January 4, 2005

Willow staff to host outreach conference first 3 days of school

Willow Springs 4-year-old kindergartners and staff members will have an alternative start to the 2005-06 school year that will allow students, parents and staff to make strong connections before the first day of instruction. School Board members approved Transition to Success: 2005-06 Outreach Proposal that Willow Springs staff members requested.
The outreach plan allows teachers to plan individual 30-minute meetings with each 4-year-old and his or her parents. Willow Spring Principal John Vitale said staff members initiated the plan so that teachers and students could know one another better before the critical first day of school for the youngsters.

“This conference would allow the teacher to make a strong connection with the family and to conduct a baseline assessment which would maximize instructional time in the fall,” Vitale wrote in a proposal to the School Board.

While the first three days of school for Hamilton students will be Sept. 1, 2 and 6, Willow Springs parents and students will meet at school for face-to-face teacher conferences that will be scheduled at registration. Students will work on an interactive assessment that will give their teachers an idea of their skill levels. The conference gives children the chance to see their classroom while parents will provide valuable information to teachers to smooth their child’s transition to kindergarten. Along with the outreach conference, parents could receive volunteer training and have their child screened by speech teachers if necessary.

Conferences will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on two days and from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on another day. Vitale said staff members were willing to shift their work day to accommodate parents’ work schedules.

School Board members were impressed with the plan.

“I think this is a great idea,” School Board Member Jim Long said. “It really shows extra effort from the staff to initiate this proposal.”

Strategic Plan updated

School Board members learned about the annual Strategic Plan update that was held in December.

The most significant change came in the strategy that addresses using student assessments and other data to ensure continuous progress for each child. The Strategic Plan team chose to change an objective to reflect the district’s use the computer-assisted Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments. Instead of relying on district benchmarks in each subject area, students will be expected to achieve typical growth targets based on the MAP assessments.

Other strategies in the Strategic Plan 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; and
  • enhance our communication plan to promote understanding, support and involvement of families, the community and staff in fulfilling our mission.

Reports on the accomplishments in those strategies were reviewed.

Thielen recognized

Woodside staff members attended the School Board meeting in support of a colleague they nominated for recognition. Woodside second grade teacher Beverly Thielen was honored for her exemplary teaching abilities and love for students and staff. Woodside Principal Linda Jorgensen read an acrostic poem about Thielen that emphasized her commitment to children and kind, generous spirit..

One board member challenged for board seat, another unopposed

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke reported that the positions of Mike Hyland and James Long are up in the April election. Lannon resident and former School Board Member Terry Gissal filed candidacy papers to run again Hyland, who holds an at-large seat. Long, who represents the Lannon position, is unopposed.

School Board approves personnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the resignation of Hamilton fitness education teacher Kathryn Felker effective at the end of the school year; and
  • appointed Rachel Liesener as a Maple Avenue fourth grade replacement teacher.