Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toys for Tots

We have always believed that the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District is a place full of outstanding individuals committed to civic leadership.  This school year we competed in a Valley Conference competition in raising Toys for Tots donations. 

Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (JWP), St. Clair and Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial (LCWM) chose to compete this school year.  Today (12/19/13) all three schools went to Mankato to deliver the donations each district collected.  In the end JWP won the competition.  The point totals (rounded) from each district is notated below:

LCWM - 700 points
St. Clair - 2400 points
JWP - 2500 points

The JWP School Community contributed roughly $3,000 in cash donations to Toys for Tots and over 1,000 toys.  Please be proud of the impact you all have made on our local and national efforts.  JWP's work will put several smiles on the faces of children throughout the local, state and national levels.  We couldn't be more proud of our District.  We are simply humbled by your efforts.  Thank you for making our district a great place to live, learn and teach.  Simply put, you are amazing!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

10,000 Hours of Practice

In my days as an assistant wrestling coach we used to tell our wrestlers that they needed to practice a move 10,000 times before it would become part of their muscle memory.  In essence, practicing the move 10,000 times would increase a wrestler's ability on the mat.  However, after reading the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I found that my old way of communicating that message was a bit flawed.

Gladwell states that research supports it takes 10,000 hours of practice before one can become an 'expert'.  In his book he talks about three specific examples of this theory.  Bill Joy, Bill Gates and the Beatles.  In each case, these folks engaged in their area of expertise for 10,000 hours before they reached the pinnacle of their early careers.

So how does this relate to education.  Students spend roughly seven hours per day in classroom instruction for 174 days.  7 hours x 174 days x 13 years = 15,834 hours of instruction.  However, the example relates directly to practice not necessarily seat time.  Therefore, we need to begin shifting our attention to finding ways for students to 'practice' or 'apply' their learning to engage the 'expert' status.

Although this blog entry will not solve the gaps in student learning, I hope for it to start a conversation. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Technology is Evolving in Education

From December 14th to December 17th I will be attending the TIES Conference in Minneapolis.  This conference is focused on the potential use of technology in today's classroom.  I have just completed the first day of this conference and the sessions I attended involved the use of Evernote and Twitter in K-12 classrooms. 

Evernote is managed by the cloud.  Students and teachers can utilize Evernote to eliminate paper, increase engagement, and enhance achievement.  There are many features in Evernote that can be tapped to move our educational capacity forward.  As the JWP School District continues its journey to engage the student population through technology, Evernote will be a strong contributor.

Twitter is a social media platform that many utilize in a variety of ways.  Although Twitter has received negative attention, it can actually provide a positive influence on the education of our students.  Please click on the following link to learn more about the use of Twitter in the K12 classroom:

While I attended the conference I overheard educators talk about the ability our youth have with technology.  After listening to the dialogue, I came to the conclusion that educators need to begin discovering new social media tools prior to our students discovering them.  Right now, Facebook and Twitter are almost a foregone tool for teenagers.  Our students are now moving onto Instagram and Snapchat from Facebook and Twitter.  A reflective question we need to begin answering is the following:

What can we do as educators to discover the next best thing for our young learners and begin including it into our instruction? 

Although we are all comfortable with the tradition of education, we need to begin adapting our practice to meet the needs of the new learner.  This is a call for all to embark on the challenge of evolving education!

With Regards,
Bill Adams, JWP Superintendent

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Board Meeting Agendas/Minutes Made Easy

As a school district we continue to look for ways to enhance communication with our public.  Last school year I went through a webinar with BoardBooks, which is an internet based board meeting framework.  After the webinar it became quite clear how beneficial this framework would be for our three communities to stay abreast of District happenings. 

In October we adopted the BoardBook framework and will be utilizing it going forward.  On this site, the public will be able to view detailed agendas with attached documents that relate to each item to be covered.  In the past, we were only able to post an agenda, which left out important details.  Although our previous format served it's purpose, this new framework provides much more information for our community members.

I strongly encourage our communities to check out our BoardBook site to stay informed with what is taking place in our school district.  If you have any troubles viewing or navigating the site, please send me an e-mail or give me a phone call.  The site can be accessed via the link or web-path below:

2. Web-path
    a. Go to ''
    b. Click on 'District Information'
    c. Click on 'School Board'
    d. Click on New - 'Agendas and Minutes'

With Regards,
Bill Adams, Superintendent
507.234.5181 Ext. 5

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Progress Realized

Greetings Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Students, Families & Others:

The first month of the school year was a great success.  Our students transitioned into their routines for the school year and adjusted well to their new schedules and teachers.  JWP staff also familiarized themselves to their new schedules and students.

This year brings the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS), Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), new math and reading curricula, and a new teacher evaluation system.  As you can glean from that information, our teachers are extremely busy with these new initiatives while continuing to provide high quality instruction.  We are proud of our staff members' dedication to professional improvement!

September was a month filled with adjustment and anticipation.  October will provide our teachers with a bit more comfort throughout the implementation of District initiatives.  We look forward to their continued growth and their direct impact on the improvement of the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District.

With Regards,
Bill Adams, Superintendent


Friday, May 17, 2013

Now it works...

At the beginning of the school year, I was planning to create a promotional video highlighting the wonderful opportunities the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public School District offers.  It became quite clear that finding time to create such a project would prove to be insurmountable.  Therefore, I turned to one of our students.  Zach Hagen agreed to take on the project and this is what he has created.  Pretty impressive!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Educator Appreciation Week

This week is Educator Appreciation Week and on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 it was Educator Appreciation Day!  This week allows us the opportunity to thank our educators for the positive impact they have on our entire school community.

I can say with 110% confidence that we are fortunate to have outstanding individuals in our District that are committed to the advancement of student development.  Each day I see another example of the dedication our staff has to improving the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public School District experience.  These examples range from community events to homework help to outstanding facilities and to service.  I am very proud of the staff at our school district!

If you have an opportunity, please thank an educator today!

Board Meeting Summary and May Agenda Items

Greetings Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Family,

Our School Board conducted a study session on Monday, May 6, 2013.  At this study session we had productive discussions about our district budget, district leadership, the possibility of a school resource officer, athletic punch cards and upcoming athletic coaches hirings.

Currently our district budget is in a healthy place due to outstanding financial management, the passage of an operating levy and several other factors.  We discussed the revised budget and preliminary budget for our next fiscal year.

District leadership was reviewed.  The District currently has a K-12 Principal, K-6 Dean of Students/Activities Director/Community Education Director and a Superintendent.  There was discussion of expanding this to a K-6 Principal/Community Education Facilitator, 7-12 Principal/Curriculum Development Director and a Superintendent.

There is a federal grant available again that would put school resource officers in buildings throughout the United States.  If the grant is approved the District would be responsible for a portion of the cost.  In the beginning 12.5% and at the end 50%.  After the final year of the grant, the District would have to decide if continuing with 100% of the cost is appropriate and fits within our District budget.

It was discussed to begin providing athletic punch cards for families to purchase at the beginning of each year/athletic season.  This would eliminate families from having to have cash on hand for each event.  They would be allowed to purchase a specified amount of events and have their punch card 'punched'.

At the regular Board meeting in May, the Board will be approving contracts for our Fall and Winter Head Coaches.  This is a bit of a change in practice.  The rationale behind the change is to have coaches approved before the start of an athletic season and provide our parents and coaches a head coach throughout the summer events.

As you can tell, our School Board Study Session was extremely productive filled with enriching conversation and education.  If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

With Highest Regards,
Bill Adams, Superintendent

Monday, April 22, 2013

When will this end?

My first year as a Superintendent has been filled full of learning opportunities and growth.  The weather patterns this year have been a measurable portion of my growth.  On snowy mornings I typically wake up at 4:30 am to check on road conditions.  I take out my Honda Accord and navigate a route that takes me as far north as Madison Lake and as far south as Waldorf and Pemberton.  That route is a good tool for decision making for our District.  On my drive I typically contact the Superintendents from surrounding districts to get their insight.  I would have never imagined that those drives would be as numerous as they have been.  Although I enjoy the quiet time listening to talk radio, I would much prefer green grass and blue skies.  It is 10:53 pm on Monday the 22nd of April and it appears the Accord will be making another trip throughout our District in the early hours of the morning.   The picture below depicts my feelings regarding our current weather and I am sure many of you feel the same way.

A Welcomed Letter

On Monday, April 22, 2013 I received a letter from an 85 year old male from California.  In the letter was an explanation for his mailing.  He was in an antique store and came across a postcard from 1908.  On the postcard was a picture of Janesville High School as it stood in 1907.

Here is the copy of the postcard:

The gentleman did ask the District to send him $7.00 or $8.00 and to maybe throw in a little for postage.  He said that if he heard back from the District, that he would have to take his wife out to lunch.  I thought this was a very nice gesture from someone that has no 'ties' to our District.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meeting with Commissioner Cassellius

Commissioner Cassellius met with Region 2 Superintendents today in Mankato.  She highlighted various legislative priorities.  To date, her main concern is the issue of sequestration.  As it stands sequestration would impact our district budget by a 5% reduction to all federal funding sources.  Special Education and Title will be directly impacted.  If sequestration comes to fruition, our most needy students will have opportunities taken from them.  I encourage you to contact your local legislatures and discourage them from using sequestration as a way to balance the budget if you are so inclined.

Commissioner Cassellius also highlighted other state legislative action:

- Increase to kindergarten funding
- $22/per pupil unit funding for teacher evaluation
- Equalization aid
- Creation of regional centers
- Literacy aid change

The morning was full of rich information.  It appears that legislative action at the state level could bring positive changes to education.  Only time will tell...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grant Writing at JWP

There are several grants out and about that various organizations can apply for from year to year.  JWP doesn't have a full time grant writer, but we have had several teachers throughout the years apply for grants related to their field.  

Eric Kehoe recently completed a grant through Shell which would provide him with a possible lab makeover.  The process for this grant was rather intense and included different rounds of application.  One of those rounds included completing a video submission.  You may view the submission by visiting this web-site:  In the end, Eric has been selected as a 2013 Shell Science Lab Challenge District Winner.  His prize package includes: 

- Designation as an "NSTA/Shell Science Lab Challenge District Winner" and a School Banner
- $1,000 in donated lab equipment/materials/gift certificates
- $1,000 Shell Science Lab Challenge grant to purchase science/lab equipment and science education resource books.
- $300 gift certificate to the NSTA bookstore
- One year NSTA Learning Center membership for two
- Paid registration for two teachers to attend a 2013 NSTA Area Conference

In addition, his application and video will be included in the final judging where their panel will select one grand prize winner and four national finalists.  The grand prize winning school will receive a lab makeover support package valued at $20,000.

Mrs. Steinberg, JWP's FCCLA Director recently applied for a Delta Dental Serve a Smile Grant for the FCCLA program.  Funds were limited this year and not all applicants were awarded a grant.  We are happy to announce that JWP's FCCLA was one of the groups awarded a grant.  In this case, they were awarded a total of $442.30. 

Thank you Mr. Kehoe and Mrs. Steinberg for taking the time to complete these grant applications and congratulations on your success!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Great Week!

This week has been pretty exciting for our student athletes and fine arts participants.  We started off the fun with an exciting come from behind effort by our JWP GBB team followed by a first round playoff win.  On Saturday the 23rd of February our JWP BBB team had a last second victory over the FBA Cardinals, the #2 seed in sections.  On this same day Kylie Morton, Jacob Wilson, Mikaela Wehking, and Amber Volkmann earned a trip to state for their FCCLA STAR event!  We are very proud of all our students and appreciate their hard work and dedication.  Thanks for all you do students!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Playoff GBB

Our girls basketball team played Glenville-Emmons this evening in the first round of the playoffs.  The girls continued their momentum from Friday evening and won this game 69-43.  They will play Faribault BA (FBA) on Thursday at FBA's home court.  Keep the momentum rolling JWP girls basketball!

Go Bulldogs and Grizzlys!


How about those JWP Girls Basketball Players!

On Friday night the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Girls Basketball team was down to United South Central 40-6 in the second half.  However, our girls did not quit!  As a matter of fact, they stepped up to the challenge courageously.  As our girls were mounting a comeback you could sense something special was going to happen.  Our girls fought their way back into the game and almost overcame their 34 point deficit.  In the end, the girls lost 58-56.  The loss does not take away their outstanding perseverance and commitment to improving their position.  We can all be very proud of our girls basketball team.  Congratulations players and coaches!  Good luck tonight vs. Glenville-Emmons.

Go Bulldogs!

February Reflections

In the Spirit of Valentines

Top Ten Things to Love about JWP!

It is quite obvious that I have a true love for the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public School District.  I graduated from JWP High School and began my teaching career at the Elementary.  My direct experiences with this district have always been ‘top-shelf’!

Valentine’s Day was always my favorite holiday as a youngster.  I  looked forward to the sweet treats and, more specifically, who was going to ask me to be their Valentine.  Although I was disappointed from time to time at the lack of Valentine requests, the candy was never a disappointment.  With that said, I have highlighted a list of the top 10 things to love about JWP.  Please be mindful that I was unable to squeeze everything you should love about JWP into a short list of 10.

1.     Dynamic and Motivated Students
2.     Understanding and Caring Families
3.     Engaged Community Members
4.     Highly Effective Instructional Staff
5.     Committed Paraprofessionals
6.     Friendly and Talented Kitchen Staff
7.     Courageous Custodial Staff
8.     Welcoming and Knowledgeable Secretaries
9.     Dedicated Administration
10.   Diverse School Board

Kitchen and Baseball Field Projects

The Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School Board has engaged in several conversations regarding the need to remedy both the kitchen and the baseball field.  At this point, the School Board will be creating a district-wide facilities assessment and priority list.  Completing this process will provide the School Board with an excellent decision making tool.  We will keep our public posted as further details are developed.

Professional Learning Communities

As many of you are aware, the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District will be going through the Professional Learning Community (PLCs) implementation process this summer.  PLCs consist of three big ideas:

1.     All students can learn at high levels.
2.     Adults work collaboratively in a collective effort.
3.     Adults understand results and respond appropriately.

Within the work of the three big ideas, four questions are asked consistently to ensure improved practice and student learning:

1.     What is it that all students must learn?
2.     How will we know they have learned it?
3.     What will we do if they have not learned it?
4.     What will we do if they have learned it?

By engaging in focused collaborative conversations, professional practice will improve.  As professional practice improves, student achievement begins to rise.   Continuing those conversations will set a positive upward trend.

Community Relations

We have a committed group of community members from Janesville, Pemberton and Waldorf working together to bring our communities together.  Our first event was a family movie night at the Main Street Plaza in Pemberton.  Thirteen folks braved the weather to attend the event.  We strongly believe many more would have participated had the weather cooperated with us.

Our second event was a Valentine’s Day Party, which was held on Saturday, February 16, 2013 in the Waldorf Community Center.  There were several events and activities for children ages birth to 3rd grade.

We plan on having events each month for children and adults of our three communities.  It would be absolutely wonderful to see you in attendance.  Typically each event is free of charge.  In some cases, small items can be purchased at a reasonable price.  The goal of the committee is to bring our three communities together.  If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact the JWP District Office.

Monday, February 18, 2013

They're Back!

Tuesday marked the first day back for our state legislatures. I always find this to be an exciting time for our great state of Minnesota. This session, like many others should be full of excitement.
One of the items I am interested in is the stance the legislatures may take on the delayed payments to schools. Many of you are aware that our state delays payments to schools. For example, they may provide schools 60% of the money they owe them in one fiscal year and the remaining 40% in the next. This puts schools in difficult situations. At times, they may need to borrow money to make it through the year. By doing so, they end up paying interest which takes away dollars from the classroom.

This year, our legislatures ran on the platform that the delayed payments would be paid back in full to school districts. Several districts throughout our state are happy to hear this. However, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton would prefer a slow payback to the delayed payments and an increase to per pupil funding. Our district has been managed well and we have not had to cash flow borrow in lieu of on time payments from the state. Therefore, interest payments have not been relevant to our district. In essence, the delayed payments have been an annoyance but not catastrophic.
I have talked to several administrators throughout our state about lobbying for our cause. Quite frankly, I have often believed that lobbying efforts may be ineffective. However, the colleagues I have spoken to have stated it really does have a positive impact on outcomes. The mindset I used to have is that it would not matter what I said, no one would listen to me anyway. What I have found in my experience is that our legislatures yearn our input. Therefore, I strongly encourage any of you that have an interest in a legislative topic to contact your representatives. I firmly believe your input will make a difference. If any of you are interested in teaming with the JWP School District to lobby for our needs, I encourage you to contact me.

Go Bulldogs and Grizzlys!