Monthly Archives: January 2018

Kenosha’s ‘Band-O-Rama’ nurtures young musicians’ confidence, discipline and sense of family


Kenosha News: Camaraderie. Discipline. Confidence. Family.

These were some of the words local student musicians used to describe their experiences over the years as performers in one the largest student band events in southeastern Wisconsin.

Many of the 1,800 students performing in the Kenosha Unified School District’s Band-O-Rama started as fifth-graders — typically their first year playing an instrument. And it’s not unusual for them to have parents and even grandparents who performed in the event when they were younger, too.

Some Tremper and Indian Trail High School and Academy students shared their thoughts on Band-O-Rama.

Indian Trail senior Kadie Kraabel, who plans to study music education and plays the tuba, recalled how in fifth grade music teacher Kristie Kruse stacked three gigantic music textbooks for her to sit on so she could reach the mouthpiece.

Eight years later, performing has become ingrained in everything she does, from school to social life.

“It has changed everything. I can’t imagine what group I’d be a part of if I wasn’t in band,” said Kraabel. “It’s been a family that’s grown ever since I was in fifth grade.”

Read more about Kenosha’s ‘Band-o-Rama.’

New club connects Eau Claire students with their Hmong heritage and language

EC Hmong

Wisconsin State Journal: True Vue grew up speaking two languages: Hmong at home and English at school. After arriving in Wisconsin from Thailand at 1 year old, however, she had no one to teach her how to read and write in her native language.

That she had to do for herself. The child who was born in a refugee camp taught herself the Hmong written language by concentrating intently on hymns as they were sang at weekly services.

Hmong students at Locust Lane Elementary School won’t have to resort to those self-teaching methods today.

Early last month, Vue, her sister Tia Lor and English language teacher Karla Lien started a language club at the elementary school geared toward fourth- and fifth-grade students who speak at least some Hmong at home but do not know how to read or write the language. The club’s creation preceded the Eau Claire school district’s announcement last week that it will include a “Hmong History and Culture” course at the high school level next fall.

Read more about Hmong cultural club.

Waunakee’s ‘Literacy for All’ approaches reveal positive impact

Waunakee Tribune:  A report on the “Literacy for All” initiative for the Waunakee School District indicated that it is having a positive effect.

“We’re happy with the results,” said Assistant Director of Instruction Amy Johnson, who gave a presentation on the program’s efforts at the Jan. 8 school board meeting. “It speaks to the longevity of the project and the professional development.”

Writing in the K-6 grades is an area that will be receiving scrutiny in the coming months, as educators mull over which of two writing programs to use in to teach the subject in the future.

Teachers in those grades are currently piloting “Units of Study,” published by Heinemann and written by Lucy Calkins/Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project, and “Being a Writer,” published by the Center for the Collaborative Classroom. A decision is expected in April.

Johnson said the plan originally was to have teachers use both books to teach writing. She explained that the schedule wouldn’t allow it.

“We had a lot of eager pilot-ers,” said Johnson.

Read the complete article on Waunakee’s ‘Literacy for All’ initiative.

Madison East High School teacher named global educator of the year

Claudine Clark image A world language teacher at East High School was named Global Educator of the Year, by the Wisconsin Superintendent’s International Education Council.

Claudine Clark was awarded the honor in Milwaukee on Friday at the General Session of the Wisconsin State Education Convention.

Clark is being recognized for the third annual award for her contributions to East High School, by raising substantial scholarship funds for her students to travel, bringing in international teachers to the school, helping students become lifelong learners and collaborating with other educators.

Read the complete article on Wisconsin’s Global Educator of the Year.

Therapy dog program benefiting students in Eau Claire

Therapy dogs Class is back in session after Thursday’s storm for more than just students.

Students at DeLong Middle School in Eau Claire had a special visitor Friday. Nelson the therapy dog stops by every other Friday to hang out with students. Along with his owner and handler Kelly Christianson, the two visit students in a Special Education Class and an eighth grade English Class.

Organizers said for the most part it’s just that, an opportunity for students to hang out and spend time with a dog. What the kids get out of it, though, extends much further.

“They’re unconditional, Nelson starts whining when I start pulling up in the parking lot here so he knows he’s coming in to see the kids. I’ve seen students in other classrooms where they might be sad or mad, turn it right around just by Nelson walking in the room. There’s been some pretty cool things that we’ve seen happen,” Christianson said.

Read the complete article.

Nonprofit working to make schools statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive

Madison Shawn Fredricks, a former health and physical education teacher at Beloit Memorial High School in Beloit, described always separating her students between boys and girls.

Though she considered herself a pretty accepting person, Fredricks said until she went to a training hosted by the organization Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, a Madison based nonprofit advocating for LGBTQ+ youth, she was not aware about how much she did not understand about identity.

“I would say ‘boys over here and girl(s) over there’ without giving it much of a second thought,” she said.

The small staff at GSAFE has been training Wisconsin educators for the past decade in creating a safe and supportive educational setting for students who do not fit into gender conforming labels.

In the past five years, the educational sessions shifted focus to highlight the experiences of transgender students as well as LGBTQ+ students of color.

“Historically transgender students and LGBTQ+ students of color were excluded from the conversation,” Brian Juchems, the senior director of education and policy at GSAFE, said.

Read the complete article.

Gov. Walker celebrates growth of Kimberly apprenticeship program

Kimberly The number of high school students getting real-life, hands-on work experience is growing rapidly. That’s because state funding for youth apprenticeship programs has more than doubled since 2010.

Gov. Scott Walker was at Kimberly High School on Friday to see firsthand the success of these programs.

The governor says now more than ever, these youth apprenticeship programs are important to Wisconsin as the state is seeing some of its lowest unemployment in years. Companies of all kinds are looking to add employees.

The youth apprenticeship program at Kimberly High School is thriving and growing. In 2014, 22 students participated in the program. Last year’s graduating class had more than 100 students take part in it.

Students are gaining experience in careers like agriculture, transportation, hospitality, finance and manufacturing.

The governor told students their participation is not only a lesson for them but is beneficial for the state and businesses.

“We want both student success, but we also want student success that leads to a strong and vibrant workforce going forward, which is good not just for employers, it’s good for all of you. Because in the end what you want is not just a job, hopefully what you want is a career — a career that you’ll enjoy, a career that can someday support not just yourself but, if you choose to, have a family. And that will make for a stronger community and in turn a stronger state,” Gov. Walker said.

View video on Kimberly apprenticeship program.

Madison elementary students illustrate, translate book about Ho-Chunk culture

Students translate Ho-Chunk story

Wisconsin State Journal: In a cross-cultural literary feat two years in the making, a class of dual-language immersion students at Lincoln Elementary School in Madison has helped create the first trilingual children’s book about the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Now in fifth grade, the students as third-graders in teacher Emily Schroeder’s class worked for several months with a Ho-Chunk tribal officer and Ho-Chunk students from a language school in Nekoosa to record, transcribe and illustrate a traditional Ho-Chunk story about a boy on a quest, and translate it into English, Spanish and Ho-Chunk.

“I wanted to dive deeper into this whole idea of Madison history before European contact,” Schroeder said. “Plus there are not a lot of children’s books, fictional or nonfictional, in general about the Ho-Chunk Nation.”

 A tribal grant recently paid to print 2,000 copies of the book, titled “The Ho-Chunk Courting Flute,” which will be donated to all public schools and libraries in Madison and throughout the Ho-Chunk Nation after a book release party at Lincoln on Friday. The release party is open to the public.