Please see the message from Principal Roche below …

July 31, 2020

Dear Prescott families and friends, 

Saludos!  Greetings! I hope you and yours are healthy and safe!

The pandemic has been extremely challenging on everyone, including children.  My heart goes out especially to our families who have suffered directly from the ravages of the virus as they have lost loved ones such as grandparents. 

 Like you, I’ve had to learn new habits of social distancing and mask-wearing and more frequent hand-washing. This summer, I had to cancel a summer trip to Peru where my son Connor was going to study Spanish in July.  I haven’t been able to hug my 82 year old mom for five months.  You probably, too, had to limit your time with older relatives and friends and limited travel and restaurant treats. It’s been hard. Very hard. 

Silver linings

Since March 17, at Prescott we accepted our pandemic-related limitations and then pivoted to improve what we can.  We realized that some things we can control and some we cannot. We looked for the silver linings in the storm clouds of the virus.    

  1. In the Spring, the teachers and staff learned a lot about Remote Learning and we created the Prescott families Remote Learning Guidance for Fall, 2020 (6.15.20).pdf. Please note: 
    1. What to expect of students in Remote Learning (in addition to in-person learning expectations)
    2. What to expect of teachers and staff
  2. Our EdTech Team, led by edtech expert Nick Giacobbe, assembled best practices for Remote Learning.  In a few weeks, they will share the website they’ve built so you have one entry place to all Remote Learning your child(ren) needs.  Team members include Nessy Moos, Rachel Blundy, Sarah Stefan, Kim Gow, Beth Ammons, and Nick Giacobbe.
  3. Our SEL Team, led by Asst Principal Amanda Malsch, has brainstormed some 25 ways to strengthen our students’ and staffs’ social emotional learning (SEL), including partnership with families.  SEL Team’s mission: To scaffold Prescott students and adults in developing the practices and attitudes to develop and maintain their emotional and social well-being; and vision:  Prescott community members are flourishing and have the capacity to help others flourish. Team members include  Vanessa Acuna, Amanda Kirshner, Andrea Edwards, Meredith Swanson, Tiana Farley, Sara Hainsfurther, Lis Barajas, Beth Ammons, Amanda Malsch, Jenn Moore.
  4. Our Math Team, led by coach-consultant Rebecca Hendrickson, has culminated in a nine-month process to elevate math instruction via a new curriculum.Illustrative MathematicsIt’s highly rated by EdReports: LearnZillion Illustrative Mathematics 6-8 Math (2019).  The Math Team and I see huge benefits in IM getting all our students to have deep math conceptual understanding, math curiosity, and other important math dispositions. Incidentally, IM is fully online for 6-8th grades and on its way for K-5, whereas our former math program Math in Focus is only book-based.  Team members include.Haley Birnbaum, Tina Stewart, Jaycee McCarthy, Sarah Stefan, Colleen Hall, Esther Page, Nicole Tokarski.
  5. The school shifted funds from canceled Spring after-school programs to purchase 130 Ipads for 1st and 2nd graders and  70 additional chromebook to ensure all 3rd-8th graders have access to one.  The school is currently working to purchase Ipads for all Kindergartners.  
  6. In June, about 15 staff and I committed to deepening our SEL skills in a 30-hour SEL course from Mindful Practices.  These skills will help us to connect students with their classmates (social awareness) and with themselves (self-awareness), especially during any kid of online learning.  My classmates and I had to pass a test or write a significant paper to earn the SEL certificate.  Classmates: Rachel Blundy, Diana Orozco, Lisandra Barajas, Dina Rabadi, Talitha Poole, Tiana Farley, MJ Ross, Nicole Tokarski, Dolores Hernandez, Amanda Kirshner, Andrea Edwards, Kim Gow, Laura Bottorff, Angel Padilla, and Haley Birnbaum
  7. The past two weeks, a number of teachers have improved their online reading and writing teaching practices via Chicago Literacy Group Summer Institutes.  The CLG has been a great learning spot for several years, and thanks to Teacher Meredith Swanson for connecting Prescott.  Attendees this year included Meredieth Swanson, Tina Stewart, Amanda Kirshner, Jennifer Phares, Rachel Blundy, Haley Birnbaum, Lis Barajas, Kelly Abolt, and Nick Giacobbe.
  8. Kindergarten Teachers Lis Barajas and Priscilla Lindsey have trailblazed the creation of videos of Kindergarten orientation for families.  Their comprehensive, thoughtful videos can be found at the Prescott Parents’ website link: Kindergarten Virtual Orientation.  Each grade level team is in the process of making short video orientations for families and they will be shared before September 8th.  
  9. Parent leaders Caryn Marcus, Alix Levine, and Amy Malelo have created and hosted Virtual Tours for prospective parents in June and July.  The next one is Tues, August 11 at 9am.  Please RSVP and preview videos.  
  10. Over the next several weeks, about two-thirds of the Prescott staff has accepted the challenge to become Google Certified Educator Level 1.  This means about 15 hours of learning and then taking a serious three-hour test.  We will learn new or strengthen google suite skills that will benefit our students’ online and in-person learning. My classmates include Amanda Malsch, Nessy Moos, Alexandra Sophiea, Vanessa Acuna, Jen Phares, Sara Hainsfurther, Meredith Swanson, Amanda Kirshner, Kristin Cripe, Sarah Stefan, Haley Birnbaum, Cory Schiffern, Maggie Moran, Kelly Abolt, Tiana Farley, Melissa Dippel, Andrea Edwards, Nick Giacobbe, Amy Manata, Dolores Hernandez, Kim Gow, Laura Bottorff, and Diana Orozco.
  11. Longtime partner Alliant Credit Union Foundation recently awarded Prescott about $12,500 in digital tools.  Alliant generously funded Prescott unusual request (typically, they support books for students home libraries) for Zoom subscriptions for all staff, online access to Jr. Great Books, hardware, and more.  Asst Principal Amanda Malsch authored the grant. 

We have learned a lot!  We want to make sure that we are very well prepared for online or in-person student learning this Fall.  As someone said recently, the pandemic has forced schools to accelerate ten years into the future in terms of educational technology (aka, edtech).  At Prescott, we’ve embraced technology as a tool (not a replacement) for excellent teaching and ultimately, high student achievement for all our students. 

District’s plan for re-opening

  1. The district will release a parent survey by Aug 7 for parents to commit to hybrid or Remote Learning only.  Once decided, parents will not be able to change their decision from hybrid to Remote Learning or vice versa; this is to allow for adequate staffing and prevent Covid spreading.  
    1. Once the district shares the results with Prescott School, the school will have to create the class pods according to guidelines, including very complicated Special Education (IEP) plans.  This process may take up to two weeks. 
    2. The school will only be able to use the data provided to schedule students in the hybrid.  We will not be able to accommodate special requests such as specific days of the week.
    3. The district will not allow parents in buildings under any circumstances. 
  2. The district sent the below information on 7/23.  

The CPS has shared publicly its Preliminary Reopening Framework for school reopening in the fall. The district is currently recommending the Hybrid model which includes both in-person and remote learning.Visit the CPS Framework website where you can find the preliminary framework

  1. Complete the District’s Reopening Survey to ensure your voice is heard. The deadline to complete the survey is July 31, 2020.
  2. Attend one of our virtual listening sessions where you can share your thoughts, concerns, and solutions to navigating this upcoming school year. *Please note new dates and time.
  • Wednesday, July 27 at 5:00 PM – Link to Zoom can be found HERE
  • Wednesday, August 5 at 8:30 AM – Link to Zoom can be found HERE

Prescott’s re-opening

We recommit to our Prescott mission and to achieving our corresponding vision whether in-person, hybrid, or Remote Learning.  

The mission of Prescott School is to nurture creative minds and caring hearts that contribute significantly to their communities, through: rich and rigorous academic experiences that are tailored to individual needs, divergent thinking and artistic expression, work in collaborative teams, and supportive partnerships.

Vision Statement

Prescott Magnet Cluster School envisions a caring community of learning that encourages and supports children:

  • to take intellectual risks,
  • to take personal responsibility for decisions,
  • to value others and honor diversity,
  • to critically analyze and interpret information,
  • to find their individual paths to success and to contribute to the greater good,
  • to be stewards of the planet, and
  • to develop their whole person,

so that all students attend college-preparatory high schools on their way to university enrollment and life-long learning.

Once the district has shared with the school the results of the family surveys about Remote Learning v. in-person, the school will be able to make plans the week of Aug 17. By August 31, more details will be forthcoming about teaching and learning at Prescott School.  

Tools for parents

Google Classroom intro for

Google Classroom intro para padres en Espanol

What is Google Classroom? (Movie)

How to ask your teacher a question in Google Classroom (Movie)

How to submit an assignment in Google Classroom (Movie)

Printed Google Classroom directions

Google Meets tutorial (Movie)

The pandemic’s storm clouds are around us and we adults– families and staff– are finding the silver linings for our children.  We are working hard to create culturally-responsive instruction and curriculum and to improve our edtech skills so all our students advance holistically.  From these challenges to improve Prescott and myself, I’ve found new energy and purpose.  I look forward to collaborating with you and our children to meet these challenges.


Erin Roche, EdD, NBCT


Prescott School, 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools winner

In 2019, Chicago Magazine ranked Prescott School #13 of over 600 elementary schools in the city

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