Friday, December 19, 2014

JCC Dec. 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!

District Perspective
Superintendent John Carver  
Office 563 547 2762
Twitter: johnccarver 
SKYPE: johnccarver

Happy Holidays
I am excited to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you, HAPPY HOLIDAYS! As we enter into this special time of year, I encourage you to take a moment to look back and reflect on 2014. For me, excitement, challenges and accomplishments come to mind when thinking about the last 12 months.  

As a school District we provided every child access to a digital device, connected them to the world and inspired innovation and creativity. Along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, 3D printers, coding, robotics, and collaborating globally was added. Howard-Winn moved forward implementing the vision: "to discover, develop and expand passions, creativity and strengths", and the mission: "to prepare and empower our students to think creatively, serve, contribute and succeed locally and globally". Our students and teachers are ROCK STARS!

Knowing that every cycle has a beginning, middle, and an end, lets celebrate and move through the end of the present cycle and run towards the beginning of the next cycle, seeking new opportunities. The future has unlimited potential! 

Happy Holidays!
John Carver, Superintendent  
Howard-Winneshiek Community School District     

Keeping Kids safe
Last Friday, December 12, at approximately 9 a.m., Howard-Winneshiek Community School District was contacted by law enforcement and advised, as a precautionary measure, to go into “Shelter in Place” protocols. The Shelter in Place safety procedures were activated at the Howard-Winneshiek Crestwood Campuses, including at the High School, K-8 facilities and Kessel Kids.

These actions were precautionary with the purpose of keeping students and staff safe as law enforcement conducted business in the neighborhood adjacent to the schools. The event lasted a little over an hour. At 10:40 a.m. the District released an informational statement about the event to media, posted on the web page, Facebook, and Twitter. It is important to remember two things when an event like this happens: 1. parents will not be able to talk to their children during the event.  2. at the conclusion of the event, and law enforcement has given the all clear, the District will issue a statement to patrons via media and social media in regard to the event.  

Monday, December 15 classes were delayed for 2 hours due to fog. District staff begin checking roads around 4 a.m. when weather conditions may be a factor for traveling. Keep in mind the District is 462 square miles. It may be "clear" in part of the District but not throughout. With 1,200+ students and 200+ employees on the road each day, safe travel conditions are a priority.    

Board Work Session: BUDGET 
The Board met in a work session last Monday, December 15 to discuss the Budget and continue the discussion on the direction forward. The bottom line is under current conditions, $750,000 in reductions need to be made. The emerging thinking is that these reductions, if possible, would be spread over two years. Crucial items, out of our control, are Allowable Growth (State Aid) and enrollment. The Legislature sets the Allowable Growth. With enrollment, Howard-Winn is committed to providing the BEST world class education to our students. Parents have the choice as to where to send their kids to school and Howard-Winn wants to be that choice. The challenge is where that can be done with the resources we have. Education and schools in IOWA are approaching the crossroads. 

In keeping with the "bucket concept" and knowing that it is the General Fund that needs to be addressed, the question becomes if $750,000 needs to be cut, where can this come from?
  1. In the General Fund "bucket" from the Non-employee expenditures/Unrestricted is
    $2,416,063 (factoring out the "Open Enrollment out" of roughly $500,000) there is roughly $1,900,000 dollars in which reduction could be made.
  2. in the General Fund "bucket" from the unrestricted salaries and benefits there is $7,862,528 in which reductions could be made.  
  3. Adding the amounts together, there is roughly $9,762,528 from which we need to make reductions/cuts
  4. The other "take-away" is that in 2010-11 we had 220 employees with a student enrollment of 1,384 and in 2014-15 we had 219.5 employees with a student enrollment of 1244.01. My thinking is that if we are down 140 students we should have less staff to serve the kids.
  5. Clint's response to Doug's request to factor out $250,000 in savings from Lime Springs and Elma closing is also interesting. $250,000 is about a third of the amount Gary Sinclair's recommended and does not "move the needle" far enough.  
  6. $500,000 in additional cuts are needed. 
  7. Variables to the equation: Allowable Growth and Enrollment. 
I think it is very important to remember that making cuts/reductions is a process/journey. The first step is where the kids are going to be taught/learn. Next step is what are staff needs to support the mission. Simultaneously to staff needs, what can be shared? 

Actions going forward:
  • Review all staffing needs for the organization.
  • Decide the question to close Lime Springs and completely close Elma. This is something that is "time sensitive" and needs to be decided at the January Board meeting.
  • Items to be worked through AFTER Decision/Ramification of closing: fate of the Preschool in Elma, what to do with the Elma building itself,  Lime Springs pre-school can move into space in day care (of which the District owns the building). What to do with the old Lime Springs building.
  • Meet with Neighboring School Districts for focused conversations on collaboration. Determine who "wants to fish". What can we share?
  • Use the Housing report to recruit families into the region. Housing, jobs, education.  
  • Grow relationships with business and industry. 
  • Visit Central Academy in Des Moines. Could that concept work in NE IOWA?
  • Work to upgrade/deploy BROADBAND! Education Business
Additionally it needs to be said that with any of the buildings we go forward with, construction/remodeling will be needed. The question then becomes: what is the most strategic use of funding for buildings? The bigger question is: what is K-12 education going to look like in IOWA? Schools like Howard-Winn, Turkey Valley, Osage, Charles City, South Winn, rural IOWA, what is the system of education going to look like? We need to gain control of our destiny. We are ALL in this together.  

  • District Advisory Meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday, January 7, 2015
  • Area Board Presidents / Superintendents meeting 9 a.m. Saturday, January 10, 2015 site TBA Focus: CHANGE
  • Howard-Winn School Board Meeting 7 p.m. Monday, January 12, 2015. 
More information and updates will follow!

"Shout OUTS"
  • GOOD LUCK to the Wrestlers as they enter competition in Waterloo! 
  • It was a wonderful evening last weekend at the Madrigal Dinner! IT ROCKED!
  • Check out the 5th grade concert Fantastic Young Musicians! 
  • What EXCITEMENT! CADET Boys and Girls Basketball is ROCKIN! Keep moving forward!
What Learning at HOWARD-WINN looked like this past week! 

Happy Holidays
and we will see you in 2015!

NEXT Regular Update will be published Friday January 9, 2015.

Watch for a "Special Update" Friday, January 2, 2015

December 19, 2014

Crestwood Secondary Schools (7-12)
Twitter: @Crestwood_HS 

Special Events for the Week of January 5 - January 9, 2015
Monday:           Start of 2nd Semester
                          Law Enforcement Meeting - 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday:          District Cabinet Meeting - 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday:     Admin Meeting - 7:45 a.m. 
Thursday:         Regional Health Service of Howard County Meeting - 12:00 p.m.
Friday:              Counseling/At-Risk Weekly Meeting - 1:00 p.m. 

Youth Frontiers - The Character Challenge

Reminder:  #cadetnation Fridays are the first Friday of every month. This is a way to show your Cadet spirit. Remember to wear your #cadetnation t-shirt on Friday, January 9.

JB Holland Meeting
Representatives from Crestwood and Waukon High School met with Bill Holland from JB Holland this past week.  The purpose was to develop pathways for certification in the construction industry.  Mr. Holland is a strong supporter of developing relevant coursework to careers after school.  Future meetings will include other regional construction contractors and how we can partner to develop the skill sets of students post-high school.

Student - Teacher Relationship Building
Why are we focusing on connecting and being positive with every student?
We are focusing on connecting and being positive with every student in order to build stronger relationships among teachers and students.  Positive adult to student relationships inside a school are important because it creates a welcoming and nurturing environment in which to learn.  A positive school environment in which teachers and students support each other will have a positive impact on achievement, climate, culture, and attitudes.  

What is the story behind our data?
To learn more about why many of our students didn’t agree with the statement “My teachers notice when I am doing a good job and let me know about it” we surveyed all 7th-12th grade students. The first question that students were asked was, “What is the most important thing you want teachers to notice about you?” After reviewing their responses, we found that the vast majority of students want teachers to notice and acknowledge them for working hard and trying their best, their personal achievements outside of academics, and for their academic progress.

What change is needed?
Our data analysis revealed that more students want to be recognized: 1) for working hard and trying their best, 2) for their personal achievements outside of academics and 3) for their academic progress. We want to move from a school where students do not feel they are acknowledged for doing a good job to a school where adults consciously and purposefully acknowledge their hard work and dedication in and out of school.

What strategy will we use?
In order to increase positive relationships among staff and students, staff will notice and acknowledge when students are working hard and trying their best. Staff will also observe and acknowledge students’ personal and academic achievements. Staff will be asked to make three positive contacts to three different students between every scheduled staff PD day. One contact will be by email (which will also be copied to the student’s parent or guardian), one by a personal note, and one verbally one to one with a student. The verbal praise will be paired with a token/pin.  

Because it is important for staff to get to know students in order to be able to acknowledge their personal achievements, staff has been be asked to choose a strategy for connecting with students (from Capturing Kids Hearts, or Connecting with Students), set a goal and write it on a notecard to be turned in and reviewed by the principal. Further acknowledgements of students will include verbal and written praise.

Happy Holidays from the Junior High!

Happy Holidays from the High School! 
High School teachers hosted the #cadetnation Holiday tree in their rooms during December.  
Teachers were asked to decorate the tree with items from their teaching area.

Happy Holidays from Crestwood Secondary Schools!

Terese Jurgensen - Elementary Principal Grades 2-6; Director of Special Education PK-12

Mrs. Jurgensen looking forward to the New Year!  

Crestwood Elementary
We have had a fun and eventful week at Crestwood Elementary School. The students and staff have worked hard this week finishing up Lead 21 and Math Core Curriculum testing as well as enjoying co-curricular holiday events. In my weekly blog this week, I will reflect on these events as well as outline educational goals and activities that we will provide for our students in the New Year of 2015!

Multi-Tiered System of Supports    
The Howard-Winneshiek Community School District is committed to providing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model. What this means is that when students struggle academically, specifically in the area of reading, writing, math, or behaviors, we provide small group, direct instruction specifically in the area of student need and progress monitor their academic growth. This instruction is provided across all grade levels during our Cadet Time, which occurs daily for 30 minutes in small groups. 

My area of expertise is in the area of challenging behaviors. Often, a student's academic growth is hindered because they lack the social thinking or executive functioning ability to be able to process academic areas because they lack the ability to problem solve, focus, plan, organize or resist their impulses in order to learn. Challenging behaviors specifically cannot only infringe on the individual student's academic growth, but on other student's academic growth in a classroom.  

During our Teacher Quality Day on January 2nd, we will be outlining our MTSS strategies and plans both academically and behaviorally. I have spoken briefly on executive functioning, but Social Thinking is equally as important for a student's success in school. Social Thinking was termed by Michelle Garcia Winner only a few years ago, and is a skill that is essential for students being able to comprehend reading materials as well as being able to "work well and play well with others." Social Thinking is a critical academic skill and is outlined in the Iowa Core 21st Century Skills. Here is a short excerpt outlining Social Thinking:
After School Tutoring with Educare - Starting Tuesday, 1/6/15
As a part of our SINA plan, we are thrilled to partner for the third year with Educare Tutoring Services for our students who have been selected for this opportunity. The tutoring this year will begin on Tuesday, January 6th at 3:30 - 4:30; 4:10 - 5:10 (Lime Springs Bused Students) four days weekly except for the Wednesday's that are early outs for Teacher Professional Development. The tutoring will be held for 30 school days. Lynn Murray, the director for the after-school tutoring, will be sending out letters to all of the families who have chosen to have their children enroll in the program. The program has proven to provide academic growth for our students, and we are looking forward to seeing additional gains this year. Mrs. Murray will be sending a letter home this Friday, December 19th, to the families who will take part in the program. I would like to make a "SHOUT OUT" to all of our certified teachers who have offered to provide this outstanding opportunity to students grades K-5th grade!        

Christmas Around the World!
The second grade classes held Christmas Around the World this week for their students! This co-curricular event partnered with their Social Studies, Literacy, Art and Music curriculum. The students truly enjoyed and learned about the Holiday traditions in Mexico, Norway, Germany as well as Hannakah. Here are a few pictures of the exciting experiences:
The picture on the left shows Mary Watt, second grade special education teacher co-teaching with Kelly Buehler about the traditions of Mexico. The students drank Mexican hot chocolate, created pinata's and poinsettias. Mrs. Buehler and Mrs. Watt taught about the traditions of Mexico and how their traditions are similar to ours and yet unique in so many ways. You can see in the picture below how engaged the students were during the instruction about the country of Mexico. Feliz Navidad!

The pictures to the left and video below highlight the exciting events that were taking place for  Germany  in Mrs. Kuhn's classroom. The students enjoyed making Christmas Trees, decorating gingerbread cookies and hearing Christmas Carols in the German language.  It was fun to see their faces as they realized that the songs being sung were Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and (of course) Oh Christmas Tree in the German Language!  


"We have had a great time learning today! "    
Mrs. Ihde Taught 
Hannukah Traditions!
Pictured to the right are three, second grade students who were enjoying eating Latkes a traditional food for Hanukkah. Latkes are small potato pancakes that have a little onion and egg in them that are eaten with a small dollop of apple sauce and sour cream on them. Yum! Our sweet student below is finishing coloring a Menorah.

This is a seven-lamp (six branches) ancient Hebrew lampstand made of pure gold and used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses.
Pictured below are Mrs.Tuchek and her mother Grace, who is 100% Norwegian. She brought in many holiday artifacts from Norway. Grace shared holiday traditions as well as the family legacy that Grace's family, Mrs. Tuchek's great grandparents, were some of the founding Norwegian people here in the Howard-Winneshiek Counties. 

A 2nd grade student is also pictured with the "Christmas Around the World" bag each student created to take their goodies home in!


Howard - Winn Students Participate in the "Snow Queen"
Several elementary and a few junior high students present "Snow Queen"
A local Lime Springs church presented an extremely professional rendition of the "Snow Queen" on Thursday, December 18th to our Third and Fourth Grade classes. It was a fast-paced, funny and warm play with the theme that warmth, love and good will not only mend a heart, but indeed can change the world. The play will be shown this weekend on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. as well as a matinee on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. I encourage everyone to attend this outstanding show that is wonderful for the whole family!

"Coded" Christmas Cards!
5th grade students in Mrs. Suckow's classroom, coded these trees, stars and holiday messages!

Thank You Crestwood Elementary!
I had a birthday this week and it was wonderful! A huge thank you to all of the staff, students, and families who made my day so special! Below is Mrs. Timp's kindergarten class! Loved it!!!!

Have a Safe & Wonderful Holiday Season!

Looking forward to an amazing New Year!

Thank you for allowing me to serve our students & families at Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools!

Grimm - 12/19/2014

PK-1 Principal/Director of Teaching & Learning
Sara Grimm
Twitter:  saramarleygrimm
SKYPE:  saramarleygrimm

Children who read more achieve at higher levels in school and on standardized tests. Yet many children spend fewer than two hours a week reading. And at the same time, they’re averaging three to four hours a day watching television.  Experts say that kids who spend just 30 minutes a day reading books, magazines and newspapers are more likely to become readers and do better in schools.  If the TV is easy to reach, but books are on a high shelf, you can guess how your kids will spend their time. Make sure books, magazines and newspapers are easy to get.  Reading in unusual places also adds to the fun. Look for unusual places children can read.  Books also make excellent Christmas gifts!
What book are you reading?

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be involved in your child’s education. We use many assessments to help guide our instruction.  We regularly utilize formal assessments like MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) in grades 1 - 5 and FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) in grades K-6 and many other informal assessments.  The information obtained from these assessments helps us to determine how your child is progressing with key academic skills and to determine if additional support is needed to ensure your child’s academic success. Should you have questions regarding your child’s performance in class (academically or socially), don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.  Our next round of MAP and FAST testing will take place after Christmas break.  Your child’s teacher will send home more specific information after our holiday break.

"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." --Walt Disney

Gingerbread Hunt
The preschoolers are wrapping up their “how to be healthy” study by talking about goodies/sweets. The preschoolers called goodies/sweets our “sometimes” foods (it is ok to eat them sometimes, but not all of the time).  They read Jan Brett’s book, Gingerbread Baby and decided to make the “sometimes” food…gingerbread cookies. The preschoolers worked hard to measure, pour, mix, cut out, and decorate their very own gingerbread cookie. Unfortunately when it was time to get their cookies for decorating, they ran away!! Somehow those silly cookies ended up back in their classroom…they made sure to eat them up right away!!

The Elma preschoolers were also busy baking cookies.  The students got to bake cookies, decorate a tree, and wrap presents. In the art center the students were able to use beads and pipe cleaners to make ornaments to put on the tree. In the writing center students got to cut out and decorate paper ornaments and write letters to Santa. The students were able to use story props in the reading center to retell the stories Gingerbread Baby, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bell, and The Gingerbread Man. The students were able to do some different Christmas apps where they could practice their letters, numbers, and other skills. Also this week the students helped make fake snow using baking soda and hair conditioner. This week they read many different versions of The Gingerbread Man story. Then they compared the stories to see how they are similar and different. They used blocks in their block center to build a gingerbread house that they can go in. They used paper and other materials to decorate it.

Preschool PBIS
During the month of December, the preschool students have been showing their teachers multiple examples during the school day of HW preschool program's PWPBIS expectations: Be Kind, Be Safe, and Be Respectful and on Thursday, December 18th they earned the privilege of having a pajama day, drinking hot chocolate, reading the book and watching the movie "The Polar Express".

Pictures: Students in Mrs. Vstecka's preschool class are learning the PWPBIS Cheer from Mrs. Merkel. The cheer helps students remember and recognize the three PWPBIS expectations and students in Mrs. Merkel's class drinking hot chocolate while Ms. Godwin reads The Polar Express.

We are the preschoolers (point to self with thumbs), 
We’re here to say (cup hands by mouth), 
We show Cadet Pride everyday! (hands on hips, chest out, smile) 
Be Kind (hands together then apart)
Be Safe (form a triangle with fingers)
Be Respectful (hug yourself)
Yeah! (pose with arms up and feet apart)

Kindergarten students have been working hard being writers.  Our curriculum resource, Being a Writer promotes students’ growth as “skilled writers”.  Students become creative accomplished writers and critical thinkers.  The children listen to multiple genres and authors while learning the craft of writing.  This week the children listened to the story My Favorite Bear by Andrea Gabriel. The children discussed how authors write about facts and things they know. As a class the children generated an “Animals We Know About” chart. The children used their iPads to write down names of animals that peaked their interest.  From the list the students then created their own stories about an animal and shared it orally with the class. The words are, can, have, some, and they were added to the classroom word wall. The students were able to use the word wall as a reference when they created their stories.

Cadet pride reward yummy chicken soup!       Building "read to someone" stamina

First Grade
Did you know that learning math facts is like learning how to read? There are math strategies that help students learn and remember math facts and patterns within those facts. First grade students learned this week how to identify "turn around facts" such as 3+2=5 AND therefore 2+3=5. Students are also learning how to add "DOUBLES" and they know that if adding doubles in order, the SUM is always even! Here are a few pictures from math class:
In Being a Writer, they read a book called "Mouse Views." It is a silly non-fiction book about a mouse who escapes in school and gives picture clues about what room in the building he is in and we have to guess where he is using those picture clues! The book included a map of the school, which perfectly fits into our Lead 21 unit where we are using maps to take us around our community! Following the book, students walked around our school with their iPads and took "zoomed in pictures" of various objects in our building. They then wrote in their Being a Writer Journal clues to their friends to help us identify what object they took a picture of! See our pictures of one student’s writing

Title I

"When a child struggles to read, take it personally. Then take action." ~
Every child wants to succeed. Yet research shows that the lowest-achieving students need intensive teaching to become average readers.  Mary Ellen Vachta who teaches Reading Recovery (a short-term early intervention program for first grade readers having difficulty learning to read and write) wrote a grant using   She wanted to purchase books for her Reading Recovery students.  Her grant was for $729 and was funded by C US Bank, Donaldson's, Kirstin Widell, and 2 donors from Arizona.  Thank you DONORS!

2nd grade Title I students created Animoto videos showcasing what they learned after reading "All about African Elephants"