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Our “Best of the Blogs” section includes thoughtful insights on school leadership being shared through blogs maintained by AASA members. This representative sampling of five bloggers, through an RSS feed, will change periodically to showcase other member blogs, so check back regularly. If you are aware of others, contact

  • September and October Paddles

    Paddling Superintendent|10/29/2014

    For September we took a quick morning paddling on Simpson Lake.  It was a nice morning and we had a luncheon to attend just down the road.

    We did see a guy on a paddleboard who was using it to exercise.  He was all over the place, moving quickly.  I like paddling because I can slow down and relax.

    We had a big family trip planning for October.  A nice weekend paddling with friends and spending the night on the river.

    The trouble with planning well in advance is that the weather is not always cooperative.  We've only had issues a couple of times because we like the mantra, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment."

    That may be true for the guys, but it gets a little different when taking the kids.  Thankfully the rain settled for the weekend, but the 5 inches of the rain the days prior put the river at level we needed to avoid.

    I checked the river levels on what would have been our last morning on the water to find the river gauges at 2 to 3 times normal flow.  Guess it was a good thing we stayed back.

    So what's a guy to do?  Find another place to paddle on a different weekend.  So, a week later we hit the lower Meramec for a nice morning paddle.

    It was pretty foggy at the start, barely being able to see what was ahead.

    The sun came out though and revealed some color leaves.?

    We came upon a boat dock and paddled around it a bit.  It was the first time I had seen storage seats on the top of a pontoon.

  • Be a Bridge Builder

    Paddling Superintendent|10/29/2014

    Behind my desk...

    The Bridge Builder

    An old man going a lone highway,
    Came, at the evening cold and gray,
    To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
    Through which was flowing a sullen tide
    The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
    The sullen stream had no fear for him;
    But he turned when safe on the other side
    And built a bridge to span the tide.

    “Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
    “You are wasting your strength with building here;
    Your journey will end with the ending day,
    You never again will pass this way;
    You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
    Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

    The builder lifted his old gray head;
    “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
    “There followed after me to-day
    A youth whose feet must pass this way.
    This chasm that has been as naught to me
    To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
    He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
    Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

  • Innovate West

    Superintendent's Blog|10/26/2014

    This past weekend, I attended the Innovate West Conference hosted by Connect Charter School in Calgary. It is a conference I’ve wanted to attend in the past because of the positive reviews it has received from previous participants from our division and elsewhere. Attending with me was my Deputy Superintendent, Brian Macauley (@macauleyb) and Director …

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  • Thesis Statements...Do YOU remember?

    Sup's Slants|10/22/2014

    I was invited into our sophomore English class yesterday afternoon to observe a lesson regarding thesis statements.  These statements are sentences (typically one) that explains what an essay is about.  Mrs. Oelke and her students put together notebooks that cover the topic and provide a point of reference.

    As you can see in the above example, students were provided with four potential thesis statements for each story.  The first example is Harrison Bergeron.  One of the following sentences is a better example of a thesis statement.  Can you identify the best example (I do realize it is highlighted above)?

    1. "Harrison Bergeron" is a better example of dystopian literature than Divergent.
    2. Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" fits the description of dystopian literature.
    3. "Harrison Bergeron" is about a society that doesn't even exist.
    4. Vonnegut's story could never happen in real life.

    In this case, it is sentence two.  Observing this lesson reminded me of how subjective the evaluation of a thesis statement can be.  Our students deserve great kudos for taking on this difficult challenge and persevering.

    To add on to the challenge of this, our students were also asked to identify the genre of each thesis statement.  If you have a child in 10th grade or beyond, give them a quiz.  The answer is: dystopian.  Take it a bit further, what is dystopian?  Before quizing them, google search the definition :-).

    Mrs. Oelke facilitated an excellent discussion with her students to strengthen their understanding of this topic.  It was enjoyable observing our students taking risks and sharing their belief whether they were correct or incorrect.

    This is what teaching and learning is all about!

  • Learning must be continuous

    Superintendent's Blog|10/22/2014

    The following post was published in the Lethbridge Herald on October 22, 2014. On Sunday, I returned from a conference sponsored by Educational Research Development and Innovation (ERDI). This organization invites approximately 50 superintendents from across the country, twice a year, to meet and discuss education trends and topics from a national perspective with a …

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  • School Board Candidates

    Sup's Slants|10/21/2014

    The 2014 Election brings four open school board seats.  On the final day of filing, the JWP School District had five interested candidates.  Below is a summary of a Q&A held with our prospective school board members.

    (Appearing in Alphabetical Order with their responses italicized))

    Kelly Eustice (Incumbent)

    Hometown/Where you Graduated from High School: Janesville, MN - Janesville High School

    Current Occupation/Role: Medical Technologist at Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Waseca

    Why have you decided to run for the school board?  Kelly is running for the school board because she wants to stay active and involved in her children's education as well as those of all the families of the JWP District. 

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing our District?  One of the biggest challenges is open enrollment and funding.

    What do you believe is the greatest strength of our District?  The greatest strength of our district are our students!  Community support is also wonderful!

    Danell (Dan) Hoehn

    Hometown/Where you Graduated from High School: Elysian - Waterville-Elysian High School

    Current Occupation/Role: Attorney and Partner at Schmidt Hoehn Law, Ltd.

    Why have you decided to run for the school board?  Danelle (Dan) has five children who will be educated in the JWP School District.  Therefore, as a parent and resident of the school district he has vested interest in the quality education of his children as well as all of the children attending school in this district.  He is running with the intent to be a contributing member of the organization which will provide that education.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing our District?  In following the issues and challenges facing the school board the past several years, at times there have been an issue or two which loomed large above the rest.  However, he does not believe at this time there is one issue which rises above all others in the school district.  He does believe that some of the key issues which are ongoing include maintaining and enhancing a quality curriculum, student enrollment and funding issues.  If elected, Danelle (Dan) expect he would become more keenly aware and knowledgeable about those issues which are of the most importance.

    What do you believe is the greatest strength of our District?  Danelle (Dan) believes the greatest strength of any organization is its people which in this case includes the students, parents, educators, support staff, administration and community as a whole.  He believes the role of the school board is to strive to provide the best environment and tools it can in order to enable people within the organization to excel in their various roles.

    Tim Johnson (Incumbent)

    Hometown/Where you Graduated from High School: Janesville, MN - Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School

    Current Occupation/Role: Sr. Industrial Designer at Hearth & Home Technologies

    Why have you decided to run for the school board?  Tim enjoys being an active member of the community and this is the best way he can actively support our school district.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing our District?  Tim believes the number of people living in our school district that open enroll to other districts is too high and he wants to be a part of helping our school district become peoples number one choice.

    What do you believe is the greatest strength of our District?  Our biggest asset to our school is our staff and their dedication to the students education.

    Jennifer Miller

    Jennifer will appear on the ballot but will be moving out of the school district.  Therefore, she will be unable to fulfill the obligations of being a school board member in the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public School District.

    Greg Weedman

    Hometown/Where you Graduated from High School: Springfield, MN - Springfield High School

    Current Occupation/Role: North Star Stone - Store Manager/Commercial Representative

    Why have you decided to run for the school board?  Greg's family has been in the Janesville area for nine years had have enjoyed getting to know the school personnel and the community members.  They have two younger children in the JWP school district, and have a personal interest in maintaining the quality of the school system.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing our District?  Technology - Our youth is so advanced that we need to find more creative ways to incorporate technology in the classroom to keep up with the demand.  Also, poverty within the student body.

    What do you believe is the greatest strength of our District?  Successful growth in terms of testing/ranks.  The direction of positive re-enforcement in relation to bullying.  Community pride within the school system and throughout the area.

    In closing, the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District reminds folks get out and vote on the 4th of November. 

  • A Show-Me Board?

    Paddling Superintendent|10/15/2014

    Recently I wrote about what I thought were a few of the qualities needed in Missouri's next Commissioner of Education.  I finished by saying that the State Board must take the time to get the selection right.

    Since then we've seen Utah select a new State Superintendent.  Their website made note of the search, they included stakeholders in the selection process, and ended by selecting an in-state sitting superintendent.

    Here in Missouri several superintendent groups are writing the State Board asking for a thoughtful process to select a new Commissioner.  Our hope is that our State Board will engage stakeholders to develop a leadership profile, recruit top candidates, and make a selection based on the leadership profile.

    Will the State Board show us they value our input or make a quick, closed decision?  We are the Show-Me State after all.

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