Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I'm Thankful For

As I was preparing my annual Thanksgiving Day message today, I received word that, once again, we have a big win at Parker High School. The Parker Computer Club, after three years in a row finishing in third place, placed first this year at the Milwaukee School of Engineering Programming Competition.

It was after reading this good news from Computer Club advisor and Parker teacher extraordinaire Bob Getka, that I realize what I’m truly thankful for at this time of year and the year throughout.

I am thankful to be part of a team that’s aligned and focused on one thing – creating great educational opportunities and memorable moments for our students. Bob and his first place students, Chris Hanson, Noah Seichter, Bobby Getka and Sam Schendel, all represent the world class students we are growing into adults and I am thankful that I get to work with these employees and students.

 It’s no accident we are seeing outstanding results in several areas at many of our schools. For example, the Parker and Wilson food service, custodial and maintenance staffs earned a perfect, 100 percent score on its Rock County Health Department inspection. Parker’s Robotics Club is rated among the top 20 nationally and may be writing code for NASA’s International Space Station.  I believe we have seen these incredible results because of dedicated staff dreaming big for our students.

Edison and Franklin middle schools along with Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison and Roosevelt schools all are Wisconsin Schools of Recognition.  Craig and Parker high schools are US News and World Report Silver medalist schools. Kennedy Elementary is a National Blue Ribbon School. We have one of the top 100 Chinese classrooms in the nation which represents Harrison, Roosevelt, EMS and MMS. Our district earned the top accountability score in Rock County and the top accountability school out of the 15 largest schools in Wisconsin.  As I am writing this more news came in this time from Roosevelt.  Thanks to a Beth Ulring, Tom Heiss, and support from Blackhawk Tech, U-Rock, and many parent volunteers, the FIRST Lego Leagues at Roosevelt Elementary School had a very successful run again this year.  This November, four rookie teams of students competed in the FIRST Lego League regional competition at Mukwanago High School. Competing in the Nature’s Fury competition was the Storm Masters, the Vortex Bots, the Nanopathms, and Rock N’ Robots.  The Vortex Bots succeeded in taking home the Against All Odds Award. This award is for the team that worked against the odds and found success. Congratulations to all the teams and coaches for their outstanding work.  

These awards and recognitions are based on high student achievement. Where does it come from?

Using Parker as an example, it starts with a dedicated staff led by Principal Chris Laue, who coordinates a team effort. Parker’s award-winning computer, chess and robotics clubs are able to operate in a clean and safe environment created and maintained by maintenance and custodial staffs who understand that their jobs are essential to the overriding goal of student achievement. The food service staff knows that kids can’t learn if they are hungry, undernourished or eat in an unsafe environment.  It also takes training of these staff by employees like Bill Samborsk