Friday, March 18, 2016

Terese Jurgensen~Director of Student Services~March 18, 2016

Global Social Thinking Conference ~ June 2016
I am excited to share that I have been invited, along with Alicia Martin, high school special education and ESL teacher to present at the 9th Annual Global Social Thinking Conference this summer in San Francisco, California! I submitted a proposal in February and last Friday night, I received this email: 
"Congratulations, you are invited to speak at our 9th Annual Social Thinking Global Providers Conference!  We are very excited for you as there were many excellent applicants and we have 2 terrific keynotes this year (Temple Grandin's mother, Eustacia Cutler & Dr. Ross Greene) – not including the talks given by Michelle G. Winner and Dr. Pamela Crooke."
The focus of our program will be on the treatment approaches we have been utilizing this year at Howard-Winneshiek in supporting students and families who understand Social Thinking learning challenges. The title is: "Is it Skill or is it Will? Utilizing the Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile to Create Parent Partnerships & Tiered Systems of Supports for Home and School."
To say that this is incredibly humbling and a dream come true for me, would be an understatement. I often reflect on our mission statement, "Our mission is to prepare and empower our students to think creatively, serve, contribute and succeed locally and globally." Teaching our students the skills in order to prepare and empower them to live this mission statement beyond the walls of our school is what Social Thinking is all about. We are social beings and created for relationships. Our social mind is so complex and what takes nano-seconds for strong social thinkers to comprehend and react to, is not easy for many. The last two years have been an exciting journey as we implement Social Thinking concepts and strategies across our school district from grades PK-12. As the days and weeks unfold, moving closer to June 24th, I will be hosting some small group activities for parents who are interested in learning more about social thinking.

What is the Hidden Curriculum?
The hidden curriculum refers to sets of rules or guidelines that are not directly taught but are assumed to be known. This hidden curriculum contains items that impact social interactions, school performance and sometimes even safety. This also includes idioms, metaphors or slang-things most people "just pick up" or learn through observation and subtle cues including gestures, body language and facial expressions. For example the term, "get off my back" and accompanying body language like a frown or raised voice communicates that the speaker wants to be left alone, but to a person with social cognitive challenges and interprets language literally, the term will have a totally different meaning and can be very confusing. Over 70% of social communication is non-verbal and is critical for student success in school it is for this reason that we are teaching Social Thinking curriculum at HWCSD. 

New Robes for High School Choir!
Karen LeFebvre wrote Monday evening after she and 4 choir students presented to the school board: 
The school board approved the purchase of new choir robes tonight at their meeting.  Please remind your son/daughter to bring his/her choir shoes so he/she can be measured for a robe. At the choir booster meeting held tonight, it was decided that we would do some fundraising for robe bags so when we are transporting the robes to contest and other events, the robes are protected.  These robes and stoles cost $191 each so we want to keep them nice for a long time.  The robes that we have been wearing are 30 years old and  needed to be replaced.  Thank a board member when you see them, please.  This is exciting ! 


Last year, Jean Daywitt, one of our junior high teachers, had multiple opportunities for her students to write poetry throughout the year. The students wrote poems, illustrated them and even read them out loud to younger students in the elementary and even more importantly, they learned to love poetry! When an opportunity arose for them to enter some of their works in a contest and possibly have them published, two young women above rose to the challenge and their works are now engraved forever in a beautifully illustrated work, Elloquence, as shown above. Nice work, Brooklyn & Kirsten!  We are proud of you and look forward to saying, "We knew them when they were students at Howard-Winn!"
School Initiatives!

From the office of the Director of Student Services, several school initiatives took place this school year.  In the next month, we will continue to work hard and wrap up these in order to present to the community and to the school board. 

  • Attendance Policy Revisions: The HWCSD attendance policy has been reviewed & updated through multiple teams this year. These teams include: Elementary & Secondary Staff; Building Leadership Teams; Community & Business Partners; Parents & Caregivers; Howard County Attorney; District Advisory Board; Student Leadership Group & Administration Team. It is ready for a final review before being sent on to the School Board for approval. 
  • LAU Plan: The district plan designed to meet the instructional needs of English Learners (ELs) is referred to as the Lau Plan (Lau v. Nichols, 1974). Rewriting Lau Plans was a state requirement this year as Iowa looks as creating increased standards (much like special education) for all students whose primary language is not English. The HWCSD Lau Plan was rewritten and received state approval in September 2015. 
  • Success Team K-12: Increased systemic supports put in place with the primary emphasis on Skill-vs-Will. Our Success Team implemented increased preventative, positive student supports. These efforts were data-driven utilizing our new PowerSchool Student Information System. Increased emphasis and training was provided to all staff members for Multi-Tiered System of Supports. Next week I will be individually highlighting this amazing team who does so much for every aspect of our school. A huge shout out to each one of them!

  • Alternative Education: Look for second order change in our alternative programming for the 2016-2017 school year. Throughout this year, the staff (Julie Montgomery, lead teacher) and the students have visited other alternative sites and are in the process of writing a new handbook. Next Tuesday, March 22nd, Ms. Montgomery and the alternative students will partner with Nathan Thomas of NICC to collaborate and plan for increased opportunities, a new attendance policy and increased focus on post-secondary careers. 
  • Special Education Programming: The high school created increased opportunities for all special education students through new Transitions Classes. Transitions Class allows for students to meet daily with their special education teachers for specially designed instruction and core class supports. Additionally, we continued to implement the Core + More for all of students which has allowed many of our students to meet their goals and close educational gaps. Finally, in special education we are working hard to decrease 1:1 associate supports for students and instead provide associate supports in core classes to decrease student dependence on a person and instead teach them the skills to be successful. 
  • Special Education Service Delivery Plan: The Service Delivery Plan (much like the Lau Plan) is required to be revisited and updated every 5 years. Throughout the school year, our special education staff have been working diligently on making the positive updates in our plan that reflects our current programming. It has been an exciting process and please look to late April or early May for community and parent involvement in this process. 
  • Gifted & Talented Programming: If your son or daughter has been involved in Gifted programs over the past 2 school years, please look forward to receiving an opportunity to complete a Parent Survey in the next few weeks. Our Gifted & Talented Teachers, Todd Knobloch (K-8) and Rhonda Vobr (9-12) are in the process of rewriting the HWCSD GAT Handbook, and we value your opinion as we strive to implement quality, gifted programming for students who qualify for extended learning opportunities. 

Every 2 weeks, the elementary staff, led by Sara Grimm, building principal share together in a morning staff meeting. It is always super fun and today there was a lot of green for St. Patty's Day! 

Cresco High School Students on a Post Card for Northeast Iowa!
Nice work, girls!!!

Have a great week!
Please feel free to reach me, 
Terese Jurgensen
(563) 929-6344

Watch for me in the Cresco Times
Beard Contest! 

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