Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13, 2013

District Perspective

Superintendent John Carver
jcarver@howard-winn.k12.ia.us
Twitter: johnccarver
SKYPE: johnccarver







Going Forward
Last Monday night the Board unanimously voted to end combined classrooms and duplication of grade levels. What this means is that beginning in the fall of 2014, all students in grades K-5 will learn together on designated campuses either in Cresco or Lime Springs. This structure will remain in place for three years, being reviewed by the Board annually. Preschool will remain in Elma and Lime Springs. This means that students will be bused to the designated grade level campuses.

Why?
The Howard-Winneshiek Community School District vision "to discover, develop and expand passions, creativity and strengths" and mission "to prepare and empower our students to think creatively, serve, contribute and succeed locally and globally" could not be fully realized with the structure of combination classrooms and duplicated grades at different campuses in Elma, Lime Springs and Cresco. This condition was not a teacher problem but a structure problem. Class sizes ranging from 15 (in a combination two grade classroom) to 25 in a single grade section created a challenge for teachers to serve students and meet their needs. The new structure ends "have" and "have nots" thinking, "us against them" mentality and moves Howard-Winn to becoming one District. 

Instruction 
Instruction is what drives this decision and direction. The research is quite clear that academic achievement is directly tied to instruction and the skill sets of teachers. Improving instructional skill sets is directly tied to teachers being able to connect, collaborate and learn together. Bringing grade level students and teachers together facilitates this. Learning for students and teachers will no longer be in isolation. Grade levels together, with class sizes in and around 22 students, will allow for flexible grouping and differentiated instruction. This is a good thing.   


What grade level where?
Which grade(s) on which campuses will be determined with input by grade level teachers. Grade level teachers (K-6) will select one representative to be involved in the discussion and help to create direction. The expectation is that names of representatives will be forwarded to me by the end of the day, Thursday, Dec. 19. Meetings and discussion on this topic will begin in January. 

What's Next?

This direction forward is a good direction and will move Howard-Winn to unite and become one District. Students will come together and will have a GREAT experience, learning together. The challenge will be how we adults deal with this. The thing to keep in mind is that our children are watching us. How we act and conduct ourselves will be a life lesson our children will take with them into their adult lives. For me, I believe it is crucial we teach kids how to embrace change and grow. With courage and wisdom, the Board of Education is modeling this life lesson. 

"Shout-Outs"
  • Wonderful Music! Be sure to catch one of the many concerts going on! Our Vocal and Instrumental Departments are FANTASTIC!
  • A BIG "Shout Out" to our Basketball teams and Wrestlers. Continue to model sportsmanship and Teamwork!
  • Way to go NICC on receiving an Iowa Department of Education grant for $96,665 to support the development and implementation of a statewide network, with a STEM focus, that prepare high school students for the workforce. You are a valued partner and we are glad you are part of the Cadet TEAM!
  • Cresco Public Library for their $1,500 technology grant! Way to go!

One last thing.....
Learning is about relationships and having fun together!

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