Townline Makes Connections 

Townline Elementary School is developing leaders through volunteering.

More than 45 students across all grade levels in the kindergarten through grade 5 building selflessly give of their time in a variety of ways. Students become lunch buddies with children who may have difficulty interacting with others on the playground. Teachers use volunteers to read to their classes. Principal Victoria Kiefer engages volunteers in helping younger students unpack their backpacks and hang up their coats at the start of the day. Some students are buddies with special needs children in the school enjoying lunch with them or playing games with them.

“In District 73, the theme this year is Making Connections. When students assist other children or collect products for a local food pantry they are making connections with the community,” Dr. Kieffer said.

There are key “take-aways” that students get from volunteering. A PBSkids.org article outlines these elements well.

  • Selfless: Children think about what they can do to help others.
  • Dependable: Students learn that others depend on them and that they need to follow through with commitments.
  • Enthusiasm: Volunteers are enthusiastic because they are freely giving of their time.
  • Respectful: Volunteers show respect for other people and their lifestyles.
  • Cooperative: Volunteers learn to get along with others and work as part of a team.
  • Understanding: Volunteering helps people see things through other people’s lenses and to better understand what others might be going through.
  • Humble: Volunteers typically don’t brag about what they do, they simply feel good about themselves for making a difference in someone else’s life or organization.

Principal For A Day

Lexi Hellmich sat behind the principal’s desk and wrote the Townline Elementary School announcements. Once the 11-year-old was satisfied with her script she began to recite what she would read.

The Vernon Hills fifth grader was recently chosen to serve as Principal for a Day under the guidance of Townline Principal Victoria Kieffer. As part of her role she read the morning announcements, greeted students entering the building, toured the building, read to students, and evaluated teachers.

Lexi was chosen for the honor after her essay on why making connections was important was chosen by a school team. Three times a year students are chosen from the fifth grade class to serve as Principal for a Day.

“I knew being principal would be really cool. You get to go out to lunch, see the teachers’ lounge and observe classrooms,” Lexi said. Of course with the title came the dire consequences of telling her friends she couldn’t give them a longer lunch period or an extra recess for the day.

The Bernstein Artful Learning Team asked principal nominees in 5th grade to write an essay on the theme of connections. Connections is the significant concept this school year in which students are learning about the importance of making positive connections. Townline follows the Leonard Bernstein Model of Artful Learning, which is to incorporate the arts and the artistic process to increase student engagement and improve academic achievement.  To keep artful learning at the forefront of Townline’s school improvement efforts, students in fifth grade may write an essay and interview for the chance of being Principal for a Day.

“Connections are important. If I didn’t have connections, I’d be lost and lonely,” Lexi said.