New staff, new texts, new year at RF's District 90

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By Deb Kadin

When children return to school in River Forest later this month, they will find new staff, a new English language arts textbook series and a different way for middle-school youngsters to engage in science.

Two staff coming on-board will help teachers learn new strategies and practices related to the implementation of Common Core. The standards, being carried out in other school districts nationwide, lay out an ambitious set of goals for math, reading and writing skills that children should acquire as they move through school.

The specific skills that students will be asked to demonstrate build in complexity from grade to grade.

Getting students to where they need to be may require teachers to change some of their strategies and practices, and Kathleen Fleming and Mike Czerniawski will join the staff as instructional specialists at Willard and Lincoln, respectively, to do just that.

Jolene Lorimer, who already has worked in a similar position in District 90 schools, will be at Roosevelt Middle School, said Martha Ryan-Toye, the district's director of student services.

Fleming comes to River Forest from Glenview School District 34, where she had a similar position. Czerniawski was doing teacher support and professional development with an educational company.

"They will better prepare teachers, which ultimately will support kids," Ryan-Toye said.

Other new staff members include:

  • Annmarie Clasky will help Lincoln teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. A similar specialist now will be in each school, with Mandy Nelson at Willard and Lindsay Johnson at Roosevelt. Clasky comes from the Chicago Public Schools.
  • Kacie Bair, will work in special education and help coordinate meetings that set the types of support and services that special education students are required to have. She also will troubleshoot with teachers and parents to make sure their needs are met. Bair had a similar position with the Kankakee public schools.
  • Laura Kaehler will be the social worker at Roosevelt Middle School. She most recently did similar work at Hinsdale Central High School.
  • Jennifer Katz will be a new fourth grade teacher at Willard. She comes from the Andrew Jackson Language Academy, a magnet school in Chicago.
  • Becky Peterson is a new fifth grade teacher at Willard. She had been a long-term substitute in the district.
  • Rachel Rodriguez is a new language arts teacher at Roosevelt. She previously worked for the Yorkville and Naperville school systems.
  • Nina Geishecker is a sixth grade resource special education teacher at Roosevelt. She had been a long-term substitute teacher last year.

A new English language arts adoption will help students at Lincoln get a better grasp on reading and writing non-fiction material. The new series is related to the Common Core, Ryan-Toye said.

The series is more rigorous and will help students become better skilled at, among other things, critical thinking, one of the goals of Common Core. The standards are more aligned with college and career readiness, she said.

"Students will still read fiction, but by middle school youngsters will need to learn how to read and understand the kind of fact-based material that they may encounter in future careers," Ryan-Toye said.

A new elective at Roosevelt will give seventh graders more hands-on learning in science. Over a nine-week period, kids will get to design and build models of various kinds of things. As eighth graders they will get a similar class in automation and robotics. STEM – or science, technology, engineering and math – is already in use in the Oak Park school system.

"It is project-based learning and will give kids exposure to all sorts of possible career opportunities," Ryan-Toye said. "There will be a lot of excitement and engagement around it."

Reader Comments

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Ummmm, Done  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 5:10 PM

You seemingly missed the point. You should be wondering why your legislators, instead of D97, are not alerting the Oak Park populace ala Paul Revere. As for the intrusion in my kid's and my life, meh. Certain commercial entities and the schools already have access to much of that info. The gov't knows when I vote. I am an atheist, so don't care about religion affiliation. More concerned with what the kid is being taught versus this data crunching stuff.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 2:54 PM

rj - I can't right now but I will look for it at another time. Hope it still available. Thanks!

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 2:53 PM

Ummm, Done - I wonder how many of our illustrious polticians in Springfield knew of the reach of this initiative when they voted for it. Are you OK with this level of intrusion into you and your child's life? One of the other bits of information they can collect is their bus route - does that sound OK to you?


Posted: August 22nd, 2013 2:42 PM

Umm Done - Of course, Illinois agreed to Common Core. Federal stimulus dollars were given to cash-strapped states like IL to adopt this curriculum. Since the Federal Govt is to leave education to the states public education dollars were handed down to the states to appear it was State mandated. Again this is not about quality education it's about control and the over reach of this government.


Posted: August 22nd, 2013 2:22 PM

Done - You're so right! I happen to be listening to Joy Pullman and Lindsey Burke right now online from the Heritage Foundation-Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. The video: Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute Speak Out against Common Core if anyone cares to watch.

Ummm, Done....  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 2:10 PM

Common Core is required by the State of Illinois. Your Illinois legislators approved it. D97 is now required to implement it. Go complain to your legislator if you are that upset.

Jack Hughes from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 2:05 PM

Can RF parents spell "home schooling"?

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 1:02 PM

I also am wondering why D97 hasn't been talking this up with parents of the district. The details on this are so unbelievable that it begs much discussion with the parents of kids who will have their wrists strapped to gauge reactions - and if mom and dad care to have their religious affiliation sent to the government. The majority of parents will never find out about the details of this program until way down the road and by then, it will be too late to turn back. It probably already is.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:52 PM

Now let's hear from those who think that this is OK.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:50 PM

"Pullmann observes that, according to a 2012 Pioneer Institute report and the National Center for Educational Statistics, the DOE is working to expand children's databases to include "health care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status and religious affiliation." She writes, "Under agreements every state signed to get 2009 stimulus funds, they must share students' academic data with the federal government."

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:50 PM

"students' posture, and a "pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids' wrists." And that may be just the data that can be collected while children are in school. With some school districts purchasing laptop computers or tablets for each student, the data collection can continue at home." NOW WE KNOW WHY THE DISTRICT WILL BE PURCHASING IPADS.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:48 PM

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE), however, is, as Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute says, intent on "investigating how public schools can collect information on "non-cognitive" student attributes after granting itself the power to share student data across agencies without parents' knowledge." Pullmann reports that the DOE hopes to collect information on how children respond to computer tutors by using cameras to judge facial expressions, special electronic seats that will evaluate"

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:47 PM

Cont'd: "The data will be available to a wide variety of public agencies. And despite federal student-privacy protections guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA], the Obama administration is paving the way for private entities to buy their way into the data boondoggle. Even more alarming, the U.S. Department of Education is encouraging a radical push from aggregate-level data-gathering to invasive individual-student-level data collection."

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:46 PM

Con't: "Quoting the American Principles Project, a conservative think-tank, Malkin observed that the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund was launched through the 2009 stimulus bill to incentivize states to develop "longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students." She wrote: These systems will aggregate massive amounts of personal data ?" health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status, and even blood types and homework-completion rates."

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 12:44 PM

From, 8/12/13: "In March, conservative writer Michelle Malkin brought to light that at the heart of the controversy about the Common Core curriculum standards is an issue that has little to do with "college and career readiness." In fact, as Malkin wrote in National Review Online, the Common Core has initiated an entire stealthy student-tracking database that will allow the government access to private information from birth onward."

Mann Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: August 22nd, 2013 11:48 AM

I believe that Virginia has been listening to the "sky is falling" news outlets again. Yes, the NY state results are lower than on previous tests, but this link to Forbes shows that at least this author is not worried by the change: Common Core is not the enemy, but some folks seem to think it is just another Obama conspiracy to talk away their freedoms. This whole panic reform effort began in 1983.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 21st, 2013 6:31 PM

Found a quote that provides a lot of insight into the loonies attacking Common Core. The quote, "One critic, Tennessee Liberty Alliance co-founder Glenn Jacobs, even suggested in a column that Common Core proponents were seeking to produce what Russian communists referred to as "New Soviet Men."

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: August 21st, 2013 5:08 PM

What a shame1 New York State has already embraced the Common Core and the results have been disastrous. The CC is unproven, untested, and was foisted upon unsuspecting taxpayers with no parental input. In math, students will be at least two years behind other developed countries by 8th grade. In English, by the end of high school students are only spending 30% of their time in literature. Under the CC, students spend their days prepping for tests and taking tests. So sad!

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