Friday, January 6, 2017

Terese Jurgensen ~ Director of Student Services ~ January 6th, 2017

Happy New Year!

As we begin the year 2017, it is with sincere wishes that all of the families of the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Every year, over the holiday break, I reflect on the past year, think about the year to come and inevitably do some cleaning around the house! This year the item on the cleaning agenda was the basement. Our family has moved a few times over the course of the last 10 years, and there were several boxes that I needed to dig through, clean out, organize and indeed dump out "stuff" that we know longer needed. While I was cleaning, I found so many wonderful things from my teaching and administrative career! The best thing I found was an incredible teaching book that a dear friend gave to me when I got the opportunity to develop/create an alternative school. 

The book is named, "The First Days of School" and is written by a married couple, 
Harry and Rosemary Wong. 

There are so many wonderful components outlining the teaching profession in this book. I felt that I needed to share them in this blog because I see the Howard-Winn teachers as being exemplary models of outstanding teachers and partners with our students and families. Here are some of the quotes from within the pages of this book:

    Three Characteristics of an Effective Teacher

                       Has good classroom management skills

                                      Teaches for mastery
                   Has positive expectations for student success

"Since there is no one best way to teach effectively, the teacher must be a decision maker able to translate the body of knowledge about teaching into increased student learning." 

"Effective teachers have the power and the ability to invite students and colleagues each day and in every class to learn together"

"The Learner must work at learning. There is only one way for a student to learn anything. 
The student must put in effort; the student must work to learn."

As a school administrator at Howard-Winn, I directly supervise and evaluate 23 certified staff members and approximately 40 non-certified staff members. The quotes and statements above are those that I have seen demonstrated amongst all of our staff over the course of the last three years. It is such an honor and privilege to work amongst dedicated, caring professionals in the HWCSD school community. 

Speaking of New Teachers.....

During the month of January, Howard-Winneshiek CSD will be hosting several Luther College teaching students throughout the district. It is super fun talking to all of these young, excited future teachers. Yesterday, around 4:00 pm I came across Katie Mahr (4th grade teacher) and Jake, the Luther student learning in her classroom. I was very impressed, not only the fact that this student would stay well after school hours, but also because of his amazing positive attitude! Welcome Luther College students!!!


Social & Emotional Learning

At Howard-Winn we know and understand that social-emotional learning is paramount to helping students connect, build meaningful relationships and most importantly, learn. We have purchased Panorama for Social-Emotional Learning to gather that information. Research data clearly outlines that by having students reflect on their own social-emotional skills has been immensely helpful in identifying what students need to create a growth mindset, grit, perseverance, executive functioning skills, and every area of their social and emotional lives. Just like we cannot teach a hungry child very effectively, we also cannot teach a child who is struggling with social and emotional issues. 
Two of our guidance counselors, Doug Sickles (Junior High) and Tiffany McCabe (Elementary) who are Teachers on Special Assignment,  through our TLC initiative, will be creating short surveys for all of our students to take to see how they perceive their personal social and emotional strengths and weaknesses. The surveys will then help us look at children from an angle that we haven't truly been able to do previously.  Namely, to ask them about their feelings about themselves, their abilities to learn, their connections with curriculum and even their connections with their teachers.  
Early during the second semester of the 2016-17 school year,  every child in the district, grades K-12, will be given surveys to complete on these critical issues social and emotional issues.  The teachers and administrators of the district will then be able to utilize this data to increase student motivation, perseverance, and to increase connections to their learning and to their teachers.  Our entire teaching staff will be able to look at this data as an important piece to increase student achievement, increase positive climate and culture and also to utilize for school-improvement plans. Now, instead of social-emotional learning being a part of what we do, will be a key foundational level of everything we do. 
Our teachers understand that all academic success is based on social-emotional learning. If we don't build those skills in all students, we're not going to be able to prepare them for academic challenges and for life beyond their school years. We are in the midst of a sea change in how we look at things, and how we provide interventions and supports for students.
Look for more information on Panorama SEL and how it is utilized at Howard-Winn in the coming days and months. It is going to be exciting!
adapted from @GregJWolcott 
Some friends and I put this together as a reminder of our Professional Development goals for 2017!

Have a great week!  If you need to reach me, Terese Jurgensen, please do! My number is (563)929-6344 or at

I found this NO-BAKES cookie recipe when I was digging around in the boxes in my basement. I used this recipe to increase student enrollment when I taught at Sanilac County Jail. When I started teaching there, I had 4 adult students. Once I started bringing cookies (in just a few short weeks) the student enrollment increased to 40 students! It is all about relationships!

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