Archive for the ‘Leadership’ 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.

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.”

Group phtot
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.

2017 Legislative Session

I received the below information from Dr. Richard Frisbie, Purdue University, through the Indiana Association for Public School Superintendents.  If you follow the legislative session at all, you know how hard it is to keep current with the bills and their current status.  This is a good place to start if you are interested in following the bills impacting public schools.  

PTSC Standouts:

From Ms. Welbourne:

Congratulations to our BGHS Choir Students who competed in the State ISSMA Solo & Ensemble Contest on Saturday, February 18 at Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis.

All 6 Ensembles earned Gold and Soloists earned 9 Gold and 2 Silver bringing the totals for BGHS Choir to 2 Silver Medals and a whopping 128 Gold Medals!!!  Woohoo!!!  

They have all truly worked hard to make Boone Grove proud!

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 10:  Fish Fry and Silent Auction at BGHS from 4:30-7:00 PM

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  • March 10:  School Safety Basketball Game featuring the Porter County Sheriff’s Department vs. last year’s winners–the PTSC Staff!  Come out and cheer for the PTSC staff at 5:30 PM!  A perfect night to attend this and the fish fry!

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  • March 12:  Cut-a-thon at European Style Salon and Day Spa in Valparaiso to benefit BGMS student, Payton Igras, and support her in her battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma.

    The cut-a-thon will be from 1-4 pm ( donation based with a min donation of $10).

  • March 15:  BGHS and BGMS Online Day
  • March 16:  End of Quarter 3
  • March 18:  Spaghetti Dinner Benefit for 2007 BGHS alumni Dennis Porter at Salem Methodist Church from 4-7 PM.

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  • March 27-31:  Spring Break, No School
  • April 17:  Snow Make Up Day or Break Day (Right now a break day!)
  • April 19:  BGHS and BGMS Online Day
  • 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.

ISTEP+ Round 2:  Online

Next week begins our next installment of the ISTEP+ assessment for grades 3-8 and 10th graders.  Following the ISTEP+ window our high school students will jump into ECA testing.  Our high school students this year are in a transition year where they have to take ECA and ISTEP+.

But isn’t the state transitioning away from the ISTEP+ assessment?  Yes, but we still have one more year in this current system (using a new assessment company for this year and next year).  While lawmakers have said that they no longer want to use the ISTEP+ assessment, they have yet to decide what comes next.

What is my hope?  My hope is for an assessment that measures individual student growth.  My hope is that this new assessment does not take long to administer.  My hope is that the new assessment model provides for in-the-moment data that actually helps to drive instruction and help close skill gap areas for students.  While I understand there needs to be summative data, if it can have summative and formative data in one quick and easy to use solution that would be ideal.  On top of that, it is my hope that this can be done without spending the unconscionable about of money that is currently being spent for a system that is not effective.

The purpose of great assessment is to drive instruction.  That requires timely feedback based on the individual student’s needs and growth.  What I will be sharing with anyone who will listen is that this is our time to make state assessment meaningful.  But for now, here comes ISTEP+ part 2!

 

PTSC Standouts:

Michael Skoda, our PTSC System Administrator, recently created his very first app!  After hearing teachers in multiple buildings talk to him about what tool they really needed and seeing that it currently did not exist (or at least for free), Mike took the dreams of the teachers and translated them into an application!  He took the initiative to learn what he needed to learn on his own, tested it out in many environments, worked with teachers to try it, and finally was able to roll it out to the district.  Great work, Mr. Skoda!

Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us.

Important Dates:

 

  • April 20:  Online Day BGHS and BGMS
  • April 27:  Kindergarten Round-Up at Porter Lakes Elementary School

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  • April 29-May 1:  BG Drama Club’s Production of Beauty and the Beast
  • May 27:  Last day of school for students
  • June 5:  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.
  • We are also looking for bus drivers to drive our extra-curricular runs. If you are interested, please apply online. It’s a great way to earn some money and attend extra-curricular events!

Quarter Four–Let’s Finish Strong!

It’s fourth quarter and we are in our final push of the year.  We still have many things to learn, state testing, and the chance to knock this last quarter out of the park!  We are a team, and as I’m sure you can remember from your days in school–it can be difficult to stay motivated and engaged when the weather turns warm (or we hope it will!) and our gaze shifts to summer plans.  Daily attendance and keeping up on school work will help the year end on a positive note!  Let’s all work together to keep our kids motivated and engaged!

 

 

PTSC Standouts:

Porter County Career and Tech Center named top television broadcasting school (From Mr. Groth)

Annual high school conference draws hundreds to University of Indianapolis

Porter County Career & Technical Center was the big winner Monday when the University of Indianapolis hosted the 13th annual Indiana Association of School Broadcasters High School Conference & Competition.

Organized by UIndy’s Department of Communication and its student-run stations, UIndy TV and WICR-FM/HD public radio, the event drew more than 800 students and instructors from 28 Indiana high schools for workshops and discussions led by local media professionals. The contest judged by professional broadcasters, drew nearly 500 entries in 28 categories, some evaluated in advance and others decided during final rounds live in the UIndy studios.

 33 PCCTC Video Production & Media Studies Students traveled to the University of Indianapolis on Monday, March 14th, for the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters (IASB) 2016 Conference & Competition. The Video Production program received the “Indiana Television School of the Year” for the second straight year. In addition, 2nd year student KT Wright (PHS), won a separate award at the contest. Her production of a 30 second Public Service Announcement for the Indiana Youth Institute won first place, and includes a cash prize for the class. 

Indiana Youth Institute PSA- Produced by KT Wright (1st Place)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUnx9Ed-Uto

Television School of the Year winner in 2015, the Porter County Career & Technical Center, retained its title for the second consecutive year.  The program is taught by Mr. Bob Phelps

Porter County Career and Tech Center Student Award Winners

Music Video

3rd Place – Kennedy Starcevich – Boone Grove HS

Short Film

1st Place – Johnny Newell – Boone Grove HS (He made the film with fellow BGHS drama students and an assist from Ms. Welbourne on the audio.  Johnny will be attending Columbia College Chicago in the fall for Cinematography and Music.)

Overall School Winner

Television School of the Year 2016

Porter County Career & Technical Center

Special thanks to all of our families and staff at PLE.  There is a lot going on at PLE (and even more to come this summer)–thank you for the hard work and flexibility to make PLE an even better facility!

PLE Staff

 

Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us.

Important Dates:

  • April 9:  Prompalooza from 9am-3pm

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  • April 20:  Online Day BGHS and BGMS
  • April 27:  Kindergarten Round-Up at Porter Lakes Elementary School

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  • April 29-May 1:  BG Drama Club’s Production of Beauty and the Beast
  • May 27:  Last day of school for students
  • June 5:  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.
  • We are also looking for bus drivers to drive our extra-curricular runs. If you are interested, please apply online. It’s a great way to earn some money and attend extra-curricular events!