Innovative Rural School Programs Recognized

rural schools

Spooner Advocate: Eight projects received the 2017 Standing Up for Rural Wisconsin Schools, Libraries, and Communities Award during a program and reception in the Wisconsin Dells.

One of those projects was the student-built airplane, and another was inspired by a visit to the Spooner Ag Station.

Presented each year to nominated projects that “demonstrate the great potential and collaborative spirit of rural Wisconsin,” this year’s recipients join 105 exemplary programs recognized since 2005.

“The only way our rural communities can thrive is through intentional support and recognition of their importance to all of Wisconsin,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Those who have worked on projects receiving this year’s rural awards demonstrate that support and the collaborative spirit that makes positive things happen for kids and communities. Their efforts make our rural communities vibrant places for children to learn.”

Nominated by education and library professionals, the 2017 award winning programs will be recognized during the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance conference (Oct. 30-31). The programs are:

•Spooner High School Aviation Club;

•Crivitz and Wausaukee School Districts, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and River Cities Habitat for Humanity Tiny House Partnership;

•Weston Dairy Sheep Project in Cazenovia;

•Arts Integration Menomonie;

•HomeMAKER Boxes in Nekoosa;

•Vilas County Economic Development Corporation: Business Entrepreneurship, Broadband Expansion, and Fab Lab in Eagle River;

•The Vinery: An Outdoor Space that Celebrates Creativity and Learning in Winter; and

•Sugar River Sugar Bush in Albany.

Read the complete article on rural school awards.

Franklin High School accelerator lab: ‘If you can dream it, you can build it’

Franklin

Journal Sentinel: “If you can dream it, you can build it,” is the motto engraved on a sign for the Accelerator Lab at Franklin High School.

The space is filled with multiple 3D printers, a laser engraver, and a variety of students’ creations, from a Pokémon “Diglett” to a glass-etched football trophy, proof that students are taking the motto for the space seriously.

The lab is open for any student at FHS to come and create, and it will eventually be open to the community, as well.

Right now, a group of lab “interns” are becoming experts on all of the technology, funded by the Franklin Public School District and the Franklin Educational Foundation. Once they’ve mastered the devices, the students will be the teachers in the space, showing their peers and even community members how to build what they dream.

“My favorite part is that we’re really allowed to do anything because if we can imagine something and design it in any of the programs, we can actually make it,” said junior Eddie Rabideaux, one of the interns.

Read the complete article on Franklin’s accelerator lab.

New Berlin schools earn STEMMY awards for student education in math, science, robotics

New Berlin STEMMY award

Journal Sentinel: The School District of New Berlin was recognized for its progress in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education with a “STEMMY” award from the STEM Forward organization.

New Berlin, which received the “Excellence in STEM Award” in the Education category, has for or the past five years, as a part of the district’s strategic plan, been increasing STEM opportunities for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“Our goal was to make sure that all students would graduate with not only strong academic abilities but also technical abilities to make sure that they were prepared for future job opportunities,” said Laura Schmidt, strategic advisor to the superintendent. “When we look at what the future job market needs, we know that STEM needs to be a part of that education that they are receiving.”

Read the complete article on New Berlin’s STEM work.

Lake Holcombe class is all business

Lake Holcombe class

The Chippewa Herald: For 47 minutes every work day, LH Products’ workspace is abuzz.

Managers, producers and creators are completing orders, managing systems and organizing their business as it grows just six months after starting.

Those 47 minutes are also a class for Lake Holcombe High School students, and their work does not stop when the bell rings.

Funded through a $3,000 Wisconsin Educators Association Trust Forward Together Award grant, teachers Thea Hempel and Andrew Lorenzen helped begin the manufacturing company at Lake Holcombe High School in April 2017. The business is run, managed and serviced through students with interests both in the business world and technology.

Students make wood creations, such as cutting boards or coasters, and sell the pieces online and at local fairs and events. Some students help coordinate production and materials, while others are involved in the marketing, research and development of products.

Read the complete article.

Foundation helps high-tech Holmen kids

Holmen foundation

La Crosse Tribune: A demonstration by students enrolled in a Holmen High School’s robotics class showed Holmen Area Foundation supporters how their donations are helping to prepare Holmen students for the future.

The foundation held a reception Oct. 26 at Drugan’s Castle Mound Supper Club and Golf Course to showcase how supporters’ contributions are used and to recognize their generosity.

Holmen High School Robotics I students Trent Davig-Huesmann and Jake Hawes demonstrated the model automated drill press they constructed from a kit the class was able to purchase through funds awarded by the foundation. Their tech ed teacher, Ryan Ziegler, teaches Robotics I and Robotic II classes. A $1,050 grant he received from the foundation made it possible for him to purchase the robotics kit for his students.

The foundation began in 1996 to support Holmen’s school district by awarding grants to support educational projects at the district’s schools.

In addition to the robotics kit, grants awarded to applicants from the school district this past year included funds for a document camera for the English as a Second Language classroom as well as support to allow high school and middle school students to participate in an agri-science and technical education career event.

The foundation also serves as a vehicle for awarding scholarships to Holmen graduates. In addition to scholarships sponsored by the board and the school district’s alumni, the foundation administers various memorial scholarships.

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Madison teachers focus on building better relationships with and between students

students

Wisconsin State Journal: Midway through the first semester, a top-down directive to strengthen learning by teachers building deeper, more trusting relationships with and between students is playing out in classrooms throughout the Madison School District.

“Strong, authentic relationships are crucial to our work,” said Superintendent Jen Cheatham, who set the districtwide focus. “Achievement gaps can persist in part when there is a lack of the safe community and support to engage in challenging and meaningful work.”

The push is seen as especially important for students of color, whose test scores as a whole lag far behind white students’ academic performance in the district. Helping them get ahead may require teachers and administrators to take a step back, in a sense, as they focus first on breaking down walls to let learning happen.

“Kids aren’t going to be able to take risks and push themselves academically, without having a trusting support network there,” said Lindsay Maglio, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School, where some teachers improved on traditional get-to-know-you exercises in the first few weeks of school by adding more searching questions, and where all school staff are engaged in community-building lessons in small-group sessions with students taking place at set periods throughout the year.

While noting that getting to know their students is already “something we do feel strongly about,” fourth-grade teacher Beth Callies, now in her 11th year at Lindbergh, said she saw value in a districtwide strategy emphasizing it. “It’s a good push to remind us,” Callies said.

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Washington Island School offers unique learning environment

Washington Island

The Country Today: Students at Washington Island School are surrounded by knowledgeable teachers, caring support staff and state-of-the-art technology.

Oh, and they’re surrounded by one other thing — water.

Washington Island School, the state’s smallest K-12 institution with 69 total students, stands apart both literally and figuratively as Wisconsin’s only island school.

“Being on an island, you can definitely say we’re a very close-knit community,” teacher/​athletics director Michael Gillespie said. “When we say ‘everybody knows everybody,’ that’s definitely true here.”

The island and its roughly 700 residents are located about six miles northeast of the Door County peninsula mainland. All students and school employees live on the island, which connects with the mainland via the year-round Washington Island Ferry Line service.

The island town was established in 1850, and one of the town board’s first acts was to establish a log school near Washington Harbor (now Schoolhouse Beach). The 35-square-mile island later maintained four schools simultaneously until they were consolidated into one school about six decades ago. The current school building, which opened in 1986, houses all grades under one roof — with separate wings for a high school, middle school and elementary school.

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River Falls’ “Sunshine Fund” honored at national character education conference

River Falls

River Falls Journal: The River Falls High School Sunshine Fund earned a “Promising Practices” award, presented at a conference in Washington, D.C.

High school principal Kit Luedtke said the Sunshine Fund shows a display of “student compassion and empathy and caring for others in the community.”

“Our national promising practice award, I think, reflects that, that our kids are doing something different than what the norm is as adolescents, or as teenagers,” Luedtke said.

The Sunshine Fund is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that offers financial assistance to River Falls School District families and “boots-on-the-ground” help such as raking leaves or mowing lawns.

The Sunshine Fund Board is made of students, mentored by community members.

Three of the students who went to accept the award, Shihab Adam, Macie VanNurden, and Riley Jahnke, said the best part of going to the conference was getting to share their ideas.

“Our main purpose going down there was just to spread our ideas, and actually just show people what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve created,” they said.

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Algoma is nationally recognized with health and wellness award

Algoma

WBAY.com: The City of Algoma is one of eight communities across the country to receive a national award for their efforts in health and wellness.

“Algoma was selected from over 200 applicants across the nation for this prize. So it’s a real honor and achievement,” says Julie Willems Van Dijk, Director, County Health Rankings Program, University of Wisconsin Population of Health Institute.

Algoma is one of the smallest communities in the country to have won the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Culture of Health Prize.”

“Often times people think that to build a culture of health, to make health possible in their community, it’s not easy to do, or it’s not even possible,” says Matt Trujillo, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “But I think Algoma is a great example of what you can do when you really put health at the center of what you’re doing.”

It’s all thanks to the “Live Algoma” program, which works to promote health and fitness to all members of the community.

“One of the biggest assets of our community is our Community Wellness Center. Our biggest drive for the Community Wellness Center is really to be a hub of our community where young and old alike can really have that cross-generation relationship,” says Teal VanLanen, Community Activator Improvement Coordinator, Algoma School District. “We really just bring people together that have different aspects of our community and perspectives, so that, you know, we can have a shared vision.”

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Student-run business at Middleton High offers hands-on education in production

Middleton

Madison.com: The business education and engineering-technology departments at Middleton High School are partnering on a joint business to make products and market them.

Called Cardinal Enterprise, the student-run business manages all aspects of production, from budgeting to ordering materials to distribution, through a class with the same name.

“I’ve had an interest in all facets of business and manufacturing,” junior Sean Bertalot said about taking the class. “This is more than a simulation.”

Two of the products are ready to buy, including a wooden puzzle cube that is selling for $10. An aluminum hitch cover with the standard Cardinal mascot costs $35, or $40 for customized lettering. In addition, they will sell a portable red cedar table with a clever folding design for $45 starting Wednesday, and a flip-top grill with a stainless steel grate should be ready by Friday for $125. Products can be ordered at https://tinyurl.com/ycrl7zbf.

 

Profits will go back into the class for future expenses, not counting some money from grill sales, which will be donated to Middleton Outreach Ministry.

Students had to apply for the semester-long class, which is being piloted this year with plans of making it a year-long class next year. About 40 students are currently enrolled and the class is spread out among several classrooms and shop space. Most of the students are juniors and seniors.

Read the complete article.