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.
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.”
Journal Sentinel: The School District of Greenfield opened its new workplace clinic Monday, Sept. 25, and will now be able to provide a variety of medical services to employees within the district.
Thanks to a partnership with Froedert and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Greenfield’s teachers, staff, and others on the Greenfield health plan can simply stop by the free clinic at the high school for a variety of medical needs instead of taking time to go to a doctor’s office.
“Making things convenient and attractive to our employees was our main goal,” said Superintendent Lisa Elliott.
Though other school districts in the area offer similar clinics, Greenfield is the first district Froedert and MCW has partnered with.
Plans for the workplace clinic were originally announced in March, targeting a fall opening. The board was able to afford to put the clinic on the capital plan thanks to cost-savings in other projects that same plan. The cost to build the clinic was approximately $200,000.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sometimes, the kids playing kickball on the playground of Rawson Elementary School in South Milwaukee get into arguments over whether someone was safe or out. Or whether someone did or did not touch a base. They don’t always handle their differences in the nicest way.
Behavior at the school? “It’s not perfect,” one fourth-grader told me when I visited just as the school year was coming to an end.
But I am not here to criticize. In fact, my purpose is to praise Rawson and the other five schools in the 3,200-student South Milwaukee district for the bigger picture of how people treat each other (adults and students both).
South Milwaukee schools have been working for seven years on a broad effort focused on building the character traits of everyone involved in the schools and making school life as conducive as it can be to success both in academics and, in broader terms, daily life.
That led to South Milwaukee being named a “national district of character” this year by Character.org, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes and assists efforts to make character education part of what schools do. South Milwaukee is one of only four districts nationwide to receive the recognition.
There also were 83 schools named “national schools of character” this year. One was Greenwood Elementary in River Falls.
I like character education for two simple reasons:
One is that there are so many schools where the atmosphere created by the way people treat each other impedes education. This goes not only for how kids act but for how adults in the school sometimes treat kids — and other adults. (I’ve witnessed these things.) So much class time in so many schools is taken up with behavior problems. More broadly, a positive school culture leads to more positive outcomes.
The other is that I am convinced the well-designed efforts around character and conduct can make differences. It is possible to create a more positive atmosphere in a school. Intentional efforts around character education can be a part of that.
Journal Sentinel: Nearly six years after the enactment of Act 10, the Wisconsin law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that gutted public employee unions, Muskego-Norway School Superintendent Kelly Thompson says she sees few lingering effects from the bitter political battle.
But Thompson and other school district leaders know that some of the rhetoric during that debate, and its aftermath, affected the morale of teachers.
“I think teachers didn’t feel as valued,” said Thompson, who was appointed superintendent in June 2012, one year after Act 10 took effect.
“I think as an organization it was important for us to be sensitive, to be listeners and let them know how much they are valued here,” she said. “Without them, we couldn’t do the great things we do for kids.”
Act 10, which greatly limits collective bargaining for most Wisconsin public employees, shifted power away from labor unions to district administrators, said Thompson.
But Thompson said her approach as an administrator, both before and after Act 10, is the same: to provide leadership that focuses on working with employees to accomplish the district’s goals.
“Our overall approach to employees is shared leadership,” Thompson said. “So we understand our direction, and we’re all pulling in the same direction.”
Lake Country Now: SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) is one club at Mukwonago High School that looks to not only inspire high-schoolers within the school, but in other elementary and middle schools and the community, as well.
SAVE started in 2006 with English teacher Sarah Dianich. She started the club after a principal with whom she had worked with at a high school in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, died after struggling to remove a handgun from a student.
“When I went to the funeral, held at Weston’s diminutive K-12 gym, I recalled a community much like our own — close-knit, rural, and typically violence-free. I realized that it only takes one moment to shake that feeling of safety to its core,” Dianich remembered. “My friends and past colleagues who were there when it happened will never be the same.”
After the incident, Dianich and other students together started the first SAVE chapter for MHS. SAVE promotes non-violence throughout the school and community, informs people about the consequences of violence and bullying, and works to create a safe environment for students to avoid poor decision-making.
Throughout the year, SAVE offers and creates various projects for the school. America’s Safe Schools Week advocates for non-violence through lunchroom competitions, pledge signing, Orange and Purple Day (SAVE’s colors), and more. SAVE runs the Penny Wars during the holiday season to donate money to the Women’s Center in Waukesha and encourages safe driving practices, too.
Outside of school, SAVE also visits with middle and elementary school students to support anti-bullying and demonstrate what SAVE does at the high school level.
In the upcoming weeks of February, SAVE members plan to take a field trip to Rolling Hills Elementary School. They will meet with their SAVE buddies for the first time since writing back and forth as pen-pals a few times.
Tess Adams, a freshman at MHS, said, “It’s important to teach kids at the elementary and middle schools about SAVE in order to prevent the bullying sooner.”
Lake Country Now: Kettle Moraine School District Superintendent Dr. Patricia Deklotz.was recently presented a “Transforming Lives and Communities Award” by Cardinal Stritch University’s College of Education and Leadership.
According to Dr. Freda Russell, Dean of the College of Education and Leadership, Deklotz was chosen for this award because she exemplifies the “servant leader” spirit in her professional life.
“It is not often that we look out amongst our alumni and observe such impact and ability to transform lives and communities,” Russell said. “When we do hear and see a consistent pattern of service we consider the giving of this award. To this end, we are proud to say that Dr. DeKlotz is worthy of such distinguished recognition and heartfelt thanks.”
Lake Country Now: Eagleville Elementary’s Nucleus Science Club launched a weather balloon of their own creation on June 2, in front of the Eagleville student body, parents and Mukwonago Area School District Superintendent Shawn McNulty.
Dan and Christine Pawlak, Eagleville parents and founders of the after school science activity club, worked with Eagleville students for months on preparing and planning this project. On that clear, sunny morning, the weather balloon rose quickly into the sky carrying several types of cameras and computer tracking cargo.
The balloon traveled at incredible speed, crossing over 75 miles of southeastern Wisconsin while reaching an astounding height of almost 100,000 feet, according to Eagleville teacher Cathy Selzer-Benavides. Eventually, the balloon burst and the device landed safely in Lake Michigan where it was retrieved by the Milwaukee Police Harbor Patrol.
“Eagleville’s Nucleus high altitude balloon project was an amazing success,” said the Pawlaks in a letter to Eagleville families. “We captured the entire flight on high definition video and portions of the flight on a student customized infrared camera. We also collected thousands of scientifically relevant bits of atmospheric data over the course of the flight that are sure to prove valuable for future educational projects at Eagleville.”
Dan and Christine Pawlak were able to present video footage from the weather balloon’s cameras to Eagleville’s students and families, as well as sharing with students attending Eagleville’s E3 summer school session.
“The video and data it brought back with is nothing short of breathtaking,” said Selzer-Benavides in an email.
Waukesha Now: The Saratoga STEM Academy overflowed with girl power.
During the STEM for Girls/ STEM para chicas event earlier this month, the emphasis was getting girls interested in engineering careers by participating in a variety of activities presented by women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers.
The event, now in its sixth year, hosted around 100 fourth to eighth-grade girls in the Waukesha School District, including many from the Waukesha STEM Academy.
This year the STEM for Girls event hosted more than 25 presenters and many local businesses and STEM companies, including Kohl’s, the Wisconsin Humane Society, GE Healthcare and Rockwell Automation, among others.
“The event not only looks to bring in women who are role models, but to show girls that it can be fun and interactive,” said Genny Lambert, the event coordinator. “We want to broaden their horizons.”
Lake Country Now: For the fourth time in recent history at Mukwonago High School, the school’s two-person team won the Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) Automotive Repair Competition for high school students on April 13.
This year’s contest had a record number of contestants from both Waukesha and Milwaukee County high schools. Students competed as two person teams, being scored on a written test along with hands-on repair of vehicles at seven different stations.
The MHS team, made up of J.D. Murphy and Dawson Greenwald walked away with the championship, placing first out of 17 high school teams. Both students each received a Snap-on toolbox, valued at $780, for their efforts.