Archive for the ‘Building Relationships’ Category

The Art of Disagreement

Confession of a superintendent:  I’m starting to feel old.

I’ve been bound and determined to age in such a way where I stay young at heart and in practice.  I ran a marathon in my 40s and still run.  I like the latest tech gadgets and although I resisted buying the Apple Watch I now think I can’t live without it.  I have 19 month old twin boys and they just naturally keep me moving!

But my confession is that there are some ways I struggle with how society has developed. Yes, I have Snapchat on my phone, but I really don’t understand the allure.  I like to be connected to a world of information and to have the ability to learn just about anything I want to know how to do through a YouTube video, listening to a podcast from an expert in that area (while I run!), or reading an article I wouldn’t have had access to 30 years ago.

Where I struggle is in our online interactions when we read something with which we do not agree.  I’m sure you’ve seen it, too.  It’s the Facebook post that everyone feels the need to comment on about how they disagree or how the person must lack intelligence for holding such a view.  It’s the Tweet that starts a dialogue that ends up with character assassination because someone thinks differently than you do.  Have we lost the art of being able to disagree agreeably?  Have we lost the ability to disagree and not disparage that person?

I don’t know about you, but I hope to re-imagine the art of interaction that can be civil, respectful, intelligent, and even sometimes challenge assertions being made.  Can this ever happen in an online environment?  I’m not sure.  I think it is easier to post a comment than actually say that same thing to someone’s face. But certainly I see glimpses of online interaction that is full of patience, kindness, and humility–although those seem to be the exception to the norm.

And I think disagreement can be healthy.  It’s what I ask for in my administrative team–that we take an idea or concept and look at it in healthy ways from all angles as intelligent dialogue that pushes each other frequently results in an even stronger idea. We need each other to push thinking, challenge ideas, and even disagree.  But the strength of this process happens in trusting relationships in which this dialogue is not personal or attacking in any way.  As Aristotle stated, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Wouldn’t you like your kids to grow up knowing how to interact with others in respectful, kind ways?  Wouldn’t it be great to raise a generation knowing how to disagree with each other in more positive and productive ways than their parent’s generation?  I don’t think it’s too late for us!  Let’s work hard to model for our kids, students, family members, friends, and the world that this is possible and can be done!

Here are some helpful links as you work to model this cultural shift to your kids:

  1.  Common Sense Media (this is an AWESOME resource-and what some of our schools are using for Digital Citizenship)
  2. Common Sense Media article on online etiquette for kids
  3. Article on teaching kids to disagree in kind ways

I received an email from a parent last week sharing how impressed they were with their daughter’s teacher and the staff at Porter Lakes Elementary School.  Great job, PLE, for putting this kindergarten parent’s mind at ease as her child transitioned to school. Thank you for modeling what we are all about at PTSC:  Every Student, Every Day!

Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.

Important Dates:

  • August 23:  BGHS and BGMS picture day
  • August 23:  BGE 4th grade Meet the Teacher night at 6 pm
  • August 31:  PLE picture day
  • September 1:  Turn in shirt orders to Mrs. Prater at BGHS!

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  • September 4:  Labor Day-No School
  • September 13:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 11:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 16:  End of first quarter
  • October 19:  30 minute early dismissal for all students
  • October 19:  Parent/Teacher conferences for elementary students
  • October 23:  30 minute early dismissal for all students
  • October 23:  Parent/Teacher conferences for all students
  • October 24:  Parent/Teacher conferences BGMS and BGHS
  • October 26:  No School, Fall Break
  • October 27:  No School, Fall Break
  • November 15:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • November 22-24:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
  • December 22:  End of second quarter and first semester
  • December 23-January 7:  No School, Winter Break

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year!

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year!  Our staff has been hard at work to prepare for today–one of my favorite days of the year.  As we welcomed first time students to PTSC, helped kindergarten students find their classrooms, and gave warm welcomes to returning students I am reminded again of why we are here.  We are here to meet the needs of every student, every day, to help each student reach his or her fullest potential.

We are thrilled to have you as a teammate on this journey.  Please feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher and school if you have any questions.  Open lines of communication are so important for this team to function well!

New this year to PTSC is our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County to provide before and after school opportunities for PTSC students.  It’s not to late to take advantage of this opportunity if it is something that could be of assistance to your family.

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If you are looking to stay connected to the PTSC team–following this blog is a great place to find updates.  We also post to the PTSC Facebook page and Twitter (@DrStaceySchmidt).  All are great ways to stay connected–and in the know on the latest news, including weather delays and closings.

It is going to be a great year!

I am thankful for staff members, parents, and community members that send great things happening with our students to share here!  Here is a great one I received updating us on our talented BGMS student, Liz Hedger!  I don’t know what you did this summer–but I have to say Liz is one to watch as she continues to compete! Liz sure inspires me!

The photo below is Liz standing next to her swimming role model, Erin Popovich, just outside the Olympic Training Center’s pool. Erin Popovich, who has the same form of dwarfism as Liz, won 16 gold medals spanning three Paralympic Games, and was considered the female Paralympic version of Michael Phelps, who giant photo isn’t far away on this same exterior wall of the pool.

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Liz after winning the 100-meter backstroke at the World Paraswimming World Series meet in Indianapolis.  A week shy of her 13th birthday, Liz dropped time in most of her events and won the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 2:13.80, earning her second medal of 2017.

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Liz & her friend who went 1-2 in the Junior Girls 13-15 Discus competition at the 2017 World Dwarf Games in Guelph, Ontario.  Liz’s Junior B soccer team won a bronze medal for Team USA against Great Britain, she won three gold medals and a bronze in swimming and earned the silver in the discus for Juniors 13-15 (an event she learned last spring at BGMS). Her silver-medal throw measured 11.22 meters.
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Liz and Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, a Paralympic gold medalist in Rio, who was injured in combat prior to starting her Paralympic swim career. She has won an ESPY Award for courage-what a role model!  Liz competed at the U.S. Paralympic Swimming World Championship Trials, held July 21-23 at the U.S. Air Force Academy natatorium. Liz didn’t qualify for the IPC world championship, which will be held Sept. 30 to Oct 6 in Mexico City, but given her age, she had an outstanding meet. Battling the effects of high elevation, she dropped time in four of six events, including a 15-second drop to finish second in the S6 Division’s 200 IM (4:17.58). She also finished second in the 100-meter freestyle (1:40.63), second in the 50-meter butterfly (54.11) and third in the 50-meter freestyle (44.11).

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Thanks to Liz and the Hedger family for sharing these awesome accomplishments!

Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.

Important Dates:

  • August 16:  All Wednesdays are delayed start.  Students report 30 minutes later than regularly scheduled.  If a 2 hour delay is called on a Wednesday, students will report 2 hours later than regularly scheduled!
  • August 16: BGE 5th Grade Open House
  • September 4:  Labor Day-No School
  • September 13:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 11:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 16:  End of first quarter
  • October 19:  30 minute early dismissal for all students
  • October 19:  Parent/Teacher conferences for elementary students
  • October 23:  30 minute early dismissal for all students
  • October 23:  Parent/Teacher conferences for all students
  • October 24:  Parent/Teacher conferences BGMS and BGHS
  • October 26:  No School, Fall Break
  • October 27:  No School, Fall Break
  • November 15:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • November 22-24:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
  • December 22:  End of second quarter and first semester
  • December 23-January 7:  No School, Winter Break

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

13 Reasons Why

From speaking with a couple of parents, they have learned about the show and that their teens are watching it from conversations with their teens.  It is great when our kids come to us to talk about topics such as this.  However, not every child will start the conversation with us.  It is important to know what our kids are watching and be ready to start a conversation about this.  Looking for some help to guide you through that discussion?  Common Sense Media put out a guide for helping parents talk to their kids about this that you may want to check out.  You may want to watch the show with your kids (if they are going to watch it with or without you–with you is definitely better!)

The National Association of School Psychologists has also weighed in.  In a document they put out, they provide this guidance for parents (along with not recommending “that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series”):

  1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
  2. If they exhibit any of the warning signs (found in the document), don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
  3. Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
  4. Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
  5. Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers. See Preventing Youth Suicide Brief Facts (also available in Spanish) and Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips or Parents and Educators for additional information.

As I’ve been writing this, I’ve read a lot online about the show/book.  Here are some resources I found particularly helpful:

My first inclination is to encourage folks to not watch the show.  But reality is our children will be exposed to this type of dialogue and media whether they watch the show or not and we need to be active and engaged in their lives as someone with whom they can discuss anything.  One thing I know for certain:  family support and connectedness are essentials for every child.  Every child needs a significant adult in their lives–be it a parent, and aunt, a teacher, a coach, an administrator, a school counselor, or a close family friend.  Navigating these waters is challenging, and our kids need support.  If you need help as a parent navigating these waters or have concerns about your child, don’t hesitate to contact your building administrator, school counselor, or a community based mental health agency.

Most of all, researching this has made me want to wrap my arms around my boys who are too young to understand all of this and think of the ways each day to give them reasons why they matter.  I know that is the cry of every parent’s heart.  Take time this week to have meaningful conversations with your kids, even if they are about tough things.

NWI Works Council Selects the following Porter County CTE Graduates for Prestigious Outstanding 21 under 21 Future Leader Award:   BGHS celebrates with Kennedy Starcevich on this honor!

Tonight four of our BGHS students will be inducted into the Porter County Career and Technical Center’s Honor Society!  This is a terrific honor!  Congratulations to Hannah Christy, Emily Barton, Truman Maxwell, and Eden Priest on their outstanding achievements!

Here is an outstanding email we received complimenting our student athletes and coaches for the track team that says a lot about our staff, students, and the families in Porter Township (AWESOME!):

“On Tuesday April 11th, your track team traveled to South Central for a meet.  I was one of the moms who volunteered to assist at the throwing events.  This was the first time myself and the other moms were completely in charge of the event and we were unsure of all the technicalities.  Your throwing coach could not have been nicer.  He assisted us with going over rules, explained exactly how to measure throws, and how to check for ‘scratches’.  In addition, your boys, I only helped with the boys events, were some of the most polite students.  Too often the positive behavior is not recognized and I wanted to be sure to let you and your school know what a pleasure it was to work with your student athletes.”

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On Thursday, April 13, 2017, Commander Charles of the Indianapolis Division of the USO came to Boone Grove Elementary to pick up donations the 4th and 5th graders at Boone Grove Elementary collected for deployed troops as part of their Valentine’s/Friendship Day celebration.  The children collected everything from razors and socks to snacks and playing cards.  We had over 2,000 items donated!
Commander Charles is a veteran that served in the Marines for many years before retiring and joining the USO.  He spoke to several students and told them there are approximately 400 troops set to be deployed this month and the items that were brought in by our generous Boone Grove Elementary families and students will be given to these troops as well as sent overseas to others already deployed.  Commander Charles explained to several students how much the troops appreciate any little donation they receive while they are deployed and that they usually only receive items around Christmas, not throughout the year.
Commander Charles also honored Kennedy Blashill with a USO Challenge Coin for her hard work with organizing and taking inventory of the donations received.  Commander Charles also gave the children that helped to load up his vehicle some fun USO sunglasses!
Thank you to each 4th and 5th grader for their selfless acts, for thinking about those that are making such scary sacrifices for our country, and especially to ALL the fourth and fifth grade teachers who were so patient, supportive, and letting us use a corner of each of their rooms to store the donations.  Boone Grove definitely has wonderful families!
[Pictured clockwise are:  Hayley Takacs, Annie Blanchard (secretary), Patrick Fuller (assistant-principal), Barb Blashill, Ashlyn Ramos, Nicholas Ramos, Leah Lewin, Natalie Meinert, Kennedy Blashill, and Madison Martin.]  –Special thanks to Barb Blashill for sending this to me!  We agree wholeheartedly and are grateful for the example our 4th and 5th grade students have set for the entire district!

Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.

Important Dates:

  • April 24-May 26:  ECA Spring Testing Window
  • May 2, 2017:  Beyond the Influence Workshop Series on Marijuana by Todd Willis

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  • May 26:  End of Quarter 4/Semester 2–Last day for students
  • May 27:  Kent’s Run–The 10th and final Kent’s Run 5K will be held on Saturday, May 27th, at 8 am at Boone Grove Elementary School.  Over the past nine years this event has raised over $350,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The entries are capped at 1,000 participants.  Race details and a link to the registration page can be found at www.KentsRun.com.  As always, there will be live music on the course, finisher medals for all participants, and a free pancake breakfast to all participants.

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  • May 30:  Last day for teachers
  • June 4:  BGHS Graduation

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

Tour the Renovated Porter Lakes Elementary School!

Come on out to Porter Lakes Elementary School on Thursday, April 13th, between 6-6:30 pm to have our student tour guides show off the newly renovated Porter Lakes Elementary School!  We’d love to see former students, current and former PTSC teachers, parents, and community members as we show off all of the work that happened in a very short window at Porter Lakes this summer!  All are welcome–bring a friend!

donations

I had to read this email I received about three times to let it all sink in.  I will read it another day when I need a reminder about the amazing students we have in PTSC!  This speaks volumes and I am so proud of all of you!

“I wanted to let you know about the amazing 4th and 5th grade children at Boone Grove Elementary.  As part of their Valentine’s/Friendship Day parties, they decided to bring in donations for our deployed troops.  They brought in almost 2,000 items, from razors and socks to snacks and playing cards.  Several classes also decorated the boxes containing their donations as well as made cards and wrote letters.  Additionally, we raised $120 in monetary donations to give to the troops.  I wanted to give a huge shout out to them for their selfless acts, for thinking about those that are making such scary sacrifices for our country, and especially to ALL the fourth and fifth grade teachers who were so patient, supportive, and letting us use a corner of each of their rooms to store the donations.  I will be meeting with Commander Charles (former Marine) from the USO, Mr. L., and Mr. Fuller this Thursday, April 13th at 9:15 a.m. at Boone Grove Elementary to give him the items the children brought in.” (Thanks, Barb Blashill, for sending this to me!)

Have you heard about Liz Hedger?  Here’s an update on her amazing activities I received last week from her family!  “Just wanted to give you an update on another international swim meet my daughter Liz Hedger, seventh grade Boone Grove MS, just competed in over Spring Break.  We got back Monday from Windsor, Ontario, where she competed in her third CanAm Paraswimming Championships meet … the 2017 Windsor Speedo CanAm Paraswimming Championships.

 Liz, who’s classified in the S6 division, competed from Friday to Sunday. She swam seven events and set personal records in six of them. She won her first CanAM gold medal in the 200 freestyle, dropping her best time by seven seconds, and finished third overall in the S6 classification for both the 50-meter freestyle (45.02 seconds) and 50-meter butterfly (54.47 seconds). In each of those races, the only competitors to finish ahead of Liz were on the Canadian and Mexican national teams, and both are in their 20s.

 She also swam a relay leg on one of two U.S. teams in the 4×50 meter freestyle relay, which was Liz’s first time officially swimming for Team USA in international competition.

 The meet included swimmers of all ages from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and was used as a time trial by Mexico and Canada to determine their rosters for the 2017 World Paraswimming World Championships, which will be held Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 in Mexico City, Mexico.  Liz’z next big meet will be June 9-11 am in Indianapolis, where she will compete in a World Paraswimming World Series event at the IUPUI Natatorium.  She swims for Mako Swim Team, which trains at Valparaiso University.”

Way to go, Liz!  Way to drop that much time–truly impressive!

To round out this week’s awesome news–how about a TWO full ride scholarships for Boone Grove High School students?  That’s what Bryce Vann and Lukas Steinhilber received last week from Urschel Laboratories!  Outstanding work, Bryce and Lukas!  We can’t wait to see what your future holds!

 Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.

Important Dates:

 

  • April 17:  Snow Make Up Day or Break Day (Right now a break day!)
  • April 17-May 5:  ISTEP+ Part 2 Testing Window
  • April 18:  FYSB workshop on Synthetic Drugs

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  • April 19:  BGHS and BGMS Online Day
  • April 24-May 26:  ECA Spring Testing Window
  • May 26:  End of Quarter 4/Semester 2–Last day for students
  • May 30:  Last day for teachers
  • June 4:  BGHS Graduation

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

Substance Abuse Prevention

Here’s a great opportunity right in our backyard!

Congratulations to Zac Beatty who was one of two to present to the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission (VRDC) on a plan they designed for the name and logo for the new Valparaiso Bike Sharing program.  Zac did this as part of his Marketing class.  The VRDC selected our students’ name and logo for the new Valparaiso Bike Sharing program.  The new bike sharing program will be started this summer and will link the downtown to bikers from the university and throughout the community.  Check out the photos in the Porter County Career Center’s March newsletter on page 5!

Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.

Important Dates:

  • March 20-24:  BGE Book Fair
  • March 21:  BGHS and BGMS Choir Concert at BGHS in the small gym at 7 pm featuring the Magical Music of Disney (Adults $4 Children $2)
  • March 27-31:  Spring Break, No School
  • April 6:  Substance Abuse Prevention event in Portage

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  • April 17:  Snow Make Up Day or Break Day (Right now a break day!)
  • April 17-May 5:  ISTEP+ Part 2 Testing Window
  • April 19:  BGHS and BGMS Online Day
  • April 24-May 26:  ECA Spring Testing Window
  • May 26:  End of Quarter 4/Semester 2–Last day for students
  • May 30:  Last day for teachers
  • June 4:  BGHS Graduation

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.