Winding Down a Wonderful Year at Avoca West!

With so much to share as we wind down the school year, I’ll do my best to keep this blog update short! Thank you for checking in throughout the school year as I’ve looked to update and improve the overall communication from school.

  • Teacher Placement Letters will be sent home Tuesday with the students. Additionally, those students in grades 2-4 will have spring MAP data included in the envelope.
  • Meet the Teacher will take place Wednesday morning. This is a wonderful time for students to spend a short time with their new teacher and classmates for the year to come. I look forward to watching those beginning memories form!
  • Report Cards will not be official until Friday at 3:30. As I’ve shared in the past, the new login process allows parents to login and view prior to then, but know that any progress indicators you see here will still be a work in progress until Friday. Since your child’s courses have officially ended, you may have to click “Show Completed Classes” on the Standards Grades tab.
  • If you have not completed the PowerSchool Single Sign On process, you WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR CHILD’S REPORT CARD. Simply put, please be sure you’ve taken care to create your own unique login, password, and added each of your children to your login. Directions are LINKED HERE AGAIN in case you need them.
  • Have you registered your child for the 2015-2016 school year yet? Chances are, the answer is no. As of Friday, only 200 families in all of Avoca District 37 have registered for the coming school year. Yikes! Should you require those directions again, I have LINKED THEM HERE again — but it requires a PowerSchool login first, so don’t skip the important step above!
  • Online Report Cards…Take 2! Earlier this spring I reported back to parents about anticipated changes for this end-of-the-year report card.
    • The following improvements have been made for the upcoming release:
      • ALL teacher comments can be now viewed through the “Teacher Comments” tab on the left hand navigation bar. You no longer need to toggle between the blue dots and copy/paste them. Parents should be able to simply view all comments in one place and print them from there.
      • There will be course specific feedback regarding the expectations for reading, math, and all core and encore classes available in the “Teacher Comments.” This should give parents an idea of what’s been covered over the last semester and what can be expected of a typical child’s performance.
    • Unfortunately, not all wishes for upgrades can be accommodated on this second installment of the online report card.
      • We were NOT able to reorder the “course” so that they would have all of the classroom/homeroom teacher’s grades and comments followed by the core an encore teachers. This is something we will look to have in place for next year, but doing so halfway through the year would have negated viewing any previous grades and comments.
    • Thank you for sticking with this process of refining our practices at Avoca West. I appreciate it!
  • What’s new for 2015-2016 at Avoca West? In case you haven’t been tuning in to the happenings at the District 37 Board of Education, the work of our Master Schedule Committee has been presented to and approved by the BOE for next year! Kudos to our committee of volunteers for stepping in and researching possible solutions for the year to come. What can your students expect for next year?
    • Social Emotional Learning (SEL) will go back into the classroom. This is in line with best practice instruction and we truly believe our students will benefit from being able to weave the social emotional learning objectives into their daily instruction and across curricular areas.
    • Encore Drama will now be offered in the time slot once held by our SEL course. The hour-long offering will focus on creative process drama, rather than product-driven drama, and will be a chance for our students to delve into another aspect of the arts here at Avoca West!
    • Longer Lunch/Recess will be a new component of the master schedule for the coming year. In order to provide our students with the necessary time to eat, the committee has added time in for transitions from inside to outside for our students. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of this as a solution for our students.
    • Focus on Instruction During Prime Time! What does this mean? Those first hours of the day are the optimal learning time for our students. The committee was able to realign some of the core/encore blocks so that students spend at least one large block of time in the morning with their classroom teacher. 5th grade will no longer have back-to-back specials, and our kindergarten kiddos will have almost an hour and a half in the classroom with their teacher first thing in the morning. Kudos to our team for thinking creatively on behalf of our students!!
    • Library Check-Out Time will now be left to the discretion of the classroom teachers and grade level teams. This will give Susan Geidner new found freedom to partner with classroom teachers to co-teach and to have the ITC open for our students for a greater number of hours each day.
  • Office Hours this summer will be intermittent throughout the month of July. As a result of our construction projects in the office this summer, we will be relocating to the ITC. Any visitors to the building this summer will enter through the ITC doors (likened to the entrance used for voting days). I will be “in the office” on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, but available through email otherwise. Feel free to reach out and to send a friendly “hello” my way!

I’m looking forward to watching each of your children grow again in the coming year, and thank you for your trust and partnership in my inaugural year at Avoca West. Be well, and have a safe, healthy, and restful summer!

Let the AVOCA WEST! Countdown Begin!!

It is hard to believe that we’re a mere two weeks away from finishing up this school year! I’m sure that, like me, many of you will spend the next two weeks in awe of all that’s been accomplished this year and dream of what’s to come this summer and into next year.

Though our 5th graders are getting ready for their party this Friday and have a slightly different countdown, please encourage your child to celebrate with our AVOCA WEST! countdown.

  • A – Athletic Day
  • V – Viking (sprit) day
  • O – Outside learning time
  • C – Chalk up the sidewalks and blacktop
  • A – Aloha (Hawaiian Day)
  • W – Wacky wear
  • E – Extra recess
  • S – Summer Goals
  • T – Take it home Day
  • ! ; “Wooohooo!!” You’re finished with ______ grade!

I’m excited to watch our 1st grade friends share their learning of their new strings instruments at the Suzuki concert this Tuesday. It’s hard to believe that in just a few short year’s they’ll be at the awe-inspiring level of our orchestra students!

Our younger students are looking forward to a sunny Field Day this Thursday, and I’m excited to get out and watch them in action. Their energy and excitement is always contagious!

Finally, our teachers, support staff members, and I spent last week sectioning for the upcoming school year. I’m excited about the teacher matches and student groupings that we’ve put together, and look forward to sharing your child’s teacher assignment next Tuesday or Wednesday (the 9th or 10th) as we prepare for the annual “Meet the Teacher.” We will have the following changes in staffing here at Avoca West for 2015-2016 school year.

  • Mrs. Grace Roh and her family will be moving out east as her husband pursues exiting new opportunities for his career. Please join me in congratulating her as she joins a new staff as a 2nd grade teacher. I know she’ll be a huge success wherever she goes!
  • We will welcome Mrs. Hannah Edgren (formerly Anderson) to the kindergarten team. She has spent the last year closely tied to our Avoca West students and staff in the maternity sub roles for Mrs. Amy Chun and Mrs. Emily Hargadon. She is excited to continue on in a permanent capacity, and thinks the world of our community!
  • Mr. Brandon Howe will be joining the 4th grade team for the coming school year. Though he is new to our Avoca West staff, he has spent this past year working to support students at Marie Murphy. All those who meet him and have worked with him are eager to have a youthful, fresh perspective and energy join the 4th grade team! He will be here for our “Meet the Teacher Day.”
  • Mrs. Sophia Kondos will be taking time to dive into her graduate studies and supporting her family’s newest adventure! She has done a lovely  job this school year supporting our advanced learners in English Language Arts, and we wish her the best of luck!
  • Mrs. Diane Bilcer will be stepping in to the ELA Advanced Learner position for the coming year and will be also working with our intermediate grade levels through Encore Literacy. She is excited for this new chapter in her teaching career and in supporting a greater number of learners and staff members!
  • Ms. Becky Cross will be stepping into the shoes (and classroom) left open by Diane Bilcer in 5th grade. She is currently finishing up her 8th year teaching, and has been lucky to spend the last two years teaching abroad in Abu Dhabi. The 5th grade team and I are eager to have her share her expertise in both using data an in working with a diverse group of learners!

I will do my best to share any additional staffing information with our parents and community as it becomes available. Until then, thank you for your continue support and trust in our Avoca West staff!

Enjoy the week…and Go Hawks!

Updates from Avoca West – 5/26

What a treat it was to have an extra day this weekend to spend with family and friends. The weather certainly makes is seem like summer is nearly upon us! Before we get swept away in the frenzy of this shortened week, here are a couple of quick reminders.

  • Don’t wait to set up your PowerSchool parent login! Our team at Avoca West is able to help with any snags in the process at this time. As things pick up on that last day of school, it may not be as promising!
  • 4th & 5th grade Olympics have been moved to this Thursday. Our PE staff was proactive in planning around this afternoon’s deluge, and Thursday should be sunny for all of our kiddos to enjoy!
  • May Birthday Lunches will be tomorrow (Wednesday). We’ll celebrate our June and July birthdays next week. Your child should have received an invitation already in this applies to him/her.
  • Lunch THEN Recess “Pilot” has been something we’ve been tweaking as a Master Schedule Committee for about the last month. Our hope is that it gives our students less transitions in the hallways, lunchroom, and on the playground, AND gives them more time to focus on eating lunch. Though it took some adjusting on all of our parts, we’ve uncovered many points to cheer in the process!
  • ALL SCHOOL SPIRIT COUNTDOWN begins next week. We will be counting down the final 10 days of school with an “AVOCA WEST!” celebration. Our 5th graders are amped up for their special week next week as well, and you’ll notice that many of these days also coincide as well.
    • A – Athletic Day
    • V – Viking (sprit) day
    • O – Outside learning time
    • C – Chalk up the sidewalks and blacktop 
    • A – Aloha (Hawaiian Day)
    • W – Wacky wear
    • E – Extra recess
    • S – Summer Goals
    • T – Take it home Day
    • ! ; “Wooohooo!!” You’re finished with ______ grade!

Enjoy these final weeks of school and I hope you’re making many plans for how to spend your summer days and nights together making memories with one another. Be well, and thank you all for your trust and collaborative spirit.

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 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.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.38.55 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 6.12.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 6.12.48 PM


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, ( you come to a screen that looks like this:
Inline image 1

In the new login process, you’ll still go to the same address ( The screen will now look like this:
Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.59.47 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 8.01.07 AM

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!