September 2015
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Superintendent's Message: 
Back to School Business
I'm happy to report we've had a fantastic start to the school year.  Operationally, things went very smoothly.  All buildings were ready for staff and students and I couldn't be more impressed with the teacher and family turnout at our annual Back to School Picnic, Curriculum Nights, PFA sponsored Oberweis Ice Cream Social, and this year's successful Foundation sponsored Laps for Literature.

I'd like to take a moment to brag about the academic success of our students last year.  According to our spring MAP assessment results:
  • Grades 1-8 at all three schools outperformed their peers nationally in both reading and math.
  • Grades 1-8 at all three schools exceeded their projected academic growth targets in math from fall to spring.
  • All but two grade levels at all three schools exceeded their projected academic growth targets in reading from fall to spring.
In addition to our outstanding MAP results, on last year's 5Essentials Survey taken by South students:
  • Students gave Palos South the highest rating for ambitious instruction - "very strong."
  • Palos South's performance on Ambitious Instruction has improved from "neutral" in 2013 to "very strong" in 2015 - a significant increase.
Teachers and administrators will continue to use individual student MAP data to differentiate instruction in the classroom and personalize learning for all students.  I'm proud of the academic accomplishments of our students and the hard work of our faculty.
While we are on the topic of assessments, last week area superintendents had the opportunity to meet the new state superintendent of schools, Dr. Tony Smith.  I want to share some of the information Dr. Smith presented:

Last spring, our students along with 1.4 million of their peers in Illinois took for the first time the new state mandated online assessment known as PARCC.  Dr. Smith expressed his frustration that local school districts are still awaiting the results data but was unable to give a timeframe for when districts can expect to receive the data.  I share his frustration and remain hopeful we will find value in the data once it is received. 

On a brighter note, there were some positive changes to this year's PARCC test including:
  • Consolidating the two testing windows into a single window.
  • Reducing the number of test units from eight or nine, depending on grade level, to six or seven.
  • Reducing testing time for most students by 90 minutes.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) cited the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for not administering federally mandated statewide science assessments in 2014-2015. The Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires states to test students in the areas of reading, math and science.  Dr. Smith indicated ISBE would be partnering with the D.C. Public Schools (D.C.P.S.) to administer an online science assessment to elementary students in grades five and eight.  He was unable to share any details regarding the actual exam or when it would be administered this school year.  We will share this information once it is received.

We are off to a great start to a new school year.  I look forward to partnering with you as we embrace this school year's theme to dream more, learn more, do more and become more as a school community.

Warmest regards,
Dr. Anthony M. Scarsella, 
Superintendent of Schools
Palos 118 Foundation's "Laps for Literature" 2015

Charlie Cardinal visits with East students in between rain drops at Laps for Literature.

West students present members of the PFPD and Police Department with patriotic artwork on 9/11 before Laps for Literature begins.

Mr. Mancilla walks with South students at Laps for Literature.

People You Should Know

Ms. Rosalie White, Palos South Assistant Principal

Ms. White is a longtime resident and educator in Palos 118, having spent 10 years teaching, and 3 years as a media specialist. She has a B.S. in elementary education from St. Xavier, an M.S. in educational literacy concentration from Dominican University, and an M.S. in educational leadership from St. Francis University. Her two daughters attended Palos South; one is a student at Prescott College in Arizona, and the other is a graduate of DePaul University. In her spare time, Ms. White enjoys golfing, biking, art, and trying new foods and restaurants.

Currently Reading: "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Mr. Terrence Heafey, Board of Education Member 

At the September Board of Education meeting, Mr. Heafey was appointed as the newest board member. Mr. Heafey was born and raised in Palos Heights and attended Palos East, South, and Sandburg High School. He earned a B.S. in commerce from DePaul University, and is a certified financial planner and president of Brickwork Financial Planning Ltd. He and his wife Jennifer have two children; Meg and Grace, who attend Palos East. When not working, Mr. Heafey enjoys mountaineering, swimming, biking, running, reading, and playing the piano. 

Currently Reading: "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" by Ernie J. Zelinski

Look for the Educational Foundation and the PFA 
on Facebook!

Digital Passwords
With the beginning stages of the school year behind us and the students now deeply embedded into the routines of daily instruction and homework, all members of our learning community must continue to work to find ways to prepare our children for higher standards, and the rigorous challenges that await them in the future. 
As a fellow parent, I empathize with how demanding and overwhelming that responsibility can be, especially in today's digital world.  We are expected to go online for most of our information, and albeit convenient, remembering our own usernames and passwords is difficult enough, yet recalling our children's passwords can be nearly impossible.  For this reason and more, our teachers are working with the children on making sure that they have their digital usernames and passwords attached to their assignment notebook. Additionally as an added convenience, this year we are uploading student usernames and passwords into Skyward so that families have even greater access to the digital tools that can further your child's academic progress.  Passwords from Wonders, Study Island, Typing Pal, STEMscopes, etc. will be available in Skyward (located in the portfolio tab) prior to the end of this month.  Please know that some programs provide iconic usernames and passwords for children because they are easier for students to enter and remember.  Unfortunately, we are unable to add iconic passwords into Skyward at this time. We hope that you find this information to be useful, and take advantage of the numerous digital tools that are available to support your child's learning. 
Erin's Law
Each school year, students in District 118 will be participating in age-appropriate presentations regarding personal safety under the Erin's Law mandate which originated in Illinois in 2014.  Erin's Law requires school districts to teach child sexual abuse awareness education to all students. This October, children at Palos East, West, and South will be participating in age-appropriate assemblies regarding this very important personal safety topic. The assembly programs will be presented by Victor Pacini, motivational speaker and author, who has dedicated his work to helping children.  Victor's "Be Seen and Heard" presentation will be tailored to each grade level and has received positive feedback from school social workers, neighboring schools, and local media coverage.  In addition, a portion of the 7th and 8th grade programs will include information regarding teen dating violence. Parents are encouraged to mark your calendars for a preview session with Victor on the evening of October 19th at Palos South beginning at 6:30 p.m. A letter with more information and specific dates will be emailed home in October, and parents will once again have the option of excusing your child from the program.  For more information on Erin's Law, you can visit www.erinslawillinois.org
CPR Training



A CPR training video link is available on Palos 118's website. Parents are encouraged to watch.

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