Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Another Day in Paradise!

Bruce Manthe Welcomes Guests
If you have walked the hallways of the Janesville Public School District or the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public School District over the past 38 years, you've heard the phrase: "Another day in paradise." If you were ever to ask Bruce Manthe how his day was going, you were greeted with that response. Bruce worked his final day in the district today and he will be missed immensely by so many people.

I, for one, had a unique opportunity to work with Bruce in several different capacities throughout his career in our school district. Specifically, I can recall a time when I was a first grade student at Janesville Elementary and Bruce came to the rescue to clean up after me. However, I do have an excuse, I was really sick. Throughout my high school years Bruce would often provide me with positive words of encouragement as I pursued my dreams. At times, Bruce would also redirect my decision making.

After high school and college I returned to the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District as an elementary teacher. At this point, Bruce and I began working together. During my time as a teacher in the district I was able to observe Bruce's positive interactions with students and the relationships they developed. Over the past five years I have served as the superintendent of this school district and as Bruce's boss. Once again, I had the opportunity to see Bruce in action enjoying his days in paradise.

Bruce Manthe, you'll be missed by so many. Thank you for your service to this district, our community, and most importantly, our students. For the past 38 years you have been correct, working with students is, "another day in paradise."

Open House for Bruce Manthe

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Chance of a Lifetime

Nthabiseng Dlamini - Inbound Experience from South Africa

Nthabiseng (Nthabi) Dlamini, Julia Prieto, Mathilde Lund, and Alli Schuch. What do these names have in common? These are students that have recently been inbound or outbound on Youth Exchange to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton or to another country. In essence, they have all experienced Rotary's Youth Exchange Program.

The Rotary Youth Exchange Program allows students from the United States and other countries to be ambassadors for their homeland. This program has provided our students with unique opportunities to gain authentic cultural experiences. We are proud to boast that each opportunity has been exceptional for our students.

Rotary Youth Exchange depends on an entire school community to make the experience exceptional. The need for host families is a priority. In order for these students to travel to the United States or go outbound, we need families willing and able to host. In order to continue this opportunity for our school community, we need host families!

Bryn Dunbar will be arriving in the United State in January, 2017 from Zimbabwe. Within Zimbabwe he resides in the city of Harare in the Province of Mashonaland. This community has roughly 1.56 million people. Therefore, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton will be a bit of an adjustment.

Bryn is 17 years old and is the oldest child in his family. He has a mother, father and three brothers. He is extremely excited to live in the United States and meet the wonderful people of our three communities that make up our district.

If you are interested in more information regarding the hosting process and opportunity, please contact me as soon as possible at 507.234.5181 or badams@isd2835.org.

History of Youth Exchange (https://goo.gl/WvZe0c)
- The program started in 1971
- We have hosted 35 students from 25 different countries.
- We have sent 14 students to 11 different countries.
- 114 host families have accommodated inbound students.
Julia Prieto - Inbound Experience from Argentina
Allison Schuch - Outbound Experience in Belgium

Mathilde Lund - Inbound Experience from Denmark

Friday, November 11, 2016

It is Inevitable!

Although we have been greeted with a beautiful fall, winter weather will soon be here. This brings up the question regarding school cancellations for weather related situations. Therefore, here is my best attempt to answer the question.

NWS Windchill Chart.gif

Cold Weather Related

As you might recall, in the past, we had several school days closed due to excessively cold weather.  I am hopeful that we will not experience those extreme temperatures this year.  With that said, I would like to remind our constituents of guiding principles for closing school due to extreme temperatures.

  • Our school buses are housed indoors and are in excellent condition.  In the unlikely event that mechanical failure would occur during cold weather, there are backup buses that can respond to lend assistance in short order.
  • Wind chill temperature, actual temperature and frostbite time frames are taken into consideration when making a decision to stay open or closed. I utilize the NWS Wind Chill Chart as my guide.  If frostbite times are in the 30 minutes range, it will be my recommendation to hold school as planned provided other issues such as snowfall, visibility & road conditions are acceptable.
  • I believe that if we operate within the wind chill parameters set forth above, we are putting the safety of students first, but also providing opportunities to continue school on regularly scheduled days.
  • I ask that parents pay special attention to proper clothing for their children during the winter season and especially during these very cold conditions.  Whether a child is in Kindergarten or in 12th grade, all students should have proper winter apparel including mittens and hat before venturing out.
  • If the decision is made to hold school on days of negative wind chills, it is the parent's final responsibility to determine whether it is safe for their child to go to school.  Throughout our district, we have so many different circumstances with different families that a single decision by the superintendent may not properly respond to the consideration of a particular family.  If parents elect to hold their children home due to inclement weather, the absence will be considered an excused absence.

Please make certain that your alert system information (Infinite Campus) is up to date as we rely on this system to communicate messages regarding school closures.  

Precipitation Related
Whenever extreme precipitation events are forecasted or under way, the Superintendent works directly with the transportation company, county road officials, and area school districts to determine what action needs to take place to ensure student safety. Although, area school districts are consulted, each district comes to their own conclusions based on local road conditions and visibility.

When possible, these decisions will be made in the evening prior to 10:00 pm. However, often times this cannot take place due to a variety of reasons. If decisions cannot be made the prior evening, we will strive to make the call by 6:15 am.

Weather announcements are delivered in the following formats listed in order of priority:
  1. Infinite Campus Messenger System (Please make certain that your alert system information is up to date)
  2. Social Media Networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat)
  3. District Website
  4. Television News Stations
  5. Radio Stations

Flexible Learning Days

In Minnesota we are faced with having to make difficult decisions about whether to have school in session or close school due to inclement weather.  There are also times when other emergencies arise which necessitate a school closing decision.  With the recent adoption of our 1:1 technology and online access, we have decided to embark on a journey of Flexible Learning Days.  This document will highlight the definition of Flexible Learning Days and the various guidelines the district will use when conducting such days.
Flexible Learning Days are days in which learning can continue from home.  Meaning, if school is called off, our teachers can continue teaching and our students can continue learning from home.  By implementing this process we will have the ability to eliminate snow make-up days as teaching and learning will continue in times of inclement weather.
It is understood that students will have a wide variety of responsibilities at home during Flexible Learning Days and that some may not have access to the Internet.  Staff members understand these situations and will be flexible with those situations.  However, the expectation is that students complete the work in a timely manner as developed between each student and teacher.
High School Guidelines
Teachers understand that some of our high school students will have various responsibilities at home on days of weather emergencies, such as, looking after siblings, clearing driveways and others.  With that said, teachers will keep that in mind when developing tasks for the day of learning.
If school is cancelled, the plan will be to have all teachers post work by 10:00 am for the students they would have seen that day.  They have been asked to use Google Classroom so that students and families have only one place to look.  Google Classroom also provides a wonderful platform for posting materials students will need, for interaction, or for brief videos of content teachers would like delivered.  There may be rare exceptions where Google Classroom will not work for someone, so check email or teacher websites if nothing is up on Google Classroom.
Elementary School Guidelines
In preparation of school cancellations, elementary teachers will have four “Blizzard Bags” prepared to share with families at Open House.  These bags will have a variety of learning activities for the students to engage in while at home.  Teachers will also be available from 10:00 am until 3:30 pm for their students and/or families.  The students will be required to complete assignments in Reading/Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and one other content of their choice (STEM, Music, Band, Physical Education).  These assignments should not last longer than approximately 20 minutes for each subject area.

In preparation for Emergency Flexible Learning Days, teachers have been asked to:

·      Anticipate time requirements recognizing students learn at different paces, especially in an independent setting.
·      Provide a timely plan, posting work for the day by 10:00 am
·      Be present on Google Classroom and email during the Flexible Learning Day
·      Plan for self-directed, independent learning with specific consideration to age and individual learning needs
·      Customize learning opportunities especially in troubleshooting student challenges
·      Communicate with colleagues to ensure common expectations, communications, and protocols
We sincerely appreciate your understanding and cooperation.  Should you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

More Hands Make for Light Work

Instructional Rounds

We’ve all heard the phrase, “more hands make for light work”. This is very true in a variety of life’s settings. In the world of education, working together in collaboration for the advancement of student learning and professional practice is important.
Here at JWP we are deeply committed to continuous improvement. We consistently look for ways to improve our professional practice in an effort to develop students to their full potential. One of those practices is the utilization of instructional rounds.

Twice per month a group of our teachers have an opportunity to visit six classrooms throughout the academic day. While in those classrooms they observe learning and instruction. Notes are collected and shared with one another. Items specifically addressed are the following: Planning and Preparation, The Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities. After the lesson our staff members debrief to develop reflective questions and constructive feedback.

Throughout the year every teacher has the opportunity to observe and be observed. Our teachers gain the experience of recognizing high quality instruction and student learning. From that experience, they are able to build their instructional toolboxes. This is a great example of collaboration in improving our craft! For an example schedule and in-depth look at our process and procedure, please visit the following link: https://goo.gl/Mcp1l9

Friday, November 4, 2016

Pride, Delight, Satisfaction - The Bulldog Way!

JWP Football Team

We teach our students many things. I think many of you would agree with that statement. Today we had the opportunity to teach our students what it meant to have pride in something. This is one of those moments our students will be sure to remember for a lifetime.

About 400 people were gathered in our varsity gymnasium to send off some of our student athletes into competition. The first competition is this evening, Friday, November 4, 2016 when our Bulldog football team takes on Minnesota Valley Lutheran for the section championship. The second competition takes place on Saturday, November 5, 2016 when Kaden Cameron competes for the cross country state championship. The gymnasium was full of excitement and pride.

JWP Cheerleaders
What these students will remember for a lifetime is the camaraderie of their classmates, school and community. They will boast some day about how special it was to gather together to celebrate the accomplishments of their hard work and dedication. Quite frankly, they should spend time reflecting and admiring their work! Our entire student body and staff have worked hard to build pride in our school and community and their efforts have paid off. Congratulations to our students and best of luck to you all! 

JWP vs MVL - Jordan High School Football Field in Jordan, MN - Kickoff 7:00 pm.
Kaden Cameron Cross Country State Tournament - St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN - Starts at 10:00 am.

Coach Kehoe Recognizes Kaden Cameron