Mill Street Elementary Embodies Belonging
Mill Street’s word of the year is “Braving!” With this in mind, Mill Street is working to embody the actions listed within the definition of that verb to ensure students are successfully developing to their greatest potential. It is an exciting time to be a Mill Street Mustang!
Mill Street is a designated Title 1 school serving approximately 645 children each day, each of whom come with diverse needs, backgrounds, skill sets and perspectives. It is also a dual language site and the home of one of the District’s two Structured Learning Programs.
Mill Street celebrates its great diversity as well as its Exemplary status for a second year as determined by the Illinois State Board of Education. This past year, Mill Street was also recognized as being among the top 5 performing schools in DuPage County as determined by the Chicago Magazine survey of Best Schools in Illinois. Also three staff members, Jessica Golz, Heidi Nelson and Beth Simpkin, were chosen as members of Naperville 203’s all Star Team in the categories of teacher of the year, young educator of the year and support staff member of the year, representing the District at the Illinois state-level Those Who Excel awards.
Mill Street’s designation as a Title 1 school offers up unique programming opportunities for students to extend and develop their social emotional and critical thinking skills.
- This fall Mill Street participated in its first season of Girls on the Run. 36 girls met twice a week in small teams, working with staff trained in the program, to engage in physical activity and interact with a curriculum focused on understanding themselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and recognizing their impact on the world.
- Mill Street’s First Lego League targeted 4th and 5th grade students within gap populations and those in the gifted and talented programs. The program provides opportunities for students to work on core values, conduct research, and compete with others in completing challenges that require coding and problem solving skills.
- The Mill Street after-school program targets 2nd and 3rd grade students who are on the cusps of meeting English Language Arts standards - working on curriculum specifically designed by reading specialists to address comprehension and fluency gaps.
The School Improvement Plan continues to drive professional learning and building initiatives and is the lens through which all decisions are filtered. Mill Street has three goal areas that represent improved achievement in ELA, Math and Social Emotional Learning. Students met both the ELA and Math goals of 68% Meets and Exceeds in 2019. The 2021 benchmarks for success represent an increase of 4 percentage points towards overall achievement, moving Mill from 56% meet and exceeds in both content areas three years ago, to 72% by the end of next year.
School administration is proud of the performance of student groups over the past three years- As an identified gap school, Mill Street has worked to increase growth and achievement for all students, but has paid particular attention to improvement for Latinx, Black/ African American, Economically Disadvantaged, Children with Disabilities and English Learner student groups.
The SEL measure of success includes 5Essential Survey data which also showed great improvement from years past - moving Mill Street from the status of moderately organized for improvement in 2017, to well organized for improvement in 2019. The school will continue to utilize this measure along with students SEL report card data to gauge success for this goal area moving forward.
Many factors have contributed to the school’s success, including having the right people doing the right work - Mill Street was provided additional staffing by the Board of Education three years ago to support efforts in closing achievement gaps. That support has been instrumental in this success and has allowed Mill Street to sustain and increase gains over time.
Other key factors include;
- Using staff efficiently and effectively by applying an ALL IN or collective efficacy model in meeting the needs of students.
- Specific and rigorous professional learning Community (PLC) process focused on ensuring all students master essential standards.
- Continual focus on social emotional learning and responses to students in crises.
- Commitment to ongoing professional learning tied to the three School Improvement Plan goals.
- Partnerships with community and outside agencies to bring innovative learning opportunities and support to students.
Looking ahead, Mill Street has exciting plans for expanding student learning including a new initiative called Mill Street Grows. The school has partnered with Mill Street’s Home and School to bring three unique outdoor learning spaces to life this spring and next fall. These spaces include an outdoor classroom, an outdoor sensory space and outdoor garden area. Research indicates children’s wellbeing increases after spending time connecting with nature and that they gain educational benefits as well as social benefits by doing so. The purpose in bringing these three spaces to Mill Street is to create unique environments where children can learn outside classroom walls, decompress, reflect, play and connect with the natural environment as a means of supporting the whole child.
A copy of the Mill Street School Improvement Presenation to the Board of Education, can be found here.