December 17, 2007

PLTW sees success
Introduction of Project Lead The Way (PLTW) has been so successful in the district that the School Board can expect to see a future request for more staffing.

Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz updated the board on the national program developed by professional engineers that introduces students to engineering fields at middle and high school. Templeton Middle School is in the second year of implementation. All seventh-graders take the Gateway to Technology and Engineering course, and eighth-graders may take Technology and Engineering as an elective. Eighth-graders also have the PLTW unit of machines, work and energy in science.

The program began at the high school this year, which will offer three sections of Introduction to Engineering Design to the 80 students who enrolled for the class. Classroom renovation and expansion for the new course was part of a high school construction project that was completed during the summer.

The district was awarded a three-year, $42,000 grant from the Kern Family Foundation to offset some of the start-up costs of the program.

Schultz reported that increased demand for the courses drive the need for an additional full-time teaching position to be shared between the high school and middle school. He said the request will be part of the 2008-09 overall staffing plan.

Strategic plan update gets OK
The district’s Strategic Plan update was approved with the planning team’s recommendations for minor adjustments to the objectives. Other recommendations that were accepted are to continue to work on strategies to address underachieving students, focus on higher-level thinking skills and extend the plan through 2009.

The planning team met Nov. 29 and reviewed progress of the four strategies and methods used to measure the objectives. The strategies, which will remain the same, are to:

  • foster learning environments that nurture social and emotional development to ensure maximum achievement for each child;
  • ensure that professional development improves student learning;
  • use the results of student assessments and other performance-related data to ensure continuous progress for each child; and
  • enhance our communication plan to promote understanding, support and involvement of families, the community and staff in fulfilling our mission.

Superintendent reports on award, HFAC shells
In her Superintendent’s Report, Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., reported that the district was presented with the Sussex Area Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership Award at its annual awards banquet. The district’s contributions to the chamber were mentioned including Spring Fest, school-to-work initiatives and the Valuing Diversity Committee.

Cooke also reported that the district will look into the purchase of acoustical shells for the Hamilton Fine Arts Center (HFAC). As the district attracts larger, more professional groups to perform, it experiences greater need for the acoustical shells that direct sound toward the audience. The HFAC’s full-fly stage, designed to allow scene changes, causes sound to be lost when large musical groups that fill the entire stage perform.

Included in the HFAC’s original construction bids, the shells were cut due to budget constraints. The cost for an entire shell system would be about $170,000. Cooke said the district is exploring fundraising options that could make the shells a reality.

Two site plans approved
School Board members approved two school site plans and extended praise to the staff who contributed to the schools’ accomplishments.

Principal Linda Jorgensen reported on progress noted in Woodside Elementary School’s site plan review. She noted that the school experienced:

  • overall strong standardized test score with tremendous growth in mathematics;
  • increases in advanced proficiency ratings;
  • teamwork among staff;
  • improved and more consistent parent communication; and
  • use of data to assign interventions for struggling students.

Woodside will focus on two tactics in which students will:

  • experience social and emotional growth leading to academic success through strong and nurturing relationships between students, staff and families; and
  • demonstrate confidence and academic success through instructional best practices, and struggling students will achieve success through differentiated instruction and interventions.

Willow Springs’ site planning team decided to keep the school’s single tactics that states: “The student will be enriched in a unique, well-defined and articulated four-year-old kindergarten program.”

The tactic focuses on organizing the curriculum to align with the Wisconsin model of Early Learning Standards and development of the Transition to Success Program for student entry into school.

Willow Springs Principal Margaret Tackes, Ed.D., described work of the faculty in the past year to:

  • standardize curriculum language;
  • develop statements about the social and emotional experience at the school’
    Identify areas of social-emotional curriculum to develop and teach which resulted in assessment of skills;
  • participate in in-service and CESA workshop regarding social-emotional development and play of 4-year-olds;
  • read, discuss and share information with families in a Professional Learning Community to validate the social-emotional curriculum; and
  • update the school profile to use with students teachers and personnel from visiting school districts that are studying four-year-old kindergarten programming.

School Board member Deborah Briggs commended Willow Springs and pointed out the many positive comments parents make in the school survey.

“I am reading what the parents have written and it’s just positive, after positive, after positive comment,” Briggs said.

Robb recognized
School Board members recognized Cindy Robb, executive assistant for instructional technology and assessment, for her contributions to the district. Robb was responsible for the district’s compliance with the state’s ICES student identification system. She worked many evening and weekend hours to ensure the accuracy of the information. In addition to knowledge about software and hardware and willingness to help people technology issues, Robb was commended for helping staff with projects like posting photos from the German Club’s travels and compiling photos and newspaper clips for the football team.

Female swimmers honored
Four members of the girls’ swim team were recognized for their outstanding athletic and academic accomplishments. Athletic-Activities Director Michael Gosz noted the high grade point averages of state-qualifying swimmers senior Sarah Warzon, sophomore Briana Botros, senior Jessica Bley and freshman Sarah Tighe.

Personnel business
In personnel news, the School Board:
Accepted the early retirement request of Marcy Elementary School Principal Donald Behrens, Ph.D., and the resignation request of Hamilton paraprofessional Theresa Dixon.