Winston Campus Jr. High School

Schools of Distinction Profile

Winston Campus Jr. High School was recognized in 2023 as an AMLE School of Distinction. One of the goals of the program is to foster a network of schools that share promising practices positively impacting young adolescents. The below profile provides highlights a few of Winston Campus Jr. High School's exemplary practices aligned with the 18 Characteristics of Successful Middle Schools.

Connect with Winston Campus Jr. High School Leadership Team

Demographic Information

Location: Palatine, Illinois
School Setting: Suburban
Grade Configuration: 7-8
School Enrollment: 792


Dr. Laurie Heinz, Superintendent
Martín Da Costa, Principal
Hillary Pruc, Assistant Principal
Tomás Reyes, Assistant Principal
Laura Heavey, Student Services Coordinator
Vicky Karahalios, Climate and Culture Coach
Kristina Wagner, Climate and Culture Coach
Maxine Weinman, Climate and Culture Coach

Key Practices

  • Robust Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS), include individualized acronym to teach expectations: Rules of the GAAME
  • Bilingual Parent Liaison to Support Partnerships between Home and School
  • North Cook ROE Student Advocates on site as additional Intervention to support academic performance and attendance
  • Boys & Girls Club After School Programming
  • Ongoing professional development and coaching assistance
  • Common teacher plan time for both departmental and grade level PLCs
  • Multiple extra curricular activities and clubs with student leadership opportunities
  • Staff Book studies
  • Co-Taught classes for both special education and EL
  • Anti-Racist/Culturally and Linguistically Responsive lessons
  • Evidenced based SEL curriculum days
  • Project based learning to increase student engagement (ex. rockets & shark tank)
  • Whole school celebrations and acknowledgements throughout the year
  • Opportunities for staff leadership, collective efficacy

Highlights of Exemplary Practices Aligned with the 18 Characteristics of Successful Middle Schools

Characteristic #2: The school environment is welcoming, inclusive, and affirming for all.

Winston Campus Jr. High School has a comprehensive program centered around anti-racist and culturally-linguistically responsive (CLR) initiatives. The Second Step program provides an evidence based social emotional curriculum for middle grades students. Units on bullying and harassment, as well as inclusivity, are cornerstones of this program. Teacher-led book studies centered around anti-racism and CLR provide further opportunities for staff to explore their personal biases and to collaborate with each other to overcome them through both a personal and schoolwide lens.

Characteristic #4: School safety is addressed proactively, justly, and thoughtfully.

Winston Campus Junior High School has embraced the basic tenets of PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support), “Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful.” Through a shared decision-making process, they have enhanced those tenets to better reflect the developmental and cultural aspects of their school. GAAME (“Greet and Treat with Respect, Accept Direction, Appropriate Interactions, Maintain Personal Space, and Effort in School” )now guide this program at WCJHS. As a result, the school has experienced greater buy-in among the student population.

Characteristic #10: Health, wellness, and social-emotional competence are supported in curricula, school-wide programs, and related policies.

Winston Campus Junior High School is distinguished by a strong school community program, partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs to provide a wide array of after-school activities for all students. This initiative is characterized by physical activity opportunities, content-specific academic support and enrichment, mental health initiatives, and fine arts components. In addition, the school provides students with multiple clubs and extracurricular activities, with an emphasis on multiple opportunities for student leadership.

Characteristic #17: Professional learning for all staff is relevant, long term, and job embedded.

Professional learning at Winston Campus Junior High School is tailored to meet specific and changing needs of the staff. The school has developed an action plan that guides the scope and sequence of this learning, and consistent communication between and among staff about needed instructional topics in academic areas provide the roadmap for implementation. Clear communication, the use of instructional coaching, peer observation and feedback are some of the hallmarks of this initiative.

Characteristic #18: Organizational structures foster purposeful learning and meaningful relationships.

Winston Campus Junior High School teachers have a PLC system of shared planning time with both content area departments and grade-level teams. Content area teams spend time analyzing student data and use this data to ensure consistency in delivery across content areas. Grade level teams concentrate on initiatives such as celebrating student achievements as well as sharing student intervention information to provide consistent and appropriate supports for all students.