Explore the AWM’s educational offerings here.
The 2nd Annual OnWord Writing Competition presented by the American Writers Museum (AWM) is now open for entries through June 15, 2021. The free writing competition is part of the AWM’s efforts to motivate and inspire the young writers of tomorrow. When students are at the museum or on a virtual field trip, they start to better understand why writing matters, and how they can make a difference through their own writing. The AWM is inviting teachers to submit entries from their 3rd-grade to 12th-grade students on how they would use writing to create change they want to see in the world, and explore it in any form of writing that works for them: an essay, a short story, a poem, a play, a song. Prizes from $500 to $2,000 will be awarded to two winners in each grade category. Complete details and instructions on how to enter can be found here.
Explore the AWM’s educational offerings here.
Firecakes Donut Truck at Waters!
Thursday, May 6, 8:15-9:15 a.m.
Waters School- You can't miss it!
WatersToday is THRILLED have "Billy" the Firecakes Donut Truck visit Waters on Thursday, May 6th to celebrate our teachers and parents! Stop by for a coffee and a sweet treat, on us. Thank you parents and teachers for all of your hard work, patience, and flexibility this year.
Teacher Feature: Mrs. Frieswyk
It’s Carrie Frieswyk time! Our beloved Kindergarten teacher, who’s been in education for nearly 20 years (5 of them at Waters), has a duel certification in general and special education. Before gracing us with her presence, she spent 10 years in a Pre-K/Kindergarten Deaf and Hard of Hearing Cluster program, followed by 7 years teaching Kindergarten and 1st grades at Ray Elementary School in Hyde Park.
(Pssst: The questions for this super fun edition of Teacher Feature are courtesy of our adorable Kindergarteners!)
Kindergarteners: Are you Ms. Novak's sister?
Ms. Frieswyk: YES! Just kidding! No, we are not sisters, just friends.
Do you have any pets?
Yes. I have a dog named Oreo.
Do you have any kids?
George – 10 years old
Cora – 13 years old
What makes you really scared?
Squirrels – I know it is silly, but I just don’t like them.
What makes you really happy?
Being with kids! Kids have intrinsic joy that is contagious!
Do you have any allergies?
What do you do when you’re not in school?
I do my second job – being a mom! My kids keep me busy with their lives and activities. We like to go on bike rides and hikes together, skiing in the winter, and Movie and pizza on Fridays, and I also drive them around to where they need to be. I like to go to the gym, and after a year of taking a break for Covid because of restrictions, I am finally back. I also read every night before I go to bed.
Have you ever driven a Power Wheel?
I have not!
Have you ever been to Paris?
Have you ever been to Florida?
Yes. We have family there, so we go almost every year. I love the beach, it is my favorite place to be. I love the Florida Keys especially, the drive is so pretty.
Do you like to stay up late and watch movies and eat popcorn?
Sometimes, but more often than not I am in bed and asleep by 9:00. I wake up early usually, so ready for bed by then. BUT if there is a good show, sometimes I will binge watch. J
Do you like cold weather or hot weather?
Both! I love to ski in the winter with my family, but also love being outside in the warm weather to go swimming, walking, sitting on my deck, etc. That is why I like living in the Midwest, we get a little bit of everything.
What is your favorite sport?
I don’t watch any sports. I always root for the Tigers though because I grew up near Detroit and they were always on in my house.
Where do you like to go on vacation?
We go to MI a lot because that is where we are from. We love going to the beaches there and hiking. Every summer I go camping with my family, this summer we are going to go to Interlochen with our extended family for 4 days, it is so pretty up there!
What do you do after you go to the dentist?
I try to smile a lot to show off my pearly whites!
Have you ever seen a ghost?
No. I don’t believe in ghosts, but it is fun to pretend at Halloween time and to go through haunted trails and haunted houses.
Have you ever seen a skunk?
I have! We have a lot of skunks in my neighborhood and once a skunk walked right in front of me one night (It almost ran over my toes, it didn’t see me sitting there!) when I was sitting on my front porch.
Have you ever been sprayed by a skunk?
No, but my dog was sprayed by a skunk once and it took a really long time and lots of effort to get the smell out!
WOULD YOU RATHER…
Have a pet dinosaur or a pet dragon? Dragon
Be super strong or super fast? Fast
Get stuck in a room filled with spiders or snakes? Spiders
Live in a world made out of Legos or Cartoons? Legos
Eat a whole bottle of hot sauce or a fried cricket? Fried cricket (I have tried them!)
Live in a tree or a cave? Tree
Have a million dollars or a million pieces of candy? Definitely candy, as long as there is some dark chocolate thrown in there.
Have 5 cats or 5 dogs? Dogs (but only if it comes with a dog walker)
Be able to fly an airplane or drive a racecar? Airplane
Live inside Target or live inside Aldi? Target (I sort of already do – love that place!)
So much fun! Thank you for indulging our Kinder crew, Ms. Frieswyk!!! (And thank you for your creative questions, kiddos!)
Donations Due May 1
Big Night 2021 is around the corner and we are in need of items for our online auction. Do you have a talent or a connection? Do you happen to have a best friend who owns a restaurant who might donate a gift card or a tasting? Do you work for an amazing company who will donate a gift? Are you an artist who would like to donate a piece of work? Have a favorite salon or spa that wants to donate a service? Do you belong to a CSA farm that can donate some veggies?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to donate to the auction or have a connection. We would love to hear from you!
Here’s a Few Party Ideas, but Ultimately-It’s Up to You!!
Teacher Feature: Ms. Hooper
Next up: The lovely Erin Hooper, who began her career as a sub here at Waters nearly 10 years ago. Today, she teaches 6th and 7th grade social studies and 6th grade reading.
WT: Happy (almost) 10 year anniversary! What do you enjoy most about teaching at Waters?
Ms. Hooper: When I started at Waters, it felt like I was meant to teach here. The teachers welcome one another with open arms. The garden is an added perk, too— I love gardening in my free time, and it is such a great space for the students.
You must be so happy it’s finally spring! What else do you like to do in your free time?
I really enjoy hiking and doing anything outdoors with my dog, Ollie.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
Yes! I used to play pretend school when I was a kid and loved grading fake papers. Little did I know, that would be one of the things I like the least about teaching today, hehe. I also wanted to be a waitress and still do that in the summers.
Oh, fun—we'll keep an eye out. Anything else your students might be surprised to learn about you?
I used to work in production for music festivals in the summer during college. I worked directly with the film crew, and it was an amazing experience.
How cool! It says a lot about you that you chose teaching—junior high, for that matter—over anything else. How would you describe your own middle school experience?
It was tough. I had just moved from Arizona to Illinois, and making new friends was not easy. I had one good friend at that time, and I really struggled in school.
It sounds like you can definitely relate to a lot of the things your students might be going through. If you could go back and give your junior high self one piece of advice, what would it be?
That it gets so much better after junior high! You will meet friends that you connect with throughout your whole life, and you will learn what you are passionate about and will be able to focus on them in high school and college.
All true. Any advice for parents and caretakers? Helping kids navigate the social media stuff and intense social and academic pressure is one thing, but then you throw puberty into the mix and all bets are off.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a middle schooler today. My advice would be to be sure to take time for family activities without any technology around. Go on a walk, bike ride, camping, hiking, play games...talk! Your children might be mad about it at first, but in the end, those are the moments they will remember forever.
Totally—and we’d be remiss not to say how awesome this age group is, too. As a teacher, it must be very cool to watch them find their voices and begin that process of discovering who they are.
YES! This is truly what I love about teaching middle schoolers. They’re finding themselves and, yes, they can be cruel to each other’s differences at times, but they have so much to say and so many ways to make an impact on the world around them. Seeing them celebrate their uniqueness brings a smile to my face.
Before we let you go, is there any 2021 tween-approved slang we should know about? Last year, it seemed like everything was lit: "Wow, that outfit is lit." Is that completely uncool now? (How do you even keep up?)
I think “lit” is still cool. “On Fleek” maybe? Or is that old now? As you can tell it is hard for me to keep up, too— especially this year!
Thank you Ms. Hooper—your interview was (wait for it…) on fleek.
How Can I Help with my EBT Card?
A message from Jamie Freedman from the Circle of Help
This month, thanks to a federal aid program, over 1 million Chicago Public School children will receive a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer card with hundreds of dollars on it for food purchases. This card is for EVERY Chicago Public School student, not just those in need. As a mom of three public school children, soon to be four (my youngest will enter kindergarten in the fall), I have been fortunate enough to not need food assistance throughout the pandemic. As a volunteer working with my local food pantry, The Friendship Center, I have seen firsthand how many households have been impacted by COVID and are struggling right now. After years of working within my local school community to develop a program to address basic unmet needs, I know how many were families were already food insecure before this all started.
This has been a long 13 months of virtual and/or hybrid school for every Chicago family. We’ve seen more of our children than ever. We’ve made them more meals than we can count. A lot of us are tired and can use some extra help. If these EBT cards are a needed boost for your family’s finances, then it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. But if your household doesn’t need the money right now, then there’s a real opportunity here to do some good. We can take our kids shopping for the food they like with EBT cards and then we can turn around and give the equivalent dollars back to those organizations that have been lifelines to those in need. With $450 a food pantry like the Friendship Center can source enough food to feed 18 families for an entire month.
If you are looking for a deeper involvement, go volunteer also! There are always boxes to be moved and they’ll be happy to have you there. But first, go use your EBT - buy your orange juice and lunch meats and cheerios - and then turn around and write a check. Believe me – you will feel fantastic for doing your part!
Read Jamie's whole letter here.
Big Night Party Packs are on Sale Now!
Gather your friends and celebrate our school! Party Packs for our annual Big Night event are now on sale! Learn more about Big Night and the party packs by visiting our website. Big Night at Home takes place May 22nd!
Thank You Sponsors!
Special thanks to our Food & Beverage partners for making your Garden Party easy! L&M Fine Foods, Gene's Sausage Shop, Mrs. Murphy's and Sons, Lizzie J Cafe and Sazon Catering.
What is in this Party Pack? We are putting together all the things you will need to plan a great outdoor party. Items include compostable silverware and plates, napkins, candles, koozies, s'mores kit and more! You can purchase a Party Pack for 2 people or 10! Visit our website for more information! Party Packs go on sale on April 12th!
Wednesday, April 21, 4-5 p.m. for K-4
Wednesday, April 28, 4-5 p.m. for 5-8
Get ready for Waters Virtual Garden Party by joining Ms. V for a virtual art hour! Join our very own (and everyone's favorite) Ms. Vecchioni for an at home art project! We'll get you all the materials and all you have to do is join the virtual lesson and create something beautiful. Sign up here!
Teacher Feature: Mr. Bradford
This week we had the pleasure of getting to know music teacher Tommy Bradford, a professional saxophonist who's been at Waters for 8 years. Super Fun Fact: His niece, Alana Sherman, is in the top 24 on American Idol right now- clearly, musical talent runs in the family. Go Alana!
WT: Teaching music remotely sounds difficult, to say the least. How has it been going?
Mr. Bradford: It's been an interesting, challenging situation, but the kids make it fun. Whether we're in school or online, I just like interacting with them and teaching them about music!
We're sure you're counting down the days until you can be in the new music room—have you seen it?
Yes, it's amazing! I'm very excited about it. I look forward to being able to make music with our students once things get better.
Did you always want to be a musician?
I was interested in sports (basketball, baseball & football) when I was younger, and I absolutely love motorsports: Motorcycles & F1. But I always wanted to play music. My high school and elementary school music teachers, Mr. Dockett, Mr Clark and Mr. Savage, were all professional musicians in their own right. Seeing them teach and perform really opened up my eyes to being able to do the same.
So is it safe to say when you're not teaching, you're playing the saxophone?
Pretty much! I'm not in a specific band at this point in my career but I've probably freelanced with more than 200 bands locally and abroad. I was fortunate enough to share the stage with Buddy Guy, and I toured with the Isley Bros for two years.
That's amazing! We have to imagine you've seen a ton of shows over the years—any favorites?
Hmmmm....This is tough. I've been a part of some amazing concerts and I've seen some great ones too: U2, Sting, Prince, The Roots. But I think the Branford Marsalis Quartet is the most consistently phenomenal. They're a jazz band that perform with the energy of a rock band! Smaller groups are awesome, too. I was in Amsterdam years ago walking down the street and heard some Jazz playing. I opened the door to this walk-up apartment building and there was a jazz quartet playing in an apartment converted to a small coffee/music spot. It was the coolest thing! I was upset I didn't have my horn with me, but I had a great time talking about music and having coffee after the band finished.
We'll add them to our playlist! Do you have a favorite song?
That's kind of like asking if I have a favorite kid. Lol! I think songs come and go depending on what you gravitate towards and honestly what's happening in your life. I do tend to listen to a song by Branford Marsalis called Lykief. Everything the band puts into it improvisation-wise just makes it really organic.
Ok: If you could spend a Friday evening at The Green Mill just hanging out and listening to music with 3 musicians, dead or alive, who would they be?
I've spent many nights hanging out with musicians at the Green Mill! I think it would be Miles Davis, David Bowie and Prince. That sounds like the beginning of a joke...
Ha! It totally does. What are some of your other interests outside of music? We read somewhere that musicians are almost always good cooks: True or False?
Definitely true! I love to cook. I've worked at several high-end Chicago restaurants in my life and I’ve picked up a thing or two here and there from some amazing chefs like Paul Bartilota and Tony Mantuano.
Wow—anything else your students would be surprised to learn about you?
First, after all my years performing, I still use things that I teach them in my own musical development. A student asked me recently how I know so much about music; I just laughed and said it's easy when you love it! Second, I'm younger than 50 years old. They're always guessing I'm over 50—Sigh! And third, I have a son and a daughter who both attend Lane Tech.
Two teenagers! So what do the children of a musician listen to? Do your kids like the same stuff you do?
I don't force my them to listen to what I listen to, and I don't do that with the students either. I kinda just put stuff on and let them absorb it! They'll usually come and ask me about some song or artist from 20-30 years ago, and then I know they're listening. There have been kids over the years here at school who are really into listening to music and tell me about cool stuff that I need to go check out. I love that!
There's a lot of musical talent at Waters, too! To that end, can you give us 3 reasons why kids should learn to play an instrument?
1. It's fun (Maybe not at first) 2. The connections you make with other musicians is immeasurable. I have a very diverse group of friends from all over the world simply because I play the saxophone. You can't put a price on that! 3. There's a level of discipline and effort that you put into playing music that will help with other facets of your life and it's a great way to channel your feelings or emotions.
Love it. Thank you so much Mr. Bradford.
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