Friday, April 8, 2016

Terese Jurgensen ~ Director of Student Services ~ April 8, 2016

Megan Merkel
~Crestwood Preschool ~ 
Social Thinking & Executive Functioning 

I invite you to watch a short video made this week by Megan Merkel, our lead teacher at Crestwood Preschool.  A year ago, the preschool was introduced to the Zones of Regulation and Executive Functions. What followed was something so spectacular that I had to share it out today during my presentation at the State-Wide Alternative Education Conference. It has become widely known that the most important indicator of students being successful and increase their opportunity of graduation is by increasing their ability to self-regulate and build the skill of Working Memory. 

When I first entered the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District, I was surprised to find that our kindergartners really struggled with applying these skills to their daily lives. Through the work of our outstanding preschool staff, we have seen remarkable improvement this year with our kindergartners who learned how to self-regulate, take turns, share, focus and use their brains to learn more effectively through working memory skills that can and are being taught. Now, after the second year of implementing these teachable skills, the preschool staff have taken teaching the Zones of Regulation and Executive Functioning skills to the next level. Megan shares here how this is working in the preschool for the students and increasing the level of learning and incorporated it into STEM (Science - Technology - Engineering -Math) project-based learning opportunities. 

Next week, I hope to share videos of the students sharing their skills while they program little robots. It is really something to see! I want to give a shout out to Megan, Sally Tieskoetter, and Shari Marr who work tirelessly to not teach only the basics of reading, writing and math, but incorporate these important brain-based skills throughout their school days. 

Julie Montgomery, lead teacher/coordinator & I attended the IAAE Annual Conference for alternative schools on Thursday, April 7th -
It was super fun, and I was so thrilled that Ms. Montgomery really enjoyed the day! 

First and foremost, I want to thank Cedar Rapids METRO and COMPASS Alternative Center for putting together the conference this year. Conference planning is a lot of work and your efforts are greatly appreciated. The association was super excited to offer an opportunity for collaboration among individuals who have a desire to work with youth at higher risk. We encourage you to explore not only sessions but each other’s life experiences in your work with the youth of this great state. Let us “C’s” today by COLLABORATING with each other, accepting CHANGE, recognizing CHOICE, and CREATIVITY embracing CHALLENGES with a maximal mindset! We know there are days that are tough, but with the right mindset, we have the ability to do our personal best and continue to make a difference.   (From IAAE President, Kelsey Steffener) 

I was afforded the opportunity to present on Thursday and Friday. 

As many of you know the above topics are some of my favorite topics to share about and discuss with other educators. Ms. Montgomery and I had excellent opportunities to meet and share with other folks from around the state that are extremely passionate about educating what I refer to as students whose "live are on the boundary." Traditional forms of learning will not necessarily work for them because of their home lives or more importantly the fact that their learning styles are more visual, hands-on and collaborative in nature. 

Many of you may not know that the infamous, Charles Schulz, was not successful in the public school system because he was not a verbal learner, but rather a visual one. You may recall that when Charlie Brown was listening to teachers, he did not really understand them and their voices were always..."Wa-Wa-Wa." To many students that is what it is like when teachers or anyone is talking to them. They are visual learners and as poverty increases combined with the fact that children are coming to school with few or any Executive Functioning skills, the need to teach students differently, will not just be an "idea" but will become critical for our nation. 

This is why I am SUPER excited to be a part of the educational system of the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District. We have a very different way of thinking and working with our students. Our belief system is that we are teaching our students to THINK - LEAD - SERVE. It is our mission and our focus that every student is "created for something great!" As we continue our "out of the box" thinking and supporting our students to find their passions, this mission will become a reality for the students and families we serve. 

Charlie Brown Spelling Bee
Check out the words that Charlie Brown has to spell. 
Failure - Insecure - Stomachache - Disastrous - Incompetent
He tells the listener (teacher's voice unrecognizable) this is his view 
of his relationship and ability level in school. 
Something for us all to think about!

Check Out Great Things that are happening at
Howard - Winneshiek Community School District!

WOW!  Thank you Alum-Line!

Have a great week! I hope it warms up soon! 

Email or Call if you have any questions or comments!

I love to hear from you!

Terese Jurgensen

(563) 929-6344

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