Amboy schools adopt e-Learning days as alternative to ‘snow days’

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AMBOY – Illinois schools now have a new option for making up lost time when snow days start to pile up. Reporting at the Feb. 19 Amboy Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Joshua Nichols said schools can now have a plan for e-Learning Days, which can be used in lieu of emergency or “snow” days. This will allow the day to be counted as a day of student attendance.

This new program was piloted by several school districts around the state as a direct result of last year when many schools, including Amboy, had to close due to weather far more often than usual. “We missed eight days but some schools missed 16-17,” Nichols noted. “That pushed school well into the summer or having to miss spring break. This will be another option.”

An e-Learning Day can be used one of two ways, either on the actual day school is closed or scheduled for another day in the future. “Maybe take a day during spring break and say that’s an e-Learning day to make up for the day that was missed. Staff would have time to prepare and send stuff home,” Nichols explained. “On the e-Learning Day, teachers would be available via e-mail from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for questions, and all materials would be online.” 

The electronic delivery would apply to students in middle and high school, while elementary students would have work that was paper-based because they do not take their devices home. “If a student does not have internet at home, they would have two days after returning to school to make up that work,” Nichols noted. “We will still have five emergency days built in at the end of the year, but this would give us an option if we chose to take it.” 

Nichols also pointed out that the state requires the e-Learning Day to be a meaningful instruction day, which is one reason he favors the idea of scheduling the day later in the semester. “Last year in another district, one assignment was to go out and make a snow angel and send in a picture of it,” he said. “For some reason, the state had issues with that so there has to be a meaningful component. We would know ahead of time and be able to plan.”

Schools will be able to use their five emergency days first, if they choose, or opt to use an e-Learning Day. “We would make that decision at the time - it gives us flexibility,” Nichols said. 

Now that the plan has been approved by the school board, it will remain in effect for three years. 

PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS

Amboy High School Principal Janet Crownhart congratulated February Student of the Month Rachel Ackert.

Curriculum and School Improvement

• On Feb. 2, all district staff attended a SIP day presentation on mindfulness by Karla Buser. Then teachers met as K-12 departments to work on vertical alignment.

• On Jan. 24, the Continuous School Improvement Team heard a presentation given at Sauk by the Regional Office of Education explaining the next steps in Amboy’s school improvement project. On Feb. 10, the team met at AHS to work on those steps.

• The Leadership Team met on Jan. 29 to discuss the change to a 7-period day next year. They met again on Feb. 12 to discuss a Career Fair to be held at AHS on March 2. Crownhart said about 40 people from the surrounding community will speak about various careers in the area. 

• On Feb. 10 during resource, students watched a short video on how to communicate difficult emotions and then discussed ways to use that information in their everyday lives. 

An attendance incentive snack was given to 107 students.

• On Jan. 31, the Math Team met to start discussing new curriculum for 9-12th grades and on Feb. 4, the English Language Arts Team did the same.

School Activities

• Eight freshmen and sophomore students attended Morrison Institute of Technology on Feb. 4 to learn what they offer and students also enjoyed playing with the robots there.

• On Feb. 6, Herff Jones was at AHS to talk about class rings. Students who are purchasing a class ring through them were able to do so on Feb. 21.

Building Activities

• Jan. 27, Camfel Productions presented “Go Viral” to all students in grades 9-12. This three-screen video production showed students how quickly social media can be used for good or evil.

• Crownhart said the wrestling season has ended, and she was pleased to report that Scholastic Bowl is having a good season. 

Principal Andrew Full, Amboy Junior High 

Curriculum and School Improvement

• The AJHS School Improvement Team met on Feb. 4 to discuss next year’s schedule.

• On Feb. 5, the 5th/6th grade teams held their grade level meetings and on Feb. 12, the 7th/8th grade teams met for theirs.

PBIS

• On Feb. 3, the monthly PBIS SIP Assembly was held and the following awards were presented: Clipper P.R.I.D.E., Students of the Month, Faculty/Staff Recognition, and 2nd Quarter Honor Roll. A friendly competition was held between grade levels and teachers.

• Clipper P.R.I.D.E. Recipients include Lainey Davis, Lily Drew, Ethan Shephard, Myla Davis, Matthew Farrar, Lexi Moan, Ava Rhodenbaugh, Eriannah Wade, Hunter Rasmussen, Alexa McKendry, Brandon Garcia-Meirndorf, Lane Goff, Alyxandria Shepard, Hope Lauzon, Karagen Welch, Emma Dinges, Kennedy Johns, Madison Thomas, Jon Stacy, Alena Shaw, Cody Sus, and Natalie Pratt.

• Students of the Month

5th grade- Morgan Kreiser and Gage Mumm

6th grade- Molly Hassler and Wyatt Hoffman

7th grade- Tyrah Vaessen and Addison Pertell

8th grade- Sarah McCulloh-Ossey and Blerta Fekolli

P.E.- Liz Hurley and Tristan Salazar

Faculty/Staff Recognition winners were Stacey Dinges and Belinda Lewis.

School Activities

• Scholastic Bowl, coached by Ms. Vicks and Mr. Fassler, has started with 10 participants. 

• Landon Whelchel won the all-school Spelling Bee held on Feb. 3. Emma Dinges was the runner-up. Landon represented AJHS at the ROE 47 Spelling Bee in Dixon on Feb. 20.

• Mr. Dunlap and Mr. Full were duct taped to the wall during the SIP Assembly to help raise money for United Way. Natalie Pratt and Teen Turf organized the event.

Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary 

School Improvement

• The School Improvement Team planned to meet on Feb. 24 to continue working through the Indicators for Improvement.

• Curriculum meetings were held in the afternoon of the February SIP day. All subject areas were able to meet and plan.

PBIS

• During the monthly SIP assembly, awards were handed out for Students of the Week. Students were reminded of the school’s 21,000-point goal and also each month they reach their own goal, they earn tickets to Central’s carnival in May.

• Book-It Reading goals for February will be celebrated on Feb. 28 by playing a Mickey Mouse activity and having a snack.

School Activities

• Fourth grade won best attendance for January with 95.8 percent. They earned a snack sponsored by the P.T.C.

• On Feb. 21, FFA officers visited Central School and read books aloud to students.

• On Feb. 10, Central held Block Fest in the gym, which had five stations with different sizes and different types of blocks students could build with. Schamberger said about 27 students attended with their parents and had a lot of fun playing. The PE classes and preschool students also enjoyed playing with all the blocks during the week.

• On Feb. 12, Central held a Dental Clinic.

• Valentine’s Day Parties were held on Feb. 14.

• The first of two preschool screenings was held on Feb. 6. The next one will be on April 16.

• The Central School PTC Breakfast is scheduled for March 1. Ticket sales are going on now.

OTHER BUSINESS

• The first reading of the 2020-2021 school calendar was heard. Nichols said the calendar is very similar to this year’s and is closely aligned with Whiteside. 

• The board approved a building project bid from Anderson Lock Company to supply the doors, frames and hardware. 

PERSONNEL

Following closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Stacey Dinges as ELA curriculum coach and Language Arts teacher at Amboy Junior High School, effective at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year.

They approved the employment of Billie Doering as part-time cook at Amboy High School, effective Jan. 27.

The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 at Central School. All meetings are open to the public.