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Dunlap Community Unit School District #323

Fun and Learning at Camp Big Sky

The Middle and High School Life Skills classes have been spending their Thursdays at Camp Big Sky in Farmington, as part of an experiential outdoor education program.  Two education interns employed by Big Sky taught a curriculum covering weather, navigation, horticulture, and fire/outdoor safety.  In between lessons, the students participated in various indoor and outdoor recreational activities.  The students chose between a variety of leisure activities and had to factor in weather and the amount of time they had when making their choices.

We are fortunate to be able to partner with Big Sky to take advantage of this program at no cost to the District.  The mission of Camp Big Sky is to provide accessible fishing, camping, boating and other related outdoor opportunities to children and adults with disabilities.  The passionate volunteers make every experience special, and it is a place where our students are always able to fully participate.

Submitted by:  Amy George


Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Dunlap Schools Win Education Technology Grant

Dunlap Middle School and Dunlap Valley Middle School received an Education Challenge Grant from the Entertainment Software Association Foundation (ESAF) to help more than 350 middle school students strengthen their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills using the popular video game, SimCity.

“Our program will challenge students to work together to create and manage their own unique cities, providing them with the collaborative and technological skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” said Amy Stefanski, a STEM instructor for Dunlap Community Schools. “I am grateful for ESAF’s grant, and know that it will help my students understand the value of STEM skills in their everyday lives.”

Students will work in small groups to design, build, destroy, and eventually rebuild a virtual city through the game, using their STEM skills to develop effective and efficient solutions to any challenges they encounter. The game will be fully integrated into the class, and students will be evaluated based on the number of achievements earned throughout the game.

“Dunlap Community Schools are providing a wonderful opportunity for students to explore their creativity and enhance their STEM skills through entertainment software,” said Jenny Lai, vice president of ESAF. “The valuable work of teachers like Amy Stefanski is changing the way we engage and educate students, and illustrates the educational potential of computer and video games.

Dunlap Community School District is one of three U.S. schools to receive ESAF’s Education Challenge Grant. Jefferson Middle School (Jefferson, WI) and Bronx Compass High School (Bronx, NY) also received an ESAF Education Challenge Grants. The grant helps teachers enhance classroom learning with computer and video games. Now in its third year, the grant program is the result of a partnership between the Federation of American Scientists, the Association for Middle Level Education, and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at the Sesame Workshop. The grant is one of ESAF’s signature efforts to help grow and promote the use of educational video games in the classroom.”

Created by the American entertainment software industry, the ESA Foundation (ESAF) works to make a positive difference in the lives of America’s youth by providing scholarships to the next generation of industry innovators and supporting charitable organizations and schools that leverage entertainment software and technology to create educational opportunities. ESAF is primarily supported by proceeds from its signature annual fundraiser, “Nite to Unite – for Kids” and other charitable initiatives. For more information about ESAF, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @ESA_ Foundation.

Submitted by:  Amy Stefanski


Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Dunlap High School Parent Generosity to Promote Achievement

Mr. Srinivas Jujjavarapu, father of one current and one former Dunlap student, donated $10,000 to Dunlap High School.

Mr. Jujjavarapu chose to have the donation offset the cost of a new student assessment aligned to the ACT. The assessment, ASPIRE, will be administered to all freshman and sophomore high school students. Data gathered from ASPIRE will assist parents and teachers in efforts to prepare juniors for success on the ACT.

The entire Dunlap community thanks Mr. Jujjavarapu for his generosity and commitment to the success of our students.

Submitted by: Tom Welsh

Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Common Core Communicator

Goal 1:  To continuously improve student growth and achievement.

What are the Common Core State Standards?

  • Prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and work
  • Provide educators, parents and students with clear, focused standards or guideposts
  • Set consistent expectations, regardless of a student’s ZIP code
  • Include both knowledge and the application of subject area
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards and standards of top-performing nations
  • Are based on real-world application
  • Are evidence and research-based, with guidance on topics to include, when to introduce content, and provides coherence and focus

What Do the Common Core Standards Look Like in the Classroom?

Common Core standards are a clear set of shared goals and expectations of what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how teachers should teach. Common Core standards are not curriculum. Teachers and schools will continue to devise curriculum, including lesson plans, and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards will continue to make curriculum decisions.

Key Shifts in English/Language Arts (ELA):

  • Regular practice with complex texts and their academic language
  • Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literary and informational
  • Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction

Key Shifts in Mathematics:

  • Focus: Learn more about fewer, key topics
  • Coherence: Build skills within and across grades
  • Rigor: Develop speed and accuracy

What Can Parents Do to Help Their Child?

  • Read a combination of fiction and non-fiction aloud or with your child. Look for subjects that interest your child — from sports heroes to dinosaurs. Select more difficult passages over time.
  • Read more informational texts including newspapers, magazines, technical manuals, science and social studies articles and books
  • Talk with your child and have him or her explain things
  • Encourage writing at home
  • Help your children know/ memorize basic math facts
  • Discuss and “do” real life math with your children. Look for “word problems” in real life.
  • Encourage a good work ethic
  • Let your children see you read and “do” math
  • Discuss with your children their performance in school and what they are learning. Talk about tests with your child and be positive and encouraging.
  • Talk with your child’s teacher(s) about his or her performance in school
  • Talk with your children about the importance of graduating from high school, ready for college and career success

Common Core State Standards Resources:

Submitted by:  Mandy Ellis

Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

School Board Members’ Day

November 15, 2014, has been designated as School Board Members’ Day in Illinois, and Dunlap School District is joining other districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their commitment and contributions to our public schools.

Dunlap Board of Education members voluntarily serve our community to make our public education the best it can be for every child. Their policies and oversight guide the district as tough decisions are made on complex educational and social issues that affect our entire community and the lives of every student.

Each year, the demands become greater for our school board members to help lead our community schools as they prepare students to be productive citizens and the leaders in a  new 21st century global economy.

Dunlap Board of Education members spend many hours talking and listening to community members, teachers, staff, parents, and students to better understand the pulse of the district in which they serve. They research best practices, survey other school districts, talk with local government officials, study the economy, and attend numerous meetings to discuss and make decisions about the intricacies of our school district to the best of their ability.

Front Row Left to Right:  Joe Eberle, Bruce Hay, Amy Fairfield Doering

Back Row Left to Right:  Dawn Bozeman, Paul Park, Jason Hauer, Beth Rhee

We hope you will join us in taking the time to extend a special thank you to the following Board members who give of their time and talents to serve the community of Dunlap School District:  Dawn Bozeman, Joe Eberle, Amy Fairfield Doering, Jason Hauer, Bruce Hay, Paul Park, and Beth Rhee.

Thank you to our Board of Education members!

Submitted by:  Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Dunlap High School Climbs in Chicago Sun-Times Academic Rankings

Goal 1:  To continuously improve student growth and achievement.  Dunlap High School rose eight spots to #16 in the Chicago Sun-Times annual high school academic rankings. Dunlap High School is the only downstate school listed in the Top 20. As a point of reference, Morton High School ranked #43, Normal Community High School #48, and Princeville High School #50.

This achievement is the result of the contributions of many, including: (1) a tremendous teaching staff and excellent support staff, which creates a culture where students thrive both socially and academically; (2) fantastic elementary and middle schools that send students to high school with a strong academic foundation; and (3) wonderful parents who send their students to school prepared to learn with high expectations for achievement.

For more information, click on the link below:

Submitted by: Tom Welsh

Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Hickory Grove Elementary School Named in Chicago Sun-Times “Top 50 Elementary Schools”

Goal 1:  To continuously improve student growth and achievement.  We are very excited to share the news that Hickory Grove Elementary School was named as one of the “Top 50 Elementary Schools” by the Chicago Sun-Times.  Hickory Grove was tied for #48 out of over 2,100 elementary schools in Illinois.  Congratulations to the students, parents, and teachers on this outstanding achievement!

Additional information about this special recognition is available at the following link:

Submitted by:  Jeremy Etnyre


Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Ridgeview Elementary School Begins Its First Student Leadership Team

Goal 1: To continuously improve student growth and achievement. Fifth grade students at Ridgeview Elementary School had the opportunity to apply for a Student Leadership Team. Students who applied were required to meet a number of qualifications including good attendance, outstanding behavior, and consistency in schoolwork. As part of the application process, students also had to describe why they would make a strong leader. Lastly, interested students had to have a strong character reference.

Fourteen students were chosen to be part of the first Ridgeview Student Leadership Team. Student leaders will take on various roles throughout the school including tutor, new student helper, bus buddies, playground friend, lunch helper, reading friend, and much more. The team will also complete a service learning project. The Student Leadership Team is already hard at work helping Mrs. Dando coordinate a donation drive with the Esther House as part of Red Ribbon Week.

Prior to beginning their service in school, selected students had to complete three sessions of leadership training. Students spent time discovering their strengths, building teamwork, and learning what true leadership looks like. Ridgeview looks forward to seeing these students in action!

LA Pic

Submitted by: Jen Dando

Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Dunlap Grade School Teacher Earns Community Award

Dunlap Grade School First Grade Teacher, Jennifer Donavan, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award Young Educator of the Year honor at a banquet at Weaver Ridge Country Club on October 14, 2014. She celebrated this accomplishment alongside several of her DGS colleagues and family members.

As a classroom teacher, Mrs. Donavan has demonstrated a student-first approach, as well as a strong conviction that all students can learn. Continuous improvement of classroom instruction is at the center of Mrs. Donavan’s teaching practices. She has been named a Renaissance Learning Model and Master Classroom for her practices and success with Accelerated Reader. She embeds student ownership and accountability in her classroom through the development of a student-created mission statement and ground rules. She maintains instructional focus by having students create and monitor their goals in individual student data binders and on a classroom data center. Her students participate in student-led conferences and problem-solve using quality tools.

A co-worker of Mrs. Donavan writes:
“It has been my pleasure to have worked beside Jennifer Donavan for three school years while she was at Ridgeview Elementary School. Jennifer excels at being a first grade teacher. Jennifer collaborates positively and professionally with the teachers she works with to plan activities for diverse learners. Jennifer has demonstrated her ability to be flexible and creative when implementing lessons which focused on the new common core and curriculum requirements. Jennifer implements suggestions from prior experience, and she is resourceful in coming up with new additional strategies, projects and ideas, as well. The students always love working with her and she always provides her students with frequent positive statements. Jennifer Donavan demonstrates integrity as she interacts with students, parents and staff members. She builds an excellent rapport with her students. This rapport, in my opinion, is the key to empowering any classroom management plan. She creates a positive, energized atmosphere, and her students feel encouraged and secure. She is a leader in the classroom, school and community. She is always up for starting something new and taking charge and ownership of whatever it may be.”

Congratulations to Mrs. Donavan!

Submitted by: Mandy Ellis

Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent

Dunlap High School Presents: The Little Dog Laughed

Stage 323 presented “The Little Dog Laughed” on Thursday evening, October 9 and Friday evening, October 10. The story depicts a not-so-normal 1950′s family whose daughter practices psychology experiments on her family. Our theatre director, Robin Hunt, welcomed student director, Noah Webber, to collaborate on this classic comedy.

dog laughed

Submitted by:  Tom Welsh
Dr. Lisa Parker, Interim Superintendent