On the last day of school in Arlington Heights Elementary District 25, one new teacher was moving in. Heather Walsh is one of five kindergarten teachers at Westgate Elementary School preparing to teach in the district’s first all-day kindergarten program beginning in August.

Heather Walsh with her son, Danny, move in her books and play equipment into her new all-day kindergarten room at Westgate.

“We’ll have five sections, including one buddy section which will integrate students with those with special needs,” Walsh says. “We were told to have everything moved in by June 3, before construction begins inside the building. Literally every room is being moved.”

In all, the district has added 25 new kindergarten classrooms in six of its seven buildings in Arlington Heights. Voters passed a referendum in 2022, giving their approval for a tax increase to fund full-day kindergarten and a five-year capital projects plan. District officials then sold up to $75 million in bonds to cover the cost.

Westgate is one of the largest additions in the district, with its 10 new classrooms, a new gym, larger playground, reconfigured parking lot and underwater storm water detention basin.

Walsh moved her things in on Friday, the same day she moved out of Greenbrier Elementary School, where she has taught the last 24 years. Consequently, she brings her experience is in early childhood education and her excitement to the new program.

“We’ll have a mix of experienced teachers and some new teachers on our team,” Walsh says. “We’ll bring some fun. These are still little ones after all.”

As she and her son, Danny, unloaded her car — filled with blocks, books, a rug, a play table, storage containers and a big red barn and animal playset — her new coworkers shouted: “Walsh is moving in, Walsh is moving in.”

The excitement is mounting. With the five all-day kindergarten classes, Westgate is expecting to add 100 new students to the school, bringing its population to nearly 700.

Walsh and her team are prepared as they make the transition with their students to the new program.

“After 24 years, I have a lot of stuff,” Walsh says with a laugh. “It’s a lot of work to move everything, but I’m excited.”



Please follow and like us: