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.
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.
Read the complete article.
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.”
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.
Madison.com: Lidia Velasco signed up for the certified nursing assistant class at Verona High School because it was a deal she couldn’t pass up.
“It’s a really good opportunity because as long as you pass, Verona High School pays for this class,” said the high school junior.
In addition, the school pays for the test students need to take to become certified as a CNA, she said. The school does not pay if students have to retake the exam.
The class is taught by Madison Area Technical College instructors who expect the same from high school students as they do older students. Students must apply for the class and meet certain requirements that include background checks and immunizations, said Amy Moschkau, school-to-career coordinator at Verona High School.
Verona students not only get high school credit, but also get three credits from Madison Area Technical College. Typically the class would cost a student about $500.
Verona is one of four high schools in Dane County to offer the class in their buildings although two other schools send their students to a neighboring district’s program. The class is offered each semester in Verona to a maximum of 16 students.
Read the complete article.
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.
“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.”
Read the complete article.
The 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.
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.”
Read the complete article.
DeForest Times Tribune: The DeForest Area School District’s Land Lab is an integral part of both the high school’s agricultural science and Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs. On July 10, two students who participated in last year’s growing season presented to the Board of Education about their agri-business experience.
The Land Lab is a 68-acre plot east of Windsor Elementary School and lying between Gray and Windsor Roads. Each summer, students plan and then implement the planting, scouting, marketing and harvesting on the district’s test plot. Land Lab is designed to provide students with hands-on learning in agronomy, soil science and agriculture sustainability. According to Gwen Boettcher, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, about 16 students were involved in the project during the 2016 growing season.
Participants Zach Mickelson and Reagan Schwoerer reported to the board that 15 acres of corn and 35 acres of soybeans were planted last May. They described how students met weekly throughout the summer to discuss marketing strategies. They also visited the fields to evaluate crop health and growth.
Mickelson and Schwoerer reported the soybean harvest brought an average yield of about 60 bushels an acre. The poor corn yield of about 993 bushels per acre was attributed to a mix-up when a nitrogen application was ordered, but not applied.
On the plus side, the 2016 crop generated a net income of $20,284. They presented a check to Board President Jan Berg for the district’s portion of the profits.
The Capital Times: After 13 years of dual-language instruction, the Madison Metropolitan School District’s first class of graduates walked across the stage this spring with Wisconsin’s new Seal of Biliteracy, certifying their mastery of a foreign language during high school.
Forty-five students from Madison La Follette High School earned the seal of biliteracy in Spanish. All of the students were a part of the first class of 50 kindergartners at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School’s dual-language immersion program. The majority of the cohort continued with the DLI program at Sennett Middle School and followed the required course of study at La Follette to earn the seal.
Starting next school year, students across the district will have the chance to earn the biliteracy seal with their high school diplomas. With the expansion, MMSD expects the number of qualified students to expand exponentially.
The seal of biliteracy was created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in partnership with several national organizations that champion bilingual education. Wisconsin is one of 27 states to offer the seal to graduating seniors. According to DPI guidelines, the seal certifies that students, “demonstrated achievement in bilingualism, biliteracy and multicultural competence in and through two or more languages.” MMSD is one of three Wisconsin school districts so far, including Verona and Waukesha, to offer the seal of biliteracy to graduates.
Wisconsin State Journal: A guidance counselor at Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland has been named the Wisconsin middle school teacher of the year.
Jill Runde was honored in a surprise ceremony at the school, with state superintendent of schools Tony Evers making the announcement in an all-school assembly.
Runde gets $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, along with a plaque.
Runde began counseling at McFarland High School in 2002 and went to Indian Mound Middle School five years later.
According to a news release from the Department of Public Instruction, Runde has used improvisational skits by students at the high school to make them aware of such topics as bullying, stereotyping, teen suicide, puberty and drugs and alcohol, and also set up an ambassador student liaison group at the middle school to give support to students.
“The McFarland community is a much better place for children, thanks to someone as dedicated as Jill,” said McFarland Youth Center president Shawn Miller, in supporting her nomination as teacher of the year.
The Star: The Sun Prairie Area School District has been named among the best communities for music education.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation recognized 527 school districts and 92 schools across the nation for their outstanding music education programs. Each year, the NAMM Foundation selects school districts to be recognized as among the best communities for music education (BCME).
Now in its 18th year, the awards program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum. The districts NAMM recognizes set the bar in offering student access to comprehensive music education.
Selections are based on survey results in cooperation with researchers at The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
The designation takes on added significance this year with new research showing strong ties between active participation in school music education programs and overall student success for student ages K-12. A recent study of students in the Chicago Public Schools by researchers at Northwestern University, detailed in Neuroscientist and Education Week, builds on previous findings that participation in music education programs helps improves brain function, discipline and language development.
Wisconsin State Journal: Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Anderson isn’t quite sure where she’ll be at noon on Friday, since Madison students have no school that day.
But wherever she is, she’ll probably be Googling.
Alyssa, a seventh-grader at Wright Middle School, is Wisconsin’s finalist in this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition, a nationwide design contest run by the search-engine giant since 2008.
The national winner, to be announced online around noon Friday along with four runners-up, will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology award for their school, a trip to Google headquarters in California and other prizes.
“It’s been amazing. Everyone has been encouraging me and telling me they’re rooting for me,” Alyssa said of the process of entering and advancing in the contest. “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed.”