How many years have you been teaching art at Cherokee School? This is my 10th year here at Cherokee, and before that I taught 3rd-8th grade art for two years in Arizona.
What is your teaching philosophy? I feel that my job is to instill an appreciation of art and a creative way of thinking in all my students and to expose them to a wide range of art styles, techniques, and mediums. I want the children to enjoy art and think of the art room as a safe and fun place to be. On the very first day of class, I tell the kids that there is no "right or wrong" in art, while following directions is important, there are no red pens here in my class, at least not to grade with! The kids light up and are ready to communicate through their work and let their individuality
shine through, knowing they are safe, that everyone's different, and they are free to express themselves through their artwork. By exposing the kids to many different techniques and mediums, they can find what they enjoy working
with and where their strengths lie. Art is also an excellent means for students to make connections and reinforce what they are learning in all academic areas. While not everyone will choose an art related career, my goal is that students
understand how art can be an outlet and resource for people of all ages, and how it can help to develop creativity in everything we do. It is so essential for future generations to have an appreciation and open mind for art, cultures,
and the ability to work and think creatively. That's the expectation in the 21st Century and through the arts, students gain innovation, communication, problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.
Tell us about the Cherokee art curriculum. When the curriculum and lessons are developed, there are many factors that I consider to ensure success of all the students. It's important to build upon past experiences, and
continuously challenge the students more and more each time. I take into account fine motor skills, sequence, concepts, variety of materials, art history, famous artists, and the arts experience as a whole. I definitely
focus on quality over quantity of projects, and it's great to see the kids, and even adults, so impressed with what elementary level students are able to produce with some direction. All of our students are very creative, and it
truly shows in our art shows and the halls! Two core concepts that I continually teach are the elements of art and principles of design, which include but aren't limited to color, shape, line, variety, texture, proportion, space and form.
The current curriculum we are working on includes: Kindergarten - using a variety of line and mixing colors with
white (to create tints) to make a Valentine's painting; First Grade - creating a monochromatic painting of the Eiffel Tower, and using a splash of color to create a focal point; Second Grade - using highlights and shadows to create a
painting of a snowman at night; Third Grade - studying Native American tapestries and creating a loom and a weaving of their own; Fourth Grade - each group is currently working on a different clay project and preparing for the
Annual 4th Grade Art Show at Gallery 300, which opens March 7th, from 6-7!
How has art class changed since you were a student? When I was an elementary student, art class was more "cookie cutter" and there were not lots of opportunities for students to add their own personal touch. Today, I
discuss and applaud differences in the final outcome of my students' work. We often talk about what art is conceptually and why it all looks so different. I encourage the kids to use their imaginations and go above and
beyond what I challenge them to do in their work. The pride and confidence I see in the students when they show each other their work is very rewarding. The kids' creativity inspires me and often teaches me how to instruct the same lesson differently in the future. We are all constantly evolving and learning.
Who are your favorite artists? My favorite master artists inspire my teaching and own art, they include Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Jean Arp, Fernand Leger, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Vincent VanGogh, Christo, and Charley Harper. If you've ever seen pieces by these artists, you know for the most part their work is simple, abstract, modern and almost child-like. I enjoy art that clearly comes from the imagination, uses a
variety of big, bold colors and free forms. I like outlines and patterns, which not only is inspired by my favorite artists, but the art of my students. As Picasso once said, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child".
What are your favorite pastimes? I just got married in October, and my husband, Eli, and I are enjoying decorating our new apartment in Evanston. We love Danish modern furniture, and often go to auction houses and estate sales to
find new pieces. We have even refinished a few ourselves! Eli teaches guitar, and we both enjoy music and art, so we often see different bands play in the city, or go to the Art Institute. I enjoy working on my pottery wheel, sewing,
painting, printmaking, reading, and traveling.
LET'S CHAT ... with Bob Bolin Cherokee and Sheridan Associate Principal
Q. Tell us about your first impression of Cherokee and District 67?
A. Cherokee School has wonderful community and parent support. We have high caliber teachers and support staff who truly care about students. Most of all, we have amazing children!
Q. How do you partner with Dr. Shinn to lead both schools effectively?
A. Prior to the school year starting Dr. Shinn and I met several times to discuss each school's needs and determine how we would lead most effectively. When the school year started, we worked side-by-side, and we continue to
communicate and collaborate on a daily basis. One strategy that we implemented is to divide major responsibilities. For example, I lead our Department of Student Services teams at both schools; whereas Dr. Shinn is the lead administrator for APT. This helps our staff know who the 'go-to' administrator is for most issues. We also provide staff a weekly schedule of our locations, and each of us manages day-to-day building issues that arise in the school that we are at for the day.
It is important to me to learn everything that I can about each school. In order to do this, I made it a priority to develop relationships, listen, and learn! I have met so many people attending back to school picnics and socials, APT meetings, and special events like fine arts and sharing assemblies. Being present at lunch, recess, and the car drop-off/pick-up lines also helps me to get to know our families.
Q. What inspired you to pursue a career as an educator?
A. Children inspire me, and I sought a career where I can help and support kids. In my 16 years as an educator I have been fortunate to gain experience with every grade level, pre-school through high school. I am very excited to lead Cherokee and Sheridan! Foundational skills are established during the primary years, and I believe that it is during this time that educators can make the biggest difference building literacy and social-emotional development in our students. This is a dream job, and I am inspired every day by our outstanding staff and exceptional children!
Q. How do you spend your free time?
A. I love to spend time with my family. My wife, Donna, is also a teacher. We have two children. Thomas (7) is a 2nd grader and Emily (5) is a Kindergartener. We like to hike, bike, watch movies and cartoons, play games, and read together.
LET'S CHAT ... WITH DR. MICHELLE SHINN, Cherokee and Sheridan School Principal
Q. How has your role changed over the years?
A. This marks my ninth year in the district. When I first started in District 67, my responsibilities were strictly Principal of Cherokee School. Now my role has expanded across the district. Currently, I supervise the psychologists, reading specialists and social workers in addition to being the Principal of two schools.
I am also the kindergarten liaison for the district. I work with the teachers on curriculum decisions, registration and now the Mandarin Immersion Program.
As Principal, I review data on an ongoing basis and partner with the teachers to identify what support and development they need and review how the students are doing. We also have a school Data Team that meets
regularly to review school, grade, and individual student data and make recommendations about programs and interventions. This team is comprised of classroom teachers, administrators, and specialists.
Q. Describe your typical day.
A. Each day brings new experiences! I start my day greeting students in the car line or on the playground of the school. After participating in the morning announcements, I walk the building to say hello and answer questions from teachers. I like to touch base with the staff to see if there is anything I can do to support them.
The remainder of the day I participate in meetings and communication with parents and staff. Depending on the day, I attend APT meetings, assemblies, grade level meetings, Monday CII meetings and other holiday related events.
Q. What are some new changes parents will notice this school year?
A. Mandarin Immersion, Pro Scopes in science, Net Books in 3rd and 4th grade, NEO2s in 3rd and 4th grade for math, spelling and writing, 25 IPADS for K-2, and The Bucket Fillers program to support the emotional wellness program.
Q. Why is emotional wellness important?
A. Emotional wellness is important because it is "the plate" for all that we do. We know that students and staff work well in environments that are safe, respectful, caring, and positively reinforce appropriate behavior.
In September, we kicked off the Bucket Filling emotional wellness program with a Bucket Filling assembly with a facilitator for 1st -3rd graders. In 4th grade they had a 90-minute discussion session that was more in depth. The
program is based on the book by Carol McCloud titled, "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?", where everyone identifies whether they are a "bucket filler" or a "bucket dipper". This program will be used in addition to the Smart Kids (K and
1st grade) and Bully Blockers programs to help guide discussions about bullying, manners, respectfulness of others and the school wide emotional wellness traits.
Q. What inspired you to become a school principal?
A. I enjoy working with kids and the hands on daily experience at school. While completing my psychology degree In college, I worked at a children's center for kids who were wards of the state in Salt Lake City. I studied the understanding of how children learn, how to measure the learning and really enjoyed the daily experience. That influenced my decision to pursue a career in education. It is rewarding implementing larger scale learning for all kids to benefit.
Q. How do you spend your free time?
A. My two sons Matteo (3) and Dominic (12) and spending time with my husband and family keep me busy. As a family we ride bikes and I started running last year. We also like to travel and ski.
Let’s Chat... An Interview with Cherokee School’s Reading Specialists: Traci Franksen and Jewel Jensen
This month APT Chat is highlighting specialized reading help available to children beyond standard classroom instruction.As Chat reporter, I had the pleasure of interviewing two teaching gems of Cherokee school, reading specialists Traci Franksen and Jewel Jensen.We spoke in the bright, book-filled Team Read room and this is what I learned: Combined, they have over 40 years of teaching experience, much of it within District 67.Their purpose is to provide focused reading instruction.At Cherokee this reading instruction is provided to K-2 students through a program called Team Read and for students grades 3-4, through what is called Reading Support.In addition to these two specialists, Cherokee school has two dedicated reading aides, Miss Nicole Zahnen and Mrs.Stacey Dohrmann, helping make reading education at Cherokee top notch.Below is a paraphrase of the interview.
Q: What is your education background?
Mrs. Franksen: I’ve been a teacher for 24 years, all with District 67. I have been a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher and have worked as a special education teacher. I have been at Cherokee for 4 years; this is my first year as a reading specialist. I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education and am currently pursuing an MA in Reading and Literacy Education which I will complete in summer of 2010.
Mrs. Jensen: I’ve been a teacher for 19 years. I was a classroom teacher first and then began work in reading recovery at the middle school level. I’ve been at Cherokee in reading education for 5 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Education and also a Master’s Degree in Reading Education.
Q: In addition to solid classroom reading instruction, what does specialized reading education at Cherokee look like?
Mrs. Franksen: Grades K-2 are associated with the “Team Read” program. This is a district wide program. At Cherokee all students grades K-1 go to the Team Read classroom with their teacher weekly (located past the offices on the first floor). In this setting, children are divided into small reading groups at tables with a teacher or reading specialist for each group. In second grade the entire classroom no longer goes to Team Read but those students who would benefit from additional reading help can receive 30-60 minutes of reading support in the Team Read room daily. This type of work supports reading progression, phonics, spelling patterns and reinforces word wall words.
Q: Students in grades 3 and 4 receive Reading Support using both push-in and pull-out strategies.
On Mondays and Tuesdays I co-teach the classroom reading anthology book with 3rd and 4th grade teachers, rotating my time for an entire theme in one classroom. Typically students that would benefit from additional support, based upon leveled testing scores are also pulled out of the classroom ½ an hour, five times a week or 1 hour three times per week for more focused instruction. In addition, Traci and I co-teach reading comprehension strategies with the classroom teachers in their classrooms to all students. We bring six lessons such as Visualization, Making Predictions, and Connections. We teach evaluative and inferential skills and even provide ISAT practice.
Q: How do children become involved with Team Read and Reading Support?
Mrs. Jenson and Mrs. Franksen: All children are assessed for reading progression. That is one of the things we do much better now than years ago. We assess the need for instruction and with some students we track weekly progression. As mentioned earlier, all K and 1st grade students use the Team Read room as part of their daily reading education.
Q: What recommendations do you have for parents who are encouraging their early readers at home?
Mrs. Jensen: READ, READ, READ, and RE-READ at home. Read to your children, with your children.
Mrs. Franksen: Model reading behavior for your children; have printed materials at your home—magazines, recipes, newspapers and books. Let them see you reading and writing.
Q: What is the favorite part of your day?
Mrs. Jensen: I like all of my day, but I think my favorite thing is when students are excited about reading, when I see them in the hall and they want to tell me what they read and they share their excitement with me. I also really like to see the progress the students are making.
Mrs. Franksen: One thing I really enjoy is the coaching and planning that I get to do with the classroom teachers. I really enjoy the whole-group lessons and the collaborative classes that we teach.
Q: What can we expect to see that is new for reading at Cherokee?
Mrs. Jensen: Principal Krumes has purchased and, I think, personally delivered books to each classroom to promote our Emotional Wellness curriculum. Students will be hearing and reading those books in their classrooms.
Q: Can you recommend some of your favorite books?
Mrs. Franksen: Napping House by Audrey Wood, King Gidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Audrey Wood, Rosie and Michael by Judith Viorst, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (series) by Laura Joffe Numeroff, Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein, The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant, Chester’s Way, by Kevin Henkes, and Just a Dream, by Chris Van Allsburg.
Mrs. Jensen: For 3rd Graders I like the Encyclopedia Brown series and also The Boxcar Children, series. For 4th graders, the Magic School Bus books are a big favorite as well as the adventure stories of Gary Paulsen, such as Amos Binder, Secret Agent, Brian’s Winter, Canoe Days. Kids also seem to enjoy the Johanna Harwitz books, Class Clown, and Class President.
For parents who have concerns about the reading progression of their child, Mrs. Franksen (K-2) and Mrs. Jenson (3-4) encourage you to speak with your classroom teacher or contact them directly by e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Mary Demars brings a broad range of teaching experiences to her classrooms. Her education background is, as she puts it, “eclectic”. She initially taught chemistry and biology at the high school level. After a hiatus from teaching while raising her own children she returned to teach 8th grade physical science in Northbrook. She then became a school administrator and now teaches French for fourth grade students at Cherokee and Sheridan as well as students at DPM. In addition to living in and traveling to France she has hosted a French student and facilitated the creation of French e-mail-(pen)pals for her middle school students. She has been associated with District 67 for 10 years. If you see Mrs. DeMars in the hallways, be sure to congratulate her on the upcoming weddings of her two sons.
Q: Where do you call “home?”
A: I have lived in Wisconsin, Kansas, France for a year, and I now live in Deerpark.
Q:Why would you encourage students to begin French (or any language) at the elementary level?
A: There are many reasons. In addition to learning a language for communication, learning a language reinforces and builds English language and vocabulary. Take the French words chaos and hors d’oeuvre, for example. We talk about the roots of words and their meanings. Learning a foreign language expands the connections they (students) make with the world. We learn about other customs and cultures, comparing and contrasting with our own American customs and culture. Language learning is applied to math, numbers and counting and it expands geography knowledge. Another element of language study is history. There is so much that is gained by studying a language.
Q: How much French study do the students receive at Cherokee?
A: The students study French for 30 minutes every day.
Q: When not teaching, what other activities do you enjoy?
A: I volunteer as a tutor to a Spanish family. I am ESL certified. I enjoy reading. I jog and run marathons and I ski.
Q: Anything you would like to tell Cherokee parents?
A: Learning a language helps children form an understanding that we live in a global society; that there is more than one way to do some things. By understanding that cultures differ, we foster open-mindedness. Studying other cultures also help our children evaluate what we value in America. It helps you define who you are by seeing the differences between yourself and others.
Q: How long have you been teaching wellness classes at Cherokee School?
MS: This year marks my 10th year teaching at Cherokee.
SC: I have been teaching wellness classes at Cherokee for 5 years.
Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?
MS: My inspiration was being able to work with kids, pursue my passion and help them learn at an early age the importance of fitness and good health. Planting the seed to enjoy fitness allows the children to carry it with them throughout their lives. I enjoy exercise in my life and am able to be a role model for what I teach.
SC: I have been involved with sports my entire life so it was a natural fit for me to teach wellness and pursue my interests. I enjoy working with the kids, they keep me feeling young!
Q: How have wellness classes changed since taking them as a student when you were a child?
MS: When I was a child, I did not have physical education classes every day. The teacher would just have us play a game. Today, as a teacher, the curriculum is carefully planned and the child's overall health is considered. Lessons are planned to involve physical and emotional health subjects. Emotional wellness topics inculde the District 67 initiative to teach kids respect, teamwork, caring, honesty, integrity and responsibility.
SC: The curriculum was skill based perviously and playing and winning the games came easy for some kids and others fell by the side. Today, the primary focus of the curriculum is fitness. We get all the kids moving and are able to engage a spectrum of skills with the goal of getting everyone involved.
Q: How do you plan the curriculum?
MS: The wellness teachers plan and work as a team across the district. We share ideas and equipment. Some of the games we play are pillow polo, scooter hockey, sports wall relays, bocce, baggo, obstacle courses, cooperative games and bowling. We usually begin wellness class with running, curl ups and push ups to fun music. Health classes are taught on Mondays. The class begins with an intoduction followed by a video and discussion. We utilize the www.brainpop.com curriculum with the emotional wellness.
SC: The units are prepared to use specific fitness based moves. Throwing, hopping and catching are skills often used across various games or sports. Some of the other skills practiced frequently in class include: twisting; getting down and up off the floor; eye-hand coordination; opposite hand/foot use; and running/jumping over a line. Then, games are initiated to utilize these skills. Often, the games are adapted to accommodate the younger kids starting their experience with wellness class and the challenge is raised for the older students.
Q: What is a "personal best" award?
MS/SC: A personal best award is given to one student per classroom at the end of each wellness class. The personal best is an acknowledgement of the student listening, using equipment properly, actively participating and being respectful. The recipient then is the line leader to direct their fellow classmates back to the classroom.
Q: What would be your health related advice for parents?
MS: To encourage your children to make healthy choices for food and exercise, everything in moderation. If you make good choices, you feel well and more confident.
SC: Allow your kids to find something fitness related they enjoy, don't force them into a sport. It could be running, biking, bowling, etc. Keep the fun in it and they will be much more likely to do it as a life skill.
Q: What are your favorite sports?
MS: I love to run! I run several times a week and have competed in 8 marathons. My husband and I both coach track and are considering running the New York Marathon in November 2009. We also enjoy watching many sports on TV and attending live sporting events.
SC: Football has been a constant in my life. I played football through college and I also coach football. I enjoy fishing. In the summer, I take my boat and fish in Wisconsin. In the winter, I fish for Northern and Crappies in Bangs Lake. I also participate in ice fishing tournaments in the winter . . . the cold does not bother me at all!
Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?
When I was attending high school and college, I worked in the day care at Lifetime Fitness. I just loved working with the kids. As the supervisor, I started art class and other structured activities for the children. After that rewarding experience, I knew as a freshmen that I wanted to teach in an early childhood classroom and began my major in teaching right away.
Q: What do you enjoy about teaching kindergarten?Kindergarten is the beginning of a child's experience in education. The amount of growth from September to June is incredible. It is such a rewarding experience to be their first teacher and invoke a love of school and learning.
Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
First and foremost, I make a social connection with my students. My philosophy is to focus on the positive. From a behavior management perspective I discuss the actions of kids that are demonstrating positive behavior and offer positive incentives It is important that the kids feel safe and comfortable in the classroom, that is when the learning starts to happen.
Q: What is your favorite subject to teach?It is fun to teach just about everything because in kindergarten you can introduce subjects together in creative ways. For example if you are teaching about shapes and colors you can incorporate books, music, math, singing, language arts, art etc. There are opportunities to be creative with the instruction.
Q: Do you have a favorite children's author?
Of course, Eric Carle and we are reading The Hungry Caterpillar now. I worked in the media center at Everett School and had the opportunity to learn about so many great authors.
Q: How has kindergarten changed since you were a kindergartner?I don't remember very much about kindergarten, just that I loved my teacher! There was more dramatic play. We studied the alphabet, but did not start reading. Now, there is more phonological awareness and emergent readers in kindergarten.
Q: What do you feel is the most significant difference about teaching half day versus full day kindergarten classes?As a half day teacher, you are teaching the same curriculum but have to be proactive, stay focused and choose the most beneficial activities for learning.
Q: Where did you get your degree and how long have you been teaching?A: I earned my undergraduate degree at LoyolaUniversity in Chicago with a double major in Literature and History and received my master’s in Education from NationalLouisUniversity in Evanston. This is my tenth year of teaching at Cherokee.
Q: Are you fluent in a language other than English?
A: I studied French in college and although I read it pretty well, I haven’t had the opportunity to practice speaking it.
Q: Just so we know how fortunate we are, give us an idea of the number or % of schools that introduce Latin at the elementary level?
A: There are several Eastern private elementary schools who offer Latin. However, as far as I know, there are only three schools who offer Latin to second and third graders. Most schools begin their program in fourth grade. There is one magnet school in Chicago and one other school in Bristol, England, who offer it to the younger students.
Q: How often are you at Cherokee and how frequently do you work with the kids at each grade level?
A: I only work two days a week and only at Cherokee. Each grade has one hour of Latin per week with a half hour each day.
Q: People say that Latin is a “dead” language. If not fluency, what goals do you establish for the students that you teach? A: Our primary goal in presenting Latin to our students is to introduce them to the fundamentals of how to study a foreign language. Latin was chosen because it is the root of the Romance languages. Therefore, if our students decide to study Spanish or French in fourth grade, they will have a foundation due to Latin. We have chosen the Latin vocabulary carefully so that our students may see the similarity in the words.
Eighty percent of the Romance languages and sixty percent of English words are derived from Latin. We emphasize derivatives in our classes by reinforcing the concept that if you now one Latin word, it may lead you to know more vocabulary in either English, Spanish or French.
From a literary standpoint, our students leave third grade knowing the Twelve Labors of Hercules, both the Greek and Latin names of the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses along with many of their mythology related stories. They know the story of Troy, the “Iliad” and the Travels of Odysseus. We structure our course around the gifts the Romans have left behind highlighting their culture, conquests and engineering feats.
Except for your native language, which is learned through repetition and auditory methods, languages in general are taught through grammar. By emphasizing grammar and parts of speech, we prepare our students to study a foreign language.
Q: What teaching methods do you use to promote Latin learning with the kids?
A: Repetition, songs, grammatical terms, stories, maps, reading Latin dialogues in front of class and videos.
Q: In a perfect world, what more would you do to promote Latin learning?
A: I would like to erase the image that Latin is a “dead” language. A dead language is a language that is not currently spoken in a country. Latin is very much alive, as it is prevalent in scientific and legal terms in the arts and sciences. In the past it was the universal language as English is today.
Q: What would you like parents to do at home that would support your efforts in the classroom?
A: I am introducing a Web Page—due to be out in time for Winter break. I would like parents to take a few minutes and read the recap of the week’s lessons and if the child has an interest or has missed something, either contact me or reinforce the information at home. My Web page will suggest further reading and some on-line sources that may be of interest to students.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work or yourself?
A: This Latin course is pure enrichment for your students. We are not expecting any high level of expertise, other than to have them enjoy the course and for them to have high expectations of what lies ahead in whatever language they choose to study in fourth grade. Hopefully, the course will inspire them to read further on any topic that interests them or catches their fancy. Many of our boys take an interest in the Roman army and the many battles they fought. The girls seem to take an interest in the mythology stories.
As for myself, I thoroughly enjoy the subject matter and teaching your children. Most teachers wait for an “ah-ha” moment. Because of the nature of our material, my classes experience “ah-ha” moments continuously as this is such new and different material for them. The students are enthusiastic every time I meet with them and it is this atmosphere of learning in which we strive to keep them for the later years.