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Education has been at the forefront of media stories, politics, and national concern. Education continues to be a truly noble profession and, as the academic school year came to a close last week, our staff received many heartfelt thanks from our community.
Despite the steady stream of “experts” proclaiming how schools should improve, our local schools are not a story of gloom and doom. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We need to be paying attention to who is looking out for the children. Our children should not become the losers in the legislative process. Citizens need to advocate for good public policy and an educational system that does not go to the highest bidder.
Our state has had a slow economic recovery at best. That will mean an uncertain future for the next biennial budget. Since we continue to operate under revenue limits, we can only hypothesize about the funding levels we will see in the future. We will know more after the fall elections. There is a lot at stake.
Our focus must remain on the needs of our children and a commitment to do all we can with the resources that are available! Summer can provide an opportunity to make use of our resources for a summer stretch or jump start for fall. School may be out for the summer, but the district is still full of activity with great things going on!
Summer school is in full swing. We have well over a thousand students enrolled and River Heights and the high school are bursting with activity. There are usually just as many moms and dads in attendance on the first day as there are children! Once the summer school staff in their bright neon shirts have successfully guided everyone to their classes, we all get to work.
We have added Friday field trips to the schedule this summer. The field trip classes have completely filled and they are off to fun and adventure in nearby museums, the environmental site, and more. Susan Mommsen, our summer school administrator, can be credited with the great idea! Something tells me it will grow.
I would like to remind everyone that we also offer our free summer breakfast and lunch program. You do not need to be attending summer school to participate. Free meals are available to all children 18 and younger. Adults can participate in breakfast for $1.00 and in lunch for $2.00.
Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Serving days are Mondays through Thursdays until June 28; and then starting up again July 9 through August 2 at both sites. River Heights will have a program August 6 – 9 with breakfast at 8 a.m. and a noon lunch. River Heights is open all Fridays, too, except July 6.
Staff development during the summer looks more like teams of adults working around tables with resources, lists of ideas, and sharing of best practices. Our staff spends time in the summer on curriculum development, assessment work, and research.
I stopped in at one of the sessions this week and found kindergarten teachers sharing ideas via Pinterest. If you are not familiar with this app, it is a virtual bulletin board of great ideas. Kindergarten teachers love—and I do mean love—creative ideas! The web application provides a valuable resource internationally.
We live in a resource rich world. The challenge is knowing the best applications and methods for learning. There are now more than 250,000 apps available for education. It takes time and thoughtful review to determine if they have value in the educational process.
The administrative team spent some time last week at the Wisconsin Leadership Academy. The workshop format provided sessions by educational leaders such as William Daggett, Doug Reeves, Andrew Hargreaves, and Steve Dembo. The academy is designed to provide the latest and “best” research in student learning.
The academy also builds in time to develop local action plans. It was an inspirational time together and an opportunity to work as instructional leaders.
Administrators and teachers will join forces later in the summer for additional staff development. We continue to look at our data and work toward higher achievement in all areas. We have a full data retreat scheduled and have been selected as a pilot district for the DPI’s new assessment tool called WISEdash.
The new tool will provide much more data and be able to show how much growth each student has made in a year’s time. It will be a dashboard of achievement data by grade, subject, and building. We were excited to have the opportunity to be a pilot district.
Additionally, we will have a group of staff members continue training in the components of a professional learning community. We began this work as a district six years ago and it has resulted in higher achievement and accolades from the state. Several of our schools have recently been nominated as Wisconsin RtI (Response to Intervention) Schools of Recognition!
I know that critics might have you believe that the majority of educators do not work during the summer. It simply isn’t so. Most of our local educators spend quite a bit of time during the summer months getting things ready for the next year, participating in professional development, or teaching summer school!
We couldn’t do what we do without their summer commitment!
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