Friday, August 14, 2015

August 14, 2015

Welcome to the 2015-2016 School Year!

Terese Jurgensen - Director of Student Services & Special Education

This year I will be serving our district as the Director of Student Services/Special Education PK-12. I am very excited about this opportunity, and as the Director of Student Services, I will have the opportunity to partner with several departments including our Success Team, English Language Learners (ELL), Gifted & Talented (GAT), Special Education and oversee all areas of Equity. It is such an honor for me to work with all of the staff, students, families and community in this role. It is a role that encompasses my life's work, experiences, but most importantly areas that I am very passionate about. As the year evolves, I will be highlighting these areas to the readers of our weekly update. 

     Challenging Behaviors...Is it Skill or is it Will? 
Our Success Team consists of several phenomenal staff members across our K-12 campus. In the elementary and junior high building, we have Tiffany McCabe (PK-5 guidance counselor), Keith Anderlik (Check-In/Check Out & Student Supports), Doug Sickles (6-8 guidance counselor & Student Supports) and Scott Wiley (Check-In/Check Out & Student Supports). In our high school building we have Trish Hartman (9-12 guidance counselor & Student Supports), Brenda Lentz (504 Coordinator, Student Supports & Grant Writer), Julie Montgomery (Alternative Education Instructor), Gena McCaffery (Student Supports) and Betty Koschmeder (Student Supports). We are also blessed with our newest team member, Denise Headington, who will serve the entire district as our Family Supports Case Manager. As the Director of Student Services, it will be my role to support our Success Team in all capacities, I am honored. 

The Success Team will look at multiple measures of data to help determine what supports are needed to teach our students the Skills needed to be successful in school and in life!
As we look toward supporting the students and families in our district, we are going to be supporting students and families by looking at challenging behaviors and issues as a matter of Skill or Will. We believe that every student wants to be successful and will do well if they have the tools to do so. That everyone is created for something great! However, we all have a "story to tell" and things we struggle with. The question is, "Is it a matter of Skill or Will?" 

The Success Team will look at multiple measures of data to help determine what supports are needed to support our students in the areas of WILL - maters of the heart.
"Is the struggle or challenging behavior a skill-based issue?" As a Success Team, partnering with our teachers, support staff and most importantly parents, we will be teaching skill-based needs such as executive functioning supports, expected behaviors, how to understand other people's perspectives and how to communicate name just a few. Or, is the issue that is stopping a child from learning a matter of Will? Does the student struggle with emotional needs, attendance, need a mentor or someone to counsel them? These are matters of the heart, and we recognize that many students struggle with these and come to school, but aren't ready to learn because of burdens that are too much for them to handle. 

Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools
Creating a Community Culture ~ Attendance Matters!

With the first day of school starting on Monday, August 24th for the new 2015-2016 school year, the Howard Winneshiek Community School District is sharing out the message that “Attendance Matters!” We are excited to partner with our local radio station, KCZQ-FM 102.3, by sending out Public Service Announcements throughout the month of August as well as  looking forward to highlighting National Attendance Matters Month in September.  Attendance is a major indicator of student success.  Did you know?

  • Starting in kindergarten, that if a child misses just one or two days of school every few weeks, the chances that they will learn to read proficiently is greatly decreased?
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may not graduate?
  • Students who miss 1 or 2 days of school every few weeks, are considered chronically absent, affecting grades, graduation, and a strong predictor of successful employment.

In order to be transparent with our parents and community members, the Howard Winneshiek Community School District outlined our attendance policy and shared it with the community in the local newspaper and also has it posted on our website under district handbooks. Letters and phone calls have also gone out to the parents and students who struggled with attendance concerns during the 2014 - 2015 school year. As the school year progresses, we will be taking a closer look at our Attendance Policy and are asking for community members, parents, business leaders, teachers and especially our students to come together and share their thoughts and their voice on the issue that Attendance Matters at Howard Winneshiek Community School. The issue of attendance will be discussed at our School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC), District Advisory Committee, School Board Meetings, during Freshman Orientation on August 19th as well as in our classrooms.

Bottom Line:
“Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school - and themselves. As a district we must build this habit as early as preschool so our students learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college and at work.”

Special Education Update

Looking to our Special Education Services for the 2015 - 2016 school year, we have some exciting programming to look forward to. Our secondary teachers and students will be working together during a Transitions Class each school day. During the Transitions period, students will have the opportunity to have direct instruction in their area of need, whether that be in reading, writing, math or behavioral supports. This will also give our teachers an opportunity to have students complete their progress monitoring probes, instead of using valuable class time to take these in accordance with their IEP goals. 

In our preschool and elementary special education classrooms, behavioral supports, including the Zones of Regulation, Social Thinking - perspective taking, and research-based learning supports in the areas of reading, writing, and math will continue to be the focus. At Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools, we are giving our students an opportunity to experience the Core + More with our students receiving core instruction in the general education classes (The Core) and then having specialized direct instruction (The More) during small group opportunities. We are also working towards incorporating more co-teaching models with our special education teachers partnering with our general education staff to provide all needs for all students. 

This summer, I was at a movie and during a break, a patron of the movie came out and once she recognized me she said, "I heard that at Howard-Winneshiek schools, you are allowing your special education students to be taught along with the general education students." She was from a neighboring district where that opportunity is not always afforded to special education students. The Core+More will become a part of our Special Education Service Delivery Plan that as a community, we will be revisiting and rewriting this school year. In order to prepare for that I have an invitation for all of our special education parents of Howard-Winneshiek.  

Special Education Parent Meeting
Thursday, September 10th @ 7:00 p.m.
High School Media Center

On Thursday, September 10th at 7:00 p.m. we will be hosting a special education parent meeting. I will be doing a short training on Executive Function Supports @ Home as well as getting parent feedback on our special education services - both Likes & Wishes from our parents and caregivers. It is my hope that from this meeting, we will develop a Special Education Parent Support Group.  

Educational Videos ~ Ragbrai 2015

I met Nate Kaeding in Sutliff, Iowa - here he talks about the value of being involved in activities as a critical part of education as a life-long learner.

Nathaniel Kaeding is a former University of Iowa College football player where he earned All-American honors and was recognized as the top college placekicker with the Lou Groza Award. Kaeding was also a professional football player who was a placekicker in the National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons. He played the majority of his career with the NFL's San Diego Chargers. Kaeding retired after the 2012 season as the second most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, having made 86.2 percent of his career attempts.

I met Aaron Thomas in Parkersburg where we talked about Servant Leadership and the impact that Ed Thomas had on not only his life, but lives across the nation. 

Aaron Thomas Video Link

Aaron Thomas’s father Ed Thomas, was a beloved high school football coach who not only trained generations of players on the importance of hard work, dedication, excellence and commitment, but the importance of Faith. Ed Thomas was tragically shot at school by a former student was mentally ill. Rather than shun the family of their father’s murderer and perpetuate the tragedy that Parkersburg faced, Aaron and his family called for understanding and forgiveness-because that’s what Ed Thomas would have wanted them to do.
Due to his father’s accomplishments and the reaction of the Thomas Family in their most tragic moments, they were the awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage presented at the 2010 ESPY Awards.  Aaron also received the Missouri Valley Conference 2010 Most Courageous Award.  A book entitled the “The Sacred Acre” chronicles the accomplishments of Ed Thomas’ life and discusses the family reaction to the tragic event that took their father’s life.

Please feel free to contact me, Terese Jurgensen, at (563) 929-6344 or at 

You can also follow me on 

Twitter, TereseJurgensen

We look forward to seeing all of you next week as we prepare for the first day of school on Monday, August 24th

Freshman Orientation @ CHS Student Center
Wednesday, August 19, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Laptop Rollout for grades 7-12 in Homebase RoomsThursday, August 20,    7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Back to School Night for grades 1-6

Thu, August 20, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

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