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Principal's Newsletter

  • --- from January/February 2017 Mentionings

    Posted by Cheryl DeGan at 2/1/2017

    Dear Ellsworth Parents and Guardians,


    Ellsworth School has had a long tradition of community support.  Over the years your donation of time and service has benefited our students and staff in countless ways.  Last month, our community came together to participate in our Loaves and Fishes Canned Goods drive as well as Socks for Soul, benefiting Hesed House.  Many of you gathered together over winter break, continuing your service, donating your time for Feed My Starving Children.  Thanks to all of you for your continued support and active involvement in our community. 


    Although the winter is upon us, we still have many activities planned.  Our annual Ellsworth School Open House is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th, from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  We celebrate the opportunity for you to visit our classrooms, giving you a glimpse of all the wonderful learning that takes place each day.  Your attendance and support mean so much to our students. Thank you for partnering with us in providing rich, engaging learning experiences for our students.


    At Open House, please make sure you stop by the LRC to pick up a family copy of the 2017 Ellsworth One School One Book community read.  As written in the 1985 Becoming a Nation of Readers, “The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”  Reading aloud allows for increased understanding of deeper concepts as well as building vocabulary.  Reading aloud improves listening and discussion skills.  Reading aloud benefits children academically as well as their social emotional growth. Reading together models an active process, providing a shared experience for preschoolers, primary students, intermediate students, adolescents, and adults to interact in rich conversations focused on one book.  Enjoy your time reading and being together as a family!


    Our SFCP will host an Ellsworth Multicultural Night on March 9th, from 6:00-8:00pm.  Join us for a night of celebrating our families’ cultures.  We are still looking for families to share their own unique features of their heritage.  If you are interested in sharing, please contact me at cdegan@naperville203.org


    All of our work strives to deepen each student’s academic experience as well as his/her social emotional well-being.  Our vision is for each of our students to become community contributors who listen and appropriately respond to one another with empathy, understanding and tolerance.  In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck encourages us to adopt a growth mindset, urging us to examine how each of us can open up to the full potential of every individual – student, peers and self.  Thank you for your support and willingness in ensuring our students’ growth.




    Cheryl DeGan

    Principal, Ellsworth Elementary

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  • Standards Based Report Cards

    Posted by Cheryl DeGan at 11/1/2016

    Dear Ellsworth Parents and Guardians,

    This month marks our first Standards Based Report Card.  The purpose of the report card is to communicate student progress towards specific standards allowing teachers, students and parent/guardians to work together to advance student learning.  Reporting standards are written to communicate the essential learning for a specific grade level.  Student report cards will include progress on content and process standards.  Content standards articulate what the students are able to do in academic standards while the process standards reflect how a student is learning, such as being organized so that he or she is ready to learn.  Instead of the usual letter grades (A, B, C, etc. or S or satisfactory), proficiency levels will now be coded as Beginning (1), Approaching (2), Secure (3), or Exemplary (4).  Secure (3) demonstrates mastery of the reporting standard.  The report card release date is November 17th.  You will be able to access your child’s report card via the Campus Portal, the same way you sign up for Parent Teacher Conferences.  For more information, you may visit the D203 website at http://naperville203.org/Page/5758.  A helpful resource is the Standards-Based Grading Frequently Asked Questions at http://naperville203.org/Page/5759

    Our Harvest House Walk and Fall Clothing Resale were both successes, with each event grossing more than their anticipated earnings.  We are thankful for the exceptional leadership of both committees, organizing events that celebrated our community.  Proceeds will benefit such events as field trips, assemblies, various educational and enrichment programs, materials, and equipment for Ellsworth students and staff.  We cannot thank you enough for all the time and effort you devote to our students and staff.

    As we move into shorter days and cooler weather, please consider attending our SFCP Movie night on Thursday, November 17th.  Like last year, we will offer two viewings to accommodate busy schedules and bedtimes.  More information will be posted in an upcoming Eagle Express. 

    As you did two years ago, our Ellsworth families will once again be asked to participate in the 5 Essentials Survey, scheduled from November 16th through January 16th.  The 5 Essentials survey focuses on instruction, leadership and community.  Instructions on how to access the survey will be posted in the Eagle Express as we approach the November 16th window.  Please take a moment to take the survey.  Most find that it only takes 5-10 minutes to complete the survey.  Your feedback is essential in helping us in our school improvement process.  Results from the survey are linked to the Illinois State Report Card, updated every two years. 

    In closing, I want to thank our exceptional Support Staff.  We will be celebrating our Support Staff on Wednesday, November 16th.   We are grateful for their dedication and expertise in guiding our students throughout the day, every day. 



    Cheryl DeGan


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  • --- from September/October 2016 Mentionings

    Posted by Cheryl DeGan at 9/21/2016

    Dear Ellsworth Parents and Guardians,


    As you passed by Ellsworth School over the summer, you probably noticed a flurry of activity, most notably the installation of a new playground and new security window in our Door 1 entry.  How wonderful for us to finally hear the voices of children playing outside our windows now the construction fences have been removed! 


    Thank you for attending our Curriculum Night on Thursday, September 1st.  As you learned in your child’s classrooms, this year our D203 report card changes to a Standards Base Report Card.  Standards-based grading and reporting allows us to accurately communicate progress about student learning, putting more value on the most recent evidence of student learning for the specific grade level reporting standard.  This allows for a more accurate reflection of where the student is in their learning of a skill or concept while recognizing their growth over time.  For more information, please see our Ellsworth website (Parent Resources) and D203 website. 


    We have a busy fall calendar, loaded with community events.  Coming up is our annual Ice Cream Social on Thursday, September 15th.  Students love seeing their teachers scoop out their favorite ice cream toppings for an extra special treat!  A new fundraiser this year is our Ellsworth Harvest House Walk on Sunday October 2nd, beginning at 10am.  The committee, led by Julie Garrison, has assembled a variety of architectural homes, all whom have graciously opened their doors, and porches, to visitors.  You can learn more about the Harvest Walk at ellsworthsharvesthousewalk.weebly.com. 


    We have added some new faces to our Ellsworth Staff.  Welcome Macey Berta, our new Learning Behavior Specialist, Jamie Pignatelli, our new Learning Support Coach, and Chris Talac PE (part-time).  We also have two new Instructional Assistants, Kathy Ruiz (Kindergarten) and Sara Berland (1st Grade).  Our new building Permanent Substitute is Holly Wendt.


    Please mark your calendar for our fall Parent-Teacher Conferences, scheduled for October 6th and 7th.  We value your partnership in ensuring the academic, social and emotional growth of your child.  Communication regarding sign up for PTC Wizard has already begun via Talk203.  If you have any questions about the process, please call our office at 420-6338 for assistance. 




    Cheryl DeGan


    Ellsworth Elementary

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  • --- from the May 2015 Mentionings

    Posted by Cheryl DeGan at 5/1/2016

    Dear Ellsworth Parents/Guardians,


    The end of the school year is quickly approaching bringing a change to our daily rhythm. The days are longer, allowing more time outside to enjoy the warmer weather. Our May calendar is always busy, packed with annual events, bringing closure to our school year.


    Looking back at our Rising Star school improvement goals, our PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) continue to meet regularly, with an emphasis on reading. Our focus has been on formative assessment, using this data to guide instructional planning to meet the needs of all our students. Our PLCs enable us to keenly hone in to supportive practices for our students. Our winter Performance Series data showed tremendous growth. Thank you for your continued support in encouraging reading at home. Initiatives such as One School One Book, allow us all to celebrate the love of reading as a community. At the end of the school year the Naperville Public Library will visit Ells-worth, highlighting their summer reading program. Over the summer, students will continue to have access to on-line D203 resources such as My-On, Raz-Kids and IXL. All these resources help in “exercising our reading brains,” helping us all to grow in fluency and comprehension as well as developing a deep appreciation for each genre.


    Our second school improvement goal focuses on our community, fostering an environment that is “safe, welcoming and conducive to learning.” This year we introduced our Ellsworth SOAR expectations, reminding us all of the expected behaviors around our building. These expectations help to foster a safe, respectful environment in which to learn. Social emotional programs such as Second Step and Executive Functioning lessons aid students in developing organizational habits and building social relationships that foster student emotional growth. Around our community, our volunteers help in count-less ways around the building. Please make sure you join us for lunch on Thursday, May12th for the annual Volunteer Luncheon. Also, we look forward to seeing you at our annual Spring Festival on Friday, May 6th. Thanks to Home and School and our Fifth grade Girl Scouts for arranging this event!


    This year we honor an outstanding Ellsworth retiree, our Learning Support Coach, Mrs. Candy Aaron. Mrs. Aaron has served our community in countless ways, demonstrating dedication, service and leadership. We wish her well traveling and pursuing new endeavors.


    Finally, I want to thank each of you for providing me with such a warm welcome to our Ellsworth community this year. I am thankful for your partnership in always keeping our students first. As we move into warmer months, may your summer be filled with family, friends and many new adventures. Stop by and visit our new playground, scheduled to be completed mid-summer. Enjoy a more relaxed pace, pick up a good book, and bask in sunshine. It’s finally here!




    Cheryl DeGan


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  • --- from March/April 2016 Mentionings

    Posted by Cheryl DeGan at 3/1/2016

    Dear Ellsworth Parents and Guardians,


    March brings brighter days and warmer weather, a chance to unwrap from our cocoons and reconnect outdoors. Spring break signals a transition to the final months of the school year, a year still left with many activities. During this time we marvel at the growth of our students! In August, they enter our classrooms, young and eager to learn. When we now reflect on their academic, social, and emotional growth, we revel in each child’s individual progress. Knowing the year is not complete, there is still much to be done these final few months. Take this time to celebrate all those who have contributed to your child’s success, helping to foster continued growth and resilience in each and every one.


    As mentioned in the fall, one of our Ellsworth school improvement goals is as follows:


    • IID08 Instructional Teams will review student learning data (academic, physical, social emotional, behavioral) to assess and make decisions about curriculum and instructional strategies with focus on student reading growth


    Meeting weekly, our grade level instructional teams analyze current student data, designing targeted instruction meeting their students’ personalized learning needs. Much of our professional development time centers on best practice in the use of formative assessments, allowing teams to determine “next steps” for students’ instruction. One topic we have emphasized is engagement. Knowing engagement is necessary in building stamina in any subject area, we’ve focused on gathering student data utilizing an engagement observational inventory, providing us a deeper understanding of students’ engagement in whole group, small group and individual learning tasks. For some, specific engagement strategy groups help in building the skills necessary in deepening their learning stamina. When your child’s reading at home, observe their engagement. Are they truly engaged with text or are they sometimes “fake reading”?


    On April 19th, Ellsworth will honor their 2015-16 nominees at the District 203 Those Who Excel celebration. We congratulate the following nominees, thanking them for their outstanding service to our students and community. They are: Diane O’Brien (Education Service Personnel- non-certified), Kim Bransky (Community Volunteer), Taylor (Erickson) Bryja  (Arlo Schilling First Year Teacher) and Candy Aaron (Classroom Teacher -Certificated).


    With many upcoming spring activities, please be sure to keep a close eye on our calendar. Some dates that you may want to highlight:


                            March 16th                    SFCP Science Night

                            April 11th-22nd              PARCC Testing (Grades 3-5)

                            May 6th                        Ellsworth Spring Fest

                            May 12th                      Volunteer Luncheon


    Thank you for partnering in our shared responsibility in loving and growing each and every one of our students. Enjoy your spring break, and please don’t forget to pick up a good book and read!




    Cheryl DeGan


    Ellsworth School

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  • --- from January/February 2016 Mentionings

    Posted by Cheryl DeGan at 2/1/2016

    Dear Ellsworth Parents and Guardians,


    With the long cold days of winter upon us, I invite you to snuggle up and READ! The month of February begins our One School One Book community read. The selection, previewed during Open House, is The One and Only Ivan , a charming novel inspired by a real gorilla held in captivity. The One and Only Ivan , written by Katherine Applegate, is the 2013 winner of the Newberry Medal. We are certain your family will love Ivan and his unexpected friendship with Ruby, a baby elephant who finds a new home at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.


    Reading aloud benefits children academically as well as their social emotional growth. Reading aloud provides a shared experience for preschoolers, primary students, intermediate students, adolescents, and adults to interact in rich conversations focused on one book. It’s sometimes hard to organize the whole family to be in one place for the same activity! Our One School One Book February read allows us all the opportunity to engage in a communal discussion, enjoying our love of reading as well as being together as a family.


    As written in the 1985 Becoming a Nation of Readers, “The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Reading aloud allows for increased understanding of deeper concepts as well as building vocabulary for our budding learners. Reading aloud improves listening and discussion skills. Reading together models an active process, not a passive one.


    Our One School One Book initiative brings us all together as a learning community. Here at Ellsworth, we will begin our day with trivia questions followed by the Word of the Day, a vocabulary word taken from the assigned reading. You can access the reading schedule through our Ellsworth website at www.naperville203.org/Ellsworth . Here you may also listen to the audio version of each chapter, read by Ellsworth staff.


    We'll celebrate with a cumulative event on March 1st. Representatives from the Brookfield Zoo will highlight their work with primates and as well as their preservation and rescue efforts.


    Thanks to all of you who attended our Ellsworth Open House/Math Night. We celebrate the opportunity to open our doors, giving you a glimpse of all the wonderful learning that happens each day in our classrooms. Hopefully you have had the chance to play the math game given to you at Open House. Your attendance and support means so much to our students. Thank you for partnering with us in providing rich, engaging learning experiences for our students.


    Enjoy your time reading and being together as a family!


    Cheryl DeGan

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Strategic Blueprint

  • District 203’s FOCUS 2020 Strategic Blueprint

    Posted by Superintendent Dan Bridges at 6/27/2014
    FOCUS 2020 is the strategic plan for comprehensive improvement between 2014 and 2020, designed in response to community feedback, best practice, and a vision for the future. Ultimately, this blueprint will advance the fulfillment of the district’s mission.
    FOCUS 2020’s foundation is the Future Focus Community Engagement process that occurred over the course of a year where hundreds of members from across the community provided feedback to the district leadership regarding areas such as facilities, finances, measuring student success, and programs of study. Learn more about Future Focus by clicking on the specific “Quick Link” to the left of this text.
    The Blueprint includes four “Strategic Focus” areas, namely to:
    1. Design and implement effective practices that promote learning experiences for all.
    2. Foster a high-performance culture focused on student learning.
    3. Steward resources effectively to promote student learning.
    4. Effective communication and community relations.
    Each Strategic Focus then establishes “Commitments.” These commitments are what the district leadership pledges to accomplish within a distinct timeframe. Each commitment then includes a detailed “Action Plan” which will be accessible by the public upon final draft.
    District administrators provided an update on Blueprint Commitments to the Board of Education at the July 27, 2015 meeting.  To watch that presentation, please click here
    Click here for a summary version of the 4 areas of focus of the Strategic Blueprint.
    Click here for a Spanish summary version of the 4 areas of focus of the Strategic Blueprint.
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