Dear Kerkstra Parents,
G. Kerkstra School has a proud tradition of educational excellence and as we transitioned into an elementary school in 2004 we were able to maintain that rich history. Our curriculum reflects high standards and careful planning. In addition, we offer a wide array of inclusive activities that allow our students to shine in their own particular way. The entire faculty and staff of Kerkstra Elementary School is dedicated to the vision and mission of the school. In fact, we wrote each word together. They recognize the significance a teacher has in a child's life. They strive to reach each student and give him or her the social, emotional and educational foundation that will support them throughout their academic career. They care about them and show it through dedication and kindness. They are the soul of our school and I am honored to work with them.
We are proud of our accomplishments and have solid parent feedback, ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) and MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) scores as evidence of our success. We are committed to working with you as parents and community members to establish a strong neighborhood school where children are academically challenged in a respectful and supportive environment.
I would like to thank you for your assistance with the implementation of our school wide take home reading initiative and summer reading challenge. A couple of years ago, I attended a Literacy Leadership Conference and the presenter shared a slide with us that was titled, "The Reality of Independent Reading". Students who read 14.2 minutes per day (outside of school) scored higher than 80% of their peers! (Anderson, Wilson & Fielding 1988. Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23 pp, 285-303).
Along those same lines, the National Academy of Education and the National Institute of Education created a Commission on Reading in 1983 to separate the nuts from the bolts and determine what works from what doesn't. In 1985 they issued their report, based on their two-year study of two decades worth of research and practice, entitled - Becoming a Nation of Readers. Among its primary findings, "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children." How great is that! It is such a pleasure for us and good for them too! Listening and reading levels do not even out until around eighth grade so kids are capable of understanding great stories well above their own reading level. It really whets the appetite for what great literature is out there and stimulates their desire to be a strong reader!
I feel blessed to be involved in the process of your child's education. I believe that we have set a standard for individualizing education and appreciating the whole child and Kerkstra Elementary School has grown along with your children. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to see your children at their best, most brilliant moments. Some of my fondest memories are of the things I observed taking place when no one realized I was there. In the principal's office, I listen to silly, insightful and sometimes tearful stories. Clearly Kerkstra is a great place to learn!
Please don't hesitate to touch base with your child's teacher at any time. In addition, I am always available and am committed to ensuring that we are able to maintain high standards and positive results.
Dr. Lori J. Leppert