Madison Area Technical College opens Fire Academy program to high schoolers

firefighter program

Wisconsin State Journal: Sun Prairie Fire Chief Chris Garrison remembers his “aha” moment, when he knew he was on the right track with a pilot program in which high school students at Prairie Phoenix Academy attend the Fire Academy program at Madison Area Technical College.

Garrison said one of the students, D.J. Presley, had put on the firefighter gear and when asked how it felt replied, “It just fits.”

That’s all Garrison needed to witness as he was spearheading the year-long academic program created by the Sun Prairie Fire Department, Prairie Phoenix Academy and Madison Area Technical College. MATC shuttles the 11 students from their school each morning to the Fire Academy, where they attend classes and training, and then returns them to Prairie Phoenix Academy to finish their school day.

 The appreciation for the chance to get college credit through the program was palpable as Presley, a senior at Prairie Phoenix Academy, spoke about what he called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“Usually people don’t do this,” said Presley, about the program which is being offered free to students. “It’s like being handed a couple thousand dollars.”

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Sammie the Service Dog to Work at a La Crosse elementary school

Sammie

WXOW.com: A La Crosse school is one of the first in the area to have a specialized dog to assist students.

As you know, service dogs are used in everything from search and rescue to pushing the button of an elevator for someone with a disability.

At Northwoods Elementary students are quick to pay attention to the man at the front of the room and his dog. Scott Dewey is from Retrieving Freedom, a service dog training program. Many of his canines, like Max, work with veterans with PTSD.

“These dogs do nightmare interruption.  They help get you into public.  They actually sit in front of you, behind you and not guard you but they work to give you a buffer zone,” said Dewey.

Dewey also trained Sammie.

“She can help kids that are having bad days  and help mitigate melt downs and assist with transition zones,” said Dewey.

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Menomonie High School launches successful online summer phy ed class

The Dunn County News: The school board learned of an online physical education course that was offered to Menomonie High School students for the first time this summer.

The course was created and run by Matt Riley, physical education teacher and coach, who explained at Monday’s meeting that participation in the course lays groundwork for a lifetime of physical fitness and teaches students to take responsibility for their health.

In addition to the physical benefits, the course taught students about self-discipline, goal setting, stress management and teamwork.

All students who participated in the 10-week course were required to wear a Polar fitness watch which tracked their activity, heart rate and amount of calories burned. The online portal allowed students to track their activity and include which type of activity they were doing.

“The class really allowed students who wanted to take it to open up their schedule more so they can have more opportunities during the school year,” Riley said.

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Madison School District and Madison College partner for S.T.E.M. academy

MadisonThe Cap Times: A partnership between the Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison College seeks to increase the number of girls and students of color who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The Early College S.T.E.M. Academy is set to start next fall. The initial pilot will recruit a total of 25 juniors and seniors from Madison East and La Follette high schools.

The program will expand to up to 200 students across MMSD and find its home at the new MATC south campus by the 2019-2020 school year. The program will be free for MMSD students.

Students accepted into the program for the 2018-2019 school year will take classes at MATC’s Truax campus. Although the program targets girls and students of color, all MMSD students are eligible to apply.

Participating students will earn college credit and have the opportunity to receive their associate’s degree by the end of their senior year. MMSD will start recruiting for the academy this fall. The district said it would release applications for the academy this fall, with a December deadline. MMSD will interview students in January and inform students of their admission status in February 2018.

At Monday’s Madison School Board meeting, some board members feared that the current admission requirements — a minimum 2.5 GPA, 90 percent attendance rate and meeting all course requirements in ninth and 10th grade — would turn away many of the students the program aims to serve.

“What happens if you have a student who is brilliant in S.T.E.M. but happens to be homeless or caring for a sick relative and does not have a 90 percent attendance rate?” board member Nicki Vander Meulen said. “I don’t want to necessarily leave them out solely based on that.”

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Five educators are state finalists for Presidential Teaching Awards

Department of Public Instruction: Five Wisconsin educators have been named finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), considered the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for mathematics and science teachers.

The 2017 awards recognize middle and high school teachers (grades 7 through 12). Wisconsin finalists are

  • Danielle Carlson, science teacher at Fennimore Middle and High School;
  • Rick Erickson, high school science teacher at Bayfield High School;
  • Sonja Hungness, mathematics teacher at Kromrey Middle School, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District;
  • Kristin Michalski, high school physics, Project Lead the Way, and astronomy teacher at East Troy High School; and
  • Kevin Reese, mathematics and Advanced Placement Calculus and Statistics teacher Clintonville High School.

“These teachers inspire a love of learning in their students,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “They engage our kids in the subtleties of science and the marvels of mathematics to bring these subjects into focus for today’s world and in shaping the future.”

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La Crosse middle school students help clean-up neighborhood

La CrosseNews8000.com: Hundreds of La Crosse students were out before school Friday morning… making a positive impact on their community.

The entire student body of the Lincoln, SOTA II, Coulee Montessori Middle School were picking up trash in La Crosse’s Washburn neighborhood.

Students were separated into groups with designated blocks to walk through, picking up debris and loose trash along the way.

The project is a part of the school’s Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program which aims to teach and reinforce respect, responsibility, and relationship building.

“It was something we developed as a PBIS team and thought, ‘This is a great way to get the kids out there and let them see that what they do can make a difference.’ And we decided that it would also be a great way to kick off the school year,” said PBIS Tier 1 Coach Mandi Hundt.

The students were out until nine Friday morning.

Afterwards, students attended an assembly to further expand on those PBIS values.

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Black River Falls School District makes changes to address career readiness

Black River Falls

La Crosse Tribune: In 1983 a book titled “A Nation at Risk” was published about a study that showed U.S. graduates were falling behind the rest of the world, which began the push for education to send more children to college.

After 30 years of changes to the education system, especially under the Bush administration with the No Child Left Behind Act, districts like Black River Falls are building on their tradition of career and technical education curriculum to develop individualized paths for students whether that be career planning or college readiness.

“What happened is that in the education world as well as the political world, that translated into we need to get kids into college, we need to send more kids to college. What we found though is that essentially the numbers stayed about the same as far as kids that actually completed a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. In Black River Falls and in the nation it is about 30 percent, and it has been there for a long time,” Black River Falls High School principal Tom Chambers said.

“For those 30 years since then, we (as a nation) have kind of in many ways neglected that 70 percent of the population,” he said. “A lot of them actually went to four-year colleges, but didn’t complete. So then they are coming back and looking at getting into the workforce, but then they don’t have a credential because they have two years at a four-year college. They didn’t have a completion to show for that.”

In this national culture, companies like Regal, which manufactures small engines in Black River Falls, have taken on the responsibilities of doing most of the employee training.

“I would say it is under 10 percent of our applicants come with some education or prior work experience that would be relevant to those types of positions,” Regal human resources manager Reva Witte said about specialized positions like machinists. “Most of our positions are strictly on-the-job training.We can hire somebody that has had no manufacturing experience and provide all of the necessary training once they are here on the job.

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Internships, partnerships, schools help fill health-care worker gap

health care workers

Kenosha News: In addition to offering internships, Aurora has formed a partnership with the Kenosha Unified School District as well as Gateway Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to introduce students to the health care field.

Another large employer, UnitedHealthcare, has taken it a step further. The UnitedHealthcare Foundation has created a $2.3 million matching grant program with Milwaukee Area Technical College to double the size of its registered nursing program over the next three years.

School officials expect to double enrollment by this fall, hire 16 new nursing program instructors, support the recruitment of low-income students and assist with placement services once students graduate.

Some colleges have also expanded their curricula to accommodate more students looking to health-care professions.

Carthage College recently established a four-year nursing program, a first for the school. Frank Hicks, director of the nursing department, said the curriculum would fill a critical need for more nurses.

Gateway has expanded its nursing program to include simulation laboratories and classroom space.

“We’re doing what we can to prepare people for the workforce,” said Gateway’s Anne Wilkinson, interim dean of nursing. “We have a very robust student support system.”

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Shorewood High School senior’s creative writing program has global reach

Shorewood

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “I am juicy, gooey, hot, cheesy and heaven in your mouth. What am I?” the teacher asked.

Hands shot in the air and 10 children bounced up and down in their seats. “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!” they squealed.

The children, ages 8 to 12, were practicing giving their teacher descriptive words about their favorite food item without saying its name. 

It’s just one small piece of a curriculum created by 17-year-old Katie Eder.

Four years ago, Eder’s sister started tutoring kids in math, and she wanted to follow in her big sister’s footsteps. There was one problem — Katie is bad at math.

But the thing she is good at is writing, and Eder couldn’t find anywhere that offered tutoring for children, so she approached Milwaukee’s COA Youth and Family Center to allow her to teach creative writing.

They took a chance on the 13-year-old and agreed — and the result was Kids Tales, a program to empower children, often in low-income areas or in juvenile detention centers, to use creative writing to discover their voice and share their story.

Teenagers, and only teenagers, volunteer to teach children for a week and guide them as they write their own short story, working on brainstorming and plot and character development. Once the stories are completed, they are put into a book, making each child a published author.

Tom Schneider, COA’s executive director, said there was plenty of skepticism during Eder’s first summer, but the results spoke for themselves.

“We’ve (COA) got nothing but admiration and applause for the work that she’s (Eder) done and the impact of the kids that she’s worked with,” Schneider said.

The Shorewood High School senior said it isn’t uncommon for participants to tell her it felt like the first time their stories could be heard and that their voices mattered.

 “I didn’t have an understanding exactly about the impacts that it would have,” Eder said. “I thought, OK this is something I could just keep for myself …  but it’s also something that has a real impact and can make a difference.”

Marshfield Tigers “Pride Pump” to benefit Schools

Marshfield

WSAU.com: In Marshfield, fueling up your vehicle can now help support local schools.

That’s according to Marshfield School Board member Mark Konrardy, who says the owner of the Baltus Oil Company will make a small donatation to the school district for every gallon of gas purchased from a specially marked Marshfield Tigers Pride Pump.

“John Baltus, with Baltus gas stations, made a proposal,” Konrardy said.  “He would like to put in a ‘Pride Pump’ and we thought it was a very good idea, and very good for the school district.”

“He’ll pick one of his gas stations, pick one of the pumps, and he’ll put the Marshfield School District logo on it,” Konrardy explained.  “And a certain amount of those proceeds will then go to the school district.”

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