Our WE ARE WATERS Online Student-created Library is PUBLISHED! Bravo:)! Check your Google Classroom or the December 17th edition of Green Notes for links to view all of the amazing books. You can even leave a shoutout for your favorite on Mrs. Vecchioni's Flipgrid!
Queen of Angels Scouts BSA Troop 894 is hosting a Pizza for the Pantry Fundraiser to help both our scouts AND our neighbors through the Friendship Center. Purchase Lou Malnati's Pizzeria Pizza coupons which may be redeemed at any area Lou Malnati’s location for one 9” FROZEN pizza (sausage, pepperoni, cheese, or spinach). When you buy a coupon from the site below, you can decide who gets a Pizza in their pantry: you or the Friendship Center (a neighborhood food pantry) or both! Get 1 for $13 or 2 for $25. Troop 894 receives a portion of the proceeds, which will go toward upgrading camping equipment and deferring camping expenses for our scouts, which we hope to resume in 2021!!
Go to https://tinyurl.com/pizzas4pantry to place your order! And remit payment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
IT’S A PHYS ED DEPARTMENT TAKEOVER! This week, our favorite PE teachers, Bradley Kurz and John Archer, teamed up for a special edition of Teacher Feature. Here’s how it went down…
FIRST, MR. KURZ INTERVIEWED MR. ARCHER:
MR. KURZ: So, how long have you been a PE teacher? How long have you been teaching at Waters?
MR. ARCHER: This is my 2nd year at Waters and my 6th year as a teacher. I have taught PE for 5 years. I also spent a year as a High School Drivers Education Instructor. Teaching both the classroom phase and the Behind the Wheel phase. I attribute my patience as a teacher to sitting in the passenger seat of a car with a 15 year old who has never driven a car before or taking that student on the highway for the first time.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Carol Stream in the Western Suburbs.
What sports did you play in school?
In middle school, I played basketball. In high school, I played basketball for 3 years and ran Varsity Cross Country and Varsity Track and Field for 4 years. At Lewis University, I competed in Cross Country and Track and Field for all 4 years.
As an adult, what’s your favorite sport to watch?
My favorite sport to watch is probably Basketball. However, I could also sit down and watch any type of endurance race like a marathon, Tour de France bike race, or any track and field meet. There is something amazing about runners who push their bodies to achieve goals deemed impossible by so many people.
What about to play?
I have played basketball for most of my life. For a few years after college I played in a few different adult mens leagues, however that stopped after I had 3 major ankle surgeries. I am still very active as a runner. I have completed the Chicago Marathon a few times, and I was supposed to run the 2020 Chicago Marathon until it got cancelled . I also love to run local road races, trail races through the woods, and Spartan obstacle races. This year has been rough with all the races being cancelled, however, it gave me a chance to train and build my base mileage up. Hopefully there can be races next year.
If you could meet three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
1. Michael Jordan: I grew up in the 90's, and everyone wanted to "Be like Mike!"
2. Steve Prefontaine: American runner who competed in the Olympics. Changed the American running scene in the 70's. Was also one of the first Nike athletes.
3. Jim Ryun: First American to run faster than 4 minutes in a mile.
What's your favorite way to spend a free Saturday?
I love to spend time outdoors, unplugging from technology and the world for a bit. I usually spend time going on walks with my wife and our dog, going on bike rides, or going to her parents’ lake house. I also love going for long runs to enjoy the weather.
THEN IT WAS MR. ARCHER’S TURN:
Mr. Archer: How long have you been a PE teacher? How long have you been teaching at Waters?
Mr. Kurz: 16 years—and I’ve been at Waters the whole time.
If you could time travel, where would you go?
I would just go back to the 90's. It was an exciting time to be alive. Music was great, and the Bulls were actually good!
What's the one thing you couldn't live without?
Pizza. For nostalgic reasons, I would have to say Aurelio's always brings me back to my childhood.
Would you rather hit a world series winning grand slam or a NBA finals clinching three-pointer?
I would pick the three-pointer. I was always into basketball more than baseball. I enjoyed watching The "Last Dance" documentary.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Always put your family first and never forget where you came from.
Thanks guys! We appreciate all that you’re doing to keep our kids as active as possible!
WatersToday has an awesome holiday giveback with Minted.com this year! Shoppers will get 20% off all holiday card and gift orders throughout the month of December. Minted will also donate 15% of each order back to WatersToday with promo code FUNDRAISEWATERS!
Next up: Olga Nunez-Johnson, a beloved first grade teacher who’s taught at Waters for, as she puts it, “eight amazing years!” She’s been with CPS for 26 years—23 as a teacher, and three as a paraprofessional.
Waters Today: You’re pretty famous—Waters famous, that is—for your love of reading aloud to your students. You have the best reading voice! What's your favorite book for first graders?
Mrs. Johnson: I have so many favorite children’s books and children’s authors and would never be able to pick just one! However, I can share a Thanksgiving tradition that does include a favorite story: Every year I make homemade butter with my students and we read Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ by Eileen Spinelli. After we make our butter and read the story, we share what we are most grateful for. It is a very special tradition! As we speak, I am trying to figure out how I will weave this into virtual learning.
That’s the best! It sounds like you are definitely in the right profession. Did you ever want to be anything other than a teacher?
I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was in Kindergarten and can’t imagine myself in any other profession. As a child, I would play school with my brothers and sister. They would always get mad at me because my dolls would get all the right answers and they would not.
Sounds about right! Where did you grow up?
I grew up just a few blocks from Waters in Lincoln Square. I always tell my students that this is the BEST neighborhood in all of Chicago. It still has all the wonderful things I remember from my childhood: Diverse neighbors, a rich history, Wells Park, Sulzer Library, great eats, and the list goes on.
[Fun fact: That adorable child in the picture is Mrs. Johnson in 1977 at McPherson school!]
Did you have a favorite teacher as a child?
My favorite teacher was my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Willis. She was strict but I loved her! I remember she was very fashionable, had a smile for everyone, and her laughter was infectious. For my first teaching job, I had the privilege of working with Mrs. Willis. Yes, my first teaching job was at my elementary school! That’s when I found out the truth: Teachers don’t actually live in the school… LOL! Working with her made me realize that what made Mrs. Willis so special was the motto by which she taught: If we, as educators, set the bar high, there is no child who cannot reach his or her full potential.
That’s so lovely. If you could be a student in any Waters teacher's class for the day, who would you choose?
Mrs. Vecchioni’s art class! She is such an incredible artist. If you look up the word “art teacher” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Mrs. Vecchioni. Every time I see her, she has a smudge of paint or ink somewhere on her. That tells you she doesn’t just teach art to her students, she lives art.
She really does. [Editor’s note: Mrs. Vecchioni, we’re coming for you!] What do you like to do for fun?
My family and I love to take long drives. It's a great way to connect and catch up on what’s going on in our lives and in the world. Recently we drove the entire Northshore admiring the fall colors. It was spectacular! We also LOVE trying new restaurants. With the recent pandemic, we have learned to create dishes from around the world in our own kitchen. When I say WE I am referring to my husband Jerry, and my daughter Athena, they are the true chefs in the Johnson household. Love and laughter are the key ingredient in any recipe. That is why our family motto is; “Our kitchen is made for dancing”!
We’ll be right over! Kidding, but only because of the pandemic. Does your family have any pets?
We don’t—I am allergic to almost everything! I am also quite scared of animals. If a dog gets too close to me I immediately lose all senses and start running and screaming. It’s an awful sight. I can’t believe I just shared that.
Oh no! Ok, we’ll distract you with a random one: Would you rather live in a house made of cheese or a house made of cookie dough?
I would rather live in a house made of cheese—Gouda cheese, please. I love cheese and I often tell my daughter the stinkier the cheese, the better!
Us, too! What about your superpower? If you could have one—besides teaching, that is—what would it be?
To have everyone get along! It has been my lifelong wish since I was a little girl. Is it foolish? Perhaps it is. But it is my superpower and I am the superhero so anything is possible.
Yep: If everyone got along and shared stinky cheese, the world would indeed be a better place. What’s the bravest thing you've ever done?
The bravest thing I have ever done was volunteer to be a week-long counselor at camp Timberlee in East Troy, Wisconsin. The reason I volunteered was because my daughter, who was in 1st grade at the time, could attend the camp if I volunteered. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I am the least outdoorsy person you will ever meet. I love taking long walks and low-intensity hikes, but that's about it.
There were so many activities each day: horseback riding, canoeing, archery, crafts, and something called blobbing. You are probably wondering, What is blobbing? Well, blobbing is an outdoor water activity in which a participant sits on the end of a partially inflated airbag and is launched into the water when another participant jumps onto the airbag from a platform on the opposite side.
I thought, why not? You start off in a curled up position, and as you ascend into the air you need to straighten up. I failed to follow the directions and ended up doing a somersault and landed headfirst into the water. Thank goodness I was wearing a life vest. Risky? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely!
Ok, so you’re not an outdoors person…what else would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I think my students would be surprised to learn that school did not come easy to me. I struggled a lot in elementary school, and being a bilingual student—I spoke both Spanish and English—in a monolingual class was difficult at times. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, and so I had to work that much harder to achieve my goals. I truly believe that my struggles in school are what helped me get through not just my academic career, but life in general.
Words to live by. Thank you so much, Mrs. Johnson!
WatersToday is extending the 2020 Pledge Drive & Maker Fair through Saturday, November 28. The funds raised by WatersToday will help support school initiatives that need us now more than ever. No matter how much you can give, your personal commitment and dedication is what ensures the success of Waters Elementary and its wonderful community!
We are also continuing to support our local businesses and artists from the Maker Fair through Small Business Saturday. Get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping while supporting our school and community at WatersToday.market – Shop Small!
Waters Elementary depends on the generous support of its families and community members to fund many programs, projects and initiatives at the school. By donating to the WatersToday annual pledge drive, you help champion our students and school programs. Because of our generous supporters and business sponsors, WatersToday and the Local School Council were able to fund numerous items for the 2020-2021 school year including:
Our Pledge Drive Goal is $85,000
Thank you to the many donors who have contributed more than $44,000 to the Pledge Drive! That will go a long way towards supporting Ecology, the Circle of Help, and remote learning initiatives at Waters, but we could still use your support. If each Waters family gave $250, we would meet our goal. If that amount isn’t in your budget this year, make a donation in any amount – every dollar counts! Families that can continue to give at the $750 level will help us maintain our support at a time when many others may not be able to donate. Pledges of any amount may be made in one payment or as a recurring monthly or quarterly donation.
Learn More and Make Your Pledge!
Thank You, Waters Community!
As we approach this annual time of giving thanks, WatersToday would like to express its deepest gratitude to the entire Waters community. Here are some of the things we are thankful for …
W … Waters Elementary – Our Wonderful Neighborhood Public School
A … Awesome Academic Achievement of Our Students
T … Terrific Teachers, Administrators and Staff Members
E … Engaging and Excellent Essentials Programs – Fine Arts, Ecology and More
R … Rallying Together in a Time of Remote Learning
S … Spectacular Support from Our Community – Families, Educators, School Organizations, Volunteers, Donors, Sponsors and Local Businesses
We are thankful for all of you and all of the ways that you help Waters grow!
WatersToday is grateful for all of our donors and supporters and the kindness of the entire Waters Community. We hope you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Check out this Thanksgiving message from your teachers and then make sure you thank them for all of their hard work this year!
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!
provides information about fundraising activities, news and events, and other Waters community updates. School News is posted on the Waters Elementary website.
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