From the Principal

June 21, 2019




Dear Ascension School Parents and Guardians,


Happy Summer!  We can only hope that now that it is officially summer the weather will begin to cooperate!  

As we end the 2018 – 2019 school year, it is important to take note of the accomplishments and successes of the year.  It is also a perfect time to update you on some important changes to look forward to for the 2019 – 2020 school year!

2018 – 2019 Ascension School Accomplishments and Successes

Graduating Class of 2019 - Congratulations to the Class of 2019!  Every grade 8 student was accepted to the high school of their choice!

15 attending Fenwick High School

14 attending Oak Park River Forest High School

7 attending Saint Ignatius College Prep

5 attending Trinity High School

2 attending Montini High School

2 attending Nazareth High School

1 attending Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School

Ascension Ursuline Center – The Ursuline Center now provides Ascension School with a space that allows teachers to work collaboratively with students and other staff members with quality resources, guided access to information and instruction in order to support the curriculum, enhance teaching and foster a life-long love of reading and learning in all students.  The Ursuline Center is also a gathering space for the school and parish community. The center has many uses, including meetings, presentations, parent-teacher conferences, etc.

Ascension School Early Childhood Center – The Ascension School Early Childhood program now has PK 3 and PK 4 full day options.  The program also has a new dedicated space where the PK 3, PK 4 and kindergarten students can move, grow and learn.  The remodeled classrooms are in close proximity to each other with a dedicated play area. The new space has allowed the faculty and staff to share resources and collaborate in a manner that provides a high quality early childhood program.

Ascension School English Language Arts Program - Three reading programs have been adopted by Ascension School. PK 3 to grade 3 are using Reading Wonders published by McGraw Hill Education.  Grade 4 and 5 are using ReadyGEN published by Pearson Education.  Junior High grades 6, 7 and 8 are using myPerspectives Literature Series published by Pearson Education.

Learning Behavioral Specialist LBS1 - Mrs. Beth White has filled the position of Learning Behavioral Specialist for Ascension School.  Mrs. White has provided strategies and interventions to faculty and staff to help support students so that all students can be successful learners.  She also works one-on-one or in small groups to meet student needs.

Ascension Professional Learning Communities - The Ascension Early Childhood, Kindergarten - Grade 3, and Intermediate - Junior High teachers have created Professional Learning Communities. The learning communities explored the new reading series, ELA standards, student achievement and areas of needed improvement.  The Professional Learning Communities allow the teachers to collaborate, assess student progress and improve teaching skills.

Ascension School S.T.E.M. Pilot Program – Grade 4 and grade 5 took part in an interdisciplinary approach to learning lead by Ms. Kristen Kerr and Mrs. Kathleen Douglass.  Integrating science, technology, engineering and math, the students were presented with real-world challenges. The students worked in groups to understand and solve the challenges.  The S.T.E.M. projects allowed the students to think critically, problem solve, create solutions and present their findings.

Rush NeuroBehavioral Center Executive Functioning Program - Classroom lessons were presented each month based on the Rush NeuroBehavioral Center Executive Functioning Workshop that was given in September to the Ascension faculty.  The teacher workshop focused on teaching students organizational skills, time management strategies, the ability to assess individual strengths, how to set goals and utilization of study skills to optimize a student’s academic and behavioral successes.  In order for the Ascension faculty to continue to implement the executive functioning lessons in the 2019 – 2020 school year, a group of teachers will work over the summer to outline materials, lessons and goals that will be rolled out at the start of the new 2019 - 2020 school year.

Ascension School Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support - Ascension School began working with the Loyola University of Chicago and the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education during the 2018 – 2019 school year.  The GCCE provided on-site Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) professional development training for the Ascension School faculty and staff.  

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is not a program or curriculum – it is a framework that helps guides schools to use evidence-based practices to encourage positive behavior, improve academic performance and reinforce a positive school culture.

Illinois State Board of Education Evaluation - Ascension faculty and staff prepared for the Illinois State Board of Education State Recognition visit.  The State of Illinois team reviewed the following areas:

Administrative Requirements

Educational Programs


Health and Safety

Ascension School is now FULLY RECOGNIZED by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Ascension School Parent Lecture Series – The Ascension School Parent Lecture Series provided an opportunity for parents/guardians to participate in presentations designed to give insight into a variety of important parenting issues.  

Mona Stepansky, Ph.D.  spoke on the topic of Positive Parenting.  Dr. Stepansky discussed various topics from childhood stages of development to handling difficult childhood behaviors.  Parents learned that positive attitudes and Catholic faith can help make parenting more manageable and joyful!

Mr. John Williams, M. ED, LCPC, presented Navigating Social Media: What Parents Need to Know.  Mr. Williams helped parents/guardians understand how children communicate via social media.

Ms. Eileen Huffman and Mr. Ryan Todd presented Tips and Tricks: Beyond the Wellness Visit.  Ms. Huffman and Mr. Todd covered important information that every parent, coach and teacher should know.  The topics ranged from healthy sleep habits and meditation to conditioning and stretching before a physical activity.  

2019 – 2020 Ascension School Updates

Ascension School Edlio Website - The Ascension School and Parish has picked a new website which will be introduced in July 2019.  The website will make communicating with school parents and guardians simpler and will offer a comprehensive and easy-to-use communication package.  The website will be able to be accessed on smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. Watch for the website launch information in early July!

Ascension School PK 3 to Grade 8 Math Curriculum Review – The Ascension faculty will spend time during the 2019 – 2020 school year reviewing the current Ascension math curriculum and resources.  The faculty will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the math program. The staff will discuss options and resources that would best serve Ascension School so that we are providing a more rigorous and challenging math curriculum!

Ascension School Uniform Vendor Change – In order to provide the very best quality, comfort, style, service and value, Ascension School has changed uniform vendors.  Ascension will now be using School Uniforms by Tommy Hilfinger.  The new vendor will provide the same uniform quality but at a significantly lower cost.  Watch for online School Uniforms by Tommy Hilfiger information and Ascension School discounts.

Ascension Faculty/Staff Changes - Ms. Mara Bowdy, kindergarten to grade 8 Spanish teacher, is leaving Ascension.  Ms. Bowdy will be moving to Michigan to be near her parents and she will begin graduate school.  Ascension is looking for a full-time Spanish teacher to fill Ms. Bowdy’s position. We wish Ms. Bowdy the best.

Mrs. Katie Degnan, kindergarten teacher, is leaving Ascension School due to the lower enrollment in kindergarten.  Best wishes and a special thank you to Mrs. Degnan for taking the kindergarten position when the new kindergarten teacher left to take a public school position at the start of the school year.  Ascension hopes to see Mrs. Degnan back in the classroom again very soon!

Mrs. Kathleen Douglass, 4th grade teacher, is expecting her second child in late August.  Mrs. Douglass has decided to leave her teaching position at Ascension to stay home with her 2 children.  We wish Mrs. Douglass and her family the best.

Mr. Joe Dwyer, junior high math teacher, will be leaving Ascension for a public school position.  Ascension is looking for a junior high math teacher with a middle school math endorsement. We wish Mr. Dwyer the best.

As your family begins to enjoy summer and take time to slow down and relax, please remember to have your children read their Ascension School Summer Reading selections.  Summer reading encourages a love of reading, helps children keep up their reading skills and takes the reader on a literary summer adventure.  Welcome summer!


Maryanne Polega


School Calendar 2019-2020 2019 Summer Reading List Summer Skills Order Form