“UnSelfie” by Michele Borba

I was recently introduced to a book called “UnSelfie” by Michele Borba by a superintendent colleague.  The book looks at the core need for society (but this book is focused on our children) and the need for empathy.  The premise is that our society is becoming more and more concerned with “Me” rather than “We”.  The author quotes Daniel Goleman who states that, “Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion.  When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large.  But when we focus on others, our world expands.”  The author continues on in the book to lay out empathy skills or habits which we can practice ourselves and also teach our children.  I’ve included below a TedX talk by the author and also a segment for parents from the Today Show.  For those of you interested in the book–they have it at the library and I’m happy to loan out my copy!  It’s a great read!

IMG_2392

Congratulations to our 2017 PCC BGMS Baseball Champions!

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:

  • Now through September 29th!  Help for Hurricane Harvey & Irma!

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.36.10 AM

  • October 11:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 14:  Flapjack Fundraiser for BGHS Academic Teams

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.39.01 AM

  • October 14:  Stuff the Bus 2017

33853

  • 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.

 

Advertisements

Preschool Survey

At PTSC, we like to explore many options for meeting the needs of our community.  One area of impact that has been identified is preschool.  We know from research that those formative years before kindergarten are so important.  (Here’s a great article on that!)

For that reason, we are in the very early stages of exploring what a public school preschool program would look like for Porter Township.  We currently have no plans for implementation and are in the information gathering stage.

If you have preschool aged children or know folks who do (in PTSC or in surrounding areas), please feel free to send them the link to our survey.  It is very short and won’t take but a couple of minutes to complete!  We will let you know what we learn!

IMG_3380

I have to admit that it is pretty awesome when you randomly receive a text from someone bragging about our PTSC students!  This one was from a group of students that participated in the “Out of Darkness” walk.  Great job, guys!

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:

  • Now through September 29th!  Help for Hurricane Harvey & Irma!

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.36.10 AM

  • October 11:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 14:  Flapjack Fundraiser for BGHS Academic Teams

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.39.01 AM

  • October 14:  Stuff the Bus 2017

33853

  • 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.

What Success Looks Like

8290528771_1298f2ca6e_o

20170909_141727_resized

Check out our Boone Grove Wolves Cheerleaders!  They participated in the Valparaiso Community Popcorn Parade.  As a parade spectator–I can tell you first hand they made us all proud!  Thanks, ladies, for all you do for our community!

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:

  • September 13:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 11:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
  • October 14:  Stuff the Bus 2017

33853

  • 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.

Unpredictable Weather in NWI

I usually post about weather related school decisions each year and this year all that is happening in the southern portion of our country has me thinking about it early this year!

While I don’t anticipate any hurricanes, we do have fog, flooding rains, quickly changing temperatures, snow, sleet, ice, blowing and drifting snow, and extreme cold temperatures/wind-chills at some point during the school year.    As part of this, we carry extra layers of clothing, cover exposed skin, keep blankets and shovels in the car, drive slowly, and most of all look forward to the days when we don’t have to worry about the weather (or is that just me every morning?).

As we plan ahead for the rest of the school year, I hope these things will be helpful to you (and yes, will sound similar to what has been said in previous years!):

  1. Dress your child appropriately (warm enough clothing or cool enough clothing) for school each day.  Even if it is too cold in winter for outdoor 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 in the middle of winter 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?  We use a system called School Messenger.  It pulls your contact information (phone and email) directly from our student information system (Harmony). In order to receive the calls and emails, you must keep your information current with the school office.  You can also always find the information on our website, on our PTSC Facebook page, or on Dr. Schmidt’s Twitter feed.
  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 school delay and closing decisions are made?  There is no formula for this.  On any given day I wake up between 4-4:30 am and check on the weather.  Most days there are not concerns and I head out for my morning run.  On days where I am seeing reduced visibility being reported through the weather websites we use, I’m out the door and driving the roads by 4:30 am.  If it is an issue of snow, 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 (if it is snow), 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. There will be times that it is foggy.    For fog, I’m looking at the level of light outside when the buses will run and I’m looking at the amount of visibility throughout the district.  There may be patches where fog is much more dense–but I’m looking at conditions across the district as a whole and the amount of visibility across the district as a whole.  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?  If you haven’t–give it a few months!  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 couple of degrees can be the difference between a regular day of school and a closing.  This is where we also consult the Valparaiso University Meteorology Department for accurate current temperatures and wind-chills along with a variety of online temperatures.  We do live in Northwest Indiana, and we will go to school in cold weather.  The decision looks at the extreme conditions of cold that are highly dangerous.
  7. I try to make a call for a delay or closing by 5:30 am.  Our buses are already getting ready for routes 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.
  8. If this happens on a Wednesday when we typically have a 30 minute delayed start–there will be no 30 minute delayed start.  The two-hour delay trumps this and school will begin 2 hours later than a regular school start time.
  9. Emergency Closing Plans:  We try to never cancel school in the middle of the school day or send students home early, but there are occasions when we must make a decision such as this.  Please make sure to construct a plan with your child for what to do if this were to occur.
  10. Virtual Inclement Weather Days:  For those new to PTSC, this is when the weather is too dangerous (cold or snowy) for students to attend school in their school buildings, so we hold school online.  Teachers publish their lessons online through Schoology (our Learning Management System) by 9am and students work on their lessons digitally while at home.  Students may contact their teachers and interact with them online all throughout the school day hours.  If the roads have cleared enough for passage, we typically try to open at least one building in case you need to accompany your child to the school to use a computer lab together to complete work.  Typically we have opened BGHS as it is centrally located.  As winter approaches, your child’s teacher will communicate more details.  These days are designed to take the time a student would typically spend in school to complete work.  We also learned that these are great for very snowy days when often times everything is shut down.  We will not use virtual online days as scheduled make-up days.
  11. Scheduled Make-Up Days:  So why do we still have make-up days on our calendar if we can do these all virtually?  Great question!  There may be days when it is not the best decision to have a virtual inclement weather day.  Let’s say our area is hit with an ice storm and power is out all across the district.  This would make it challenging to access our online content for the students and challenging for our staff members to post their online lessons.  For this reason, we have left them in our calendar.  If we do not need to use them, they will be a day off for students.  But if it is the best option for us to cancel school and have students in session on a schedule make-up day rather than a virtual day on the actual day of the inclement weather–then we will use that option.

This is just a glimpse to the thinking that goes into the weather scenario each day.  Hours are spent each day working to make the best decision possible at the time consulting a team of folks.  Sometimes we nail it.  Sometimes 10 minutes after a decision is made conditions shift.  The point is no decision is made lightly or without what amounts to on many days as hours of early morning work.  We want our students to be safe, and we also want our students at school learning.

Our PTSC standout this week is a whole group of people–our amazing bus drivers!  We had the opportunity to meet with them last week and they are passionate and committed to student safety and being a positive interaction for the first PTSC person kids see in the morning and the last PTSC person kids see to end the school day.  Thank you for all that you do for our students!

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 31:  PLE picture day
  • September 1:  Turn in shirt orders to Mrs. Prater at BGHS!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 10.49.41 AM

  • 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.

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!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 10.49.41 AM

  • 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.