- Willow Bend Elementary School
District 15 Wraps Up a Successful Year
June 7, 2021
Buoyed by a strong school-community partnership, District 15 wraps up a successful year for students despite pandemic challenges; Planning moves ahead for 2021-22
Back in July of 2020, we shared with the Board of Education, parents, and the District 15 community that we’d be offering two instructional pathways for students to access learning during the 2020-21 school year. By following local and state guidelines, the District was able to continue offering in-person instruction while ensuring the safety of our students and staff.
This year has been unlike any other and the District has continued to safely educate every student, every day, while continuing its commitment to the success of the whole child. We are so proud of the perseverance and commitment we saw in both staff and students this year. The District continued to do what we felt was best for students to ensure as seamless of an educational experience as possible.
Last September, District 15 was able to open its doors to every child who opted for in-person learning while providing virtual instruction for those who opted to stay home. Roughly 8,000 students opted to come to school each day while 4,000 found learning remotely to best meet their needs.
Throughout the school year, the District strictly adhered to ISBE and IDPH guidelines and learned to continually adapt to the new -- and sometimes changing -- normal.
As restrictions loosened, we looked for ways to welcome more students back to school. By April, the District welcomed back an additional 529 students for in-person instruction. We were excited to not only be able to offer learning options for our students, but we were proud to have the option to learn in-person available throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
Technology Led the Way
When schools across Illinois shut down abruptly in March 2020, the District’s ten member “tech team” dropped everything, to ensure that remote teaching and learning could even take place in a District that was not yet a 1:1 (one technology device per student) learning environment.
They worked nights and weekends to image devices, inventory, and barcode chromebooks for distribution. They also helped to purchase and distribute hundreds of hot spots to families without internet access, all while helping teachers set up necessary equipment so everyone had what they needed to be successful during remote learning. From March to May 2020, they provided ongoing device support so staff and students could communicate and learn together.
Moving forward, the tech team has continued to support staff and students on a daily basis to ensure our newly launched 1:1 initiative was successful.
Future Ready Library Resource Centers Initiative
The Innovation and Instructional Technology teams have worked together to help create Future Ready Libraries for the district. In line with our strategic plan, we will seek to keep school libraries open all day, and to create unified library standards and a viable and consistent curriculum. The proposal to move forward with the plan was approved at the February Board of Education Meeting and includes four fully staffed elementary librarians and four fully staffed junior high librarians.
Teamwork Pays Off - 1,258,544 Meals Served
Thanks to our dedicated Nutrition Services and Transportation teams, District 15 was able to serve our families 1,258,544 meals between March 16, 2020, through March 16, 2021!
In addition to meal service, the Transportation department also helped deliver much needed technology including Chromebooks, hotspots, and chargers to families who were not able to pick them up at school.
The District was able to host in person graduation ceremonies this year. The District and our families were able to celebrate our 1,428 graduates at five graduation ceremonies held on May 25 and May 26.
Students were honored with the American Legion Award, the President’s Awards recognizing Academic Achievement, the Harper College Promise Scholarship Award, and school engagement awards honoring students who show leadership qualities and respect for their teachers and fellow classmates.
District 15 has partnered with District 211 and community groups to help provide vaccination clinics for staff, community members, and more recently, interested students who are 12 years of age and older.
District 15 has already begun its focus on summer construction and planning for the 2021-2022 school year. There are several construction projects taking place across the District including HVAC at three schools, flooring and locker upgrades at Winston Campus, and several classroom renovations at Conyers Learning Academy to accommodate our growing Early Childhood program.
The District expects to receive updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health within the coming weeks regarding recommendations and/or requirements for the upcoming school year. District 15 will follow any updated guidance to ensure readiness to open schools safely for the upcoming school year.