La Crosse Tribune: The Black River Falls School District was recently notified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that, based on state testing, their special education students were lagging behind the average Wisconsin test scores for special education students.
The district has been working to correct this issue ever since they got a warning last year from DPI.
“The state is changing how they measure special education students. Their literacy is becoming a far heavier weight than it used to be. The previous year we were told that while the new requirements were not firmly in place, they let us know that if all data continued in the way it was going that we were not on track to be making adequate progress. So we kind of had a year warning, and then this year that warning came to fruition,” Severson said.
Dr. Tammy Kielbasa was hired in July as the new director of pupil services and has been working to bring together what has been previously done and make it stronger.
“What they spent time doing last year and this year is that they are really working with the curriculum to make sure that we have a rigorous curriculum not only for our regular education students, but that our curriculum for special education students is just as rigorous as the other students,” Kielbasa said adding that they are also working on providing more professional development and additional resources to make sure the teachers have options to teach all of the students.
Read the complete article on special education improvement efforts in Black River Falls.
Jackson County Chronicle: Black River Falls High School has added a new space to help foster agriculture education.
Students this fall helped launch the fledgling “agtivity” area, which provides space for additional horticulture, conservation and animal science projects while also incorporating Native American culture.
“It’s a beautiful space,” said BRF agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Brad Markhardt. “There are more opportunities for students because of this.”
The area, located outside the high school’s greenhouse, is a project of the National FFA Foundation and donations have come from local and regional businesses. It includes raised-bed and vertical gardens, small fruits and fruit trees, native prairie plants and an animal kennel for use when students bring in animals for presentations.
Produce from the gardens will be donated to the local fruit pantry with the hope of also contributing to the district’s food service program. There are benches built in the style of late renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold and plant identification signs will be created with common, scientific and Ho-Chunk Nation names.
The project looks to incorporate Ho-Chunk and Native American cultural components, including a three-sister garden with Native American-style planting.
“It especially got highlighted to me through a conference that I had this summer … It just looked like a way that I could be a little more culturally responsive in what we’re doing out there,” Markhardt said. “That’s part of the idea – recognizing the significance of our native culture in the area.”
Jackson County Chronicle: The Black River Falls School District dedicated is new elementary school during a special ceremony Monday evening.
Hundreds of people attended the open house for Red Creek Elementary, which has been serving students since the start of the 2016-17 school year earlier this month.
Tours were available before the ceremony, which included remarks from local and state school officials and those involved in the design and construction of the building. John Ashley, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, complimented both the building and the community support that allowed it to come to fruition.
“It took my breath away,” Ashley said of his tour of the building. “You were thinking about kids. I have never seen a more kid-friendly environment.
“This is really a testament to the people of this community believing in your kids.”
Jackson County Chronicle:Art is expression for Lee Amborn.
He always was drawing as a kid, and that’s why it didn’t surprise his mother when he pursued becoming an art teacher, he said.
“I think it’s the ability to express yourself on paper or on canvas – or whatever the particular medium was, but to express yourself in ways that you can’t do verbally or with the written word,” said Amborn, who will retire this spring after a 14-year career teaching art in the Black River Falls School District. “For me, it was always easier to do that with a picture.
“For me, (expression) just happened to be in art – drawing, painting, coloring. As I got older, I got more into it and enjoyed it more and I found more of the ability to express myself through art, and I just thought, you know, it might be kind of neat to help others find that ability also.”
Amborn is closing out his teaching career as Wisconsin’s top middle school art teacher for 2016 after receiving the Middle School Art Educator of the Year award from the Wisconsin Art Education Association.
Jackson County Chronicle: Brett Geisler didn’t know how to use three-dimensional printers until Black River Falls High School acquired the technology.
Geisler, a junior, took a 3-D design class last semester, but his interest in the printers — which make tangible objects from digital files — took off as he developed the skills to use them as a hobby.
“I kind of thought they were cool, but I didn’t know how to operate them,” Geisler said of when the school first had them available.
“Overall, I learned what I was able to do with it, and I took it to a different level.”
The printing technology is one of several upgrades the school is in the process of making to its technology education department to develop an engineering lab that will increase academic opportunities and students’ interest in the engineering field.