February 28, 2022
Good afternoon Bulldog Country. As we get ready to bring the third quarter of the school year to a close, I thought I would share an update with you on the many exciting things going on at GES. We continue to be very busy working towards the goals we identified in our 2021-22 Strategic Plan.
Building and Grounds
As of today, we have officially closed on our bond issue and have secured the funding to add two early childhood classrooms and a gymnasium to our campus. This project is very much needed and has taken quite some time to come to fruition. The primary wing will be extended with the addition of the two early childhood classrooms. The gym will be attached to the newly constructed classrooms and take up what is now the main entrance and a large majority of the green space where the Micheel home was once located. This means that the main entrance to the parking lot will be relocated to a centralized location on Munster Street. We anticipate this project will start sometime this summer and take about a year to complete. We are still in the preliminary stages of planning. More details will be shared as they become available.
We continue to make progress on the conversion of the computer lab into a classroom. The K-4 special education classroom will be relocated to this room for the 2022-23 school year. With all of our classes now one-to-one with devices, we have the flexibility of turning the lab into a much needed classroom. Our goal is to have this project completed by the middle of May.
In January, a new access control system was installed on the doors located at the north and south main entrances to the building along with the faculty/staff entrance. This new system allows for district personnel to set door codes and lock/unlock the building from remote locations.
The district has officially received the funding for a matching $50,000 maintenance grant that we were awarded earlier this school year. Through this grant, the following projects will be completed during the Summer of 2022: fire alarm panel retrofit, fire alarm device upgrade, IP clock system install, PA system install, and classroom lockdown button install. Our plan is to use Health Life Safety funds that we have in reserves to pay for our portion of the matching grant as all of these grant projects pertain to the health and safety of our students and staff. This project will help us in our efforts to upgrade some of the aging equipment in our building.
As a school district we are committed to developing and maintaining strong school-home and school-community partnerships. One way we strive to do that is by giving our families a voice via surveys that serve to get feedback from our school community. There are currently two opportunities for parents to share their voice with us.
The first opportunity is via our annual Parent Survey. We use the responses from this survey to identify district goals as well as strategies for achieving those goals. We incorporate that information into the annual Strategic Plan. That plan is used to drive the School Improvement Process. Click here to complete this year’s Parent Survey.
In addition to the Parent Survey, the 5Essentials Survey is now open for parents to complete. This survey is administered by the Illinois State Board of Education and measures school effectiveness in 5 key areas: effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments, and ambitious instruction. Simply click here to complete and submit. The survey will close on March 11.
Curriculum and Instruction
To better support our students academically, this year we started an after school Homework Help Program. This program is being funded through a grant tied to federal pandemic money. This quarter, program enrollment has increased from 34 to 38 students. The students use the time to work on assignments, study, and/or read with guidance and support from a GES staffer.
To improve upon our early childhood programming, we will be starting a Transitional Kindergarten Program for the 2022-23 school year. This full day tuition-based program for 4 and 5 year olds will serve as a bridge between PreK and kindergarten with play-based learning being a core component while also incorporating more in the way of structured activities. We have hired a rock star teacher in Katie Mense. Mrs. Mense comes to GES with 15 years of classroom teaching experience. She is a published author, a national presenter, and a business owner. More importantly, she is passionate about early childhood education. Mrs. Mense will be available at the March 3 preschool screening to answer any questions parents have about the Transitional Kindergarten Program.
We are eligible to receive a Jumpstart Kindergarten Grant via funding provided by the Illinois State Board of Education. Through this grant, the district plans to offer a 4-week summer Jump Start Kindergarten Program. The goal of the program is to provide a dedicated kindergarten readiness opportunity for children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. The grant has yet to be released, so the details of the program are still unclear. Once finalized, they will be shared with our families.
We have officially secured the funding for the addition of 2 classrooms and a gymnasium, and we pledge to continue our efforts to maximize district dollars.
I am pleased to announce that we have filled 2 teaching vacancies for the 2022-23 school year. Ms. Grace Reuter has been hired to take over the music and band program upon Mrs. Henrichs’ retirement. Ms. Reuter has been student teaching with Mrs. Henrichs since we returned to school from the Winter Break. She has developed a strong working relationship with Mrs. Henrichs and has already started building connections with the students. We are excited to welcome her to our Bulldog family.
For the 2022-23 school year, we anticipate a large kindergarten class that will be split into 2 sections. As a result, we have hired Kayleen Kampwerth to teach a second section of kindergarten. Ms. Kampwerth currently teaches PreK at Sorento Elementary. She possesses a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education and has a passion for teaching young children. We are confident Ms. Kamperth is going to be a difference maker at GES.
As you can see, we are working hard to create positive change in our school district. Thank you for partnering with us along the way. Stay tuned for updates in the days and weeks to come.
With Bulldog pride,