THE SCHOOL BELL
Change- The Impetus for Improvement
Einstein is often credited with the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Regardless of its origin, the statement rings true and there is merit in recognizing that change is necessary in order to facilitate improvement or get different results. Sometimes change in institutions, like a school system, comes a bit slower because it often requires buy-in from many stakeholders (i.e. teachers, parents, taxpayers). Stakeholders may not see the need for change or may be afraid to change because of the risks, not knowing what the new results will be. This creates the dilemma we often face in education today. The traditional educational system worked for me, why change it? Can you guarantee better results with the change you are making? These are tough questions to answer, but when school administrators and teachers make recommendations based on the research and study they have done and the Board of Education approves those changes- whether it be in curriculum, school structure, or hiring- the goal is always for continued improvement, higher student achievement, and greater success for our students upon graduation.
The 2017-18 school year will usher in some changes to school structure at Lemonweir Elementary School and Tomah Middle School. School starts at Lemonweir Elementary School on Tuesday, July 18. Elementary students at Lemonweir will be on a 45-15 calendar which has them attending school for approximately 45 days and then having a three-week intersession. The three-week intersession includes one full week of vacation and then ten days in which remediation and/or enrichment is provided. In essence, the intersessions will provide summer school types of opportunities to the students at Lemonweir with a free breakfast and hot lunch available for all students. Being able to provide interventions to help students improve their skills during the school year, rather than waiting until summer, should provide our Lemonweir students with increased achievement levels. We will be keeping a close watch on this and will report out to the Board of Education on the results. The same is true for our new master schedule at Tomah Middle School. Achievement levels of our middle school students have been stagnant or slightly decreasing and this is a trend we do not want to see continue. Mr. Buss, the Tomah Middle School Principal, did research into the schedules and courses offered by other middle schools around the state, especially those middle schools where student achievement was improving. Moving to a schedule with longer class periods (60 minutes) for core academic instruction (literacy, math, social studies, and science) allows for the implementation of new teaching strategies and greater student engagement. In his discussion with staff and the Board, Mr. Buss shared the statement, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” It’s the same sentiment expressed about insanity…the idea of doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results.
We have parent meetings established at Lemonweir Elementary School this month and Tomah Middle School already held two meetings to answer questions about the changes taking place for next year. We appreciate your support as these new models are being implemented. We anticipate that there will be some bumps in our road as we transition, but if we waited until we had every answer for every question, we would never make the changes necessary to benefit our children. The two meetings scheduled for parents to provide information on the 45-15 calendar at Lemonweir Elementary School are Saturday morning, March 18 from 9:00- 10:00 a.m. and Thursday evening, March 21 from 6:00- 7:00 p.m. Change involves risk and it requires courage. I find comfort in these words by Linda Ellerbee, “What I like about change is that it’s a synonym for ‘hope’. If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, “I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it.” The Tomah Area School District believes in tomorrow- a better tomorrow for our students- and that is why we are not content with the status quo. Change is an impetus to improvement. The changes being made at Lemonweir Elementary School and Tomah Middle School are designed for just that- improvement of student achievement.
If you have any questions or comments about the information and opinions expressed in this edition of The School Bell, please contact Cindy Zahrte, District Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 374-7002.