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Sunnybrook 171 leans into reading and literature with new program

LANSING, Ill. (May 20, 2023) – Sunnybrook District 171 held its school board meeting on Monday, May 15. A new reading and literature program was presented.

Board reports

Superintendent Dr. Erika Millhouse-Pettis and Board Members President Kenisha Lesure, Vice President Desiree Ambrose, Secretary Elissa Veloz-Davis, Cassie Hill, Timothy Terrell were present at the meeting. Absent were members Tamara Hill and Nicole Thompson.

During her report, Lesure mentioned that though the teachers union is not ready for contract negotiations, the Board has their contract negotiation team in place. The team will consist of Board Members Desiree Ambrose, Timothy Terrell, and Nicole Thompson.

For the district Policy Committee, there will be two required members and one alternate. Veloz-Davis and Cassie Hill will be the required members and Tamara Hill will be the alternate.

Lesure will serve as the delegate for ISAB and the representative for the district regarding state issues. 

Millhouse-Pettis highlighted that The South Cook Intermediate Service center presented a Certificate of Excellence to District 171 for achieving a perfect score with no citation during the fiscal year 2023. This certificate is presented for Compliance and Health/Life Safety/ISC4. 

Into Reading and Into Literature program

Dr. Lori Owens Stranc, Assistant Superintendent/Director of Curriculum and Instruction, introduced a new series of reading programs that will be brought to district schools. All English Language Arts teachers were able to vote on bringing it into the district. 

“We wanted to ensure that our students were getting exactly what they needed to make sure they were mastering our common core standards and being college and career ready,” said Stranc. 

Christopher Edwards, a representative from Houghton Milton Harcourt, presented on the resources from the reading programs, “Into Reading” and “Into Literature.”

The highlights of the programs include working with students in small groups with direct instruction for students at all levels, research-based instruction, extended practice opportunities, and multilingual learner options. 

Teachers and students will be able to access digital resources including digital copies of books and live Q&A. The program will also include a diagnostic tool to measure goals and outcomes for all readers. 

Millhouse-Pettis mentioned that teachers will receive training on the program over the summer. Millhouse-Pettis and Stranc are both excited for the program and its benefits to the students. 

“The teachers are able to modify it so students don’t feel left out,” Millhouse-Pettis said.

School Updates

Heritage Middle School Principal Chantelle Cambric shared a few updates on sports and upcoming student activities. 

The seventh grade girls track team qualified for state in relay and hurdles, while one eighth grade shot-putter also qualified for state.

The eighth grade promotion ceremony will take place on May 23 at 6 p.m. 

On May 24, fourth graders from Nathan Hale Elementary School will be able to visit Heritage Middle School for Step Up day to experience a day as a middle school student.

Nathan Hale Middle School Principal Joseph Kent shared results of an advanced math class offered for third grade and fourth grade students. Though the class was challenging, according to STAAR Test results every child showed growth.

“We are going to incorporate that into our expectations we have for our kids and the opportunities we have for our kids and not just remain in the status quo,” said Kent. 

Nathan Hale will also be doing end of the year celebrations for its students, including 11 early childhood students who will be going on to kindergarten.

The next Sunnybrook 171 Board meeting is scheduled for June 26. Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. at Heritage Middle School, 19266 Burnham Avenue.

Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Science in Journalism from Roosevelt University. In addition to reporting for The Lansing Journal and the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, he volunteers with 100 Black Men of Chicago, Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Burst Into Books, and various other organizations. A south suburban resident since 2004, Quinton is passionate about telling the unsung stories of the community.