October 2, 2015
 Our Vision: Ignite Passion. Inspire Excellence. Imagine Possibilities.

Dear District 41 Community,

The school year is in full swing. It is hard to believe that fall is here and leaves are starting to change. We are already gearing up for parent teacher conferences in November. Conference dates and times will vary from school to school, however they will all occur in the evenings during the month of November. Specific details, including how and when to sign up for conferences, will be shared by each school soon.

Even though we have only been in school for six weeks, the students are quickly changing and growing. I have been fortunate to witness this growth first hand. I want to share some of my observations and experiences with you as I have been spending even more time in each of our schools this year.

During my routine school visits, I always enjoy seeing our teachers in action and the students engaged in learning. District 41 staff take their roles seriously and are dedicated to honing their skills through continuing education. More than 83 percent of our teachers have earned master's degrees or above. The 26 new teachers we have this year are making a great contribution to our District. They are energized and bring fresh perspectives to their classrooms and into their school communities.

Last month I shared specific details with you about changes to our elementary school day. Most know that a revised elementary school schedule was voted on and approved by the Board of Education and by the Glen Ellyn Education Association (GEEA) teachers union last spring. The elementary school day is 35 minutes longer this year. This decision was made to benefit the students and teachers. The two primary benefits to the schedule include:

  • Longer uninterrupted blocks of core teaching/learning time (Literacy and STEAM)

  • More time for teachers to come together in their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to plan instruction for students.

  • I felt it was important to experience these changes myself through visits to the classrooms, observing lunch periods, and even as a "student for the day."

    Student for the Day
    A couple of weeks ago, two teachers volunteered to allow me to shadow their students for the day. I spent an entire day shadowing 3rd grade students at Forest Glen School and experiencing their schedule. I wanted to shadow students so that I could see the elementary school day schedule from the student perspective. I am happy to report that our students were very compassionate, respectful and welcoming to the "new kid" in class. I even ate lunch and went to recess with them. As I was going through the day with the students, I found that they knew the schedule and were guiding me on what to do next. They even corrected me for not wearing gym shoes for PE! They were great. It was important for me to experience the schedule for myself as I respond to parents who have questions.

    I plan on repeating the "student for the day" experience at all of the other schools. As I move throughout the school district as a student, I am especially looking forward to seeing Problem-Based Learning from the vantage point of a student at the elementary schools and at Hadley. I have seen it as a panelist and as an observer, but this will give me a new perspective.

    Lunch and Recess
    Some parents have asked us if the kids have enough time to eat lunch and have recess. The change in the elementary schedule required us to shorten lunch by a couple of minutes. We are monitoring lunch periods closely to make sure every student has enough time to eat. During my lunch time visits to each school, I observed students eating, socializing and having fun. In addition, staff at the schools have shared that the vast majority of the students are finished well before the lunch time is over. If you are concerned about the time your child has for lunch, please contact your school principal. Principals have expressed that they would be happy to schedule visits for parents who want to see lunch and recess.

    Open Office Hours
    I look forward to getting to know more parents throughout the school year. It is important that we continue to hear what parents believe are our strengths and where we are having challenges. As a way to do this, in addition to attending school PTA meetings this fall, I will be hosting open office hours again this year. There will be one change - I will be hosting them at each of our schools instead of the district office. To start, we will host morning sessions "Donuts with Dr. Gordon" in October. Later in the school year I will host open office hours in the evening.

    All of the below open office hours will be held from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m.

    Abraham Lincoln School: Friday, October 9
    Churchill School: Friday, October 16
    Forest Glen School: Wednesday, October 21
    Benjamin Franklin School: Thursday, October 22
    Hadley Junior High School: Wednesday, October 28

    I hope to see you there!

    Great schools matter and our schools are thriving. We are committed to working together to support the continued growth and success for our students. We are fortunate to have fantastic kids, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and community members who collectively support education in the communities we serve. Thank you for your partnership.

    Dr. Paul Gordon


    Please direct your questions or comments about E-News to District 41 Chief Communications Officer Erika Krehbiel, ekrehbiel@d41.org. We ask that you do not reply directly to this email because such replies are not received and so cannot be answered. Thank you!