American Education Week at Avoca West – 11/17



Welcome to American Education Week at Avoca West! This week we celebrate public education and recognize those individuals who have made a difference in our lives and in the lives of our children. What does it mean for us here? There are several opportunities this week for parents and community members to come on over to Avoca West to see what life looks like!

  • Mindset Parent-Principal book study will meet TONIGHT from 7:00-8:00 in the ITC. We’ll be looking at the first three chapters of Carol Dweck’s book. Whether you’ve read through the text or simply want to come and be a part of the discussion, I hope you’ll join us!
  • 4th grade music performance will be this Wednesday at 6:30pm. Come and see what our students have been up to as they share their voices and sounds with the audience.
  • Friday morning we’ll be “open” for parents and visitors to come and see the classrooms in action. Please know that all visitors will need to follow the usual guidelines for signing into the office (provide ID and wear appropriate lanyard).
  • Personal invites were sent out by several classrooms and grade levels inviting those parents to join them for a specific activity or event. Hopefully your schedule will allow you to pop in and learn about what learning looks like here!


Our weather has certainly slipped significantly the past week or so! Please be sure that your child is dressed appropriately to be outside for recess. As a reminder, it is our practice at Avoca West that students will go outside for recess as long as the “feels like” temperature is 10 degrees or above. This allows us to accommodate for the wind chill factor. We will make the call at 11:15 for all recesses using the posted temperatures at for Glenview. Students who wish to play in the snow will need to have snow pants and boots – otherwise they will be asked to remain on the blacktop only.

If you were unable to make it out to our Report Card Information Night this past Wednesday, please scroll down to review the slides that were shared with our attendees.

Thank you for your continued partnerships, and I look forward to seeing many of you this week!

Parent Report Card Information Night

In case you missed our parent information this evening, feel free to browse through the presentation slides. In all things, please keep in mind that we are a work in progressAfter January’s launch of our online report card, a survey will go out to parents to elicit feedback about what works, what might be confusing, and whether or not it meets your needs as a parent. If questions arise between now and January, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be happy to clarify!

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Thank you, and enjoy your evening!

Updates from Avoca West – 11/11/14

What an incredible sense of pride this day has given to me — how fortunate I am to lead such a fabulous group of learners and leaders at Avoca West! Many thanks to all those who were able to make it out to Avoca West this morning for our annual Veteran’s Day breakfast — where our student leaders serve those who served our country. What a wonderful way to spend the day honoring our veterans. Throughout the day and in the week leading up to Veteran’s Day, our students have been learning about this important holiday. Our 4th and 5th graders also had a chance to participate in a fabulous service project through The Kindness Connection, where they made things for veterans to be donated. Looking through the slideshow & pictures of today’s events and last week’s service project is sure to plaster a smile across your face!

Thanks to all those who made our Movie Night a huge hit. If you were there to take in the magic of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I’m sure you’ll agree that the new venue made for a more relaxing and enjoyable time for all. I look forward to many more years of fun family time at Marie Murphy. A special thanks to Mr. Matt Palcer for opening his doors and working to make sure the event was a successful one!

I hope you’re able to join us in the ITC tomorrow evening for information about Avoca West’s new online report card. We will begin at 6:30 with the regularly schedule PTC meeting to follow.

As the weather changes, please be sure your child is dressed accordingly. As the mom of two kiddos, I know how difficult this morning battle can be — please wage it with conviction and know that our staff at school will support you! Our Lost & Found is also growing by the day, so please be sure that your child’s belongings are labeled!

Be well, enjoy the week ahead, and stay bundled up!


November News from Avoca West – 11/3

It’s difficult to believe that we are now officially moving into the holiday season, starting with a month of thanks and gratitude. Let me kick off this month with a huge note of thanks to:

  • Our PTC volunteers and parents for making this past Friday’s Halloween parties a huge hit for our kiddos. They loved the creative ideas, thoughtful snacks, and exuberant cheers of our parents and parade watchers! I know there were a couple of new changes to our Avoca West procedures this year, and I really appreciate your patience as we continue to refine a system that will work to make sure Avoca is a safe place to learn, grow, and play.
  • Our PTC leadership this year. Communication from and collaboration with our leaders has been such a welcome treat for me here at Avoca. You have all done so much to bring fresh ideas and to open your arms to those new staff members and families each and every chance you get! Thank you!
  • Our student leaders who are getting ready for our second Spirit Assembly of the school year. I am amazed at the commitment by so many students and staff members to make sure that the Avoca West name is synonymous with caring leadership. Keep it up, all!
  • Our 4th & 5th grade teachers and students for opening their doors to The Kindness Connection tomorrow. The non-profit group will work with our students to create and distribute gifts to local veterans. As we look to build the academics as well as the character of our students, this is a great extension of our student leadership and SEL goals. Thank you, Mrs. Straussman for bringing this worthwhile event to our children and our community.

As we look to grow as a true community of learners, I hope you’ll consider joining us for a couple of opportunities during the weeks to come:

  • Wednesday, November 12th several members of our Report Card Committee will share information with parents about this year’s new pilot, online report card. We will begin in the ITC at 6:30pm, followed by the regularly scheduled PTC meeting.
  • Monday, November 17th we will kick off American Education Week throughout the country. At Avoca West, all parents are welcome to join me in the ITC to discuss the first three chapters of Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. I hope you can join us in talking about how we can stretch and grow our minds as learners in all aspects of our lives!

Thank you for all you do, and I encourage you to being a thankful list at home this month — a chance to pause as a family to consider the bounty of things that life has given each of us!

Be well,


Updates from Avoca West – 10/27

What a beautiful gift of a day this has been! I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend putting energy back into your tanks — and perhaps today has afforded you a moment to step outside as well! Thank you for stopping by for our noteworthy news from Avoca West:

Halloween News:

  • Halloween is nearly upon us! If you are planning on attending your child’s classroom party on Friday, be sure you let your room parent know BY WEDNESDAY. We will be making name tags for those parents who we’re expecting. All others are welcome, but will need to stop in and register formally in the office on Friday.
  • Our Halloween parade will begin in the school at 1:15 on Friday. You can likely expect the students to trickle outside starting at around 1:20 or so. Once ALL students have entered the building, parents will be welcomed inside for the parties. If you are helping with the party set-up, you may come in at 1:00.
  • Don’t forget — we strongly discourage masks or other face coverings, as it makes it difficult for students to see. Additionally, if you child is wearing a spooky masks, please consider leaving it at home for the day. Thank you for being thoughtful and not scaring our youngest kiddos!

Other Important Information:

  • A huge thanks to our Glenview Fire Department for joining us today to talk with out kids about fire safety. You child will bring home a sheet to share information with you and to hopefully spur on a conversation at home.
  • Avoca West will host our 7th Annual Veteran’s Day Breakfast on Tuesday, November 11th from 8:30-9:30. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to give back to those who gave for our country in service. Please pass along the invitation to any and all veterans you know! You can RSVP for yourself (or on another person’s behalf) at
  • This year Avoca West will pilot a new, online report card. Please join me and some of our committee members in Avoca West’s ITC on Wednesday, November 12th at 6:30pm to learn more about it and to learn about how your input can be shared. Following the meeting will be the regularly scheduled PTC meeting at 7:00. We hope you can make it!
  • Our Annual Movie Night will be November 7th. On the reel will be Mr. Peabody and Sherman – a Hutchison family favorite! Doors open at 6:15 with the movie set to start at 6:40. $4 in advance or $5 at the door! Your child will bring home a flyer about the event sometime this week. Thanks for your support in making the night a hit!

Enjoy the week ahead, and let’s hope for another fluke of a warm day on Friday for our kiddos!

Weekly Updates from Avoca West – October 20th

The chill in the air this weekend is a sure indicator that we have gone headlong in to this fall season. What a beautiful sight it is to spend some time on the playground among the falling leaves and their changing colors! I anticipate seeing many of you later this week for our Parent-Teacher conferences. This is a wonderful time to touch base with your child’s teacher about his/her progress so far this year and how you can support your child’s growth at home. Please know that a tremendous amount of work goes into making the conferences a successfully fine-tuned machine, so be sure you arrive with plenty of time to meet with your child’s teacher.

Thank you all for your patience and cooperation as we transfer to our new, more secure sign-in procedures. In addition to these day-to-day changes, we will be tweaking our procedures for the coming Halloween parade and parties on Friday, October 31st. Please read and carefully note the changes below:

  • Weather permitting, we will have our traditional Avoca West Halloween parade. Students will show off their costumes to one another as they walk through the building, gathering other classes along the way, and will show off their spirit outside for our parents and neighbors. Parents will need to remain outside for the parade so that we can maintain the same level of safety inside the building.
  • If Mother Nature “treats” us to some dreary weather, we will walk through the building just the same, but will all parade through the gym for our parent spectators. In order to avoid signing folks in, parents will enter through the gym doors so that the rest of our building can remain secure for learning.
  • Volunteering to help for your child’s Halloween party? Please be sure to let your child’s room parent know that you are planning to attend. Volunteer names will be shared with our office staff so that labels can be pre-made for sign in, avoiding the need for the log book. Only parent volunteers who pre-submitted their names will be permitted “instant” access to the building for Halloween parties – all others will need to provide ID and check in as usual in the office before being admitted into the building. This is a change from the past, but I hope you’ll agree that it will help to insure that our students are safely enjoying the festivities!
  • Costume guidelines are similar to those in years past:  No weapons, no face masks, and please refrain from color spraying hair at school. Students are welcome to color their hair that morning at home, but due to he spray’s harmfulness to the air quality when used indoors, students who wish to spray their hair at school will not be permitted to do so. Parents, if you are dressing in costume please be mindful of our age span here at school — our youngest kiddos may be alarmed by spooky costumes! Students not coming to school in their costumes will have time to change after lunch and prior to the parade.

A HUGE round of applause goes to this year’s iOnAvoca crew who has been doing a fantastic job bringing our morning announcements to the classroom screens! Their enthusiasm, wit, and collaboration is a wonderful way to start out days at school. A special thanks to Mrs. Haugeberg and Mr. Erf for working closely with our Avoca West writing and production crews. Looking forward to watching another week of student synergy!

And finally, many thanks to all of our parents who reached out indicating an ability to lend a hand during our lunchtime. Unfortunately, I was not able to solidify consistent coverage, so I will be posting the opening to the world at large. Thanks again!

I look forward to seeing the majority of you at conferences this week, and many thanks for all you do!

Updates from Avoca West – 10/14

With the changing seasons you’ll find several changes at Avoca West. Please know that while these changes may be a bit inconvenient and different than the open-door Avoca of the past, we do so with a complete focus on making sure that our students are safe and learning to their maximum potential each and every day.

Here are several reminders for parents:

  • All visitors will be asked to stop off at the office and present identification so that each visitor is logged properly in our log book and given the appropriate identification. We are teaching our staff and students how to recognize safe visitors, so please be patient as we work through streamlining our new routines.
  • Parents and visitors will need to indicate where they are headed when they arrive. Please (please, please!) only go there — do not stop off at your child’s classroom to drop something off or to say hello. While our children may light up at the sight of a friendly face, it can throw off the learning momentum of the classroom. Thank you for your cooperation in making sure that every minute matters.
  • All of our classrooms need to be nut-free places for students to learn. This means that all snacks and treats MUST be nut-free — including those products that may be processed in a plant containing nuts. Check your labels, please! Mrs. Theer has been lovely in trying to make accommodations for those students with allergies in our building, but we need to be sure our practices match our dedication to providing a safe environment for all of our children. If your child brings a snack or treat that is not a safe snack, we will be unable to allow it into the classroom. We will be adding a Nut Free Table to our lunchroom so to minimize the possibility of cross-contamination. Thank you for your help with this!
  • Going on vacation? While it is certainly your right as a parent to take your child out of school, please know that our priority as a school is to be responsive to those students in the classroom. Though many teachers can anticipate one or two things to do while on vacation (including reading, writing, and practicing math facts), sending work to do cannot replace being in school for good instruction. Feel free to let your child’s teacher know that he/she will not be in school, but know that it is not our practice to provide work in advance. As a working parent, I can certainly empathize with the wish to spend more time with our kiddos, but urge you to consider all factors prior to booking your trip.

Anderson’s Book Fair is coming to Avoca West! Parents should find information about the book fair in your oldest child’s backpack. Additionally, the PTC will be sending out a blast later this week. If you’re wondering how you can volunteer to help out, there are opportunities (calling you!) at this link: Thank you in advance for all of our parent volunteers for making this such a fabulous event at school!

Mark your calendars for our first Mindset book study on the evening of Monday, November 17th from 7:00-8:00p.m. I hope you’re able to join us as we talk about the first three chapters of Carol Dweck’s book:

  • Chapter 1:  The Mindsets
  • Chapter 2:  Inside the Mindsets
  • Chapter 3:  The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment

This will provide a super backdrop for our discussion on the mindsets in various aspects of our lives — including education and parenting. That meeting will be on Wednesday, December 10th. I hope you’re able to join us for one or both of the meetings!

Many thanks for your continued partnership. Be well, and stay warm!

Diving into October at Avoca West!

The weather outside this past weekend has certainly been a reminder to us all that we are inching farther and farther away from the good old days of summer! Thank you for pausing for a moment to check in on our happenings here at school.

  • Kudos to our Assembly Ambassadors on a tremendous job at our very first Spirit Assembly of the year. This October, students are asked to focus on the habit of “Being Proactive” — to take responsibility for all that life hands them (successes and hiccups) and to plan for how to tackle their goals. I am so impressed and proud of the teamwork, leadership, and focus this group has shown in creating this remarkable experience for our students. Stay tuned for the video broadcast of the assembly to share with family members!


  • In honor of October being Fire Prevention month, we will be having our first fire drill of the year shortly. Additionally, Avoca West will also welcome members of the Glenview Fire Department to meet with our students and educate them about how to be safe at school and at home. Please use this month as a great opportunity to talk about your fire safety plan with your student(s) at home.
  • Our Lost and Found is looking a bit like a resale shop — and is bursting at the seams!! Please make sure your child’s things are clearly labeled with his/her name so that we can return any lost items to him/her. Any items that remain unclaimed after Parent-Teacher Conferences (later this month) will be donated.
  • Can you share your time? Parents should have received an email from me about  volunteer opportunities to help out with our lunchtime and/or to help our staff with some regular copying. If you’re able and willing to help, please follow the “volunteer here” link in the email to indicate when you’re available.
  • Learning and community building opportunity at Avoca West! This fall, I’d like to invite parents to join me on two separate evenings (once in November and once in December) for a Parent-Principal Book Club. We will dig in to Carol Dweck’s noteworthy book, Mindset. This book provided much of the basis for our Avoca District’s Advanced Learners Committee work last year, but has tremendous impact on how we engage with our children, ourselves, our peers, and education as a whole. Additionally, the text will serve as a great foundation for our spring book study of The Leader in Me. You can indicate your interest and evening preference in the “Mindset Parent-Principal Book Club” link in the email.

Many thanks for all you do in making Avoca West a fantastic place to learn and grow each day!

Morning Morning Updates from AW

As we head into another busy week of learning here at Avoca West, please take a moment to learn about some of the important news from school.

  • ISAT reports (for this year’s 4th-8th graders) were mailed home on Friday. Inside, you’ll find a note from Mr. Palcer and me explaining a bit more about last year’s state assessment and how to read your child’s score. This year students in 3rd-8th grades will take the PARCC assessment in March/April and again in May. We are promised to receive the data back sooner than ISAT, to truly us it to inform our instruction for students.
  • Picture Day is officially in the books! If your child forgot to bring his/her money and order form, please know that you will have an opportunity to turn your money in directly to the company. Retakes are set for October 22nd!
  • Lunches Dropped Off During the School Day will not be brought immediately down to students. In an attempt to honor classroom instructional time, lunches will be put in a black bin and left outside of the gym. Students are working through the practice of checking the black bin if they don’t have their lunch — especially if they knew that a parent was dropping it off. We hope this will help make sure that the classroom is as interruption-free as possible!
  • Our sign in procedures have tightened up a bit this year, so thank you all for stopping in the office to grab your sticker before heading elsewhere in the building. We will soon have lanyards for our visitors to wear so that our staff and students have a visible cue of who has been approved through the office.
  • Conference Sign Up has already occurred, so please be sure you’ve signed up for a time to meet with your child’s teacher to hear about his/her progress so far this year. We are piloting a new, standards-based report card this school year and all parents are invited to the ITC on November 12th at 6:30 to learn more about it!

Thank you all for making sure that Avoca West is such a positive, safe, and lovely place to learn and grow each day!

Avoca West Updates – 9/11/14

It appears that we have launched into some fall weather, but before stepping into the weekend ahead, please take a moment to note the following newsworthy bits from Avoca West. Thank you for you patience as we worked through some tricky weather last Friday — it was certainly an extra exciting way to start the weekend!

  • On Thursday, September 18th (approximately 4:30), our staff will roll out their new online sign up for fall conferences. Conferences will be held on October 22nd & 23rd this year, with parents being offered up 15 minute time slots to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss his/her progress. Rest assured that we have built in a 5 minute buffer time for parents who need to see several teachers. Stay tuned!
  • As the weather turns cooler, be sure your child is dressed appropriately for the cooler morning and possibility of being outside for a chilly recess. Oftentimes our kiddos like to brave it without a jacket — so please have a chat with your child at home about your expectations for bundling up outside.
  • Just prior to our cool down, we were all set to welcome back our District 37 friends at our annual Ice Cream Social. Our rain date has been set for next Tuesday, the 16th from 5:00-7:00 on the playground area. We hope to see you there!
  • Next week we open our doors to those parents interested in learning about our English Language (EL) services at Avoca West. Feel free to come listen for yourself from 6:00-7:00 Wednesday evening.
  • Did you know Avoca West will be piloting a new report card this school year? Save the Date: On Wednesday, November 12th our Avoca West parents will have a chance to listen and learn about the new progress reporting system. We’ll meet in the ITC from 6:30-7:15 to share more about the philosophy behind our new standards-based report card, how you’ll access it online, and much, much more! At this time, parents will also have a chance to ask questions, share input, and to hear from Marie Murphy parents about how it works for them. Stay and join us all for the regularly scheduled PTC meeting at 7:15.

Enjoy the cool weekend ahead, and thank you for your trusting collaborative spirit so far this school year!