A Message from the Superintendent
Dear Families, Staff, and Community Members,
It has been a pleasure getting to know our new families, observing our students thriving in our classrooms and outdoor spaces, and connecting with our staff these past several weeks. If you follow the District on social media, you’ll notice that we have shared many photos and videos of these exciting first weeks of school. It is abundantly clear in any visit to a classroom or viewing of a posted photo that our students are happy to be back in a place where they feel they belong. In alignment with our Strategic Plan Goal #2: Positive Culture and Well-Being, we strive to support connection and belonging in The Winnetka Public Schools as a catalyst for continual growth. This includes the District adoption of RULER, a research-based approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) conceived at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. If you attended one of our “Go to School Night” events, you heard about this in a video message I shared during the principal portion of the evening. RULER is intended to foster the following values in school communities:
Understanding the importance of emotions
Increasing the skills of emotional intelligence
Developing and maintaining a positive school climate
RULER emphasizes four anchor strategies as a means to proactively or reactively respond to social or emotional needs. The first strategy we have implemented Districtwide is called “Charter”. Over the past several weeks, students have been engaged in creating classroom Charters, which are agreed-upon norms for how individuals hope to feel and how those in the group can support a positive climate where these feelings are honored. Historically, our classrooms have participated in activities like these as a way of establishing classroom community in the early weeks of school. By using a shared approach like Charter, we are able to emphasize the value of incorporating a common vocabulary and practices across all five schools as a positive support for the overall student experience.
In order to model the benefits of a Charter for our students, the staff at each school, District Administration, and the School Board have created Charters to set expectations and group norms. We are committed to upholding the agreed-upon norms in our respective Charters to help us all grow in our communication and collaboration skills, and build empathy when interacting with our peers. Below, you’ll find some images of classroom Charters from around the District. Ask your child about their classroom Charter, and what it was like to experience this activity with their peers.
We look forward to offering parent learning opportunities on RULER this fall so that parents also have the chance to share in these approaches and vocabulary where it makes sense at home.
Wishing you a wonderful start to the fall season!
Dr. Kelly Tess