Archive for the ‘Personal Behavior’ 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.

Thankful

I so wish that I would write these types of posts not during the week of Thanksgiving.  But, here I am again reminded, as I so often am, just how many things I have for which to be thankful.  This year I’m working not just to show gratitude, but also consider my impact on those around me.

Have you stopped recently to consider this?  When you look at the impact you make on the world around you and on the people in your sphere of influence–is the result a net positive?

Perhaps what I will do this week, in addition to being reminded of how blessed I am, is to resolve to make it a net positive for this upcoming year.  By my words and my actions it will be easy to determine that my influence is a positive one.  That has to not just be when it is easy, but when it is hard to find the positive.

Why is this important?  First, I have to imagine if we all worked on this our society would be a better place.  Second, I have to consider what my words and actions are demonstrating for my boys.  Finally, I want to be a positive leader even in the midst of challenges and struggles.

Have a terrific Thanksgiving–and may you, too, find the many reasons you have for which to be thankful!

PTSC Standouts:

An amazing celebration of our Veterans happened at Boone Grove Middle School and Boone Grove Elementary School through their annual programs.  At Boone Grove Middle School, I had the privilege of listening to Molly Novak, special education teacher at BGMS, talk about her service to our country.  Thank you for your service!img_5848img_5849

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:

  • November 24-25:  Thanksgiving Break–No School
  • December 21-January 4:  Winter Break–No School
  • January 13:  End of Quarter 2/Semester 1

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring a Computer Technician!  If you know someone who might be interested, send them to the link above!
  • 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!

Reflections from a Long Run

This summer I’ve been training for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve always been a runner but have never run much more than 6 miles before signing up for the marathon. My husband Rich and I are both training with Team World Vision.

This past weekend was my longest run—20 miles. I’ve found that on my long runs I have a lot of time to think (what else do you do for 3.5 hours?) and I decided to share some reflections as part of this week’s post. I truly believe that while we are teaching the standards that students need to know to be successful, parents and teachers are also helping them learn lessons to be successful beyond the school-house walls. Here are some thoughts:

  1. Life doesn’t always go as expected.

For each run I set out clothing ahead of time, plan the course, and create a plan for success—but it doesn’t always mean that is how it will work. This week I missed the turn around point which meant I reached my 20 miles about a mile before the end of the course. New muscles decided to hurt. The piece of clothing that never rubbed before decides to rub now. It is hard to move beyond the disappointment of plans not working—but it is an important skill for life. One can decide to let it ruin the day, or meet the challenge with flexibility altering the course to make the best of the situation. Our kids need to see us model this flexible thinking and resilience to situations that are not ideal and many times out of our control. Learning this skill early in life will help shape a child’s thinking to expect the unexpected and be able to shift thinking.

  1. When times are challenging or even when they are great, it’s much easier with a team around you.

I can’t imagine training for this marathon without my Team World Vision comrades. There were many challenging moments on this week’s 20-mile run, but we helped each other make it through. Encouraging words, silly antics, and sometimes just hearing the other folks foot strikes in front of me and behind me pushed me through some tough moments. Truly caring about the reason you are running doesn’t hurt, either! This is also a great lesson to model for our students. Working together we can accomplish great things and when one person is struggling the team can encourage them on. We all need each other at some point on the journey—how great to surround yourself with a team of encouragers in which help is given and received.  It is also important to be passionate about what you do.

  1. When times get tough, it takes persistence, hard work, and strong-willed determination to make it through.

I ran cross-country in high school, and the challenges in a race typically involved holding a pace needed to set a personal record (and placing was always nice, too!). In this marathon training, the challenge is the duration of the run and the endurance needed to cover the miles. There are many times I’ve wanted to give up and walk (or sit!)—and have had to reach deep within to find the determination to do the hard thing and keep going. Our kids need to see us model this, too. Life is not always easy. Sometimes it looks like the easy choice is to give up and hopefully feel less pain. But that doesn’t make it the right choice. The greatest moments are often in the midst of struggle when we learn just how strong we and just how much we can overcome if we don’t give up.

Perhaps some of these thoughts could be great conversation starters around the dinner table as you take time to share your life reflections with your kids. Hearing your stories help them to grow into young adults ready to face the challenges ahead. Never underestimate the power of your story—and how that story can shape the way they view the world!

PTSC Standouts:

golf

Boone Grove Girls Golf advance to regionals–way to go!

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

Important Dates:

  • October 14:  Online Day, BGHS and BGMS
  • October 17:  Stuff the Bus and Souper Supper to benefit the Porter Township Food Pantry

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  • October 21:  End of 1st Quarter
  • October 26:  Parent Teacher Conferences–30 minute early dismissal
  • October 27:  Parent Teacher Conferences–30 minute early dismissal
  • October 29:  No School, Fall Break
  • October 30:  No School, Fall Break
  • November 18:  Online Day, BGHS and BGMS
  • November 26:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
  • November 27:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
  • December 21-January 1:  No School, Winter Break
  • January 15:  End of 2nd Quarter/1st Semester

Things to Know/Do:

  • Did you watch the video posted last week with your kids?  If not–there’s still time! Heroin:  Not a Problem, An Epidemic–Have you had the chance to watch this video put out by the Porter County Sheriff’s Department?  This is a powerful look at the growing problem in Porter County–and is something that every parent should watch.  It is even more powerful to watch it with your child.  Take the time to watch it today!
  • 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!

Winters in Northwest Indiana

Winter has arrived in Northwest Indiana!  As we all know, that comes with snow, blowing and drifting snow, snow-packed roads, ice, wind, cold temperatures, and cold wind chills. As part of this, we all throw on many layers, cover exposed skin, keep blankets and shovels in the car, drive slowly, and most of all look forward to the warmer temperatures that will arrive in just a few months.

Here are some things to know about winters at PTSC that hopefully you will find helpful:

  1. Please make sure your child comes dressed appropriately (warm enough clothing) for school each day.  Even if it is too cold for recess, one can never plan when an emergency might take place and a school has to be evacuated or a school bus breaks down.  Wearing shorts and a t-shirt is going to be challenging–even if the evacuation takes less than a minute.
  2. Don’t know if there will be recess?  Send the snow pants, hats, gloves, boots, coats, and scarves just in case (and all labeled with your child’s name).
  3. Want to make sure you receive delay/closing calls?  Make sure your information is up to date in Instant Alert.  See directions below in the “Things to Do and Know” section.  If you have done that and still do not receive a call, please contact your school office.
  4. PTSC works with the Meteorology Department at Valparaiso University to get weather reports the night before school and the morning of school.  This information is utilized in addition to weather.com, weather bug, weather underground, and other weather websites that report Boone Grove data.  It does seem that often times there will be a wide range of expected weather predictions depending on which website is consulted.  This is also why it is good to have access to the VU Department of Meteorology to help us sort through the data.  On top of that, the superintendents in the area are in constant communication sharing the information they have learned.
  5. Do you wonder how snow delays and closing decisions are made?  There is no formula for this.  Typically I talk to my parking lot plow crew between 4-4:30 am to get my first look at conditions.  Sometimes they tell me not to go out on the roads, that we need a delay.  Most of the time I set out driving the roads myself.  I’m considering bus traffic, how much the county has already plowed, blowing and drifting, ice, and snow that continues to fall.  *It is important to note that I expect roads in NWI to be snow-packed and slippery–this is just part of where we live.  I’m looking for roads with large drifts that a car or bus could not drive through safely covering the entire road.  If there is a delay, I am then back out on the roads driving to see if conditions have improved so that we can open school.  I usually go back first to the areas that were particularly bad on my drive earlier in the morning.
  6. Do you wonder how wind chill delays and closing decisions are made?  There is also no formula for this.  It is a combination of many things.  How hard is the wind blowing?  How cold is the air temperature?  What are the expected wind chills?  Are my buses starting and staying running?  Additionally we have to look to see if the cold will break making a two-hour delay effective.  It is not a black and white decision–there are many factors which play into every decision.  A change in just a handful of degrees can be the difference between a regular day of school and a closing.
  7. I try to make a call for a delay or closing by 5:30 am.  Our buses are already warming at that time.  Our first routes will start soon after that.  While it is nice to know the night before, that is not always the best decision.  If I think there is a chance that we will be able to open on time or not have to close school I will always wait.  My goal is to keep students safe, but also to keep students on the regular school calendar with school in session if at all possible.  That will mean many times that the decision must be made in the morning.

All PTSC buildings have been hard at work developing plans to enable us to have Virtual Inclement Weather Days.  We have been approved by the state to offer these moving forward.  You will be getting a letter/email today from your child’s school talking about what this will look like in each building.  We believe that we live in a day and age where weather should not cause an interruption in our instruction.  Providing virtual instruction will allow students to continue to receive the instruction they need–just through a different medium.  This is similar to what we already do 7 times per year at BGHS and BGMS.

Many districts have already been doing this both this year and last year.  If you’d like to read about some of those experiences, you can find them here:

Chalmers, Indiana

Indiana Department of Education Blog

Delphi eLearning Days

Shelby County

#eLearnOrFreeze on Twitter from Southern Hancock

#welearnmg on Twitter from Madison-Grant

Hancock County

Lots of creative thinking in Indiana to solve the problem of our winter weather.  Other states across the country are doing this as well–I just wanted to highlight Indiana!  Watch for more information from your child’s school!

PTSC Standouts:

Great work is happening in third grade at PLE–students and teachers have been hard at work on their country reports.  It’s going to be a great week to be a third grader!

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

Important Dates:

  • January 16, 2015:  End of 1st Semester
  • January 28, 2015:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • February 13, 2015:  Snow day make-up day–SCHOOL IS IN SESSION
  • February 16, 2015:  No School, Presidents Day
  • February 18, 2015:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • March 18, 2015:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • March 19, 2015:  End of 3rd Quarter
  • March 23-27, 2015:  Spring Break
  • April 6, 2015:  Snow day make-up day–SCHOOL IS IN SESSION
  • April 15, 2015:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • May 25, 2015:  Memorial Day, No School
  • June 1, 2015:  End of Second Semester, Last Day for Students
  • June 7, 2015:  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.
    • Have you updated your account information in Instant Alert?  Make sure that you have your cell phone number and your email entered so that you will receive the latest updates we send out.  You can update your Instant Alert Account here.
    • 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!