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New faces, curriculum to greet students in Downers Grove District 58

By the time school starts, addition of Lester school to be completed

The addition at Lester Elementary School in Downers Grove is expected to be completed by the time school starts Aug. 23.
The addition at Lester Elementary School in Downers Grove is expected to be completed by the time school starts Aug. 23.

DOWNERS GROVE – School bells soon will ring in Downers Grove Grade School District 58, and students and parents will see some changes when they return to their respective schools.

The addition at Lester Elementary School is expected to be completed by the time school starts Aug. 23, said Megan Hewitt, the district’s community relations coordinator.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the addition, which includes three classrooms, ADA-compliant bathrooms, storage and a flexible resource space is set for Aug. 27.

The Lester addition was the only major construction project completed over the summer.

“Besides Lester, it’s been kind of a quiet year facilities wise,” Hewitt said.

However, all of the district’s 13 schools underwent some minor renovations, including cleaning and painting, she said.

A backup generator and a new clock and bell system were installed at Fairmount Elementary School while the fire alarm system was updated at Kingsley Elementary School, Hewitt said.

“These are projects that were on the list and were identified as the highest priority,” she said.

Additionally, ADA-compliant mulch was added at the playgrounds of nine schools, and asphalt work was done at three schools, Hewitt said.

District 58 also made some personnel changes for the 2018-19 school year.

Christine Collins is the new principal at Pierce Downer Elementary School, and Melissa Sawisch, formerly the assistant principal at Hillcrest and Pierce Downer elementary schools, takes the helm at Kingsley Elementary School.

Lauri Cole takes over as the Hillcrest and Pierce Downer assistant principal, and Stephanie Dornan becomes the new Herrick Middle School assistant principal.

Principals returned to work last week, and teachers will be in their classrooms Aug. 20, getting ready for the new year.

Twenty-one new teachers will join the District 58 faculty for the upcoming school year. Additionally, the district added three full-time registered nurses to the staff.

On the curriculum side, the district also made some adjustments.

For example, art will be offered to first- and second-graders on a weekly basis rather than every other week. Meanwhile, students in grades 3 through 6 will participate in physical education classes three instead of two days a week.

The additional physical education class will allow teachers more time to collaborate each week, Hewitt said.

The district also is switching from quarters to trimesters, a move designed to give students more time to demonstrate a mastery of skills before a report card is issued, Hewitt said.

Additionally, parent-teacher conferences will be held shorty before report cards are issued. The focus of the conferences will switch from grades to student progress, she said.

The district will roll out its new English language arts curriculum after piloting the program last year, and the much-debated technology refresh will be launched. The refresh includes new iPads for students in kindergarten though sixth grade.

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