Four of your favorite Waters teachers will be modeling the latest styles from Genevieve Thursday night at our Virtual Fashion Show. Check out favorites modeled by Ms. Walsh, Mrs. Frieswyk, Mrs. Ramos, and Mrs. Novak starting at 7 p.m! Twenty percent of sales at Genevieve now through Sunday will be donated back to WatersToday when Waters is mentioned at checkout or promo code WATERS is used online.
Today is a great day to get a jump on holiday shopping at the Waters Maker Fair! Check out Gerri Whitley Photography for amazing holiday cards or buy one-of-a-kind gifts from shops owned by Waters parents, grandparents, and friends, including Mike Sebanc, Folk That, Scott Ray Designs, and Heather Clara. 10% of all purchases goes back to WatersToday!
This week we talked to Brandon Orlov, a 5th grade teacher who’s been an educator for 12 years, 11 of them spent at Waters. He’s taught Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and middle school writing, and as of this summer he can add one more thing to his resume: proud new dad to baby Chase. (Congrats!)
Waters Today: Let’s start with that adorable kid—what’s the best thing about being a dad?
Mr. Orlov: The love that I feel for my son and my family. It really is indescribable, the love you feel for your child.
It must be so strange to have an infant during the pandemic. When it’s over, what's the first thing you'll do that you can't really do right now?
I will let my Chase meet all the people he hasn't been able to yet and get together with family and friends.
Hopefully it will be relatively soon! Where did you grow up?
I was born in Tucson, Arizona—that is where my love of all things University of Arizona started. We moved here when I was 2 for my dad's job with Medline. I grew up in Buffalo Grove, which is a northwestern suburb of Chicago. I would say that my middle school experience was similar to our Waters kiddos. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, playing sports, and definitely went through all the drama of those years. Being Jewish in a heavily populated Jewish community was awesome because my 7th grade year was filled with Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
Actually, the dream was always to do something in sports. Unfortunately, I did not become the next Michael Jordan.
Besides dominating the NBA, what else is on your bucket list?
I would say traveling to other countries is at the top.
So if you had the opportunity to take an all-expenses-paid year-long break from reality anywhere in the world (with your family!) where would you go and why?
I would choose Tucson so I can go to all the U of A sporting events and enjoy the 300 days of sunshine.
You weren’t joking about the Arizona obsession! What else would your students be surprised to know about you?
I think the students would be surprised that I have broken 10 bones in my life.
Ouch. Let’s end on a random note: What's one song that you'll always remember the words to?
Mr. Brightside by The Killers
Thanks Mr. Orlov!
It was great to see so many happy faces at our Virtual Story Hour tonight! Thank you so much to our amazing teacher readers, Mrs. Ramos, Mr. Leatherwood, and Ms. Murat. Buy their favorites and more at The Book Cellar tomorrow (Tuesday, 11/17) and 10% of all sales go back to Waters. The Book Cellar is currently closed for in-person shopping, so order online and write Waters Pledge Drive in the comments section when you checkout.
Mrs. Ramos read After the Fall by Dan Santat
Mr. Leatherwood read The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg
Mr. Murat read from Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (the sequel just came out too!)
There are some awesome weekend shopping events starting today! Visit these retailers and a portion of your purchase goes to WatersToday. Don't forget to mention Waters. And donate to the Pledge Drive by today at 5:30 p.m. and be entered to win a SoloStove!
The Pledge Drive begins today! Donate by Friday at 5:30 p.m. to be entered to win a Solo Stove!
We also have in-person shopping events taking place this weekend and a virtual Maker Fair on line. Hope to see you in the neighborhood!
We're kicking off the Pledge Drive this week with a very special Teacher Feature. It's PRINCIPAL TIME!!! This week, we got to talk to the one and only Ms. Titia Kipp. She's been at Waters for 26 years—first as an art teacher, then as an assistant principal, and finally as our principal, a role she's held for the last 14 years. In a super fun twist, we switched things up and had the students ask the questions. Without further ado...
Did you think you’d be a principal when you grew up?—Lily 2nd grade
No I did not, I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Can you do a cartwheel?—Leila-2nd grade
Cubs or Sox?—Henry, 1st grade.
Would you believe where I grew up, we didn't have a baseball team! The teams closest to my home were Montreal Expos (they no longer exist) and Boston Red Sox. When I moved to Chicago, I became a Cubs fan!
Where are you from originally?—Lucy, 5th grade.
I was born in New York but grew up in Vermont.
When you go on vacation, would you rather sleep in a tent or in a hotel?—Anonymous, 5th grade
Tent! I love the outdoors and camping can be very peaceful.
Did you play a sport when you were little?—Freddy, 3rd grade.
Yes, I played basketball in High School.
What’s your favorite food?—Vaughn, K.
Do you think Waters is haunted?—Anonymous, 8th grade.
I have heard that it is but I have never experienced it.
What’s it like to be a principal?—Quinn, K
It's Awesome! Every day is different and I love it!
Do you like indoors or outdoors better?—Anonymous, 4th grade.
I love the outdoors!
What is your favorite sport?—Veronica, K.
This is a hard one, I don't think I have a favorite, I enjoy learning about all sports.
Do you have any pets?—Abigail, 2nd grade.
Yes, I have a terrier named Bella
Have you ever broken any bones?—Anonymous, 5th grade.
Yes, I broke a metatarsal.
What is your favorite kind of cereal?--Callianne, 5th grade.
If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?—Anonymous, 1st grade.
Horse- because they are strong and graceful.
If you could live anywhere in the world besides Chicago, where would it be?—Reeve, 3rd grade
I love to explore new places in the world and I am still exploring. I don't know yet, but I'm pretty sure it would be in a warmer climate.
Do you live at school?—Lela, 3rd grade
Sometimes I feel like it! But no, I have a home.
Are you afraid of heights?—Loretta, 4th grade.
What was your favorite subject in school?—Anonymous, 6th grade.
Geography, because I got to learn about the world.
What is something embarrassing that happened to you when you were young?—Micah, 7th grade.
I got called on in class to answer a question and I didn't know the answer.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?—Anonymous, 4th grade.
Pralines and Cream
If you could trade places with any teacher, who would you choose and why?—Anonymous, 8th grade.
I used to teach art so I would have to say Mrs. Vecchioni.
What’s your favorite season?—Sydney, 3rd grade. Summer
Who did you want to win the world series?—Calvin, 3rd grade.
No one, because the Cubs weren't in it!
What is something really surprising about you?—Anonymous, 7th grade.
I used to milk cows on a dairy farm.
So much fun! Thank you so much, Ms. Kipp!
WatersToday will be launching a holiday giveback with Minted.com this year! Shoppers will get 20% off all holiday card and gift orders now through December and Minted will donate 15% of each order back to WatersToday with promo code FUNDRAISEWATERS.
Attention Waters community! Planning for Big Night 2020, everyone's favorite fundraising event, is already underway! We are looking for a few volunteers. Do you know someone in the spirits or beer/wine industry? Are you in a band (or do you know someone who is)? Want to lend your video production expertise? We need you! Reach out to Jennifer Davidson for more information and to get involved. There are plenty of other ways lend a hand if you are interested. This year's event will be like no other!
WatersToday is kicking off the fundraising year next week with our annual Pledge Drive! This year the Pledge Drive and Maker Fair teams have joined forces to create an event that will help our students, teachers AND local businesses who need us so much right now.
Your generous donation will not only help fund our teacher wishlists but also our unique Ecology Program, items for our new addition (because we will be back to school one day) and so much more. By supporting our local businesses, you will help keep our neighborhood thriving.
Stay tuned for ways you can Help Waters Grow!
This week we spoke with Jeannette Aguilar, a beloved 7th grade math and 8th grade science teacher who began her career as a student teacher at Waters 5 years ago. Fun fact: The Wicker Park native still lives in the house she grew up in!
Waters Today: Where did you go to junior high? How did it compare to Waters?
Ms. Aguilar: I went to Burr School in Wicker Park for 7th & 8th grade. Compared to Waters, it was a really small school. We only had one homeroom for each grade level!
You obviously have a lot of experience with the junior high crowd. If you could give struggling parents of pre-teens one piece of advice, what would it be?
Try not to take that pre-teen attitude too personally. The students are going through a lot of changes in their lives (physical, emotional, and also environmental with COVID) while also trying to understand themselves. Sometimes the people they are most comfortable releasing their frustrations to are their parents! Overall, we have really great students at Waters.
What are your thoughts on social media? It's such a polarizing topic for this age group.
I’m all for students being able to express themselves, but social media is a very tricky way of doing so. Something that is shared on social media can have long lasting effects. It’s really important for parents to talk to their children about Digital Citizenship. As a teacher, there is only so much you can say to students since a lot of social media interactions happen outside of school. There are many great resources for this. Be Internet Awesome, a digital safety program from Google, is a really good one.
Super helpful—Thank you! If you could enroll in another Waters teacher’s class for a day, whose would you choose and why?
I would really like to be in one of the first grade classrooms because I didn’t have the greatest experience in 1st grade. I love how Ms. Beza, Ms. Johnson, and Ms. Heilbrun have their rooms decorated!
And if you could have dinner with 3 people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and my late grandfather. Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have been such influential people, and it would be great to have a conversation with them. My grandfather was my number one cheerleader growing up—he always motivated me to pursue my dreams and supported the person I was. He didn’t get to see me become a teacher and, I would just like to have the opportunity to let him know that I did it!
He would be so proud. What’s something your students would be surprised to know about you?
I did Tae Kwon Do from 7th grade into high school and really enjoyed it. Sparring matches were my favorite– I won various first place trophies and medals. I only stopped at my brown belt because I began to focus on cheerleading and became the captain. Once I finish Grad School, I plan to go back to practice Tae Kwon Do and hopefully get my black belt.
Talk about Girl Power!? Do you have any other hobbies?
While we were social distancing, I got into being a plant mom.
What about a favorite book? Movie?
I really enjoy the Harry Potter books and movies, but I thought the books were way better than the movies.
We did, too. Isn’t it always like that? If you could go anywhere in the world for an all-expenses paid vacation, where would you go?
I would love to have the opportunity to go see the Egyptian Pyramids! Architecture is something that really interests me, and I love learning about history.
Let's end on a sappy note: What do you love most about teaching?
I enjoy being able to show students that it is okay to make mistakes and there is always something we can learn from them. It’s really rewarding to see students gaining confidence in their abilities throughout the year. The “aha moment” is really fun to see when they are working towards a solution.
Love that. Thank you Ms. Aguilar!
At the October 20 meeting, the Local School Council approved the allocation of the first part of the money raised by Waters Today last year. $25,000 was allocated to provide supplies directly to teachers during remote learning, including laptop computers, subscriptions, and other supplies. $10,000 was allocated as a donation to Circle of Help, which provides a wide range of support to students in need within the Waters community. $50,224 was allocated to pay half of an arts essentials teacher salary for the 2020-21 school year.
The remaining money raised by Waters Today will be allocated by the LSC later in the year, as the needs for remote learning support and the eventual move into our new building become clear. For questions, email email@example.com.
Get ready to melt some faces! Or perhaps some soothing folk songs? Either way, let’s make it happen! For those of you who have not had enough screen time (I know I haven’t!), I will be starting an online Guitar Club for both beginners as well as more advanced players. This will be open to 5th thru 8th grades, and perhaps younger students as well depending upon response. Details will be worked out once I gauge the community interest. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your grade level, previous experience if any, and any other information or questions you may have. For those about to rock, we salute you!
This week we chatted with Rielly Wall, a second grade teacher who’s built his reputation on not one but two things: a super engaging teaching style, and sweet skateboard skills. He’s been in CPS for 5 years, 4 of them at Waters.
Waters Today: We’ll start with a two-in-one: What's the best thing about teaching, and what’s the most challenging?
Mr. Wall: The best thing about teaching is being able to work with young kids. Kids help keep my job fun and interesting each day. A challenge about teaching is patience; you have to be very patient and accept that all students work at their own pace.
If you weren't a teacher, what would you be?
For a long time I wanted to be a professional skateboarder! If I didn't teach I think I would still work in a field with children, either education policy or a nonprofit that supports children and families.
Where did you grow up? How did your elementary school experience compare to that of our Waters kiddos? (Pandemic aside, of course.)
I grew up in Northern VA, about 20 miles west of Washington, D.C. I grew up in a great community with an awesome education system. I think my school experience was similar to Waters because I had great teachers and a very supportive community, with lots of kids my age and things to do.
What's something your students would be surprised to know about you?
I think my students would be surprised to know that I was a state championship qualifying hurdler in high school and I used to have hair grown out to my shoulders.
You and Mr. Raman! Let’s go deep: Is there anything you're really super afraid of?
Yes—I am pretty scared to fly in small planes, but I actually flew in a 4 person plane recently!
So if NASA called and asked if you'd be the teacher-in-space on the next mission to Mars, would you do it?
Definitely not! A mission to Mars is a one way trip. It would be super cool to go into space. I would enjoy just a little floating around and then back down to Mother Earth.
Now for the question every second grader wants to know: Into which Hogwarts house would you be sorted?
I pretended that I was a member of Gryffindor when I was younger, so definitely that.
Besides Hogwarts, what's your happy place?
A little peninsula in southern Maryland called Camp St. Charles. I went to camp there every year from age 8-18. I worked there as a counselor, and as an adult I worked there as the assistant camp director. It’s very special to me.
When your students look back on 2020, what do you hope they'll remember about you and your class?
I hope that they remember that they can be successful in any situation, even in a year as wild as 2020!
Wild, indeed. Thanks, Mr. Wall!
Next up: Evelyn Katsoulos! Known for her warm, gentle demeanor and melodic speaking voice (if you’ve met her, you know what we’re talking about!), this longtime third-grade teacher has been teaching for 26 years, all of them at Waters.
1. Waters Today: Wow—26 years is a long time! What do you love most about teaching at Waters?
Ms. Katsoulos: Waters is my second home. We all support one another and work towards our goals together, just like a family.
2. And what do you enjoy most about teaching this age group?
The best thing about teaching third graders is that they love to listen to stories being read aloud and can have good discussions about them.
3. Where did you grow up? Do you remember your third grade teacher? I grew up in Chicago, just like the kids at Waters. I had many teachers growing up who are very memorable, but the teacher I remember the most is my second grade teacher. I remember my classroom filled with large windows which let in a lot of light. On some days the room seemed to glow, and so did my teacher. She was warm and welcoming just like that light. I remember always being happy to be there in her classroom. She inspires me as a teacher.
4. What a beautiful memory. If you weren't a teacher, what do you think would you be doing? I’m not sure what I would be if I weren’t a teacher! I always wanted to be a teacher. If you had asked me in third grade what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’m sure I would have answered, a teacher. But if I had to choose another profession, I’d say a writer. I enjoy the process of writing, and have always loved words. Writing combines two things I love: creativity and language.
5. If you could enroll in another Waters teacher’s class for a day, whose would you choose and why? I would choose Mrs. Johnson’s class. I’ve had the opportunity to be in her classroom during a read-aloud. She is so animated when she reads a story and really brings the book to life. When she reads a story, it’s as if you're there and you're part of it.
6. [Editor’s note: Ms. Johnson, Teacher Feature is coming for you!] What’s something your students would be surprised to know about you?
I can be on the quiet side, so my students may be surprised to know how much I love to dance. I was in a dance group for many years.
7. There are some dancers in your class who will be very excited about this! If you have a day off from teaching, what is your favorite way to spend it?
I enjoy simply relaxing, taking a leisurely nature walk, and having a nice meal and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
8. Let’s end with a fun one: If you could take your students on a field trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I would take them somewhere I want to go to as well, to Australia, to see the Great Barrier Reef. It would be amazing to visit one of the natural wonders of the world!
We’re coming with you! Thank you Ms. Katsoulos!
Wednesday, October 14, 7:30 p.m.
Please join the WatersToday Board for an open meeting to discuss the Waters Ecology program and plans for fundraising during the 2020-2021 school year. The meeting will be held via Zoom with password Waters.
Next up is Seth Raman, a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher who's been teaching for 23 years (the last 10 here at Waters). Fun fact: His lovely wife Allison is our school psychologist!
WatersToday: Alright, Mr. Raman. Now that we're a month in, let's get right down to it: What's the hardest thing about pandemic teaching?
It's been really challenging to help my students embrace the love of learning while stuck in a situation that has made learning seem difficult.
Mr. Raman: What's one positive thing that you think will come out of this whole situation?
I think people have slowed down (or have been forced to slow down) the pace of their lives and focus on many things that can truly bring happiness—family, time alone, personal growth—as opposed to chasing after ephemeral pleasures.
If you could give your junior high self one piece of advice, what would it be?
That I am responsible for the life I want to have. Teachers, parents, and friends are there to help, but ultimately it's up to me to decide what kind of life I have—and a good one comes from having a great attitude and from creating opportunities rather than waiting around for them to come to me.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a teacher?
I'd be a musician. Not sure I would want to be touring all the time but I would love to make a life out of creating music...it’s good for the soul!
Love it! Do you have a favorite band?
I love Hendrix and the Smiths, but my favorite band is the one I'm in with my daughters. And Pre-Covid, I played around Chicago with my other band, Hilltop.
And you lead the Rock Band at Waters, right? What do you play?
I do! But since we can't get together right now I'll be offering online guitar classes to anyone who hasn't had enough screen time. [Editor's note: Stay tuned to Green Notes for details on that!] Personally, I play guitar, bass, piano, and sitar, all to varying degrees of annoyance.
If you could take your students on a field trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d love to show them the country of India. It’s so very different from the United States, and I think field trips are about opening your blinders. The culture is so welcoming and mind-blowing, and you are instantly made to feel as if you have always belonged.
What’s something your students would be surprised to know about you?
I really try to connect with my students and so they end up knowing many things about me, but perhaps they don’t know that at one time I had a mullet and an earring. So now, everyone knows. Don’t judge. It was the 80’s. 35 years later, I am still ashamed.
Ha! Unless the answer to the next question is “my mullet,” there’s no reason to be ashamed: What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Great answer. Thank you Mr. Raman!
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