Volunteers empower RPS 205 students through reading

Connie Spoden and her I READ student, Jamarian Phinnessee, have a banter that makes their tutoring session seem like a visit from a fun aunt. But that doesn’t mean it’s just fun. Disguising the work of skill-building speaks to a talent Spoden developed over 32 years as a teacher in the Rockford Public Schools. Now retired, Spoden volunteers for I READ, a partnership between the United Way of Rock River Valley and the Literacy Council. Volunteers tutor as many as two students each week during the school day and are encouraged to remain with...

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Poetry builds skills, self-confidence in RPS 205

Poetry helps Haifa Ali organize her thoughts and form opinions. The Jefferson High School senior tried prose but found she connected with poetry. “I’ve been writing poetry so long,” Ali said. “It really helps me say what I want to say. Other than that, I am really quiet. Writing it down helps.” Poetry’s payoff is not just personal. Reciting poetry in particular helps students read for comprehension and adapt their speech to a different context or task, according to Carrie Mueller, dean of Secondary Language Arts and World Languages for the...

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RPS 205 teachers’ gift: transforming lives

Many Rockford Public Schools teachers will begin 2018 with new candles, holiday ornaments and “Best Teacher” coffee mugs. These gifts are appreciated. But most teachers will tell you the best rewards are intangible: knowing you could change a child’s life. Here’s a look back at a few of those transformative moments in 2017: –Jasmine Chavez-Espinoza was among 11 students who received an Education Pathway scholarship in RPS 205. A first-generation college student and aspiring art teacher, she is studying at Rockford University this year....

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Guilford student’s ‘strange’ essay appeals to Yale

The reason why some students get into Ivy League schools and others don’t is often a mystery.  The grades, the extracurriculars, the excellent test scores—Guilford High School senior Conrad Cuevas had them all. He thinks his application to Yale stood out for one thing. “They don’t just want students, they want people,” Cuevas said. So he steered his Yale essay away from academics and toward the places he finds inspiration. He wrote about the things he can get lost in doing, like playing guitar and baseball. Cuevas called his essay “very...

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Program matches health professionals with RPS 205 freshmen

On paper, Aubrey Graham and Evelyn Kingsavanh don’t appear to have much in common. One is a second-year medical student who is familiar with high-stakes testing; the other is a high school freshman who hasn’t taken a semester exam yet. It didn’t take long, however, before the two were comparing notes about how they were alike: Both were into English, theater and musicals; both played more than one sport in school and both were motivated to get good grades. The two are among 70 pairings of Jefferson High School freshmen with medical, pharmacy...

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Peer reviews offer perspective for RPS 205 schools

Ten times a year in the Rockford Public Schools, a group of educators visits another school for two days. The Quality Peer Review is a chance to step back, exit the whirlwind and get energy and ideas to take back to their own school. The QPR can offer the same benefits to the school being visited. For that school, it’s a rare chance to get feedback and perspective on the systems and processes that are so automatic, they go unnoticed. Susan Fumo, Executive Director of School Improvement at RPS 205, says the best description of a QPR she’s...

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