Inside this issue
Important Upcoming Events/Meetings
February 2 EBD Cohort
February 6 ASD Cohort
February 8 Perkins: Industrial Technology Regional Meeting
February 9 Instructional Coaches PLC
February 15 Principal Meeting
February 16 EL Cohort @ Goodhue
February 21 Superintendent Council
February 21 Perkins: School Counselor Regional Meeting
February 23 AT Cohort
February 26 SPED Leadership Team @ RBEC
The Progress, February 2018: Volume 3, Issue 6
The Progress archive
Click here to view past issues from the current school year.
Comments? Suggestions for new articles?
Contact Jillynne Raymond, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Behavior: Building Positive Relationships
Reading & Math: Fall to Winter Growth
SKOL: River Bluff Education Center has Super Bowl Fever
Although the Vikings did not make it to the Super Bowl, there was/is plenty of Viking Fever at RBEC!
American Sign Language Class - GCED offers 2 more classes
Over the past several years, there are more students throughout our member districts who are using sign language as a means of communication. IEP teams, including general education teachers, working with students who are using sign language have requested support in learning sign language and finding reputable resources.
To help meet needs GCED is offering its first American Sign Language Class to member districts taught by Michele Kremer, GCED American Sign Language Interpreter. Our first session is currently being held at Bluff View Elementary School in Lake City. We are happy to announce our next 2 offerings of the course; see right column for specifics.
ASL Course #2
Kenyon Wanamingo Elementary School Media Center
Thursdays 3:30 - 4:30 pm
3/8/18, 3/15/18, 3/22/18, 4/5/18, 4/12/18
(4/19 make up date if needed)
ASL Course #3
River Bluff Education Center
Thursdays 3:30 - 4:30 pm
4/19/18, 4/26/18, 5/3/18, 5/10/18, 5/17/18
(5/24 make up date if needed)
Note: Staff members from our member districts may register for the ASL course at any location.
Jeff Pesta, Kenyon Wanamingo (KW) Superintendent, has a key message for high school seniors in his district and in his home. He hopes that seniors can relax about the decisions they are making for their future. Granted, they are making important decisions but there are times when seniors "have no idea of what they want to do and we have to help them know that it's okay." For Jeff, it sure did; in fact his story came around full circle when he joined Kenyon Wanamingo in 2015.
After college, Jeff was doing scientific field research in Alaska and in Asia along the Pacific Rim when he faced a conundrum. He loved the work he was doing, after all he got "to do science." His conundrum came as his wedding was quickly approaching; he had to figure out how to do science but also be at home. As he thought about it, he could not help but to think about all of the inspiring science teachers he had in middle school and high school. His main source of amazement came from having fun in science classes. No matter how challenging the subject matter, everyone learned and everyone had fun. One of his teachers simply shared great stories that connected to the students' learning in order to help fortify the learning for 28 engaged students. This worked well; Jeff's first college level science class was "super easy" because they had learned it in high school. His mindset was ready to build on that foundation while maintaining the fun of science. The idea of teaching science actually sounded like a great career, but he never explored it. "Circumstances helped me find my way back to the path."
Jeff's path in education began in ISD 191 teaching middle school and high school science. From there he served as an assistant principal while continuing his own education. Then he took a year's leave of absence during the 2014-15 academic school year in order to finish his doctorate. One morning he successfully defended his dissertation, only to realize that he still had 6 1/2 months left to fill his time. He took a look at administrative openings and saw that Kenyon Wanamingo just posted for an interim high school principal. With a 20 minute commute to his home in New Prague he thought he would give it a try. Once on the job for 3 months and with the unfortunate passing of Jeff Evert, KW was in need of a superintendent. The Minnesota Department of Education is clear; someone leading the district office had to have a superintendent license; it just so happened that Jeff had one and was ready to put it to use.
Now with two full years under his belt, Jeff is clear that the greatest challenge for KW also has the potential for the greatest impact. It is challenging for a truly rural district to create a comprehensive education. Rural districts are not as dynamic as other districts that could have a growth boom or could have a new employer come to town, or shut down in a town; they are tied to the local agricultural community. It is imperative for a rural district to get to the core skills with as much creativity as it takes to make it happen. Jeff acknowledges that KW is preparing students "for their future, not our past." Agribusiness is evolving and education needs to as well. So how does a rural district meet the needs? There is much talk about personalized learning plans for all students in today's world, but not always specifics on how to make it happen. Jeff believes to make it happen that it's time to transfer the control to the students and earlier than later.
Currently the focus for post secondary plans happens in high school, but it needs to happen sooner. He wants KW to work with its 8th graders to build their own 4 year old plan. Rather than pushing students through a one size fits all education, he advocates for pulling students through their own plans with district support. So imagine that for a moment, if a student loves writing and wants more of it, then give it to him/her. Or if a student needs/wants more hands on experiential learning then let that be a part of that students' customized plan. Students evolve and can change their minds so it important that the students' learning plans evolve too, but it is important to start early.
KW Middle School has already begun the process. For the second year, all 8th grade students take a course titled "High School Prep" that is co-taught by the MS and HS guidance counselors. This
Jeff agrees with all we hear about these days on personalized learning, but he acknowledges that
Wellness...have you tried?
Do you find yourself feeling more down than you want this time of year? Or do you want to help your staff members or students sense of wellness? Try focusing on just 3 things.
Describe 3 good things that happened in the past 24 hours.
1. What was the first good thing?
2. What was the cause?
3. What was the second good thing?
4. What was the cause?
5. What was the third good thing?
6. What was the cause?
Maintain your own wellness and help those around you by focusing on the GOOD. It's amazing how much good is all around us!