Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Those Who Excel Winner: Cassandra Fenton

Last week, we listed the individuals and teams receiving Those Who Excel awards from the Illinois State Board of Education this fall. Today we take a brief look at mathematics teacher Cassandra Fenton, who has earned the Outstanding honor in the Early Career Educator category.

Cassandra Fenton

“Teaching is not my job; it is my vocation,” says Cassandra Fenton, who developed a passion for teaching while participating in mission trips to the inner cities of Chicago, Toronto and New Orleans while in high school. “Over time, I realized I loved working with adolescents and helping them believe they were capable of anything they set their mind to.”

Fenton has taught at Stevenson since graduating Magna cum Laude from Loyola University in 2009. In her second year at SHS, she was assigned to teach Algebra 2 to juniors and seniors receiving Special Education services. The experience transformed her.

“I realized how little I knew about the disabilities existing in my classroom, and the instructional strategies needed to teach my unique learners,” she said. The desire that all of her students should be successful led Fenton to enroll in a two-year master’s degree program in differentiated instruction, along with other professional development opportunities to better understand the needs of her students.

Fenton’s learning has had a ripple effect, impacting teachers in the Mathematics and Special Education divisions.

“Cassie will quickly tell you that she has learned so much about students with special needs, how they learn, how to teach them, how to support them emotionally and academically,” said Assistant Principal of Teaching and Learning Dr. Gwen Zimmermann. “At the same time, Cassie has taught her Special Education colleagues that learning mathematics is so much more than algorithms and memorizing formulas, and more importantly, Cassie has taught her Special Education and Mathematics colleagues that the students in her class are more than capable of learning at a high level.”

Caroline Gehrke, one of Fenton’s students last year, called her “one of the most caring, respectful, and understanding people I have ever met.” Gehrke said a positive tone was set on the first day of school, when Fenton asked everyone in her class to write down what they needed from her because she wanted them to feel safe when they walked in every day.

“My fourth period math class became a family to me,” Gehrke said in a letter nominating Fenton for the Those Who Excel award. “It was a place where everyone got along and felt comfortable with each other. I didn’t fear having the wrong answer because I knew that that class wouldn’t criticize me. I not only feel safe when I am struggling in class, but also when sharing what my challenges are outside school.”

Whether it’s offering to bring in Starbucks to entice a struggling student to come before school to get help, or bringing colleagues together from the Mathematics and Special Education divisions, Fenton is relentless in her pursuit of excellence. She also has been a passionate advocate for moving away from traditional letter grades and embracing evidence-based reporting, a system that more accurately reflects student learning and growth.

“Some people may argue that not everyone has the ability to succeed in an educational setting,” Fenton says. “In traditional settings this might be true; however education today should be differentiated to meet each student’s individual needs. From my experiences I have found that every student can learn; it is the responsibility of the teachers, support staff, student and parents to collaborate and to discover how.”

Communication Arts Director Seeks to Spark Love of Reading

For many Stevenson faculty and staff, the desire to help students learn and achieve extends beyond campus. One person making a difference is Director of Communication Arts Doug Lillydahl, who is the program coordinator for Raising a Reader Lake County, an affiliate branch of the nationally recognized early childhood literacy program.

Raising a Reader Lake County (RARLC) provides low-income families with high quality children’s literature through a bi-weekly book bag exchange program. Bicultural, bilingual books reflecting families home language and culture are an integral part of the research- proven program that links families to public libraries. The Fremont Library in Mundelein is providing funding for RARLC over the next two years. Lillydahl talked with the Daily Herald about the new program in June.

“We know that supporting a love of reading is quite possibly the most important way to provide children with the tools to close achievement gaps and grasp their best possible future,” Lillydahl says. “We are grateful to Fremont Library for making this new initiative possible.”

Raising a Reader staff also trains parents and caregivers how to engage children in reading through reading aloud, how to talk about books, and how to make reading a daily habit. Children from low income families often arrive at school without the extensive exposure to books and hundreds of hours of vocabulary development that more advantaged students enjoy.

Earlier this month, 50 bilingual preschool students at Carl Sandburg School in Mundelein participated in a book bag distribution coordinated by Raising a Reader Lake County. The students received bright red book bags filled with four high-quality, learn-­to-read childrens’ books, a parent education DVD available in 14 languages, and an invitation to a parent information night that will take place tonight.

RARLC is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RaisingAReaderLC.


Click here to see today’s athletic schedule

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Monday’s Varsity Results

Girls Tennis

Stevenson 7, Lake Zurich 0: The visiting Patriots (13-0) continued to roll, sweeping every match and losing only three games on the day. In doubles, Kaylin Dong and Zoe Taylor were 6-0, 6-0 winners at No. 1 doubles. The same score was posted by No. 2 Vinaya Rao and Katherine Harvey and No. 3 Gwendolyn Heidkamp and Michelle Tulchinskaya. Caroline Kelmis and Lindsey Waxman earned a 6-1, 6-0 decision at No. 4 doubles. In singles, No. 1 Kendall Kirsch shut out her opponent, 6-0, 6-0. Also posting victories were No. 2 Zoe Manion, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 3 Bronwyn Heidkamp, 6-1, 6-0.

Boys Golf

Lake Zurich 154, Stevenson 156: At Lake Barrington Shores Country Club, Jason Gohde, Luke Feder, Will Sebastian and Jake Labow each had a 39, two strokes shy of the medalist. – Daily Herald

Football Team Remains No. 1 in Class 8A

Stevenson’s football team continues as the top-ranked team in Illinois Class 8A this week following Friday’s 34-17 win over Lake Forest. The 4-0 Patriots are atop the Associated Press rankings — the only statewide poll — as well as those of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. SHS plays at Lakes Friday night.

Weisman on Verge of Milestone for Iowa Football

Mark Weisman (Class of 2010) ran for 88 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner, as the University of Iowa football team rallied past Pittsburgh, 24-20, on Saturday. With 20 career rushing TDs and 1,974 career rushing yards, Weisman is on the verge of becoming only the seventh Hawkeye to surpass 2,000 rushing yards and 20 or more rushing touchdowns.

D’Angelo Leading Scorer for Augustana Soccer

Anthony D’Angelo (Class of 2012), a junior on Augustana College’s men’s soccer team, scored two goals during the Vikings’ 4-0 win over Westminster in their home opener on Sunday. D’Angelo leads Augustana with three goals on the season.


Looking for Freshmen and Sophomores Who Love to Write

Are you a freshman or sophomore who loves to write? Do you want to get acknowledged for the poetry, essays, plays, or stories you write outside of school? The Half- Wit, Stevenson’s literary magazine, is now accepting submissions. Send your work to jbarnabee@d125.org through November 7.

PPA Bake Sale Wednesday

Don’t miss the PPA Bake Sale Wednesday afternoon in the Wood and Glass Commons!  Pies, donuts, Puppy Chow and more. All items are $1.

Political Candidates Forum Tonight

If you’re interested in the upcoming election, come to the Performing Arts Center tonight for a forum featuring several candidates running for office. If you’re interested in being a campaign volunteer, come at 6 p.m. for the Student Campaign Fair. At 6:30, several candidates will be here to answer questions from members of the Political Action Club.


Open Field Baseball meets today, weather permitting, on the sophomore baseball field from 3:45 to 6. Click here for details.

Intramural Archery meets Wednesdays after school on the Sports Courts.


Have you ever hiked up a live volcano? Have you ever swum with sea turtles or been awakened by howler monkeys in the forest? Well, here’s your chance! The Stevenson Science Division is sponsoring another trip to beautiful Costa Rica next summer. For nine days in June, you will have the chance to conduct real scientific research while exploring the Costa Rican wilderness. There will be an informational meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Room 7096 for all interested students and their parents. Questions? Contact Mr. Carlson in the East Science Office (Room 8080).

The Stevenson Science Division is sponsoring a summer geology tour of Yellowstone, one of the United States’ two super-volcanoes and the Grand Tetons next summer. For 10 days in July, you will discover the formation of the Snake River Canyon, explore cinder cones and geysers, swim in pristine waters, and hike to the top of a mountain. Students gain a geology science credit while learning about the stunning features of the Western United States. There will be an informational meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Room 7096 for all interested students and their parents. Questions? Contact Mr. Carmichael in Room 1618 or Mrs. Knauf in Room 8080.


Juniors and seniors: The following colleges will be visiting Stevenson: Rutgers University, Boston College, University of Miami, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of British Columbia, University of Cincinnati, University of Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University, Stephens College, College of Wooster, Washington College, Kenyon College, San Diego State University, Sarah Lawrence College, Millikin University, Tulane University, Scripps College, Georgetown University, Bradley University, Illinois State University, Cornell College, University of Detroit-Mercy, Kansas State University, Central Michigan University, Johnson and Wales University, Lake Forest College, University of Oregon, Pomona College, Illinois Wesleyan University, University of Massachusetts, Belmont Abbey College, University of Maine-Farmington, Suffolk University, Montana State University, Iowa State University, University of Pittsburgh, George Mason University, University of Richmond and Southern Illinois University.

A complete list of rep visits can be found on our Naviance site and is updated twice per week; students should get in the habit of checking Naviance and then arranging to secure a pass to visit with these reps. Procedures to sign-up: 1) Find the list of upcoming college visits on your Naviance page. 2) Sign-up for the specific college on Naviance. 3) Print the sign-up confirmation page. 4) Put your ID number on the page. 5) Have the page signed by your classroom teacher at least two days prior to the visit and bring it to the College/Career Center on the day of the visit. 6) Bring the signed page to the CCC on the day of the college visit. If the college visit occurs during your lunch or free hour, follow the same procedure, but no signature is necessary on the confirmation page.

Applying to the University of Notre Dame? If so, the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program applications are available in the College/Career Center. Applicants should demonstrate a high degree of leadership, academic accomplishment, exemplary moral character and sincere commitment to service. Stevenson can nominate one student.  New this year: A student applying Early Action to ND may not apply to any other college/university in their binding Early Decision process. Come to the College/Career Center to obtain an application. Our internal deadline is Friday.

Seniors: The University of Virginia’s Jefferson Scholars application is available in the College/Career Center. Stevenson can nominate one student. Previous winners ranked in the top 3-5%, had ACT scores of 31+, and had a strong leadership record. Completed forms are due back to the College/Career Center by November 7.

The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship is now available. Stevenson can only nominate one senior. Stop by the College/Career Center (Room 1123) to pick up the nomination form. The form is due back to the CCC by November 22.


Need some extra cash? There are lots of part-time jobs available for students. View them all on the Career Exploration webpage at www.d125.org/careerexploration.

Interested in a healthcare career? Apply for the Northwestern Medical Explorers Program. Applications must be postmarked by October 15.  Find out more at http://community.nm.org/medical-explorers.html or message Mrs. Willock at dwillock@d125.org.

Available lab technician internship available at local company. 10-20 hours per week. Please stop into the CCC to see Mrs. Willock if you are interested in this opportunity.

Now accepting career shadow applications for 2014-15: Career shadows are available to students throughout the year. If you are interested in learning first hand about a specific career, please email Mrs. Willock at dwillock@d125.org to set up an appointment.

Mark your calendars! The biennial Career Fair is coming to Stevenson on November 5 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Get a chance to talk to professionals representing a variety of different careers in healthcare, engineering, technology, law, business, the arts and more!


The Speech and Drama Team meets at 3:45 today and Wednesday in the East ILC. Come and participate in one or more of 14 different events that span from humorous to dramatic acting, from prose and poetry to original speech writing, from impromptu and political speeches to radio broadcasts. New members, both experienced and inexperienced, are always welcome! Be a part of a friendly team where you’ll have fun and learn life-long, valuable communication skills!

Have you, your family or your friends been touched by cancer? Want to be part of the fight against cancer? Join the Relay for Life Club and be part of an incredible team that helps to plan the American Cancer Society event in June. There will be an informational meeting and Event Leadership Team sign-ups during lunch hours today in Student Activities.

Guitar Club will be holding an introductory meeting after school today in the Orchestra Room. Guitar Club is primarily a casual, drop-in group in which students practice and jam. You can either bring your own guitars or use one of the classical acoustic guitars or basses available through the music department. Complete beginners and advanced players are welcome as well as singers and songwriters.

Freshman Class Board: We are meeting Wednesday after school in Room 2119. We will be building our Stevenson Horror Story entranceway and window designs. Class Board is a terrific way to make new friends, have fun, and earn community service hours. New members are always welcome!


Waukegan teachers authorize October 2 strike date

Northern Illinois University begins $27M arts building renovation

Online list accuses dozens of U. of Chicago students of sexual assault

Richmond District 157, teachers union reach agreement on five-year contract

Zion-Benton school board president resigns; no reason given

UI students, faculty air opinions on Salaita case to chancellor

New parent group’s Chicago school fair raising questions

Strange campus encounters prompt DePaul safety alerts

Cary District 26 will end school 30 minutes later beginning in January

Geneva schools get security upgrades

Arlington Heights District 25 plans meetings to discuss overcrowding

Galesburg District 205 calendar fight continues

Changes to Glencoe lunch program anger some parents

Indian Prairie District 204 commits to providing air conditioning to all schools


Record number of public school students nationwide are homeless

Complaints over pay, APUSH lead to absences, cancellation of classes in Colorado

“Nobel Prize of education reform” struggles to find winners

Overcrowding has schools in Atlanta, Washington going vertical

Fraternities at Wesleyan University ordered to become coed

Experts: Science class can dazzle with less danger


The Daily Digest is compiled and edited by Jim Conrey. To subscribe or unsubscribe, contact him at jconrey@d125.org.

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