Monday, April 30, 2012

Plain Old Reading and Writing

“The most valued people in the 21st century,” writes Howard Garner (2009) are those who “can survey a wide range of sources, decide which is most important and worth paying attention to, and then put this information together in ways that make sense to oneself and, ultimately, to others…(they) will rise to the top of the pack”.  Thomas Friedman, author of the bestseller The World Is Flat:  A Brief History of the 21st Century (2005), concludes that the most successful people in this century will be those who can acquire and use knowledge to develop and communicate creative combinations of ideas, applications, and strategies to solve problems.
How are those 21st century abilities acquired?  From something called “plain old reading and writing.”  Our vision for teaching reading in the primary grades in the School District of Janesville is that students are immersed in daily instruction in very simple, ordinary elements of reading:  the alphabet and its sounds, common blends, and irregular spelling patterns—and words, words, words.  Whole classes clap, chant, and recite words and syllables chorally, every day.  They repeatedly practice and master the 37 most common spelling patterns, the 50 most common transferable word chunks, and—of special importance—high-frequency word lists. 
New words are always being learned and recited; they are written down, multiple times, every day; they are posted on “word walls” and referred to incessantly to build up students’ reading vocabulary.  The simple activities must be done assiduously, with guided practice and frequent checks for understanding and on an extended and daily basis.  If these practices are done, students will reduce by months or even years the time it takes to learn and read independently.  This is what we want our teachers to concentrate their efforts on, and not be distracted by skills worksheets and coloring and arts and crafts activities that rob our students from the precious instructional time needed to promote high quality reading instruction.
This summer, the School District of Janesville will be conducting a reading institute that will assemble the high performing teachers of Reading and Writing who in turn will train their fellow teachers about the Janesville Formula of best reading practices that will be consistently practiced in all our classrooms. An important goal of this institute will be to ensure that students “read to learn” rather than unnecessarily dragging out the process of “learning to read.”  Research informs us that students need to be able to recognize about 50,000 words to become mature readers (Smith, 2006).  The only way they can be learned is for us to ensure that our students are exposed to enormous amounts of reading material.  Stay tuned to future additions and discussions related to the Reading Institute and our efforts to make sure students are able to read, discuss and write about lots of books, articles, and poems at high levels. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

“Looping” and “Rounding” at Kennedy Elementary

I would like to express my appreciation towards Kennedy Building Coordinator Allison DeGraff for assisting me with this evening’s blog. 

A couple weeks ago Kennedy Elementary Building Coordinator Allison DeGraff presented to the School District of Janesville’s Board of Education; I had the pleasure of talking with Principal DeGraaf this week about the presentation to ask her a few questions about “looping” and “rounding” at her school.
To begin, Principal DeGraaf shared that Kennedy Elementary is the newest school in the School District of Janesville. The building layout was developed and the teachers selected based on educational and teaching strategies that would ground the culture at Kennedy. One such strategy was “Looping,” a process where students stay with teachers for a two-year cycle from first to second grade and then third to fourth grade.

Now in its thirteenth year, “looping” is unique to Kennedy Elementary within the school district, and according to Principal DeGraff it plays an important role in student achievement and school culture:

Teachers build strong relationships with each student and his/her family

Seamless transition from year 1 to year 2 (1st to 2nd grade; 3rd to 4th grade) because the teacher and classmates are all familiar with each other

Increases instructional time, especially at the beginning of year 2 of the cycle

Teachers have a more in-depth knowledge of students and what skills need developed to increase student achievement; that is, teachers have more knowledge of each student’s strengths/deficits in learning

Teachers review their students’ achievement data from year 1 and move directly to developing instructional strategies for them in year 2

I asked whether there are drawbacks to “looping” such as losing the teacher-student connection when moving from 2nd to 3rd grade. “It’s not so much the teacher-student relationship, but it’s the students who grow together—almost like siblings—and miss that connection when moving to the next grade.”  
One initiative in the School District of Janesville focuses on underachieving Hispanic and Black students. “This is where ‘Diversity Rounding’ comes in at Kennedy,” said Principal DeGraaf, “as the key to learning is for each student to feel they have a relationship with teachers, they connect with the environment, and they feel secure.” Rounding, based on a technique doctors have practiced for years with their patients, helps teachers be attentive and show that they care about the issues students are facing in the classroom both personally and academically.

Kennedy Elementary uses four questions in Diversity Rounding:

How do you feel about school?

What is working well?

Who cares about you at school?

How do you learn best or what strategies help you learn?

The Studer Group has found that leaders who round on employees and employees who round on patients produce more efficient systems that yield a maximum return on investment. Rounding yields similar positive results in school environments. That is, rounding for outcomes on teachers provides school leaders with a way to establish genuine relationships with them; similarly rounding for outcomes on students provide teachers with a way to establish genuine relationships with their students. At Kennedy, rounding allows the teachers to gain insight on what strategies are working for students, which teachers and staff deserve to be recognized, and what strategies or methods might be options to help students learn in the best way possible.

Building Coordinator DeGraaf shared 2012 math and reading scores just released for Kennedy’s Hispanic and Black students:

                               Percent Proficient in WKCE Reading and Math by Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

The main purpose of rounding for outcomes on students is to develop relationships with them. When teachers round on their students, they gain an opportunity to learn what is occurring in their students’ lives.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rock County Sherriff’s Office Honors Janesville Parker Teacher

Janesville Parker's Julie Grandeffo has been named "Citizen of the Year" by the Rock County Sheriff's Office.

dedication to helping one of her students in a time of need “demonstrates her caring, compassion and friendship and can serve as an example for us all,” according to the sheriff’s office.

A Rock County deputy connected with Grandeffo after three people were killed and a fourth injured in a traffic crash in May 2011.  A teenage boy was at home when his mother and brothers died in the crash. His father was hospitalized with serious injuries. During the investigation, the deputy learned the teen had a teacher he liked at Parker High School. Grandeffo responded to the deputy’s call. She met with the teen at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center, Janesville. She took him to University Hospital, Madison, so he could see his brother before he died. She also opened her home to the teen and let him stay until his family members could come from out of state to care for him.

Julie has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and Bilingual Education. She is an English Language Learner (ELL) Support Teacher at Parker High School. She has been working in that capacity since she began with the School District of Janesville in 2001.  She has worked as the department's instructional manager for the past three years. 

Jose Carrillo, a School District of Janesville student advocate, states that Julie has helped students during tragic family losses on at least two occasions, and "She sees the needs of all her students and caringly works with families in the community to ensure that their children have the best educational experiences."

Title Programs, ELL and World Language Coordinator Julie DeCook believes that "Julie is a trusted voice of experience and wisdom in meeting the needs of high school ELLs and is active in providing leadership among high school ELL teachers in examining how the School District of Janesville provides services to ELLs at the high school level." 

According to Parker High School Assistant Principal Quiana Polk, "Julie is a superb model of hard work, ability and diligence, which her students are inspired to emulate. She has been a transformational force in the lives of her students, resulting in their ability to see themselves as achievers." 

Congratulations Julie on receiving this well deserved award!

Some information in this blog was obtained from the Janesville Gazette

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville (SDJ) is a forum to recognize outstanding performances and achievements by SDJ employees, students and schools.
Parker High School Teacher and Student Receive the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing) honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. Congratulations to Parker Senior Maggie O’Leary for winning this award.  Maggie also earned a $1000 scholarship!
The Aspirations in Computing Educator Award identifies outstanding educators who play a pivotal role in helping to encourage the young women to continue exploring their interest in computing and technology. The NCWIT Aspirations Award recognizes educators for their efforts to promote gender equity in computing.  Parker Teacher Bob Getka recently received this award.  He is the first Wisconsin educator to do so!
E-Mail from Veronica McMahon, Madison Elementary to Karen Schulte
Ann Marshall, a first grade teacher at Madison, just told me she received a grant for 3 iPod Touches, a charger, a boom box, and headphones. Madison Elementary School teachers have been doing a great job getting resources for our school this year!”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What is on the menu? The Roosevelt Garden

The following is a portion of an email sent to Dr. Schulte and others from Diedre Richard on March 21, 2012.

"All this great weather has brought us a wonderful spinach crop ready to harvest NOW!  I am so happy to tell you that Jim Deegen, Food Services Director, is so ambitious about this that he has agreed to respond quickly and we are planning to harvest it this afternoon/evening and serve it in the lunch menu tomorrow at Roosevelt for the kids.     
Thanks for all the support over the last year – looking forward to another great year at the school garden!  Next on the agenda will be planting peas, beets, lettuce and baby-sized pumpkins at Roosevelt.  It would be great to have another school willing to tackle planting sweet potatoes in a 55 gallon drum so the kids can be involved in that, if you know an elementary school interested let me know, it’s very simple and will allow us to change the French Fries to Sweet Potato fries on the school menu!"
Mr. Deegen and the Food Service Department are being recognized this evening at the School District of Janesville Board of Education meeting. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The School District of Janesville Budget: For Your Eyes Only?

Although we are just in the opening stages of our long process of building the School District of Janesville's fiscal 2012-2013 operating budget, there is a question to address that the District frequently hears:
Are the District Budgets an open book and available for anyone to look at? 
The answer to that question is a simple yes.
There are many references in Chapter 65 of the Wisconsin statues that refer to the public display and availability of the annual operating budget. 
After a budget draft is prepared, the District will have a public hearing on that draft budget.  The hearing is to be posted in advance of the meeting and the amounts to be reviewed and discussed at the meeting are to be included in budgets which are placed in public locations and available for public inspection.  In our District, we place the budget documents in each of our school buildings, the Educational Services Center building and at the Hedberg Public Library.
This budget information is also posted on the District’s website.
After the budget is approved, the final budget information is available, upon request, only at the Educational Services Center building.   However, beginning with the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the final budget may be available on the website as well.
 The District operating budget is an open book and is available for anyone to look at.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Madison Elementary School Achieves High Marks

Dedicated and committed teachers, administrative support and accountability, a focus on data driven results and programs, and an emphasis on the whole child—social, emotional, physical and academic needs, these are the backbone of Madison Elementary School. These principles are the heart and soul driving the employees and the principal and have led to Madison’s recognition as a School of Promise.  This is quite an accomplishment for a school with over 60% poverty.  The School District of Janesville is proud of the hard work and dedication of the Madison Elementary principal, teachers, and support staff.

Achievement Focus
*The following charts shows the average progress Madison third through fifth grade students made in reading and math over the last 3 years on WKCE according to WINSS:

All Students
Full Academic Year
Avg. Reading

Avg. Math


Economically Disadvantaged
Avg. Reading
Avg. Math

Instructional Quality and Data Driven Instruction:
Principal McMahon attributes the increase in achievement to staff’s dedication and passion for achievement. They go well above and beyond what is required to meet the needs of their students, putting in many extra hours. Decisions made at Madison are driven by data and focus on results. The teachers are committed to basing their decisions on what the data shows is needed and what is best for each student. There is accountability through this because teachers use research to decide the course of action. Each quarter the staff analyzes data on student achievement. Through item analysis they look for areas of weakness, form intervention groups, plan differentiated instruction, and reassess effectiveness of current strategies and flexible Response to Intervention groups. Instead of teachers being accountable solely from the top down, the teachers are asking questions and learning from one another. Teachers who are not seeing high results are showing concern and asking questions of their colleagues.
Madison also maintains a strong student services team which meets weekly to look at progress monitoring and the academic needs of the students. They also review the social and emotional needs of the students, making sure no student slips through the crack. The support given from the Educational Services staff and the directors also help the school meet students’ needs.

Additional Resources:
 Due to the tight budget of the school district, Madison teachers and administrator spent time seeking out other ways to obtain resources for the school. Teachers wrote grants to provide additional training and tools and equipment for Madison. Two Funds for Teachers grants were awarded to Madison teachers—one to send a team for training on raising achievement with students of poverty and the second grant for training using TRIBES and Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS). Madison teachers became eligible to apply for these grants when they were named a School of Promise. They also received an Excellence in Education grant for six iPads to be used in reading instruction. Another classroom will be awarded three iPod Touches, headphones and a boom box from 
In addition to the free and reduced lunches that all schools provide students who are economically disadvantaged, a Breakfast Club is sponsored by Faith Lutheran Church and a free brunch/snack is also provided to all students.  The goal is to meet the needs of the whole student, which in turn shows the student that they are valued and cared for.
Their Community Learning Center Program, funded by a grant they received two years ago, gives students at risk in reading and math extra attention and help. Madison School’s Neighborhood Summer School Program also focuses on improved reading and math.  Both of these programs are strategically staffed by Madison teachers, who know students’ needs.

Positive Climate through Reward, Recognition and Rounding:
Madison recently revised their mission to include their four Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) goals, and every classroom created a positive code of conduct. Students are rewarded for positive behavior. Teachers focus on reteaching students to be safe, respectful, responsible, and ready to learn, using positive language and reinforcements. 
Principal McMahon also recognizes the importance of developing a positive climate for staff. Through rounding for outcomes, she asks staff what is going well, who she should recognize, what challenges exist and what tools and equipment are needed. This information allows her to continue to improve the school environment for staff and students. It also allows her to write personal thank you notes to recognize high performance, which are posted on the communication board for the whole community to see.  Staff are also recognized in weekly staff notes and with personalized cakes to celebrate achievements and employees successes
She also gets valuable information from both the parent and staff satisfaction surveys. Goals are developed by the entire staff. These are also incorporated into the Leadership Evaluation Measurement, or LEM, which keeps the school focused on achievement and making Madison School a great place to be for students, families, and staff.

Building Relationships:
            There is also a focus at Madison on building relationships—guaranteeing students know they are cared for and parents feel welcomed. The teachers truly value and care for their students, and the top question on their minds when making decisions is “What is best for the students?” 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Award Winning Coach Hangs Up His Whistle

Janesville Parker High School football coach Joe Dye informed his team this afternoon that he will resign his post.

Joe moved to Janesville in the Summer of 1980 and worked as an assistant coach at Janesville Parker from 1980 through 1992.In 1993, Joe accepted the head football coaching position at Janesville Parker and led the Vikings to their first Big 8 conference championship in school history in 2000. The Vikings have won 5 Big 8 championships under the leadership of Joe and his staff. Janesville Parker has qualified for the state football playoffs 15 of his 19 seasons. He was selected as the Big 8 Coach of the Year in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006. Joe was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007

Joe has also served as the head boys track coach at Janesville Parker from 1981 till present.Throughout his time at Parker High School, Joe has served as the mathematics chair and was selected as the Janesville Secondary Teacher of the Year in 1995. He was also recog­nized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1995 as a Distinguished Teacher of Teachers and in 2003 as a Rockwell Award Winner.

He will continue to work as a teacher, athletic director and boys track coach at Janesville Parker High School.

Joe Dye has been a dedicated, high performing football coach for many years in the School District of Janesville. It is now time for him to focus more on himself and the family he is devoted to. Joe has been a role model for many students at Janesville Parker. He is a strong leader in our district and a beloved employee. I wish Joe the best and stand by him in his decision. I am happy that he will continue with us as a teacher, athletic director and track and field coach. Thank you for your service to the Janesville community and the School District of Janesville.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville (SDJ) is a forum to recognize outstanding performances and achievements by SDJ employees, students and schools.

Deb Mundth, AV Technician for the School District of Janesville

E-Mail from Shelley Gard, Innovation Specialist, Wilson/Lincoln Elementary to Bob Smiley, CIO

Dr. Smiley,

“I just wanted to share some food for thought from the user end of our world. Deb Mundth, as you're well aware, is such a key player in helping us make sure that the AV end of the instructional technology is working well in classrooms. As we make this exciting transition to more and more of our teaching practice relying on higher end technology equipment, I've seen just how critical it is that she's been able to drop everything and come change a SMART Board bulb, talk me through SMART and other AV/IT troubleshooting on the phone, advise me as I work to figure out the best way to implement management practices for new equipment, make recommendations as I consider purchases, etc.

Gone are the days when we could simply swap an old school overhead projector or even a new school LCD projector for that matter. True, teachers should always have a 'plan B' in case things go wrong and it's not possible to help them right away. Still, our world of education is so rapidly increasing its reliance on technology. I see that as a great thing! Being that it's my role to help encourage this increased use, I have a whole different level of appreciation for Deb's knowledge and services.”

Thank you,
Shelley Gard

Student Leadership Council (SLC) (Parker High School)

The following was shared by Kristin Hampton, Spanish Teacher and Kathy Kislia, Language Arts Teacher

“Nineteen SLC students attended the Ignite Leadership Conference at UW Madison. At the conference, they met with students from various schools in Wisconsin. As advisor, I had the opportunity to sit in on some of their groups and hear our Parker students share how great their teachers are, how their teachers work hard to help them succeed, and they were even giving a brief lesson on Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and the Viking Values! Our students see staff working and said they feel safer at school because of our expectations! They take pride in their school! It was so encouraging to hear them share with the other schools.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Engage Assessment Helps Students Prepare for High School

In an effort to help students and parents better prepare for high school, each School District of Janesville eighth grade student took the Engage Assessment this year. The results of the Engage Survey were shared at February Parent-Teacher Conferences. The intent of the Engage Assessment is to have students self-assess those critical factors associated with their future success in both their middle and high school experiences.

The Engage Assessment is produced by the ACT College and Career Readiness System. Specifically, the Engage is designed to help predict academic performance and timely graduation from high school. It also provides a profile of students’ strengths and needs in ten areas, including family involvement, school safety climate and optimism. In addition, the Engage will provide schools with valuable insight about students’ academic self-confidence, social connection and ability to set meaningful goals.

Finally, the Engage will help to identify those students who are most at-risk of running into academic difficulty or even dropping out of college during their first year. Early intervention with these students (at the high school level) will focus on study skills, social activity, and academic self-confidence. Data from the Engage will also be an important tool for how the high schools reinvigorate the current ninth grade advisory program helping to make Advisory more student-centered and focused on the transition to high school. I believe the Engage Assessment will be another tool that will assist and support students in our district with one of the final steps in their journey with us—the high school years.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16-20, 2012 is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin

The tornado is the most violent of storms. Winds can be as high as 300 miles per hour and forward speeds as high as 40 miles per hour. May, June, July and August are the most likely months for tornados to develop. June is usually the worst month. About 80 percent of tornados strike between noon and midnight, with the busiest hour between 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The week of April 16-20, 2012 is Tornado & Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Emergency Management team and the five National Weather Service Forecast Offices that service Wisconsin are asking that everyone take time to go over their safety plans so that they will be ready when severe weather strikes.

On Thursday, April 19, 2012, a mock tornado drill will be conducted, with a mock tornado watch and warning issued for all of Wisconsin. This is a great opportunity for everyone to practice your tornado emergency plan with family, friends and co-workers. The School District of Janesville will be participating in the drill.

Every precaution has been taken to protect students and staff members during periods of severe weather. School District of Janesville students and staff are made aware of predetermined areas of shelter to which they move during severe weather warnings. During times of weather warnings, students will be kept in their shelter areas beyond normal dismissal times and staff will remain with them. For safety reasons students will not be released until either the National Weather Service or local police or fire officials issue an “all clear” signal. Children will not be released to families during the time of a weather warning as student safety is a top priority for The School District of Janesville.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lincoln Elementary School Does It Again!

Lincoln Elementary School is a Wisconsin School of Promise for the fourth straight year in a row.

Lincoln Elementary School has maintained a history of strong performance, having won the School of Promise award for the last three years. Despite the changing demographics and rise of socio-economically disadvantaged students, Lincoln has been able to maintain gains, good scores and grow academically. What is Lincoln doing right?

The Lincoln Elementary School Formula for Success.

Teacher Quality:

Lincoln is staffed by highly qualified, seasoned/veteran, and dedicated teachers and staff—staff who are not only experienced, but are passionate about their students and seeing those students succeed.

Special Area Teachers:

Special Area Teachers (Physical Education, Art, and Music) have been an asset to Lincoln’s success as well. They have worked both Reading and Math standards into their lessons throughout the year and intentionally teach key vocabulary for academic subjects in their classes. This solidifies the wrap-around effect, which is designed to detail the importance of all skills in all curriculum areas.

School Climate:

Lincoln boasts a strong character program, which has been in place for 12 years and is partnered with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is a systemic approach to proactive, school-wide behavior based on a Response to Intervention (RtI) model. PBIS applies evidence-based programs, practices and strategies for all students to increase academic performance, improve safety, decrease problem behavior, and establish a positive school culture. This has led to fewer classroom interruptions. With fewer disruptions, fewer students are being distracted from learning and being taken from the classroom for behavioral intervention. Truancy has also dropped, which means more students in the classroom, and they’re on time. The principal, teachers and staff work to develop a sense of pride and ownership among the students and parents, which results in increased involvement. Getting the students into the classroom and keeping them there has had a profound impact on student achievement.

Data Driven Decisions:

Through the use of data driven decision-making, Lincoln teachers have been able to do what is best for students. Translated, student assessment data is carefully monitored each week resulting in the development of either specific intervention or enrichment groups. This focus on the detail and teaching for mastery has been a key ingredient associated with their success.

Parental Involvement:

Despite a shift in demographics, Lincoln had 100% parent contact during conferences. Teachers and staff have been able to engage parents, build stronger relationships and encourage a deep involvement of the parents in their child’s education. According to Lincoln Principal Shawn Galvin, “Parent involvement is key to the school’s success.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Professional Learning Communities

What is a learning community? Is it a small group? A classroom? A team? Students? Teachers? Administrators? It is all these things and more. Some might suggest, a professional learning community is formed whenever “two or more are gathered” to talk, share, learn, and grow.

Once considered an innovation, professional learning communities in schools are commonplace today. Although their structure varies widely, their use as a powerful staff development strategy to promote school change and improvement is consistent. To be effective, professional learning communities must be part of the culture of the school – respected, supported, and nurtured.

When afforded that status, professional learning communities

· Decrease educators’ isolation
· Increase their commitment to the mission of the school
· Foster a sense of shared responsibility that leads to more effective change.

Lest the concept of professional learning communities evokes an image of teachers and administrators sitting in a circle sharing instructional strategies, think again. The configuration can be as varied as the schools in which it is used.

Professional learning communities have at their foundation, five specific factors as outlined by Peter Senge:

1. Supportive and shared leadership;
2. Collective creativity;
3. Shared values and vision;
4. Supportive culture;
5. Shared personal practice;

With these elements, schools – and individual educators – can craft their own brand of professional learning community. Administrators can empower teachers through professional learning communities, allowing them to take the lead in improving classroom instruction and, indeed, the school climate.

Last school year, due to the budget reduction of some 110 staff members, it became apparent that we needed to devise a new way of doing business in the district. The absolutes that were critical to the new plan involved raising achievement and creating more opportunities for collaboration among and between the staff. In response, The School District of Janesville developed the regional PLC model where the district was divided into three regions—West, East and South. In this model, resource staff—academic learning coaches, counselors, library-media specialists, social workers, and school psychologists are shared among and between schools based on the immediate needs identified at the building. PLC’s meet monthly to process and management the work of the PLC as well as collaborate on the various activities and events surrounding student learning and achievement. Flexibility is the key to effectiveness of the model. Later this month we will begin the process of evaluating the progress of our regional PLC experiment and consider the future evolution of our regional PLC’s.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What’s Right in the School District of Janesville (SDJ) is a forum to recognize outstanding performances and achievements by SDJ employees and schools.

Harrison Elementary School

Harrison students collected 11, 568 Box Tops for Education. This translates into $1,156.80 raised for Harrison School. Nice job!

The Harrison student council coordinated a school-wide book drive. Students collected almost 1,000 books which then were donated to children in need in Zambia. This effort was coordinated through one of the community churches.

Adams Elementary School

On March 2nd, 71 Adams School third graders attended a performance of Miss Nelson is Missing. Adams had several students participate in the show. In a recent “View of the Week” from the Janesville Gazette an usher wrote the following about students who attended the performance:

“During the hour-long show, the children sat in their seats, attentively, focused on the stage. Upon entering and exiting they were polite and quiet, showing real theater etiquette. Parents, you would have been proud of your children. But what I saw was literally busloads of amazing potential streaming through JPAC’s doors. If this is the future of Janesville, I am optimistic. Keep up the good work, teachers and parents!”

Celebrate National Library Week, April 8-14, 2012 and National School Library Month in April

In preparing for today’s blog, I took time to reflect on the importance of libraries in my life and in the lives of my children. My parents valued the freedom to read and I had an unquenchable thirst for learning. I was always asking them difficult questions that led to the local library. The librarians helped me find answers, and to see the world from different perspectives. I did the same with my children and now the same passions are growing in my grandchildren. Going to the library is top on their list of places they want to visit.

Our public and school libraries are fun places for adults and children alike. They provide for free expression of thought, intellectual growth and knowledge, and access to ideas and technology. The libraries’ programs play an essential role in our lives and our children’s’ futures. Both our public and school libraries are vibrant places for learning, reading, and gaining research and technology skills.

The libraries’ collections provide materials which reflect a broad range of ideas and beliefs of religious, social, political, historical and ethnic groups. We learn of their many contributions, who we are as Americans, along with our place in the world. We learn how our many rich cultures add to our appreciation of diversity and varied points of view. The wide variety of resources meets individual needs, varied interests, and reading levels.

Hedberg Public Library and the School District of Janesville’s library programs collaborate to keep literacy in the forefront. Visit them this month if you have not been there recently. See why libraries are our cultural and literary gems for you and your children.

Monday, April 9, 2012

School District of Janesville Employee Handbook Timeline

The Handbook Design Committee is now meeting every two weeks and has created a tentative timeline in order to meet goals set by this committee. As the committee has studied other school district’s work in this area, we have come to the conclusion that it would be best to bring some of the topics to the Board as separate items because certain topics are large and complex.

April/May 2012: Focus groups will be set up and will occur over these two months. Employees will sign up if they are interested in participating and information will be gathered from all employee groups.

May 2012: Boyd Consultants have been directed to bring the Handbook Design Committee information on HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) and POS (Point of Service) plans. It will take approximately two months for them to gather data and information. We will meet with them again in May.

Summer of 2012: A collaborative group would be formed with at least one representative from each employee group to work with the Design Committee.

End of Summer 2012: Working Conditions Section of the Handbook would tentatively be completed by the end of summer 2012.

Attorney Review: Ongoing Attorney review prior to presentation of each topic/section to the Board for approval.

November 2012: Insurance & Benefit Section would be presented to the Board for approval no later than November 2012 in preparation for Administrative contracts in January 2013.

2nd Board Meeting in March 2013: Final approval by the Board of all sections.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Wait is Over.....Opening Day Has Arrived

Opening Day is the day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season. For Major League Baseball and most of the minor leagues, this day falls during the first week of April. For baseball fans, Opening Day serves as a symbol of rebirth; writer Thomas Boswell once penned a book titled, Why Time Begins on Opening Day. Many feel that the occasion represents a newness or a chance to forget last season, in that the 30 major league clubs and their millions of fans begin with 0-0 records.

Each new school year also represents newness for our students. The beginning of the school year represents a new challenge and is an exciting time for teachers and staff as well as students. However, we (staff, students, parents and community members) still have work to finish for the 2011-2012 school year. Although the end of the third quarter is upon us, the School District of Janesville will continue the march towards excellence we began seven months ago.

Some of the greatest inspirational quotes of all time revolve around baseball. I have listed a few of them below. With work left to accomplish, let’s finish the 2011-2012 school year strong!

Willie Mays
“In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept destructive criticism. Without 100 percent dedication, you won't be able to do this.”

Joe DiMaggio
“You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”

Tommy Lasorda
“There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”

Yogi Berra
“The game isn't over until it's over.”

Mickey Mantle
“All I have is natural ability.”

The School District of Janesville will be rooting for the Blue Wahoos this evening, as this is also their opening night in Pensacola.

Some of the information in the first paragraph was obtained from