In Preparation for Upcoming School Year
Posted on 08/16/2023

Dear District 39 Families,

I hope that you and your loved ones have enjoyed a fun, safe, and joyful summer to this point. We have been busy in our preparations ahead of the 2023-24 academic year and are looking forward to a fantastic school year! From construction projects and summer school to curriculum work and summer professional development, summer has proven to be a great time for us to construct, collaborate and learn as we prepare to welcome students back on Wednesday, August 23 for the first day of school. With the start of the new year right around the corner, I wanted to touch base to share some information with you as you plan for a great year ahead, too. 

Registration Reminder
Please make sure that your child has been officially registered for the 2023-24 academic year and that any outstanding instructional materials fees have been paid prior to the start of school. Both matters can be resolved by logging into the PowerSchool Parent Portal.

School Office Open 
Our school offices are now open at all six of our schools. Secretaries and building administrators are back on-site and working hard to ensure a smooth start to the school year. Please feel free to contact your school office with any questions ahead of the return to school.

Student Attendance is Critical to School Success
We believe that students are most successful in achieving their personal and academic goals when they are present in school. Research supports this too! A successful school experience starts by supporting students in coming to school regularly and on time. This fall, we will be reminding families of the importance of attendance. Students and families will receive increased communication from the school as absenteeism increases. Attendance can be viewed by parents at any time by logging on to the PowerSchool Parent Portal and clicking ‘attendance history’. If you have specific questions about attendance records in PowerSchool, please reach out to your child’s school office. Additional information regarding student attendance and a variety of other important topics is available within the District 39 Parent Handbook

Looking For Fulfilling Work? Join Our District 39 Team!
As we continue to make our final preparations ahead of the 2023-24 academic year, we are looking for caring and qualified individuals to join our D39 team. We are accepting applications for paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, substitute nurses, substitute cooks, maintenance/custodial associates, and a soccer coach for our coed 7th and 8th grade team (one team)! If you are interested, or know of someone who may be interested in working as part of a dynamic team in a vibrant and welcoming setting, please visit our D39 employment webpage.

Parent Education Events 
We are proud to host a variety of Parent Education Events for our D39 families throughout the school year. These events target topics of interest specific to our D39 parent community and all are welcome to join us live via Zoom (some events also have an in-person option) or to watch the recordings after each session. We have compiled a fantastic lineup for our series this year and these sessions will be filled with great tips, guidance and support for our parents! Our first Parent Education event of the year, titled “Feeling Safe in District 39 Schools” will be held this Thursday, Aug. 17 at 11 am via Zoom. This presentation will feature a review of our focused and collaborative efforts to ensure safe, secure and supportive learning environments for our students and staff. Registration is open for our first event and our Parent Education page provides the full schedule and registration links. 

School Safety Information
As always, the safety of our students and staff remains our top priority. Our schools have comprehensive plans in place that are reviewed and updated annually in partnership with the Wilmette Police and Wilmette Fire Departments. We are extremely proud of the strong, collaborative relationship that we have with both the Village of Wilmette and Wilmette Police/Fire. As part of these plans, please know that all exterior doors at all six of our schools are locked at all times and visitors can only enter our school buildings by being buzzed in through the main entrance. In addition, review and training of our plans and protocol is an ongoing and critical part of our annual work.

     • Safety Plans, Training and Education
We are in constant communication with the Wilmette Police Department (WPD) regarding best practices in safety plans, training and education. This summer, we coordinated with the WPD, who conducted live training exercises with their officers onsite at WJHS regarding school safety and protocol. We are also very fortunate to have Officer Valerie Davis continue as our Community Resource Officer. Officer Davis is a terrific liaison between D39 and WPD for any threats or suspicious activities in or around our schools and her presence is an important element in protecting our school community. As the school year gets underway, we will continue to review safety plans and provide training for our teachers and staff along with completing our annual safety drills at each school.

     • Maintaining a Safe Learning Environment Matters
I cannot overstate the importance of the role our supportive Wilmette community plays in helping keep our schools safe. We want to remind you of the importance of “See Something, Say Something.” Please call 911 if you hear of an imminent threat or use Safe2Help Illinois to seek help if you see someone in need or something that doesn’t feel right within the schools. Additionally, please call 988 in cases of suicidal thoughts or someone in emotional distress. Students at Highcrest Middle School and Wilmette Junior High may also report through our HAWKS reporting form (Highcrest) and WOLVES reporting form (WJHS) once school starts. These online forms can also be used to report conflict and harassment incidents in addition to suspicious people/incidents around the school. Being vigilant and reporting suspicious or concerning activity helps to keep our schools and community safe.

     • Mental Health Awareness and Support
We continue to recognize the importance of mental health awareness and support. Help is available within our schools and throughout our community for those who may need it. We are also working to enhance our social-emotional learning programs while continuing to strengthen the sense of belonging, inclusion and community for all. Thank you for supporting this important work. Please look for additional information regarding our social-emotional learning curriculum and programming throughout this school year. 

     • Responsible Firearm Safety
Lastly, the Village of Wilmette, Wilmette Police and Wilmette District 39 are dedicated to promoting safe firearm practices. To help avoid a potential tragedy, we would like to remind residents about firearm safety and available safety programs. Responsible firearm safety is critical to keeping our community safe. If you are a gun owner, please review safe storage practice, which includes keeping guns secured in a locked container, rendering it inaccessible or unusable to any person other than the owner or another lawfully authorized user. The Wilmette Police Department has also partnered with Be SMART to help further promote the safe storage of weapons and keep our children and community safer. Please click the following links for more information:

Strategic Plan Updates 
Our teams have spent time this summer developing our action steps for our Strategic Plan goals to engage, empower and inspire our students to lead academically successful, socially responsible, compassionate, and purposeful lives. Last year, as part of our Strategic Plan, we successfully launched our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) throughout the district, engaged teachers in reading and math professional development, strengthened our Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum and programming, expanded staff and student engagement through committees and clubs, strengthened transition programming between our schools, and are putting the final touches on classroom air conditioning. Among a variety of Action Steps planned for the 2023-24 school year, some of our key initiatives include professional development for new elementary math curriculum along with use of new early literacy resources and intervention materials, coordination of resources and supports for targeted SEL needs, launch of a new school climate survey, and release of a website redesign paired with additional communication tools. We are focusing this year on ensuring that all students and staff feel a sense of belonging and connection within their schools with an emphasis on our D39 portrait of a scholar. We are excited for the year ahead and look forward to partnering with you as we engage, empower and inspire our students.

Board of Education Meetings
Our Board of Education will convene for its first meetings of the 2023-24 school year. The Board held its Committee of the Whole meeting yesterday, with the first Board meeting of the new school year set for Monday, Aug. 28. Materials for the meetings will be posted here the Friday prior to the meeting.

We are incredibly excited to welcome our students back later this month! Educating the children of Wilmette is our collective passion and we are focused on fulfilling our mission of engaging, empowering, and inspiring our students to lead academically successful, socially responsible, compassionate, and purposeful lives. 

We appreciate your partnership, support, and assistance as we enter the final stages of preparations for a fantastic 2023-24 academic year ahead!

Your partner in education,
Dr. Kari Cremascoli, Ph.D.