Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 15th - Terese Jurgensen; Director of Student Services

Is it SKILL or is it WILL?
For those of you who read our weekly updates, you may have seen the words Executive Functioning Skills as a particular interest or better said, a passion of mine. About 8 years ago, during a Child Study Behavior Team meeting in my last district an AEA school psychologist began describing the needs of one of the students as having Executive Functioning deficits. I had never heard of these words as describing the role of the frontal lobe in our brains and was instantly intrigued. I began to study what the skills were and found that our brains and the role of the frontal lobe begin to develop with a HUGE jump between the ages of 4 - 5 and continue to grow and develop until around 25 years old. 

Discovering the Executive Functioning SKILLS and deficits are critical to student achievement and are being actively reviewed individually here at Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools. We have created several important school-based initiatives throughout our district. These include, but are not limited to: our pre-school has implemented the Zones of Regulation and social thinking strategies; Kindergarten classrooms are carrying these initiatives forward, Success Teams are reviewing student SKILLS individually and partnering with parents and teachers during Child Study Team meetings; Doug Sickles and Tiffany McCabe are teaching these skills during Guidance lessons K-6th grade, teachers who are trained in Social Thinking are holding groups to support these students in executive functioning skills, communication and perspective taking and the list goes on. The most exciting part for me, personally is to partner with parents and support them in understanding Executive Functioning and what they can do at home to help their children succeed. 

Is it SKILL (Cognitive) 
or is it
 WILL (matters of the heart)?

Some of you may remember this picture as I have used it in my weekly update more than once this year. At Howard-Winn, from grades K-12, we are reviewing what is the root cause when some students are struggling in school.  We believe that all students "Want to be successful."  So, if they are not being successful, we want to find out what is getting in their way. I have in my repertoire countless surveys and assessments that I have used to discover what a student's Executive Functioning strengths are and what are their weaknesses. We want to build on their strengths and put intervention strategies and teach to their weaknesses. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses. If you are interested in one of your children's Executive Functions you may use the below assessments. I have created my own here, and it works very well and is easily understood. The two main categories of Executive Functions are Cognitive and Self-Regulation (emotional). 

Once you have completed these, please call me at (563) 929-6344, and I will help you with selecting great strategies for home and for school to help your child with things such as:
  1. Organizing homework
  2. Starting and finishing a task
  3. Cleaning their room
  4. Getting to school on time
  5. Calming down instead of losing  self-control
The list goes on and on. What is wonderful, is that the issue is with a student's brain and maturity level. These SKILLS can be taught.  It is not just "laziness" or "not caring about their homework."  Kids will do well if they can.  Together, we can help them get there. 

                                                                                     Thank You!

I would like to extend a warm "thank you" on behalf of my son, Aaron and I, for all of the warm wishes and kind words in response to the article I wrote last week. It is hard to describe in words, as a mother, the journey we have been on together, but it is so important to remember just that. Life is a journey. It is our job to accept the struggles, for without it, we would not know joy. If you are reading this, and you have a child who has a disability of any type, you know what I mean. I know and believe that good things are in store for Aaron's life. Furthermore, it is my hope, as the Director of Special Education, to take the passion and the lessons I have learned from my son's educational life and make a difference in the lives here at Howard-Winn that I have been entrusted with. Once again...thank you!


Lots of great reading strategies & experiences going on at Crestwood Elementary!

Pictured to the right here, Dory Fravel is reading and teaching a lesson to 5th grade students. 

Linda Walter (to the left) is also reading to a group of students and using picture books to help students understand and comprehend important reading strategies. 

To the right are 2 elementary students reading outside of the Title 1 room while they wait for Mrs. Foster to come and get them. I asked if they loved to read and they said, "You bet!" I tried to talk with them some more, but they just wanted to read!

Have a wonderful week!
Stay warm - it is going to get cold~

Please feel free to call me or email me if you have any questions or concerns.
(563) 929-6344

Quote from Michelle Garcia Winner on creating Social Thinking. At HWCSD, we also know we are not in a SILO - we are global learners and global thinkers!  It is an honor for me to serve the students, staff and community of Howard-Winn as the Director of Student Services. GO CADETS!

Respectfully,Terese Jurgensen

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