commit their time and energy to our students. Kudos to you all!

This week, I’d like to share the YouTube video made by our Junior High Strings students (made up of students from both Marie Murphy and Wilmette Junior High). Our students visited Marie Murphy earlier this year to watch this performance of “Rather Be” in person — a spectacle that was moving to the core! If you’ve not yet listened to the spectacular sound of our strings students, please treat yourself to this student-created video!

Enjoy the week ahead!

Registration and Re-Enrollment Now Open!

The long awaited process for re-enrolling all current students for the 2015-2016 school year is now open. Please follow the directions carefully on the link here and/or through the screen shots below. Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 8.09.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 8.09.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 8.10.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 8.10.23 PMIf you have not yet completed the process for the PowerSchool Single Sign On, you will be unable to register/re-enroll your student. You can find those instructions by visiting a previous post.

As always, feel free to reach out to our school staff with any questions. Looking forward to planning for another fantastic school year!


Are you the parent of an INCOMING kindergarten student?

Rest assured that our office staff is hard at work getting your child set up in the system. Once in place (shortly!!), you will receive a mailing home that includes your child’s unique access code and directions for getting set up online. Thank you for your patience and your enthusiasm in joining our Viking crew!

Teacher Appreciation Week — May 4th-8th

I hope you’re all able to take a moment this week to reach out to your child’s teacher to say thank you for all he/she does here at Avoca West. As a parent, I know that an elementary school teacher likely spends more waking hours with our kiddos than we do as parents at home. We are so blessed to have teachers at Avoca West who care for our students as if they were their own children! It was so lovely to see the students arrive at school on Monday with flowers and treats for their teachers. Thanks to all of you for making that possible, and specifically to those parents who were able to lend a hand with the Teacher Appreciation luncheon yesterday. Yum!

Mark your calendars — the last FULL day of school will be June 12th. This is two days later than originally planned to make up for the snow/cold days, but allows our summer school and activities throughout the Township to go off without a hitch.

Our registration should be up and running soon! While we originally anticipated opening things up for registration and re-enrollment yesterday, the switch to the single sign on process (please see earlier updates for details) has delayed things a bit. Rest assured that you will receive a stand-alone email from me when we’re ready to roll with registration/re-enrollment! Thank you for your patience.

Avoca West will begin our End-of-the Year PARCC testing next week. There will be three days of testing (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), so please be sure your child has a great breakfast and/or snack for the day and gets plenty of rest. Our timing will follow the same as was used for our PARCC testing earlier this spring.

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And finally, as we look to wrap up the end of this school year, there is still A LOT of work to be done! Our teachers are continuing to challenge our students with new learning concepts and in setting goals for the remaining six weeks. You may wish to do the same at home to keep momentum going there as well. Perhaps you’d ask the question of your child, “What would you still like to do with the last six weeks as a ________ grader?” or “What you you think you need to work on in order to get your ready for _________ grade?”

Thank you, as always, for your support and collaborative spirit. Be well!

Report Card Update for Avoca West — 4/28

We asked…You answered…We listened!

Thanks to so many of you who provided input on our first roll out of our online report card. In the interest of keeping everyone “in the know” about what concerns and solutions were brought up, I’ve done my best to organize the feedback and brainstorming sessions of our parents, Report Card Committee and Tech Maven, Beth Haugeberg below.

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If you’d like a copy of the update all in one sheet, you can find it linked HERE.

As with anything we do here at Avoca West, please know that we are always a work in progress. We always seek to reflect upon and grow in our practice. I’ll continue to keep you up to date on any changes you can expect in the future.

In the meantime, please don’t wait to follow the directions for your Single Sign On procedure through PowerSchool (detailed in last week’s post). We will be reaching out to those families who do not complete the process by the end of the week, as our registration and re-enrollment process is dependent upon it.

Thanks for all you do, and enjoy the beautiful week ahead!

Happy Secretary’s Day!

Before getting down to PowerSchool business, let me share how lucky we are today to celebrate Cece and Roxann as a part of our office team. The staff and students are adorning the ladies with flowers and cards to show they care, so feel free to drop them a quick email to show your appreciation as well!



I’m also including yesterday’s information that was emailed home about the necessary step all of our parents and guardians need to take in order to access student grades and registration for next year. I know the process is tedious, but I assure you that the convenience of picking your own login and password will be a luxury we’ll all appreciate in June!

On Wednesday, April 22, an updated version of Power School is being released that will change the way parents access the system. This change will come with several benefits including a single log-in for families with multiple children, the ability to set up different log-ins for different parents, and make the registration procedure, which begins in a few weeks, much more efficient.
Currently, when you log into Power School from your internet browser, (https://avoca.powerschool.com/public/home.html) you come to a screen that looks like this:
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In the new login process, you’ll still go to the same address (https://avoca.powerschool.com/public/home.html). The screen will now look like this:
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Please note – you will have to click the “Create Account” tab at the top. The instructions on how to finish this process in the new PowerSchool have been attached to this email. If you have any problems completing the steps necessary to open up the new Power School, please do not hesitate to contact the front office for assistance. 

​Although this process may seem a bit tedious, once you do it for your kiddos, you will no longer need to worry about ​hanging on to those slips of paper!
​For parents of those children who travel between houses, each parent can (and should) create his/her own separate account that will be tied to students. ​
Keep in mind that this process needs to happen BEFORE MAY 4TH in order for us to successfully roll out the registration (and re-enrollment) process for the coming school year.
Please click on the link here to access additional instructions and next steps in the process. PS SSO Instructions – Avoca (1)
As always, thank you for your time, support, and cheerfulness! Enjoy the week.

Weekly Updates from Avoca West – 4/13

It appears that we’re lucky enough to have landed squarely in spring — yahoo!! I hope you’re finding time to soak in the sunshine and play outside as a treat for making it through a long, cold winter.

A huge thanks goes out to the Art in Action team. As someone who had not ever seen the day come alive, it was TRULY spectacular! I am so impressed with the time and efforts of our volunteers to make so many kiddos smile and be immersed in the fine arts for the day!

Speaking of volunteers, Avoca West will host the district’s annual Volunteer Breakfast on Friday, May 22nd. You will receive an additional email invitation from Kim Meier in the near future, but you can find it below as well. Rather than mail out invitations to specific volunteers, we open up the morning to any and all who give of their time to make Avoca District 37 the thriving community it is! I hope many of you are able to make it for the morning event so that we can give back to you!

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Finally, if you have a current 2nd grader you may receive a friendly call from Nurse Theer or from one of our office secretaries. In order to be compliant with state and district policies, all students must have an updated dental exam and proof of residency before moving into 3rd grade. I realize this will likely mean digging through paperwork at home, but appreciate your help in making the task easier for our office friends!

Enjoy the week ahead!

Welcome back, Avoca Friends! (4/6)

I hope you all had a lovely break from school and had some time to relax a bit with your family and friends. Thanks to so many of you who were able to make it out for our spring Parent-Teacher conferences before break. As we head into the springtime slide through the end of the school year, I know your lives are about to get quite busy. Please keep in mind the following things:

  • Parents are welcome on Wednesday morning (9:00-10:00) or Wednesday evening (6:00-7:00) to the Avoca West ITC to talk and brainstorm more about our first online report card. The regularly scheduled PTC meeting will take place in the ITC following our meeting in the evening. Rest assured that if you are unable to attend, your input was heard in the parent survey from earlier this winter.
  • We are unsure of the specific timing of our End of Year (EOY) PARCC testing for our 3rd-5th graders, but I anticipate that it will take place during the week of May 11th. Know that I’ll be happy to share specifics when I have them to share with you.
  • Parent Letters need to be sent in to me (via backpack mail, snail mail, or email) by this Friday, April 10th. You should have received an email from me on March 17th with specifics about what things to think about when sharing about your child’s needs for the coming year. Thank you for your input!
  • I’m looking forward to an exciting Art in Action day this coming Thursday — my first to witness! I know that so many of you have put time and energy into making it the noteworthy day in your child’s school year and hope you hear oodles of thanks from your children for the energy well spent! Thank you!

Enjoy the week ahead!

Weekly Updates from Avoca West – 3/24

I hope to see many of you at school this week for our spring Parent-Teacher conferences. This is a wonderful time to talk about your child’s progress made so far this school year and to set some goals for the remaining time with his/her teacher.


While you’re here, please stop by our Lost and Found to see if there’s anything belonging to your child. Oftentimes our parents (and students!) are surprised to find a long, lost article of clothing. All items not picked up by the end of the week will be donated.

As a quick reminder, Wednesday and Thursday will be half days for students as our teachers prepare for conferences. There will be no school for students on Friday, though our office will be open in the morning while our staff is spending time on professional development with their peers.

A big thanks to those parents who filled out our report card feedback form earlier in January (or early February). On Wednesday, April 8th parents will have another opportunity to share feedback and ideas with me regarding the online report card. I will have a Parent Coffee in he Avoca West ITC at 9:00am and will also welcome parents who wish to come to the ITC that evening at 6:00pm before the PTC meeting. Please put your thinking caps on and come ready to share constructive feedback that we can use to improve the tool for communicating progress about your child.

I wish you a happy, healthy, and rejuvenating break with your family. With any luck, the weather will work out in our favor as well!



I look forward to hearing all about your adventures when we return on April 6th.

Springtime — a Time to Renew!

After being treated to some incredible weather last week, it’s great to finally feel like spring is well on its way again! Some of our students discovered some flowers beginning to show their faces to the world at dismissal yesterday. Yahoo!

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A big thanks to Rachel Goodman and our PTC for gathering a group of parents and educators together last week to discuss how to support our students in these changing times. While the focus of the group was initially on transitions, we spent much time talking about how to help foster emotional wellbeing in our children — at school and at home — so they feel comfortable and confident with handling all that life throws them. Always on the lookout for how to best arm myself as a parent, I was curious to dive into the book that Rachel (also a practicing pediatrician in the area) had just ordered called, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust. Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.35.31 PM For those of you who don’t know, I am the lucky mother of a fiery redheaded fourth grader (who is 10 going on 15) and a charming trouble-maker of a first grader. I certainly can use all of the tips to help build my patience and toolkit! I was struck almost immediately last night when I began reading, and wanted to quickly get the word out to those parents who might also be curious to read. Pardon the on-the-spot photo taken from the couch last night, but this particular quotation struck me — and instantly drew me into the text. Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.32.32 PM

While I am not planning on doing a formal parent-principal book group, I hope you’ll consider joining me in reading this at home.

One way to begin building some independence in a way where our kiddos can thrive is to re-envision your child’s homework time each night. At this year’s Open House, my daughter’s teacher gave us the most unnerving “advice” — and appeal of sorts.
Provide a quiet, structured place to work at home, an encouraging smile when things get tough, but DON’T (don’t!) reteach or “help” if he/she doesn’t understand. Rather, send a quick email or note in the assignment notebook that something is difficult, but encourage him/her to seek help the following day.
I’m sure you can imagine how counterintuitive this was for me — an educator who wasn’t supposed to teach at home?! The process has been wholeheartedly liberating for us all! My daughter’s teacher has a solid grasp of her understanding, I am building her independence, and the evening climate in our house is much less tumultuous (without me having to urge her that “I know what I’m doing!”). Know that there will be hiccups and missed homework slips that come along with this learning but, like mathematics and reading,these are valuable life lessons as well. 
In the hopes of sharing more homework help for parents, feel free to stop by this helpful website from PBS for more guidance on how to support while still building independence and perseverance at home. 
Be well, best of luck, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!