Department of Partnerships - Bits and Bites
Advocacy AlertCommunity Schools and Afterschool
On February 22,
State Representative Karina Villa and State Senator Jim Oberweis visited
Currier Elementary School in District 33 for a community school site
visit. The pair toured the after school program and heard from students,
parents, and staff about how the afterschool program and the community school
supports have positively impacted their lives.
Thank you to all the
partners who were pivotal in making the legislative site visit a success:
= Maria Santiago and Wonzey Carlson, parents
= Susan Castrogiovanni and staff, Breaking Free,
Delgado and Kyle Reschke, Puente del Pueblo/Wheaton Bible Church
= Kristina Davis, District 33 Assistant
= Mark Truckenbrod and Kellie Barros, Currier
School Principal and Assistant Principal
= Susan Stanton, Act NOW!In West Chicago, over
1,500 families receive support through community schools each year,
including over 450 students that participate in high quality after school
programming. It is vital that
we advocate for the resources necessary to support community schools. In West
Chicago, we receive funding from the following grants:
= Federal Full Service Community Schools grant
that supports building based community school programs and resources
= 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st
CCLC) for afterschool programming at four schools (ISBE)
= Teen REACH grants for afterschool programming
at three schools (ISBE)The Illinois State Board of Education's proposed budget includes $20 million in
direct funding for afterschool programs and $15 million in funding for
community schools. Join us in advocating for the General Assembly to include both of the proposals in their budget. Click here to download our one page community
schools infographic and help us advocate for these resources by sharing this
information widely. Note: this resource was originally developed by Act
The DREAM afterschool program, run by Breaking Free, is held at Currier, Gary, and Pioneer Elementary Schools and Leman Middle School. The program extends the school day through tutoring and homework help. The program also enhances other skills through social and emotional skill development, art and music, nutrition lessons, and physical activity.
Here are some recent highlights from each site
Currier: A group of students is working on a comic book
project focused on promoting reading. Program staff share that the
students really enjoy it.
Gary: Students will become pen pals with an afterschool program in Texas run by a former DREAM staff member. They are very excited to get started writing letters to their new friends!
Leman: Staff and students are planning an upcoming
career and college day.
letters that were created for the Lights On Afterschool event held last October
have found a temporary home at the Gallery 200 - be sure to check them out the next time you're downtown West Chicago!
DREAM is funded by the
21st Century Community Learning Centers and Full Service Community Schools
“Hope anchors the soul. With hope, one can
move forward and up. Hope gives us the fire to burn bright. We hope for health,
we hope for a good future, we hope for others. The definition of hope is trust
and reliance. If we trust our gifts and in our heart, we move in only one
direction. Forward. We must never give up hope. Once we choose hope anything is
We believe it is important to always lift up hope. As we watch the news or talk with friends and co-workers, the world can feel defeating. Hope provides us a beacon of light that creates pathways for us to continue moving forward. As we begin a new year, we reflect on what motivates us to move forward. We have often found that the relationships we have with our families, friends, co-workers, and others we interact with on any given day, are what we value most, especially to continue working on goals that take time to reach. Without relationships, we wouldn’t have the power to truly create positive change.
We challenge you to think about what motivates
you and brings you hope? What one word would you use to sum it up? Share your one word with us - click here. We will use these
responses to create a word cloud to share in the Department for Partnership's
next NewsBites update.
The Department of
Partnerships is excited to introduce two new Community School Coordinators to
the team. In addition to Ciara Thomas at Leman Middle School, Kathy Niedorowski
is the Coordinator for Birth - 5 and Sarah Norton is the Coordinator for elementary
Kathy Niedorowski - Community School Coordinator, Birth to 5 Katharine (Kathy) Niedorowski recently received her Master's in Social Work from theUniversity of Illinois at Chicago and has a Bachelor’s of the Arts in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. Before working in District 33, she interned at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless creating policy reform and participating in advocacy efforts in Chicago and Springfield. As a Community School Coordinator, she will build relationships with the community and schools ensure families are linked and have access to community resources through the assistance of Family Liaisons and co-facilitate the West Chicago Early Childhood Collaboration. She is excited to have the opportunity to learn more about West Chicago and the families in District 33! Kathy can be found at a variety of locations including District 33 Early Learning Center, Trinity School, and Winfield School.
Sarah Norton -
Community School Coordinator, Elementary
I am very excited to
begin a new journey working as Community School Coordinator for elementary
schools in D33! My most recent position was working as a Community Mental
Health Clinician from a partnering agency in Leman Middle School. I have a
passion for working in the West Chicago Community with school staff and
community members. I am a proud graduate of West Chicago High School (Go
Wildcats!). I then received my Bachelors of Social Work at Xavier University in
Cincinnati, and went on to complete my Masters of Social Work at Jane Addams
College of Social Work at UIC. I specialize in working with Children and
Families utilizing strengths based approach. I look forward to continuing to
work in this awesome community and building new connections with staff and
A WeGo Together/District 33 Parenting
Family Ties is an evidence-informed parenting education program that supports parents in supporting their child's development birth-12th grade. This program is facilitated by family liaisons who have been trained to facilitate the program. Sessions cover a wide range of topics including developmental milestones, positive discipline strategies, and establishing rules and routines. Parents are surveyed to find out what topics they are interested in learning about.
Family Liaisons through a Child’s Development
As a community school district, we promote strong partnerships between schools, families, and community. This philosophy provides opportunities for everyone; teachers, parents, community partners and the students to contribute their gifts and expertise towards the academic success of all students and the health of the family and community as a whole. The US Department of Education’s federal education policy, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), approved interventions that indicate
that community schools, with good implementation and a sufficient amount of
services, can positively impact a range of student outcomes (Learning Policy
In District 33, community school supports are being integrated at every
level; birth to three, preschool, elementary and middle school. Foundational
pieces of these supports include Community School Coordinators, After School
Coordinators, Community Mental Health Clinicians, Family Liaisons and an array
Family Liaisons promote student attendance, assist with access and
linkage to resources, and facilitate parenting education and community
engagement. As a family moves through the District, the role of a Family
Liaison adjusts to support families as their children develop. In Project HOPE,
the Birth to 3 Program, Family Liaisons support parents in their roles as a child's first and most important teacher. Liaisons focus on supporting parent-child interactions as well as parenting topics and connections to resources. At
the Early Learning Center, Family Liaisons support families for children to be
ready to learn through goal setting and developing good habits. In the
elementary and middle school buildings, Family Liaisons work alongside families
to provide parenting education and facilitate out of school engagement
Families who have worked with a Family Liaison
have shared with us; the supports increased their confidence in parenting their
children as they grow.
WeGo Together for Kids operates from an Asset Based Community Development approach where everyone has gifts, talents, and passions that contribute to a thriving community. We have been using listening conversations (the questions below) to learn more about each other and how we each bring unique assets to the community. We encourage others to do the same. Let us know your gifts and passions by filling out a short survey available HERE! Try asking others these questions too!
1. What are your gifts of the hand? (Skills like knitting and dancing).
2. What are your gifts of the head? (Knowledge you have about a particular topic, for example teaching early childhood or the history of West Chicago).
3. What are your gifts of the heart? (What are you passionate about?)
For more information about WeGo Together for Kids, contact Marjory Lewe-Brady at [email protected]
Together Community School
A Moment in a Family Liaison's Day!
School Teams promote student and family success by connecting our community and
strengthening our families. Family Liaisons are a critical piece of the
community school teams. They promote student attendance, provide access and
linkage to resources and services, and facilitate parent engagement through
advocacy and education.
we spoke to Natalie Cabral, Family Liaison for Currier and Turner Elementary
Schools. Natalie gave us a glimpse into what she does as a Family Liaison and
why she loves the work she does.
When asked about what a "typical" workday looks like, Natalie reflected that it looks different every day! Some days she facilitates parenting education workshops in the community and other days she runs an after school crafting club at Currier or a Girls Who Code club at Turner. Natalie also spends much of her time working directly with families that are usually identified by the school health aides for student attendance issues. Natalie often goes on home visits to meet with families to gather information about why students are missing school and takes time to discuss the importance of students being in the classroom every day.
Natalie says she can identify with the parents she works alongside. It's "so awesome that family liaisons exist because we are able to support families. I can identify with many of the families because I remember how tough it was to be a new parent in a new community." Natalie's favorite part of the job, besides working with students during clubs, is empowering families. She is regularly supporting families to remove barriers to academic success.
Natalie shared a recent "success" she had with a family. She told us about a couple of students who were regularly missing school. She went on a home visit to talk with mom and learn more about what was going on. Through their conversation, Natalie learned about the various barriers that were preventing mom from being able to get her children on the bus on time. Natalie and mom worked side by side to come up with the long term solutions necessary to get the children to school on time, as well as to substantially reduce the amount of stress that mom was living with. A month has passed since Natalie made the initial home visit and the students have not been absent or late to school once!
WeGo Together for Kids is a community collaboration of over 60 community partners that come together to support and enhance the health, safety, and well-being of families in West Chicago.
We would like to
highlight two partners, the West Chicago
Police Department and West Chicago
Fire Protection District. These first responders have long partnered with WeGo
Together and District 33 to
support safety and emergency preparedness efforts in West Chicago.
The West Chicago Police Department is a vital partner for WeGo
Together and has worked with us since our start in 2005. Chief of Police Michael Uplegger sits on our Steering Committee and always provides support and feedback for our programs. The District 33 School Resource Officer, Officer Fuller is an asset to District 33 schools. Officer Fuller is an excellent role model for District 33 students and regularly builds positive relationships through education on fire and lock down safety protocols. Officer Fuller and the Department also support District 33's emergency preparedness efforts.
The Police Department has done a tremendous job strengthening their relationship with the youth and families of the West
Chicago community and we could not be happier to have them as a partner in the coalition. The West Chicago Police
Department has run an after school program at Pioneer School and are also actively involved with our Family Wellness
Nights and officers from the department walk with different schools during District 33's Annual Wellness Walk every spring.
You can check out the West Chicago Police Department's webpage here. Be sure to like them on Facebook too!
The West Chicago Fire Protection District is dedicated to providing compassionate and skillful service to all. The Fire District focuses on organizational trust, personal integrity, and the responsibility to maintain professionalism and pride.
The West Chicago Fire
District has been a long time partner with WeGo Together for Kids. Lieutenant Michael Buenrostro sits on the
Emergency Preparedness workgroup and provides insight for the best
practices regarding school fire and severe weather drills and other emergency preparedness
In talking with Lt. Mike Buenrostro, he described the Fire District's dedication to West Chicago. The Fire District not only provides emergency response services, but also acts as a pillar for safety education and awareness. Lt. Buenrostro expressed the Fire District's commitment to building relationships with children, families, and school staff. When the Fire District conducts severe weather and fire safety drills in the school buildings, they provide feedback about the drill to incident command team members. Fire District team members regularly spend time in the school buildings, offering opportunities for school staff to ask questions and grow their emergency preparedness knowledge.
The Fire District also
works closely with District 33. Every year the Fire District provides CPR/AED
and First Aid training and re-certification to District staff and community
partners. In a previous school year, the Fire District donated warming
blankets to District 33 school buildings in the case of an evacuation during
cold months. Additionally, Fire District team members have also provided
education in classrooms to students regarding school and home safety. Recently,
Fire District team members participated in a Family Wellness Event, providing
tips on how families can have a safe summer at home and in the pool.
For more information
about how the West Chicago Fire Protection District family can help your
family, check out their website!
Community Schools -The whole family
In order for students to achieve academically, nonacademic barriers to learning must be addressed. Many students come to school with challenges that are beyond an educator's scope of daily tasks- which can cause distraction in the classroom and to student learning. Physical and behavioral health problems, food and housing insecurities, and other nonacademic barriers must be addressed to facilitate quality learning. Community Schools is one of WeGo Together's collective impact strategies that promotes strong partnerships between schools, families and the community. Community schools work to remove non-academic barriers through access and linkage to resources. Community schools promote positive youth and family development and foster family health.
Our community schools
model embraces a two generational approach through providing supports to
families, rather than only students or only parents. We operate with a
philosophy that when parents feel confident and competent in their own lives,
it transfers to their relationship with their child and their abilities to
assist them in learning. To this end, WeGo Together provides a variety of
programming for students and families including parent literacy classes,
parenting education, parent leadership opportunities, family mental health
services, after school clubs, and family nutrition and physical activities.
Ultimately, community schools connects the community, strengthens families, and
supports student achievement.
For more information
about the WeGo Together Community Schools, check out our google site.
The WeGo Together Community School is excited to announce the offering of a parenting program called Practical Parent Education (PPE). PPE shares a common goal - to help families raise healthy, happy children in today's complex society thus supporting American's greatest asset - its families!
PPE strives to:
Help eliminate the achievement gap. PPE
encourages Empower parents to take a more active role in their child's development
WeGo Together Community School Family Liaisons are
facilitating these workshops available to ALL
District 33 parents. Workshops are held weekly, in English and Spanish, across
the West Chicago community.
For more information about the program, contact Alex Cowal at [email protected] or 630-677-4361.
WeGo Together for Kids is excited to join People's Resource Center in welcoming Erika Olsen as our new Community Market Coordinator
We are excited to announce Erika Olsen is the new Off-Site Food Pantry Coordinator for the WeGo Together Community Market, a school-based food pantry located at Leman Middle School in West Chicago! She started 11/27/2017.normal'> normal'>Erika and her husband, Andy, live in West Chicago with their two young children. When the family has down-time, they like impromptu dance parties, building Lego creations, and eating pancakes with chocolate chips. Erika grew up in Presque Isle, Maine, on the Canadian border near New Brunswick. Next time you see Erika, ask her about the moose that wandered into town when she was young... it's quite a story!
Erika is really excited to get settled at her new job. She shares: I'm excited to start at the WeGo Together Community Market because I love working together with my neighbors to invest in our community, and food is such a practical and meaningful way to help families. I've worked with a lot of volunteer teams throughout my career and am honored to serve alongside the excellent team at the WeGo Together Community Market.
Announcement provided by People's Resource Center
District 33’s Readiness and Emergency Management Plan emphasizes that the safety of students, staff and visitors is of the utmost importance. Therefore, safety is the responsibility of everyone and must be consistently integrated into our attitudes and daily routines. In order to support this, WeGo
Together for Kids and District 33 work in close partnership with the West Chicago Police Department and West Chicago Fire, Winfield Fire Protection Districts , and DuPage County Sherriff’s Department, providing emergency preparedness sessions on evacuation, lock down, and severe weather to all District 33 building staff prior to the school year starting. Throughout the year our first responders assist the school in practicing drills to assure year round readiness
We want students and staff to be prepared during the school day, and we are encouraging everyone to create safety plans for their own homes. Therefore, this year ,WeGo Together along with the West Chicago Police Department, West Chicago Fire Protection District, City of West Chicago, District 33, and District 94 will align social media efforts to promote West Chicago’s preparedness for emergencies. You can check out some of the posts by searching for the hashtag #wegoBprepared!
District 33 has utilized a community school philosophy for many years.
A Community School is a set of partnerships between:
- Student achievement
- Positive conditions
- Well-being of families and communities.
While the student is at the center of the Community School, we also recognize that children grow up in families and that these families are an integral part of the community. The aim of the Community School is to provide the support and services needed in order to remove barriers that interfere with learning, support a strong family and healthy community.
The implementation of a community school as a place-based model means buildings are equipped with:
- Shared Community School Coordinator,
- Community mental health clinician,
- Family liaisons.
Other resources such as fitness and nutrition classes and ESL classes are also accessible to families attending these schools.
District 33's goal is to have these resources available in every school over the next several years.
For more information and resources please contact Marjory Lewe-Brady at [email protected] or 630-293-6000 ext. 225.
District 33’s Readiness and Emergency Management Plan emphasizes that the safety of students, staff and visitors is of the utmost importance. Therefore, safety is the responsibility of everyone and must be consistently integrated into our attitudes and daily routines. In order to support this, WeGo Together for Kids and District 33 work in close partnership with the West Chicago Police Department and West Chicago Fire, Winfield Fire Protection Districts , and DuPage County Sherriff’s Department, providing emergency preparedness sessions on evacuation, lock down, and severe weather to all District 33 building staff prior to the school year starting. Throughout the year our first responders assist the school in practicing drills to assure year round readiness