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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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Students lead tours of RPS 205 schools

During a student-led tour of Eisenhower Middle School, eighth grader Za Nia Harris was equally as comfortable talking about what’s good in the cafeteria (cream of turkey and spicy chicken sandwich), as talking about goal-setting, a school strength. Za Nia was certainly eager, but she was careful not to monopolize the tour. She would often turn to the quieter sixth grader Jasmine Vanegas and allow Jasmine to lead part of the tour or answer a question. Za Nia and Jasmine are among 39 student ambassadors who led tours for employees in six...

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RPS 205 teacher shifts mindset to help students

Growth mindset changed Mickey Ryall’s teaching. The first grade teacher at the STEAM Academy at Haskell read Carol Dweck’s book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” which explains how students’ perception of their own abilities affects their learning. Mistakes are not just opportunities to learn, Dweck suggests, but are vital to the learning process. In a growth mindset, students believe their potential is not fixed but can be increased through hard work and new strategies. To Ryall, that unlocked a “flexibility to think” that was key...

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Physics tests RPS 205 student’s mettle, but his novel earns gold

Quantum physics is Nam Pham’s true passion, but a detective novel he wrote has earned distinction in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The eighth grader at the Gifted Academy at Thurgood Marshall School earned a Gold Key for “Luminol,” a novel illustrating humanity’s ignorance of the universe and its mysteries. The story’s main character works at a biotechnology company. The plot is filled with forensic science, secret code, origami and Nam’s favorite subject, theoretical physics.    In the acknowledgements at the end of...

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