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December 7, 2010

Willow Spring retires one, redefines two tactics

Willow Springs Learning Center celebrated the accomplishment of one tactic and redefined two others as representative staff, parents and volunteers reviewed the site plan at its Nov. 16 annual update. Principal Margaret Tackes, Ed.D, described the year’s accomplishments for School Board members. She noted that staff:

  • addressed the new Wisconsin Model of Early Learning standards through professional development activities that included an invitation to area daycare providers in an effort to develop continuity, programming and transitioning for students. These actions were part of the  retired strategy dealing with social-emotional components of the 4K curriculum that was deemed to be fully embedded in school operations;
  • started implementation of a 4K-to-5K transition program in which Willow teachers observed 4K “graduates” in their new 5K setting during first semester, and invited 5K teachers to Willow Springs during the second semester to watch their future students. Willow students will visit their new neighborhood elementary school in May to meet staff, tour their future school and participate in a school story and snack in the cafeteria;
  • developed 21st century skills by focusing on problem solving skills. Students participated in a series of all-school assemblies in which key content areas were presented. All students participate in expectations regarding greetings, problem solving and conflict resolution.

Tackes said the school will focus on two new tactics as the staff seeks to enrich students in a unique, well-defined and articulated four-year-old kindergarten program. The tactics indicate students completing their 4K experience at Willow Springs will:

  • enter their neighborhood 5K school experiences with developmentally social-emotional, pre-academic, fine and gross motor and communication skills; and
  • demonstrate readiness attributes regarding the knowledge skills and dispositions for 21st century skills in the areas of communication, conflict resolution, creativity, collaboration and technology skills.

To address these tactics, staff members will investigate early interventions, continue transitioning evening and opportunities with receiving schools, include 4K and 5K teachers in vertical teaming, investigate Positive Behavior and Intervention Systems program, enhance all-school assemblies to develop social skills development and problem solving and develop learning skills through the use of technology.

School Board member Deborah Briggs praised the school for its development of report cards that place an emphasis on building up students. She also said that staff commitment to serving the four-year-olds at the school is apparent.

District strategic plan progresses

Four strategic plans have provided direction for the school district since 1991. Educational Services and Human Resource Director John Roubik gave an update of the progress made in the third year of the latest plan. Strategies indicate that the district will:

  • ensure rigorous, relevant curriculum and innovative instruction to support maximum achievement for each child;
  • engage and empower students, differentiate instruction and ensure continuous progress for each child by implementing quality assessment practices;
  • focus professional development on the knowledge and skills staff need as they educate student to thrive in an inter-connected, global community;
  • utilize effective communication practices to promote understanding, support and involvement of our families, community and staff;
  • create learning environments that nurture social and emotional development an respect for our diverse world; and
  • integrate and assess 21st century skills in the areas of financial literacy, employability skills and technological literacy.

Senior volunteer recognized

The School Board recognized Willow Springs Seniors and Students volunteer Gayrene Chambers for her work at Willow Springs. Principal Margee Tackes said Chambers, who began volunteering at Willow Springs seven years ago when her grandson was a student there, is a part of the school’s climate and culture.

“Gayrene has a love of children and a very special way about her that endears children and staff,” Tackes said.

In addition to volunteering in three classrooms each week and logging many hours at special events, Chamber created the Tucker Turtle costume, worn by school staff members to reinforces ideas for positive behavior. Tackes noted that when the school could not find a ready-made costume, Chambers shopped for material, created a pattern and sewed the costume so that the character could be a part of school assemblies.

Personnel business

In personnel action, the School Board:

  • appointed Gerald Herman, a high school cleaner who wanted part-time hours, to work four hours a day at Maple Avenue; and
  • hired Kristyn Brandt as a part-time Marcy instructional and supervision paraprofessional.