Thursday, October 16, 2014

Color of Education Gala

The fifth annual Colors of Education Gala in support of the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship (JMTOS) is scheduled for Saturday, November 1, 2014.  It will be held from 5:30-10:30 p.m. at the Janesville Country Club, 2615 W. Memorial Drive.

After-dinner music will be provided by the GoDeans, a Janesville-based rock band with music by Mitch Kopnick, Bill Clanfield, Mark McDade, Tim Axe, Dave Booth, Joan Neeno, Kalynn Baumann and Kim White.

The event also includes a silent auction featuring tennis lessons, Badger basketball tickets and a catered Middle Eastern brunch, among other items.

The JMTOS scholarship program, offered through the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, offers renewable college scholarships to Janesville students of color pursuing a career in education.  Upon obtaining a Wisconsin teaching certificate, recipients agree to apply for a position with the School District of Janesville.

This year the district is holding a contest among the schools--the
“Multicultural Gala Challenge.”  The top three schools selling the most  “tickets” for the Multicultural Gala will win the following:

·      Second Prize-$500 towards the purchase of technology products and 2 hours of  IT specialist consultation time
·      First Prize-$1,000 towards the purchase of technology products and 4 hours of IT specialist consultation time
·      Grand Prize-$2,000 towards the purchase of technology and 8 hours of IT specialist consultation time
If a school gets a sponsor to buy a table, that amount will go towards that school’s total.  Staff members should also indicate the school where they work so credit can be given to that school.

Tickets to the event are $50 per person.  For reservations, contact Lannie at the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, (608) 758-0883 or  You can also contact Laura Griswold, Public Information Secretary, School District of Janesville, at 608-743-5057.

Monday, October 6, 2014

National Fire Prevention Week, October 5 - 11, 2014

 By Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment

The Great Chicago Fire took place on October 9, 1871.  More than 300 people died, 100,000 were left homeless, and more than 2,000 acres of the city were destroyed.  The Peshtigo fire in northeast Wisconsin took place at the same time destroying sixteen towns and killing more than 1,100 people.  The great devastation caused by these fires left such an imprint on the psyche of fire-fighting professionals that forty years later the Fire Marshals Association of North America instituted Fire Prevention Week, from Sunday through Sunday in whatever week October 9 falls. 

Despite the advent of modern building materials (that reduce the likelihood of fire), home fires still cause numerous deaths and injuries.  This year the National Fire Protection Association is focusing attention on promoting fire safety and prevention all year long. Many potential fire hazards go undetected because people simply do not take steps to fireproof their homes.
        Many bedroom fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, careless use of candles, smoking in bed, and children playing with matches and lighters. Most potential hazards can be addressed with a little common sense. For example, be sure to keep flammable items like bedding, clothes and curtains at least three feet away from portable heaters or lit candles and never smoke in bed. Also, items like appliances or electric blankets should not be operated if they have frayed power cords, and electrical outlets should never be overloaded.

Fire Safety Checklist:

•Install and maintain a working smoke alarm outside of every sleeping area and remember to change the battery at least once a year.
•Designate two escape routes from each bedroom and practice them regularly.
•Teach everyone the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" technique in case clothing catches on fire.
•Avoid storing old mattresses in the home or garage.
•Teach kids that matches, lighters and candles are tools, not toys. 

If you suspect that a child is playing with fire, check under beds and in closets for telltale signs like burned matches. Matches and lighters should be stored in a secure drawer or cabinet.

Please take this week to learn more about ways to keep our students and families safe from the dangers of fire.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

U.S. Department of Education Announces Roosevelt Elementary School 2014 National Blue Ribbon School Winner!

By Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

On Tuesday, September 30, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized Roosevelt Elementary School as one of 337 National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2014, based on overall academic excellence as measured by scores on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.  This recognition is awarded to schools demonstrating that all students can achieve at high levels.

The Department will honor 287 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on
November 10-11 2014, in Washington, D.C. In its 32-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on just under 7,900 of America's schools.  Roosevelt Elementary now joins Kennedy Elementary (2011) as the second School District of Janesville School to receive this exemplary recognition.

"These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education—that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative, and challenging learning environments," Secretary Duncan said. "National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student."

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 420 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the number of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The U.S. Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.  Roosevelt was one of eight schools selected by Wisconsin State Superintendent, Tony Evers, to apply for the award.

Of the schools receiving awards across the country, 25 are K-12 schools, 239 are elementary schools, 25 are middle schools, and 48 are high schools.  In Wisconsin, “Exemplary High Performing Schools” are those that are in the top 15 percent for performance levels on the state’s reading and mathematics assessments and have disaggregated results for subgroups of students showing similar academic achievement. “Exemplary Gap Closing Schools” have school report card “Closing Gaps” index scores in the top 15 percent of the state.  Additionally, disaggregated results for subgroups of students, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, show improvement similar to that of all students. To receive this distinction, Roosevelt’s WKCE scores were in the outstanding range for Reading and Math compared to the annual growth target that the DPI establishes each year.  In Reading, Roosevelt scored 9.3% above the state target in the all students category and 7.9% above the target for students who are identified as economically disadvantaged.  The scores are more dramatic for math.  In the all students cluster, Roosevelt exceeded the target by 18.2% and beat the state target by 19.5% for students who are economically disadvantaged.  With the Roosevelt poverty rate at nearly 50%, this result is most impressive!

So how did they do it?  What is the recipe for this extraordinary success?  The first ingredient is high quality teachers who believe that “all students can learn and achieve.”  Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment acknowledges,   the strong teacher belief system combined with the “doing whatever it takes”  attitude that Roosevelt teachers exhibit are critical elements.    Principal, Deanne Edlefsen, goes on to explain that another important factor associated with this accomplishment is the collaboration teachers employ between and among themselves as they look for the best ways to design curriculum and engage their students in learning.  She goes on to explain that “Roosevelt teachers are very skilled with differentiating teaching and learning experiences for their students.  This means that ‘one size does not fit all’, and Roosevelt teachers are constantly planning and employing the most innovative and creative approaches to keep all students interested in learning.”

Another factor in the Roosevelt success story is their recognition as a PBIS School of Merit in 2012, and a PBIS School of Distinction in 2013.  Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a national program designed to create consistent expectations for student behavior in the school setting.  Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Karen Schulte, points out that “positive student behavior is another important ingredient in the success equation that is evident at Roosevelt.”    Dr. Schulte also expresses her appreciation for the active engagement of parents in student learning at Roosevelt, as well as the army of adult volunteers that work daily to provide the necessary individual attention and support students need to excel in their learning.

When you put it all together, the Roosevelt recipe for success could be summarized as follows:
1.     The Roosevelt Staff knows exactly what they want their students to know and be able to do.   Teaching and learning is not fuzzy but very focused, well organized, and consistently implemented.
2.     The staff is constantly checking-for-understanding to make sure that all students are learning and when they are not, they reteach so that all students reach mastery.  In addition, Roosevelt continues to have impressive Curriculum-Based Assessment Scores each school year. These district benchmark assessments are important for validating ongoing student learning.
3.     The staff employs a professional learning community approach where they constantly collaborate in search of the best curriculum materials and most engaging ways to differentiate instruction.  All students are stretched from the least capable to the most able.
4.     The school climate at Roosevelt is positive, orderly, and enjoys a great deal of adult support from parents and volunteers who instill the value that a high quality education matters.

When you put this all together, the School District of Janesville is again recognized nationally for having a Blue Ribbon Award winning school.  Congratulations Roosevelt students, staff and parents, we are all proud of your achievement and look forward to learning from you as each school in the district continues on its Journey to Excellence!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Casualty Care Kits Coming to the School District of Janesville

(This article appeared in the Janesville Gazette on Wednesday, September 24, 2014)
The reporter was Gina Duwe

Janesville school staff are being trained on how to treat casualties from a school shooting or other emergency as part of a local program that organizers say could be a national model.
All 1,200 Janesville School District staff will receive training in tourniquet application, and about 900 Casualty Care Classroom Kits will be distributed in the schools.

“It's going to empower people,” said Kevin Olin, school resource officer at Marshall Middle School.
“Hopefully this training will empower some teachers to realize they could really make a difference in situations,” he said.

Mercy Health System, the Janesville police and fire departments and the school district have teamed up to provide the kits in response to an active shooter tabletop exercise mediated by the FBI last winter.

They believe it is the first kit of its kind, and it has the potential to become a national model, said Dr. Christopher Wistrom, emergency medicine physician and associate EMS medical director for Mercy Health System.  “It's a kit that anybody can use,” Olin said.

The tools also could be useful if a tornado or explosion wreaked havoc, he said.

The kits focus on preventable trauma deaths with tools to stop bleeding, including gauze, pressure dressings, materials to pack a wound and a tourniquet.

“Probably the biggest advantage of the kit is not the kit itself, it's probably the education that goes along with it,” Wistrom said.

The kits cost $9 to $10. A Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction grant is paying for the kits at Craig and Parker high schools, and the district is working to secure funding for the remaining kits, said Yolanda Cargile, director of student services.

Mercy is supplying the bags and information cards and buying the supplies at cost. Mercy physicians and members of the police and fire departments are serving as trainers.

All Janesville private and parochial schools have been invited to participate. Wistrom said he has heard St. John Vianney Parish School will participate.


Before the military reissued tourniquets to all soldiers about a decade ago, soldiers who were injured in combat and made it to a hospital had a 17 percent chance of dying, Wistrom said. Now, injured soldiers who reach the hospital have only a 2 percent chance of dying, he said.
A stigma still surrounds tourniquets, he said, because people wrongly believe using one will increase the chance of amputation. A tourniquet can be used for six to eight hours without increasing the risk of amputation, he said.

Soldiers returning from war without an arm or leg are alive because tourniquets lessened their loss of blood, but the tourniquets were not the cause of the amputations, he said.


School administrators already have finished the training, which for staff begins next week. Staff members complete a survey about their first aid comfort levels and watch a nine-minute video before attending the training, which includes a 10-minute lecture and questions before hands-on instruction using mannequins and tools in the kit. Staff completes the survey again to measure the impact of the training.
The two main causes of post-traumatic stress disorder are the feelings of helplessness and terror, Wistrom said. “A fair number of people involved in these situations (who) have significant, long-lasting psychological effects are from feeling helpless and the terror that goes along with that,” he said. “Now, the teachers are empowered and have the ability to act in these situations and do something proactive.” Principals who have completed the training thanked Cargile for the program. “I think it empowers them with the tool that they need … versus just wondering, 'What can I do?' and feeling helpless,” Cargile said.

The United States averages one school shooting every two weeks, Wistrom said.


Wistrom and law enforcement members found no model for their kits during an extensive literature review, he said. “We built this from the ground up,” he said. A similar effort is underway in Oak Creek, he said. “I do truly believe we have the simplest and cheapest system right now that's going to be in place,” Olin said. 

Several area school districts have expressed interest in the program, but Wistrom said he has been focused on rolling out the Janesville program smoothly before expanding.

A special agent from the FBI's Milwaukee office has looked at the program and said it should be considered for a federal model, Wistrom said. He will continue to work with authorities as the program grows.

“I pray that they're never used, I really do,” Wistrom said.