‘Twas the Week Before School Starts…

We are busy finishing up this week with all the many things that need to take place prior to the start of school, including welcoming our new staff members today! It’s such an exciting part of the year — but still not as exciting as when the halls will be filled with the fresh faces of our students!

As we look to get started, our staff members took a moment to consider the question:

“What is your promise to your students? As they walk in your room, consider them reading your pledge to them. Complete the sentence:  I promise…” I hope you’ll find their reflections touching and heartfelt — a wonderful way to ground  ourselves in why we come to Avoca West each day!

I look forward to seeing our new families Thursday evening (4:30-6:30pm) on the Avoca West playground. For those of you who are able to pop by school Friday morning from 8:00-9:00am for supply drop-off and an informal Meet the Teacher, I’ll see you then as well!

Mark Your Calendars:

Monday – August 22nd – First day (full day!) for 1st-5th grades

Tuesday & Wednesday – August 23rd & 24th – Welcome kindergarten (9:30-10:30am, day varies by student)

Thursday – August 25th – First full day for Kindergarten

Wednesday – August 31st – Parent Orientation Night at AW

  • 6:00-6:30 – K & 1st
  • 6:40-7:25 – 4th & 5th Grade
  • 7:30-8:00 – 2nd & 3rd


Celebrating the Final Weeks at Avoca West

This week’s weather is certainly doing its part to remind us all that the summer is nearly upon us. In order to keep our spirits up and the really celebrate a fabulous year, I hope our staff and students will join together in our “Avoca West” countdown. Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.27.36 AM

Kudos to our 4th and 5th grade Olympians who just took part in our 2015-2016 Olympics. They come as a culmination of the hard work and practice in PE — and could not have come on a more beautiful day! I look forward to watching our younger students at next week’s Field Day.

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Enjoy the long weekend ahead!

Updates and “Parent Ed” on Grit – 5/19

Viking Walk

We were fortunate to squeeze in our Spring Viking Walk this past Monday. Many thanks to Don Cornelius, our PE team, and the support of our staff, parent, and community for making this a fun filled event for our Avoca West students. If you haven’t turned in your pledge forms or money, please do so by next Monday. We’re looking forward to updating our aging sound system in the gym as well as providing indoor recess kits to keep our students actively engaged when the weather outside doesn’t cooperate.

Chamber Orchestra

Full OrchestraSpeaking of sound systems, kudos to our orchestras for putting on a fabulous show this past Tuesday for our students and parents. I continue to be amazed by the collective brilliance our our staff and students who work so hard to hone this craft. Thanks to our parents who continue to fight that ongoing battle to make sure your students are practicing. It truly pays off!!

Parent Ed Opportunity!!


I’ve quickly discovered in my “old age” (insert preteen daughter’s scowl and judgement about her old mom here) that I love listening to and learning from podcasts — on the way to school, on a walk with the dog, or anytime life provides me a pause of sorts. Two of my favorites podcasts to listen to are the Freakonomics and This American Life. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for some brain food, and will do my best to pass along any that seem pertinent to parents and educators alike.

One of the latest and greatest ideas that has come to light in recent years is the notion that “grit” and perseverance define a person’s success far more than raw talent. Carol Dweck has been talking about having a growth mindset for a decade, allowing many other researchers to get behind finding empirical evidence to support it. We were lucky to have FAN (the local Family Action Network) bring Angela Duckworth, author of Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance, to the area last week. For those of you who have a tough time getting out and about in this busy spring season, I wanted to pass along a podcast that I listened to featuring her ideas. It is one of a series of podcasts about self-improvement, so feel free to dive in and listen to them all. Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.48.22 AM

This is a wonderful way to model a mindset of lifelong learning for our students as well, so be sure you share your thinking and learning with your child along the way.

Enjoy, and thank you for your continued support and collaboration.


Avoca West Viking Walk Postponed

Parents planning to participate in the Avoca West Viking Walk: due to flood-like conditions AW Viking Walk will now be held on our scheduled rain date of Monday, May 16th.  Parents are welcome to join students or just come cheer ’em on.  Below is the schedule. 

Grade 5  8:30 – 9:10 AM (Marinacci, Paynter, Cross, Wieszcholek)
Grade 1  9:30 – 10:10 AM (Zebro, Stump, Hargedon, Nienhaus)
Grade 2  10:30 – 11:10 AM (Lara, Greenberg, Crispen, Bader)
Kindergarten:  Byrd/Rosic 12:00 – 12:30;  Kelly/Edgren 12:30 – 1:00
Grade 3  1:00 – 1:40 PM (Rick, Wilson, Erf, Stefan)
Grade 4  2:00 – 2:40 PM (Michael, Anshell, Howe, Nanus)

Yeah for May!! 5/5

What a lovely week it’s been drinking in this spring sunshine! Let’s hope that our weather continues to stay this way (knocking on wood as I type this) so that we can make the most of our final weeks at Avoca West.

You should have all received an email from InfoSnap, our new online registration system, letting you know that registration is now open. If you have not received it, or are having a difficult time with registration, please CLICK THIS LINK to send an email to Beth Haugeberg. Families of our new kindergarteners for the 2016-2017 school year should have also received an email from me this morning with a link to register our newest Vikings.

Finally, many thanks to our parents and students who have made this another memorable Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s certainly easy to have an appreciation for those who spend their days pouring their hearts into your children, but taking the time to thank teachers and staff members is what makes this week so special. There’s still time to jot a quick email to your child’s teacher or to have your child make a quick card of thanks!

Many thanks, in advance, to Michelle Rowe and Donald Cornelius for spearheading two upcoming HUGE events at Avoca West — our Art In Action day and the Viking Walk. Both are favorites among our staff and students we couldn’t do it without their volunteer hours for charing these exciting events. Thank you!!


Updates from Avoca West – April 18th


Mrs. Lara’s students dug in to our sand river in the courtyard last Friday as they investigated erosion and engineered a system to get the hose water from one end to another. Now that the weather is cooperating a bit more, I look forward to seeing our outdoor courtyard spaces filled with students reading, writing, and collaborating with one another!


Mark Your Calendars!!

So much of what we do in Avoca District 37 is dependent on our many parent and community volunteers. For anyone and everyone who has volunteered in any capacity this year, please join us at Avoca West on Friday, May 27th for our Volunteer Breakfast. The doors open and breakfast will be served at 9:00 and we welcome all guests to stick around until approximately 10:15. This invitation is open for both Avoca West and Marie Murphy volunteers. You can RSVP by following THIS LINK to fill out a quick form. Thank you for all you do!

We are in the swing of PARCC testing this week and next at Avoca West. If you need a refresher on our dates and times for 3rd-5th grade testing, please see previous blog posts.

images Wondering how the district Strategic Plan is going? After spending two full sessions with the Consortium for Educational Change and roughly 36 volunteers (from the staff, leadership, parent, and community), there will be an opportunity to get updated on the progress so far. Please join us on Tuesday, April 19th at 6:00 in the Avoca West ITC for a Parent and Community Feedback Meeting. There you will learn about the data sources that were shared with the committee and some key take-aways. You are also welcome to stay for the 7:00 PTC meeting following in the ITC. See you there!

Soak in some much needed Vitamin D, my friends! Thank you, Mother Nature!images-1

Parent Coffee and PARCC Assessment Reminders


You’re invited to join us on Wednesday, April 13th at 9:00am in the ITC for our final Parent Coffee of the year. Our focus will be on looking ahead to next year. The agenda is LINKED HERE in case you’d like a preview!

Parents of 3rd-5th graders are encouraged to to read the parent letter from the Illinois State Board of Education regarding PARCC year 2. I will send out an additional email to those families next week some time with additional information you may wish to have. The schedule for PARCC testing is as follows:

3rd-5th grade students the week of April 18th through the week of April 29th.

  • 3rd grade – 8:30-10:00
  • 4th grade – 1:00-3:00
  • 5th grade – 9:30-11:00

I hope you’re able to get out to the PTC’s Parents’ Night Out this evening at Pinstripes. Enjoy the time with friends and family this weekend, and we’ll see you next week!

Welcome Spring!


Mother Nature may finally be getting it right!

As we welcome spring and (hopefully) warmer temps, we are also beginning the process of looking ahead to next school year. Please carefully read through the following important points for parents.

  • As as we look to plan for a positive 2016-2017 school year, I wanted to extend an invitation for those parents who would like to provide parent input for sectioning. Please do NOT rely on your child’s teacher to communicate your wishes for next year — they are asked to stay focused on making matches they think are positive and that will provide balanced classes. Our sectioning process includes the classroom teachers, special area teachers, next year’s teachers, and all of the many support staff we have at Avoca West. The hope is that with careful planning, we can design heterogeneous classroom groups to make sure that all of our children are successful! The staff considers and balances many factors including:
    • Individual learning style
    • Student Combination
    • Support service needs
    • Social/Emotional needs
    • Gender balance
    • Teacher’s teaching style
    • Pupil service needs
    • Class size
    • Academic characteristics
    • Chronological age

    If you would like to share information or specific needs that may help us in the sectioning process, you may do so in writing. Please keep your reasons tied to the factors above and refrain from making special requests for placement into a specific classroom for your child. If there is a teacher or student(s) with whom you have had a less than positive experience with in the past, you may share that in your communication as well. Parent input must be received in the office by April 29th.

  • Many of you may be scheduling doctors’ and dentists’ appointments prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Great news! You’ll have a chance to complete a:
    • A Dental exam must be on file in the office for all students who will be in kindergarten, second grade, and sixth grade next year. If you have a spring appointment, you can send in your form anytime and Nurse Theer will enthusiastically check you off of her list! You may reach out to Nurse Theer with any questions you have.
  • We will also be looking to verify proof of residency for all students who will be entering kindergarten, third, and sixth grade next year. While I know that many families are very familiar faces, Avoca West has become a very popular place to move. Checking residency helps us to make sure that we are servicing those students who live within our boundaries. Feel free to reach out to Mrs. Beneda with any questions about timelines or specific documentation needed.

We will begin PARCC testing with our 3rd-5th grade students the week of April 18th through the week of April 29th. The general schedule will be as follows:

  • 3rd grade – 8:30-10:00
  • 4th grade – 1:00-3:00
  • 5th grade – 9:30-11:00

Please arrange make every effort to schedule any outside appointments or early dismissal/late arrivals with this time frame in mind. Students will NOT be able to enter a testing session if they are late, nor will they be able to leave with it unfinished.

I hope you’re able to late in some time for yourselves next Friday, the 8th, for the PTC’s Parent’s Night Out at Pinstripes in Northbrook. It is sure to be a great time to sociaize with friends and to meet new members of our Avoca community! RSVPs are due by Friday – don’t miss out. Sadly, they cannot accommodate any sales at the door — line up those babysitters and have some fun!