Watertown School District recognizes “Discipline with Dignity’ work by WEAC members Pam and Tim Suski

Pam and Tim Suski

The Watertown School District is recognizing WEAC members Pam and Tim Suski for their work with the “Discipline with Dignity” program that has demonstrated success through compassion and high expectations.

“Often our students who regularly struggle to make good choices at WHS have challenges at home,” the Suskis say. “We want to provide positive support and high expectations for both academics and behavior. Through this program we show that we believe in them and expect excellent behavior — because they are capable of it.”

Read the entire school district newsletter article:

‘Discipline with Dignity’ Focuses on Compassion and High Expectations

The “Discipline with Dignity” program launched in September 2017 with support from a Watertown Way grant is finding success using positive support and high expectations for students who make poor choices.
 
“Discipline with Dignity” aims to go beyond “punishments that are punitive” to a plan that is focused on the “whole child” so:
 
·    Negative behavior declines with more meaningful consequences
·    Recidivism rates drop
·    Students complete academic work during “restorative” time
·    Students become more connected to WHS and Watertown itself
·    Academic achievement and positive behavior improve, setting students up for more positive futures. 
 
Understanding students’ stories
Program leaders Pam and Tim Suski say they understand there are deeper reasons why students make poor choices. Often our students who regularly struggle to make good choices at WHS have challenges at home. We want to provide POSITIVE support and HIGH expectations for both academics and behavior. Through this program we show that we BELIEVE in them and expect excellent behavior — because they are capable of it. We have brought consistency to the restorative time program, earning students’ trust, so they are more willing to work with us and talk with us about their struggles. 
 
During the first hour of restorative time we work on academics and in the second hour we work on social skills/empowerment activities to help them become better members of WHS and the City of Watertown. We also “recruit” our toughest cases who consistently skip detentions (because they want out-of-school suspension) and have them serve time in an in-school suspension with a retired staff member who strives to build positive connections. As they work through this new system, we hope they see that we respect them, and they will then have more respect for the building, teachers, peers,and most importantly — themselves.
 
We were graciously awarded a $4,800 Spark! Health Grant from the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation; we are using those funds to purchase items for building, cooking and recreational projects and compensate teachers for their help with this project.
 
‘Restoration Hours’ include Skyward review, activities
The kids have responded well and seem to like the calm, consistent manner of “restorative hours” on Thursdays. Each week we look up their grades on Skyward to help direct them towards what things they need to do to pass their classes. We have also started with recreational and cooking activities in the first half of the year, and we will now be moving to some small building projects as well as outside projects in the Peace Garden in the spring. The hardest part has been trying to get our students who struggle the most to “buy in” to the system, and sit down to work on school work and/or talk with us, but we keep trying! Overall, due to a variety of changes at the high school, not just from our program, the number of discipline referrals is down.
 
The highlights are watching the kids find success with work and see that they CAN accomplish assignments and that people truly care about their success. It is also wonderful to see kids accept rules, consequences, and high expectations for behavior, as they realize that teachers and administrators care for them and want them to make great choices for future success. It is also great to see these kids interact positively with each other as they learn to play euchre, play an intense game of Uno, bake cookies, decorate for Homecoming or Prom, or work together to accomplish some building project. They feel more connected with the school overall.
 
Slowly, over time we know that our high expectations for them, their academic performance, and their behavior show that we care — and we won’t give up on them. If we can turn just one kid around who is walking a rough path, then we feel we have succeeded.
 

Angela Hayes is latest WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed winner!

Angela Hayes

Congratulations to Shorewood teacher Angela Hayes, the latest winner of our WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed promotion! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event.

Angela will get VIP treatment at the February 18 UW Badger basketball game against Illinois at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Angela, a WEAC and Shorewood Education Association (SEA) member, is an Elementary Art Teacher, entering her 12th year in the profession. Currently teaching art to Atwater Elementary students, Angela has always been a proud union member, even as a part-time educator.

“I love my job, my students and families, staff and community that supports the Arts,” Angela says. “I believe that a visual arts program should be child-centered and developmentally appropriate, providing sensory engaging opportunities for children to tell their stories that fosters aesthetic behaviors and lifelong inquiry.”

Angela shared the picture below of herself and her students when they toured the Elizabeth Murphy House in Shorewood, designed by Wisconsin’s Frank Lloyd Wright as part of her Fourth Grade Art Curriculum.

Visit weac.org/badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

NEA joins Everytown for Gun Safety, AFT to call on lawmakers to adopt proven strategies to make American schools safer

The National Education Association is joining the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and the American Federation of Teachers to call on lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby and take immediate action to finally start protecting our schools from gun violence by implementing strategies that are proven to help improve school safety. The organizations have released a report, available here, that includes new data detailing gun violence in American schools, and provides clear guidance for lawmakers to support policies that have proven to be effective at preventing gun violence and supporting safe and healthy learning environments.

Gun violence in schools is a complex issue, and the report provides a clear roadmap for how to tackle the problem from multiple angles, outlining strategies proven to help improve school safety, including:

  • Policies proven to help keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them in the first place, such as responsible firearm storage laws, laws that raise the age to purchase semiautomatic firearms and requiring background checks on all gun sales;
  • Red Flag laws, which allow families and law enforcement to intervene and temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns when there are clear warning signs they pose a threat to themselves or others;
  • Improving the physical security of schools with proven tactics like installing internal locks and limiting the number of entry points and who can enter schools;
  • Supporting the health of students by creating safe and equitable schools and by providing more counselors to help increase mental health services and social emotional support in schools; and
  • Intervention strategies that can be implemented by school districts, including threat assessment programs that train educators how to safely and effectively intervene when there are signs that a student is in crisis or poses a risk.

“There is nothing more important than protecting children, and providing every child safe, nurturing environments for learning is vital to upholding that promise,” said Becky Pringle, Vice President of the National Education Association. “Gun violence haunts far too many communities and has infiltrated far too many schools. Thoughts and prayers simply aren’t enough to keep our students safe. We must do better. This report sheds light on the stark realities around school shootings. Lawmakers can no longer sit on the sidelines as children die. They must find the courage to act now to provide common sense solutions to keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators.”

“We can’t expect America’s students to learn and thrive if they don’t feel safe — and we can’t expect them to feel safe if we aren’t doing everything humanly possible to prevent school shootings,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “It’s time for lawmakers to support school violence solutions that are grounded in proven interventions — not political calculations.”

“When the safety of our kids is at stake, we must consider every possible solution to gun violence in schools,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “That means focusing on the approaches that are proven most effective: providing schools the necessary staff and resources to address students’ mental health needs; empowering educators and law enforcement to intervene when students show signs they could be a danger; and keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place. If other countries have solved these problems, so can the United States. But we have to want to listen to law enforcement, educators, parents and students, rather than the gun manufacturers and their allies. This report offers important new data about the horrific school shootings that have plagued our communities, and details interventions with real track records we can do right now — including safer firearm storage laws, stronger background check requirements, and basic school security upgrades to help make schools safer.”

MORE INFORMATION:

The report also provides a comprehensive overview of what gun violence in American schools looks like, exploring key statistics such as:

  • Since 2013, there have been at least 405 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 109 deaths and 219 injuries.
  • The majority of incidents of gun violence in K through 12 schools — 56 percent — are homicides, assaults and mass shootings. Since 2013, these incidents have resulted in at least 73 deaths and 174 non-fatal gunshot injuries.
  • Approximately 20 percent of gunfire incidents in K through 12 schools were unintentional, resulting in at least one death and 32 non-fatal gunshot injuries.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund seeks to improve our understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it – by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge to the American public. Learn more at www.EverytownResearch.org.

Wisconsin educators deserve credit for rising graduation rates, Martin says

WEAC President Ron Martin on Tuesday praised Wisconsin educators for the key role they played in helping raise graduation rates.

“Tremendous credit for high graduation rates is due to Wisconsin Public School educators who are working harder in more difficult conditions,” Martin said. “There is still much work to do to close gaps, and educators are already implementing solutions through our union. We stand ready to partner on addressing this critical issue with families, administrators and elected officials.”

Below is the news release from the Department of Public Instruction:

Students in the class of 2018 graduated at higher rates than their predecessors. The overall graduation rate jumped a point from the 2016-17 school year to 89.6 percent. Four-year graduation rates improved from the prior year for most subgroups of students as well.

“Congratulations to the class of 2018. A high school diploma is a ticket to the future,” noted State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “Graduation is to be celebrated because it improves students’ opportunities for better jobs, income, and further education, which contributes to life success.” 

There were some notable gap closures for some subgroups of students. The largest gap closure was 5.1 points between 2013-14 and 2017-18 for students learning English and their English proficient peers, though this may be due to changes in criteria for exiting English learner identification. English learners in the class for 2018 had a graduation rate of 70.1 percent compared to 90.2 percent for English proficient students. For economically disadvantaged students the gap closed 1.6 points over five years.

Economically disadvantaged students in the class of 2018 had a graduation rate of 80.2 percent compared to 94.5 percent for students who are not economically disadvantaged. By race and ethnicity, notable graduation rate gap reduction over five years was 3.7 points for black or African American students, 3.6 points for Hispanic students, and 0.5 points for Asian students. 

“Disparities in graduation rates by race and ethnicity and for English learners, students with disabilities, and students from economically disadvantaged families are truly troubling,” Stanford Taylor said. “We must persist in our work with schools and communities to close gaps.” 

The high school graduation rate counts only students who earn a regular diploma. Students are assigned to a cohort year when they first enroll in a Wisconsin public high school, which for the class of 2018 would be students who started high school in the 2014-15 school year. Graduating in four years or less is the standard for federal graduation rate reporting. 

However, Wisconsin’s Constitution guarantees young people the right to a public education from the ages of 4 to 20. Additionally, federal law requires educational services for students with disabilities, if needed, until the age of 21. Thus Wisconsin calculates five-, six-, and seven-year graduation rates to honor the additional time and effort of students who, due to illness or injury, personal or family events, or lifetime or temporary disabilities, need longer to complete their high school education. 

For 2017-18 data reporting, the five-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 was 91.5 percent. The six-year rate for the class of 2016 was 90.6 percent, and the seven-year rate for the class of 2015 was 92.5 percent. 

For a more detailed chart, click here.

Sun Prairie’s Sandra Kowalczyk is Wisconsin’s Global Educator of the Year

From the Department of Public Instruction

Sandra Kowalczyk

WEAC Region 6 member Sandra Kowalczyk, a Sun Prairie middle school reading specialist, will receive the 2018-19 Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year award in a brief ceremony January 16 during the Patrick Marsh Middle School all staff meeting in Sun Prairie. 

State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor will present the award, commending Kowalczyk for her work to bring an international perspective to her classrooms and community.

“Developing global competence takes time. Sandra captures and sustains middle school students’ attention through global literature and face-to-face opportunities to learn from people of other cultural backgrounds,” said Stanford Taylor. “She is generous with her time, sharing successful practices with fellow educators here and across the world.” 

Fellow teachers, parents, colleagues, friends, or students can nominate a teacher for the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes those who provide high-quality learning opportunities for students and make exemplary contributions to the profession as it relates to global education. In addition to her classroom use of literature to awaken social justice and cultural experiences, Kowalczyk brings international guests to the classroom and school community and facilitates the Go Global Club, an after-school opportunity for students. A parent who supported her nomination noted that Ms. K prepares students to have the cultural curiosity, understanding, and skills needed to be a young global citizen. 

Kowalczyk graduated from Wild Rose High School and traveled to the former Soviet Union at age 17. Since catching the travel-learning bug, she has visited five continents, gaining experiences and insights to share with her students. Her professional commitment to global education brings artists and authors into her classes and community. She builds relationships with schools abroad and shares her work through state, regional, national, and international education events.

To qualify as the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year, a teacher must cultivate students’ global awareness, promote growth of global competencies, model and engage colleagues in best practices for global learning, and employ innovative approaches to building global knowledge and skills. The Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year is selected from among nominees by the State Superintendent’s International Education Council. The recognition includes a $1,000 honorarium from Madison area Rotary Clubs. 

Kowalczyk is a former Wisconsin Middle Level Teacher of the Year and serves on the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Council. She received the Association for Middle Level Education 2018 Educator of the Year Award at the association’s conference last October. She earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in 2009 in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood.