Teacher finds his groove in RPS 205

When Evon Sams performed with the Rockford band Grand Groove Hotel this month, he played five instruments—the alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, a flute and a clarinet. It was nothing compared to synchronizing the needs of 33 students in each of the band classes he teaches at RESA Middle School. On a recent Monday, there were lessons on note values. Reading the treble clef and bass clef. Rests. Practice on a new note (A). In between measures of “Jingle Bells” and “Good King Wenceslas,” there were the requisite interruptions. “This thing is...

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Roosevelt students focused on goals in RPS 205

Skye Nichols wrote a letter of advice to underclassmen that appeared in Roosevelt Community Education Center’s student blog last year. She said she wished someone would have given her a checklist of dos and don’ts in school. Roosevelt Principal Morgan Gallagher must have been listening. His advice for Roosevelt students on the first day of the 2018-19 school year was blunt and unmistakable. “It’s real simple,” he told students gathered in Roosevelt’s auditorium. “You just need to show up and you need to do the work.” If the advice was simple,...

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Chinese cultural exchange builds understanding in RPS 205

The term world-class education took on greater meaning this summer for a group of Rockford Public Schools’ staff and students who traveled to China on a cultural exchange program. Erin Garner, who will be a senior next month at Auburn High School, was part of a group that visited Shiyan High School in China’s Liaoning Province June 28-July 7. Liaoning borders North Korea and the Yellow Sea. Like the other local participants, Garner said the experience challenged her assumptions. “For some reason I had it stuck in my head that because Chinese...

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New Cherry Valley Elementary School taking shape

No doubt Amy Croxford spoke for her colleagues as they toured the new Cherry Valley Elementary School earlier this month. “Not too many people get to start in a new school,”  said Croxford, who will be the Cherry Valley assistant principal after working as a special education administrator for the Rockford Public Schools. Although the school is not finished, it is taking shape. Most surfaces have been painted with vibrant colors like blue Nile, leapfrog, cherry and candied yam. Construction is on schedule for the school opening  at...

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RPS 205 choir teachers scale up to teach life skills

It was the Monday after the spring concert, but Dylan Ladd did not let students in the Creative and Performing Arts program at West Middle School off the hook. Ladd, a first-year teacher, told his Advanced Choir students they would do run-throughs of the songs they performed in the show.   One student protested: “It’s the last two weeks of school!” There were yawns. Gum had to be spit out. Friends had to be separated. Ladd persisted. A more traditional teacher might have resorted to repetitions, each time correcting a section that was...

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RPS 205 Capstone project leads to Promise fulfilled

Capstone projects in the Rockford Public Schools allow students to explore problems and be part of the solution to those problems. Cole Bathje, a senior at East High School, got an even better bargain. By organizing a benefit concert for Rockford Promise, he worked with local musicians he’s long admired.  And his fund-raising resulted in a scholarship being named after him: the Cole Bathje Promise Scholarship. The April 27 benefit concert by Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts was at Veterans Memorial Hall in Rockford. More than 250...

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