Support Services

District 27 offers its students a rigorous and coherent curricular program for all students in all of the core subject areas. The District also provides a wide variety of services for children that may need additional help. Some of these students require support for learning disabilities while others have a language barrier because they are new to this country. Still, others are identified as intellectually gifted.

The support programs offered include Special Education Resources, Emergent Bilingual Program, and Extended Learning Programs. The District also offers a variety of other services to help our students be successful. These include Social Work and Psychology, Reading Specialists, Resource Specialists, and Speech Specialists.


Contact Information

Third Grade 

Allyson Cermak, Third Grade Resource

Allyson Cermak 

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4402

Fourth Grade 

Debbie Barkal, Fourth Grade Resource

Deborah Barkal

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4402

Fifth Grade 

Norma Gersdorf, Fifth Grade Resource

Norma Gersdorf

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4482

Extended Resource 

Heather LIpasek, Extended Resource

Heather Lipasek

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4441


The resource teacher helps provide various types of special instructional programs for students in consultation with the classroom teacher and other specialists.  These programs offer learning assistance primarily in the areas of reading, language arts and mathematics.

Emergent Bilingual

Contact Information

Emergent Bilingual Teacher

Cathy O'Shea, EL Teacher

Cathy O'Shea

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4449


The Shabonee Emergent Bilingual Program provides a learning environment that is interactive and visually supported to help students easily acquire English language skills in all four language domains: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.

On the Emergent Bilingual links section, you will be find links to educational websites where you can play listening and speaking games, read and write stories, or practice your math facts. These links are for students AND parents who are learning English as a new language.

Hello poster in several languages

Social Work and Psychology

Contact Information

Social Worker

Elizabeth Kramer, Social Worker

Elizabeth Kramer

(847) 498-4970 ext. 4452

Social Worker

Kay Ziegler, Social Worker

Kay Ziegler

(847) 498-4970 ext. 4451


Krisin Miller, Psychologist

Kristen Miller

(847) 498-4970 ext. 4453

Social Workers

The social workers meet with students individually, in pairs, or with groups when academic performance is impacted by social/emotional needs. Social workers are also available to parents for consultation regarding their child. The social worker helps students to solve problems that may be affecting their school performance. Students may refer themselves to the social worker, or may be referred by a teacher, the principal or their parents.


The school psychologist provides assessment to help determine learning strengths and needs of students. In addition, the school psychologist collaborates with staff and parents to problem-solve concerns. The psychologist also provides individual and group counseling for students.


Contact Information

Reading Specialist

Melissa Gustafson, Reading Specialist

Melissa Gustafson

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4440


The Reading Specialist, in consultation with the educational team, provides direct reading instruction to identified students.

Useful Links

Components of Reading

Reading Program Explanation

Leveled Literacy Intervention

Leveled Literacy Intervention is a scientifically based system that is designed to prevent literacy difficulties. It has been highly successful in achieving its goal of bringing children to grade level.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is designed to supplement the small-group instruction that children receive in the classroom. Lessons are provided daily for 30 minutes. Each lesson provides instruction in reading, writing, and phonics/word study.

Fast Track Reading

Fast Track Reading is a comprehensive and intensive program based on current research. It is designed to accelerate readers to grade-level proficiency.

Fast Track magazines are organized into high-interest themes. Fiction and nonfiction articles are included in every magazine, along with practical reading applications, such as maps, menus, newspaper articles, and directions.

The ultimate goal of reading is for the reader to make meaning of the text. Fast Track Reading teaches students how to extract information from the text and combine it with prior knowledge and experience in order to make meaning. Comprehension strategies are taught through explicit and direct instruction. Each strategy is modeled and practiced several times.

Phonics for Reading

Phonics for Reading is a systematic, research-based, instructional program. It provides explicit instruction in phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension. Lessons are sequenced to guide and build students' learning. Every lesson allows for consistent routines, repeated practice, and immediate feedback.

The first level focuses on short vowels, double consonants, consonant blends, and consonant digraphs.

The second level progresses with long vowels, vowel combinations, CVCe words, word endings, and r-controlled vowel sounds.

The third level expands concepts with letter/vowel combinations, prefixes and suffixes, minor sounds of c and g, and minor sounds of vowel combinations.


"Rewards" is a specialized reading program designed to teach students a flexible strategy for decoding long words.

Although the ultimate goal of reading instruction is comprehension, a child needs to be able to read the words to have a pathway to comprehension. Poorly developed word recognition skills can cause reading challenges.

Intermediate students encounter approximately 10,000 new words each year. Most of these words are longer, having two or more syllables. These multisyllabic words carry most of the meaning in a passage.

"Rewards" teaches students a flexible strategy for reading longer words rather than a set of rigid syllabication rules. Eighty percent of multisyllabic words contain at least one prefix or suffix. All decodable word parts contain vowels. Therefore, the students are taught to identify prefixes, suffixes, and vowel sounds in order to assist them in segmenting the word into manageable "chunks."

Students are taught the skills in isolation. Practice activities allow them to practice the skills within sentences and passages. This practice increases the probability that the students will transfer the strategy to classroom reading assignments.


Raz-kids is an interactive online reading tool that allows students to practice reading fluency and comprehension skills at their independent reading level. The students can listen to a story for modeled fluency, read a story aloud with pronunciation and vocabulary support, and check their comprehension through an interactive quiz. Students earn points, or "stars" to build a Rocket Room.

Student reading is monitored by teachers, who can make specific assignments based on student need, write messages to encourage students, award bonus points (stars) for good work, or open up a bookroom to give students access to more books.

Finding Books

It is important to understand that a guided reading level is a good indication of students' reading level for instructional purposes. A student's independent level, a book they can read on their own, might be one or two levels lower. However, it is equally important to remember that students' reading skills are improved when they also have the opportunity to choose books that they are interested in, regardless of reading level.  Also, to fully develop as competent readers, students should be read to frequently and have the opportunity to discuss their reading.

The table below shows the guided reading level ranges for grades K-2 based upon the Fountas and Pinnell system:

   Grade  Ranges  
Third Grade    L-P
Fourth  Grade    O-S
Fifth Grade    R-V

Leveled Book Lists

Finding Books to Read at Home

  • Go to Kids Zone
  • Click "Book Finder"
  • Select your grade level
  • Choose "at your grade level", "easier" , "challenge" , etc.
  • Check the types of books you are interested in.
  • You will get a list of books that match your choices!

Finding Level Texts at our School Library

  • Click tab on top: Catalog
  • Where it says "Reading Programs" , click on Fountas and Pinnell
  • Then put in the range of books that you want and press enter


Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and effortlessly, using appropriate expression and phrasing. 


Repeated Readings: 
Choose a poem, play, or passage that will be easy for your child to read.  Read the passage aloud to your child. Then, read it together. Continue to practice the passage, focusing on phrasing and expression. The goal is to sound smooth and natural. For a variation, you can try using different voices (mouse, monster), or  use different emotions (sad, angry). 
Try recording your child’s voice on the first reading, and again after several practices. Listen to both recordings to hear the differences!


With a solid vocabulary, a child understands and uses spoken and written words to communicate effectively. A broad vocabulary helps a child in all subject areas. The more words a child has been exposed to, the easier it is for him to figure them out when he sees them for the first time in print, and the easier it is for him to understand new concepts in class. 


Preview Words:

Choose 1-2 words from the book you are reading that may be interesting or unfamiliar to your child. Discuss the meaning of the word in the context in which it was used. Talk about variations of that word (e.g. direct, directions,director, redirect, misdirect) and how the meaning changes.

Read aloud:

Continue to read aloud to your child even after he is able to read independently. Choose books above your child's level because they are likely to contain broader vocabulary. This way, you are actually teaching him new words and how they are used in context.

Hot Potato: 

Choose a word, your child has to think of another word that means the same thing (a synonym). Continue taking turns until someone is stumped (cold, freezing, chilly, etc). Variations: antonyms (big, small, giant, etc.), prefixes (preview, pretest, prepay, etc.), suffixes (careless, useless, helpless, etc.), categories (food, pets, movies, capitals, etc.).

Reading Comprehension

Comprehension is the reader's ability to understand, engage with, and think about the text.

Activities to Support Comprehension

Before, During, and After Reading Questions:
Questions to ask your child to develop his/her comprehension skills
Whenever appropriate ask your child to provide evidence from the text to support their thinking.
Before the Reading of a New Book:
  • Look at the cover: What do you predict will happen in this story?
  • Is this story fiction or nonfiction? How do you know?
  • Look at the pictures throughout the book; what are you thinking?
  • What do you know about (insert topic) from your own experience?
    • Ex: What do you know about going to a new school?
During the Reading of a New Book:
  • Stop at a certain point and talk about what has happened so far in the text, and what you are thinking.
  • After reading the beginning of the book, predict what will happen in the end of the story.
  • How has your prediction from the beginning of the story changed?
  • Be sure to have your child go back and reread if they are unclear of a part of the text.
  • Describe the characters in the book.
  • What is the setting of the story?
  • Compare the main characters to one another or to yourself.
After the Reading of a New Book:
  • Talk about the characters, the setting, the problem and solution.
  • Talk about the episodes leading up to the solution.
  • Is that how you would have solved the story? Why/why not?
  • Create a new ending for the story.
  • Summarize or retell what happened.
  • Why do you think the author wrote this story.
  • What message was the author trying to send with this book?
  • How would you change the story?
  • Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
3-2-1 Strategy
After reading, tell...
3 facts that you learned or discovered
2 facts that you found interesting
1 question that you still have about the topic.
Read, Cover, Remember, Retell
Read a page of text, cover the page with your hand, retell what you remember in your own words
Reading Comprehension Strategies:
Comprehension strategies are tools that good readers use to make sense of text. Comprehension strategy instruction allows students to become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension. The following strategies are used to help improve reading comprehension:
Making Connections
Connecting is a strategy that involves making personal connections with texts and connections between texts. Connections can occur before, during, and after reading.
Ask your child: What feelings or experiences have you had that are like those of the characters in this book? How does connecting help you understand what you read? How is this book like another book you have read? How does collecting information from more than one text help you build your understandings?
Making Predictions
This strategy is helpful in teaching students to use background knowledge and textual clues to make predictions before and during their reading.
Ask your child: Can you predict what will happen next in this text? What do you think this will be about? What will you learn? Why?
Asking Questions
This strategy is helpful for teaching students to ask and answer questions before, during, and after reading.
Ask your child: What questions do you have before you begin reading? What questions did you have while you were reading? Where can the answers to these questions be found? Was there anything you wondered or were confused about?
Making Inferences
An inference is an assumption, or a supplying of information that is not explicitly stated in the text.
Ask your child: What did the author mean by ---- ? What in the text helped you know that? What did you already know that helped you figure that out?
Summarizing is the process of determining important events or information and compiling them into a central theme. Summarizing as they read helps readers form memory structures that they can use to select and store details. In nonfiction text, students find key points and determine what is important in text.
Ask your child: What did you learn from the text? What was the theme of the story? What was the problem and what episodes led to the solution?
Evaluating involves critiquing, establishing opinions, considering author intents and viewpoints, and preparing to use and apply new information gained from reading.
Ask your child: What do you think about this book? Why? Do you agree with this author's views? How do the illustrations help you understand the text? Could this really happen?
Visualization helps readers connect with text as they consider the sensory images evoked by the characters, settings, and events. Images can be created during and after reading and enhance comprehension by helping the reader draw conclusions, interpret text, and retain information. Ask your child: In your mind, what do the characters look like? What does the setting look like?

Speech Language

Contact Information

Speech Pathologist

Buffie Bolger, Speech Pathologist

Beth-Lynn "Buffie" Bolger

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4443

Speech Pathologist

Photo of Ms. Bernsen, Speech Pathologist

Samantha Bernsen

(847) 498-4970, ext. 4439


Welcome to Speech and Language! We are looking forward to a wonderful year working with your children! We hold Master's degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and are certified and licensed in the State of Illinois. We provide service to students who are identified with speech and language difficulties in the areas of articulation of speech sounds, language, pragmatics/social communication, fluency/stuttering, and voice disorders.

Typically, we see students in small groups or individually in our rooms. We may also go into the classrooms to provide speech/language services. We also see students for interventions as mandated by Response to Intervention. We collaborate with the staff, conference and communicate with parents.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. We look forward to meeting with you this year and helping your children grow, learn, and make progress on their goals!