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    Greetings Homestead Families,

    I hope everyone had a relaxing, fun summer.  It is hard to believe that the beginning of the school year is upon us!  I am very excited for my fifth year as Principal at Homestead.  I am amazed by this supportive community, dedicated teachers and academic successes from our Husky students.  This year is going to be a great one!

     We are coming off a year and a half in education that we have never seen before.  Since March of 2020, some of our students were remote and in-person, while other students have been remote the entire time.  Our staff is prepared to support all of our students’ academic and social/emotional needs coming back to school in August.  Although we are coming back full days, five days a week, there will be still safety measures in place as we follow the joint guidance of the CDC and the IDPH.  At present time, the safety measures are being revisited with the new guidelines being reviewed by our district administration.  I would strongly encourage your family to review the safety measures, when you receive them, so you are all well-informed of our day-to-day operations.  If there are pieces of it that are unclear to you or you need to know how this impacts your child(ren) at Homestead, please reach out to me.  As we saw from last year, guidelines will change based off of new data that has emerged.  As guidelines change, the district will update the community.  Thank you in advance for your patience as we continue to navigate through these changing times.

     Our theme for the 2021-2022 school year is “Better Together”.  We are better together when we respect each other, support one another, learn from one another, apologize and forgive each other, work as a team, encourage one another, embrace challenges together, and, finally, celebrate each other’s successes.  Throughout the year, we will focus on the previous mentioned themes using picture books and classroom activities.  This year will be an amazing year, because we will have each other, and we are better together!

     We are also going to provide more time in each school day to social/emotional learning.  Each day, students may participate in morning/afternoon meetings that build community in the classroom, take part in mindfulness activities and be emerged in Second Step lessons, our social/emotional curriculum.  We believe that when our students are emotionally and socially regulated, they are more focused and ready to learn!  We will also continue our school initiative of embedding the AVID philosophy in our day-to-day routines and instruction.  AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other postsecondary opportunities.  AVID is a philosophy, not a program, which develops a sense of hope for personal achievement gained through hard work and determination. 

     We have a lot of new staff at Homestead this year!  We welcome Mrs. Parveen Chowdhury (Special Education Substitute), Ms. Sarah Fisher (Special Education Program Administrator), Ms. Sheri Hartman-Coffey (STARS Teacher), Ms. Jackie Leeseberg (Occupational Therapist), Mrs. Debra Long (Recess/Lunch Supervisor), Mrs. Melissa Peterson (Dedicated Building Substitute Teacher), Mrs. Lyndsey Ramey (School Social Worker), Ms. Gagan Preet Sandhu (Special Education Teacher Assistant), Mrs. Abarna Thirumeni (Special Education Teacher Assistant), Dr. Tracy Zalud (Gifted Education Math Teacher).  We welcome back Mrs. Julie Cumblad, in her new role as a Interventionist.  Mrs. Cumblad will be working to support our K-2 students.  I am proud to call of them Homestead Huskies!

     Look forward to The Husky Herald, our parent newsletter that will come to you weekly via email starting on Friday, August 20.  I am looking forward to a successful year!

     Mr. Casey O’Connell, Homestead Principal