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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 magazine@aasa.org.

  • 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.

  • Communication Kudos!

    Sup's Slants|10/14/2014


    Communication between the school, families and communities is of extreme importance.  As mentioned in an earlier blog post, our staff consistently looks for ways to increase our communication capacity.  Our two first grade teachers, Mrs. Sheeran and Mrs. Leiferman have been consistently blogging about a variety of classroom happenings.  To check out the true power behind blogging, please visit the following websites (blogs):

    Mrs. Sheeran's Blog: http://jwpsheeran.blogspot.com/

    Mrs. Leiferman's Blog: http://leiferman.blogspot.com/

    Thank you teachers for putting in extra time to create strong communication with our families and communities! 

  • Teacher Made Video Tutorials

    Sup's Slants|10/14/2014




    During the 2013-2014 school year the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District adopted a new math curriculum for our students in grades K-12.  The elementary adopted Math Expressions published by Houghton Mifflin. 

    With every curriculum adoption there are challenges to be met.  Teachers work hard to familiarize themselves with the new curriculum and to develop appropriate pacing.  Our students and families are challenged to adapt to new languages, appearance, pedagogy and procedures.  Math Expressions is a unique curriculum that challenges our students to look at numbers differently to extend their learning. 

    As a way to assist families and students in their understanding of these unfamiliar concepts, one of our third grade teachers, Mrs. Roesler, put together video tutorials.  Once these videos are made, Mrs. Roesler can send them out via e-mail and post them to her website.  This is one fine example of how our teachers work diligently to provide our families with effective communication.  To view an example video tutorial, please click on the play button above.

  • The Flipped Classroom at JWP

    Sup's Slants|10/13/2014






    The Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton teaching staff have been researching ways to innovate instruction to better meet the needs of our students.  One of those strategies identified by our staff was the "Flipped Classrom".  Several of our teachers have taken on this challenge and are bringing this approach to our students.

    The "Flipped Classroom" essentially inverts the classroom.  Instruction takes place online away from school and homework is brought to the classroom.  This instruction is typically completed via an online video.  By doing so, students receive support on homework from the trained classroom teacher.  The examples I provide below are all math focused.  Please take some time to peruse these videos.  If you are feeling really ambitious, try a few of the problems on your own.

    Example 1 - High School Algebra - Click Here


    Example 2 - Elementary 5th Grade Math - Click Here

    If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to contact me directly.  As a disclaimer, I couldn't post all videos of the "Flipped Classroom" work being done by our staff.  Should you want to see more, please let me know.

  • Music to my ears!

    Superintendent's Blog|10/13/2014

    Last week, we held our annual division wide professional development day. Over the past number of years, we’ve morphed this day to be far more engaging for our staff through self-selection, the utilization of expertise within our division and a focus on professional dialogue around learning. We’ve also been able to incorporate an edcamp or …

    Continue reading »

  • Technology and Debate

    The Buzz from the Hornet's Nest|10/12/2014


    I believe it was former national news anchorman Tom Brokaw who lamented that the internet instantly allows us to communicate with and befriend people all over the world, yet holds the possibility that we are left not really knowing the person living next door. Like most everything else, technology can be both a positive and a negative, depending on how we exercise its potential.

    Technology is a vital tool within our schools. Schools are critical elements of a vibrant community. At times the two do not constructively intersect.

    Public school education is a fertile ground for debates. In part, since most people have attended schooling of some kind for at least thirteen years, the shared experience leaves many people with a deeper knowledge and broader perceptions about education than they might have on small engine repair or architectural design or any other subject that is far less common in experience.

    The leadership of a school or school district is not always right. “What is right,” when juxtaposed with the mission of the school, is more important in my opinion than “who is right.” Advanced degrees and specific titles are not dictators in a democracy. There are many subjects regarding education that could pose as focal points for productive consideration by diverse constituent groups in a community. The responsibility of a leader is to articulate positions on issues, whether they are popular positions or not, and attempt to convey them with appropriate explanations and context, and a willingness to adapt to changes or new information that might alter a previously made decision.

    Oftentimes, the busy schedules of parents prevent them from making a regular commitment to attend meetings at school that could afford opportunities for discourse on subjects and concerns. That’s certainly understandable at a time when financial stress has prompted many to extend work hours or obtain additional work, or parents are juggling family schedules, or they are struggling with child-care as a single parent. Many schools maintain an active social media presence through facebook, twitter, or blogs, which combine to offer channels inviting an open and expanded virtual assembly over a time frame that accommodates varied schedules.

    However, it seems like the ability to bring people closer through advancing technologies has also contributed to a fracturing of conversations and the creation of partisan camps. Most issues have multiple sides that can spawn differences of opinion that may lead to emotional expressions in support of particular points. Rather than promoting opportunities for many people to participate in an engaging dialogue examining possibilities, issues that could be discussed in a large format may be reduced to narrower conversations among people who share similar beliefs. Instead of accessing forums via readily available social media platforms, groups identify their perspective on an issue and then retreat to separate and private forums (i.e. facebook pages) based on common beliefs and a reluctance to entertain differing thoughts. This splintering effect provides some comfort to those refraining from a full scale discussion through semi-private exchanges that reinforce each other’s opinions and reaffirm their sentiments. But, as a consequence of people seeking refuge with shared beliefs we all lose the prospect of learning something new, contemplating or adjusting our position, or persuading opposing views to adopt our perspective or adapt their position. This smaller pool of perspectives in a more limited form of dialogue between people of similar opinions may leave some convinced that “everyone I know” thinks this way, or “everyone else feels the same way,” thus entrenching their original stand on an issue.

    Additionally, the privacy of a faceless series of exchanges among people of similar beliefs can embolden people to extend their opinions beyond the boundaries they might otherwise hold when they are involved in a personal and real-time exchange of ideas in a more formal social setting. I suspect the language and emotions displayed in the narrower philosophical format of a private facebook page may not resemble an exchange people might evidence in a public forum at a school meeting. Such a prospect allows for feelings and expressions to escalate and eventually devolve to a degree of division that inhibits or prevents the cooperation among diverse groups that can enrich our school community.



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