What Makes Tatanka Unique

students testing water

Magnet School

TESS is a magnet school—a public school with a specialized curriculum. There is no fee to attend and transportation is provided. Students living in the TESS neighborhood boundary are automatically enrolled in the school. In addition, anyone within the district (and from a member district within the Northwest Suburban Integration School District—NWSISD) can apply for one of the open seats available at each grade level. Those families who open enroll apply through a lottery process with NWSISD.

boys on iPad

Engineering Focus

The primary focus at TESS is on engineering—the application of science—and how it plays a part in everything a student learns, from reading and writing to math and science. Engineering is the creation of a technology to meet a human need or desire. TESS students engineer a variety of technologies throughout their K-5 education.

teacher with two boy students

"Minds On" Approach

We embed the five Es—Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate—into our learning. Students are guided through research questions and data analysis to investigate problems and develop answers using STEM concepts.

kids using technology

Hands-On Learning through Technology

Students learn early on at TESS that technology is anything human-made that is used to solve a problem. Technology can be an object, a system or a process. Students learn that while computers and iPads are technology, so are pencils, chairs and even recipes. We use many learning tools such as Engineering Design Challenges, Makers Spaces, and Thinking Maps to promote hands-on, engaged learning. Students are also exposed to coding projects using iPads to program Spheros and  Lego WeDo 2.0 projects, while Bee-Bots are available for younger students to work on their coding skills.

music class

Daily Specialist Classes

Students have a daily rotation between one of four specialist classes. Students at TESS participate in music and physical education and also have the unique opportunity to participate in extra art and writing classes with specialized teachers.

Family 5K

Strong Parent Involvement

Parents at TESS have a strong sense of pride in their school and students. A dedicated Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) meets monthly to plan events and raise funds for school needs. From Family Fitness Nights to Engineering Night to Family Fun Night to the annual STEMpede 5K Color Run, there are multiple ways for families to engage with their children in a fun, educational environment. In addition, parents are always invited to eat a meal with their child at school or volunteer in their classroom.