Tuesday, November 17, 2015

American Education Week

Last week Americans paused to give a well deserved thank you to all our veterans that served in our armed forces.  We cannot thank them enough for the sacrifice and dedication to their country.

As Superintendent, I would like to recognize another group of individuals that impact our world by serving our children.

November 16-20 is designated as "American Education Week." This week offers a special opportunity for Americans to honor individuals making a difference in our country through education.

In the School District of Janesville, we are privileged to acknowledge our staff for the quality education they continue to provide. We truly value our teachers and staff and want to pause to thank you for all you do for our students each and every day.  I appreciate your partnership on this "Journey to Excellence."  Thank you for focusing on student achievement, even during moments that are challenging. I am truly grateful.

We will be recognizing a few of our many outstanding employees who have significantly impacted students, classrooms, colleagues, or buildings across the district on December 2, 2015.  We are privileged to have them part of the School District of Janesville team! A reception in their honor will take place on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, at the Pontiac Convention Center. 

This year we will recognize the following individuals:

Support Staff of the Year

Tami Carlson, Administrative Services Secretary
Educational Services Center
Michelle Giuca, System Support Specialist
Educational Services Center
Carol Smith, Paraprofessional
Kennedy Elementary School
Deon Wentworth, Paraprofessional
Van Buren Elementary School
Laura Westenberger, Paraprofessional
Harrison Elementary School
Barb Roherty, School Nutrition Manager
Marshall Middle School

Teacher of the Year

Allison Arnold, Kindergarten Teacher
Lincoln Elementary School
Melissa Baier de Garcia, Spanish Teacher
Craig High School
Olga Hanna, English Language Learner
Jefferson Elementary School
*She is currently the new principal at Roosevelt Elementary School
Brittany McBride, 7th Grade Teacher
Franklin Middle School
Lisa Plewa, Kindergarten Teacher
Madison Elementary School

Educator of the Year

Dave Adler, At-Risk Coordinator
Franklin Middle School

Principal of the Year

Stephanie Pajerski, Principal
Van Buren Elementary School
Brett Berg, Assistant Principal
Franklin Middle School

Monday, November 16, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions-Educator Effectiveness

GUEST BLOGGER: Mrs. Kimberli Peerenboom
Wilson Elementary School

Q:  Why do we have to use Educator Effectiveness as a supervision and evaluation model in the School District of Janesville?

A:  In 2011, the State of Wisconsin determined that all schools in the State of Wisconsin would choose one of two acceptable supervision and evaluation models to evaluate the effectiveness of all administrators and certified staff.  Schools were allowed to pilot all or any components of Educator Effectiveness during the 2012-13 school year.  The law went into full effect during the 2014-15 school year for all schools in the State of Wisconsin.  The School District of Janesville chose the CESA 6 Model of Educator Effectiveness, The Effectiveness Project.

Q:  How do I balance Educator Effectiveness and my professional responsibilities?  I feel like Educator Effectiveness is my full time job.

A:  Educator Effectiveness is the platform used to evaluate staff in their assigned professional duties and responsibilities. Assigned professional duties and responsibilities are the number one priority for all staff. Staff should use Educator Effectiveness to highlight and showcase the best practices they are implementing and/or improving on an on­going basis.  Staff should take what they have implemented throughout the year that aligns with their professional duties and responsibilities to showcase as effective artifacts. Staff should not be creating or coming up with artifacts just to put into Educator Effectiveness because they believe it will help them achieve the effective level if it does not align with their assigned duties and responsibilities.

Q:  Sometimes  I get confused. We are using the CESA 6 Model so sometimes I look at their resources online to try and get guidance.   I find that at times there are conflicting statements between what the School District of Janesville is implementing compared  to the CESA 6 information. Why is that?

A:  The State of Wisconsin has set up mandates that CESA 6 built its framework around.  Within those mandates, districts have local authority to make adjustments that best meet the needs and requirements within their districts as long as the State mandates are still abided by.  CESA 6 is a great resource, but it is highly advised that staff check with their direct supervisor for clarification in regards to what the School District of Janesville expectations are.  All School District of Janesville Administrators have been provided with calendars and training outlining due dates and component expectations for consistency within the Educator Effectiveness Model.

Q: Can you clarify  what the functions of each button  at the bottom  of the forms are?

A: Submit: This button is used when you are done with your form and your are ready for your direct supervisor to evaluate and finalize the form. Save: This button is used when you have been working on a form and you just need to save what you have done.  You can also save work by hitting ctrl + shift+ s. Save and Notify:  This button is used when you have been working on a form and you need to save it, but also want to communicate with your direct supervisor. After the work is save, a dialogue box will open for you type in your message to send. Reset:  This button will completely clear your form.  Print: This button will convert the form into a printable document. Comment:  This button allows you to open a dialogue box to use to communicate with your direct supervisor about the form you are working on.

Q: I accidentally hit the submit  button  on a form and I am not done with it.  Now, I am locked out.  What do I do?

A:  Email your direct supervisor.  Your supervisor will be able to unlock your form by clicking the "Edit Form" button at the bottom of the form you need opened.

Q:  How many artifacts are required to upload to the documentation log?

A:  Regardless of a staff members' supervision cycle year, each standard must have at least on artifact uploaded with a reflection.  No more than four artifacts are to be uploaded and reflected upon per standards.  Within each standard, the professional can choose what artifacts are uploaded.  it is important that the professional choose artifacts that showcase work they have done within their current cycle year.  The number of artifacts chosen will depend on the type of artifact and how well the artifact aligns with the rubric criteria within a standard the staff member is trying to meet.  For example, a comprehensive artifact and reflection may need the effective criteria within a standard without having to upload a second, third or fourth artifact.  There are no mandatory artifacts as was required during the 2014-15 school year such as the parent communication log.  Directions for the documentation log can also be found on the documentation log form itself in MyLearningPlan.

Q:  Why are my artifacts from the 14­15 school  year showing up in my documentation log this year as a C2 or C3 staff member?

A: If staff uploaded artifacts during the 14­15 school year under the artifact category instead of uploading the artifacts as files, the artifacts will automatically fly into the 15­16 documentation log.  When staff members enter their C3, or summative year, their direct supervisor will evaluate their work from their C1, C2, and C3 years to look for a preponderance of evidence within each standard. This practice aligns with the State of Wisconsin’s evaluation expectation that all components (i.e. observations, documentation logs, surveys, etc.) of a staff member’s evaluation over a three year period be reviewed against rubric criteria to determine final staff ratings.

Staff that uploaded artifacts as files will not see their artifacts in their documentation log.  This is not a problem as direct supervisors can still access staff members components from their C1 and C2 years when scoring the summative C3 year. Regardless of a staff member’s cycle year, staff members are expected to upload at least one artifact per standard per year in the documentation log. This will provide direct supervisors with a minimum of three artifacts in each standard to review during the summative year. The maximum number of artifacts in each standard to review during the summative year would be twelve.

The external review of staff members on C1 and C2 is an additional rating that specifically aligns with the School District of Janesville’s proposed Professional Performance Structure. External reviewers only will review the documentation log artifacts and the informal observation associated with a staff member’s current cycle year.

Q: How do I complete the self-assessment portion of the Professional Goal Setting Plan?

A:  Staff are to indicate one area of strength with a brief reflection along with one area of growth with a brief reflection within each standard.  This will calculate a total of six strengths with reflection and a total of six areas of growth with reflection.  Directions for teh completion of the self-assessment within the professional goal setting plan can also be found on the professional goal setting  plan form itself in MyLearningPlan.

Q: What if I do not meet my SLO goal at the end of the year?  Does this mean I will get a Developing/Needs Improvement score on my SLO?

A: Not necessarily. A strong part of the SLO goal is the process a staff member went through to try and obtain the goal. If the staff member has documented appropriate adjustments to instruction based upon formative and summative data while trying to meet the goal, it is highly likely that the staff member will still obtain an effective score on his or her SLO.

Q:  I exceeded my SLO goal at the end of the year.  Why didn’t  I get an effective  score on my SLO instead of a distinguished score?

A:  A strong part of the SLO goal is the comprehensive data driven process a staff member
went through to obtain the goal. A distinguished SLO requires a staff member to set a rigorous, superior goal that exceeds the targeted population’s growth expectations.

Q:  Why do I get a separate score for my SLO and my practices during  my summative year

A:  The State of Wisconsin has two pieces to a professional’s evaluation.  The student outcome portion of the evaluation consists of the staff member’s SLO score.  The practice portion of the evaluation consists of the staff member’s documentation log, informal and formal observations, and survey results. Each score is uploaded and reported to the State separately on a confidential heat scatter plot to meet the federal requirements set forth by the No Child Left Behind Waiver Requirements.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

SDJ and Code.org - Part I

GUEST BLOGGER:  Amanda Werner
Madison Elementary 5th Grade Challenge Program Teacher and Code.org Affiliate

Opening Doors of Opportunity 

Part I of a 3-part series

What is Code.org?

Computer programming and elementary school are two phrases one would not normally connect in the same thought - not until recently. To help bridge the gap between the low numbers of computer science graduates and growing industry demand, American companies are clamoring for educational reform. Enter Code.org. With the backing of powerhouse CS moguls such as Microsoft, Facebook, Dropbox, Amazon and many more, this nonprofit organization has developed a teacher-friendly, student-engaging, developmentally appropriate K-12 Computer Science curriculum.

Initially launched in February 2013, former Microsoft developers, Ali and Hadi Partovi, released a catchy YouTube video entitled “What Most Schools Don’t Teach” designed to urge more schools to offer computer science courses. The video went viral. After 15,000 schools reached out to them for help, they began creating what is now a full organization that supports a worldwide movement to expand quality computer science education to every student.

Building on the work of and partnering with other computer science education companies, Code.org designs courses appropriate for all ages, trains teachers, partners with school districts domestically and abroad, is working to change government policies, and is attempting to break CS stereotypes. Code.org believes “Anyone Can Code.” You be the judge.

Take a few minutes to explore one of their beginner course offerings:

  1. An Hour of Code
  2. Accelerated Intro Course
  3. Course 1 (non- or early-readers)
  4. Course 2 (readers new to computer programming)

For an overview of Code.org,

Watch CBS This Morning: Cracking the Code:

Stay tuned for next week’s installment - Why We Need Computer Programming in Elementary School

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tokens for Teens

GUEST BLOGGER:  Carrie Kulinski
Homeless Liaison

Tommy makes the one and a half mile walk to school every day. He doesn't mind the walk when the weather is nice.  As November approaches, he quickens his pace as the cold wind burns his face. He dreads the approaching winter months and wishes his family could afford to provide him a ride to school.

The good news is that the School District of Janesville  has a program called Tokens for Teens to help Tommy get to school during the winter months.

What is Tokens for Teens?

For our low-income families, Student Services distributes bus tokens for students who don't have access to transportation, especially during the winter months.

Tokens for Teens relies on donations.

We seek sponsors to help our students from low-income families to get to and from school each day, and to school-related activities.

Sponsors can be individuals, businesses, organizations, or churches.

Sponsors can designate their donations to a specific school or school-related activity, or used as needed throughout the school district.

We are happy to accept donations of any amount.  To donate, please mail a check to School District of Janesville, Token for Teens, 527 S. Franklin St., Janesville, WI  53548.  All donations are tax-deductible; just ask our business office for a receipt. The following levels have been designated to identify our donors and offer special recognition for these sponsors as defined here:

Please consider a donation to Tokens for Teens! Contact Carrie Kulinski, Homeless Liaison at 608-751-7779 with any questions.

Friday, October 30, 2015


I want to remind you of a wonderful grant opportunity for teachers! The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 5pm.

Fund for Teachers provides educators, possessing a broad vision of what it means to teach and learn, the resources needed to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences.” These grants are used for a variety of projects to assist teachers in enhancing the learning opportunities they wish to provide their students and communities.

Individuals may apply for up to $5,000 and teams for up to $10,000. Team members can be from different schools, districts or states. Fund for Teachers will not provide monies for student travel, the completion of post baccalaureate degrees, university/college credit hours, teacher certifications, courses for graduate credit, onsite professional development at your school or district, compensation for substitutes or stipends.

The eligibility criteria is as follows:
  1. Employed full-time as a PreK-12th grade teacher and spends at least 50% of their work week in direct instruction with students in a classroom;
  2. Intends to continue teaching in the consecutive school year; and
  3. Has at least three years teaching experience as a PreK-12th grade teacher.

Please consider applying as a number of teachers across the district have benefited from this wonderful opportunity. Your school no longer has to be a school of promise to apply. Visit http://www.fundforteachers.org/ for more information.

Jennifer Schrab, Teacher at Jefferson Elementary School and recipient of a Fund for Teachers grant in 2014, has this to say about her experience: "Through my Fund for Teachers fellowship to South Africa, students at Jefferson learned about different cultures and varied economic perspectives.  Relationships formed with a nonprofit in South Africa (SizaBantwana) has empowered students to act as global citizens to help children in need.  Although my Fund for Teachers fellowship was in 2014, Jefferson continues to learn from and partner with our friends in South Africa.  I am going back to SizaBantwana in 2016 to strengthen and enhance connections made in 2014."