Most of Mount Prospect's elementary-school students will head back to the classroom this week.
While some of them may not be overly thrilled to see their summer vacations come to an end, educators who lead two school districts that serve the community say they're excited for the new year to begin.
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"This is always a fun time for us, getting ready to welcome the kids back," said Dane Delli, superintendent of River Trails Elementary District 26. "And this year will be an important one. There are a number of initiatives that we'll be tracking throughout."
Most students in District 26 and its neighboring district, Mount Prospect Elementary District 57, will go back to school Wednesday. Kindergartners in District 26 start Thursday.
The buildings and grounds in both districts will look largely as they did last year. Neither undertook any major renovation or repair projects over the summer.
What will be different is what happens inside the buildings, as both districts continue their transition to the Common Core learning standards.
Delli said District 26 students will have a new social-studies program and a different approach to the teaching of writing.
"There'll be a stronger focus on expository, narrative and opinion writing," he said. "That's something that Common Core calls for."
District 57, meanwhile, will launch the first full year of new English/language arts and math programs, Superintendent Elaine Aumiller said.
"We've piloted these in the past, but this will be our first full year of implementation," she said. "Our teachers have worked very hard to make these work for the students."
There will be other initiatives under way, too. District 26 plans to move forward with its effort to equip each student with a technological device at school, Delli said. That "one-to-one" initiative is part of a new three-year strategic plan the district approved over the summer.
In District 57, administrators will work with teachers on a new evaluation system that takes student growth into account, Aumiller said.
The sites are designed to be more inviting and user-friendly, making it easier for the districts to stay connected with the people they serve.
"We'll be talking more about the new site as the year gets going," Aumiller said. "I hope the community likes the new design."
Aumiller stressed that even with everything new that's going on, what gets the staff most excited about the beginning of school is the chance to teach their students again.
"That's what everyone is here for," she said.