In the spirit of this Thanksgiving week, I would like to share two of the many things for which I am thankful professionally.
The first thing I am thankful for is that in the recent grant cycle, the Oostburg Community Education Foundation (OCEF) Board approved funding for six grants from Oostburg School District teachers in the amount of $20, 010. The specific grants include:
Thank you to the members of the OCEF Board and everyone who supports OCEF. This money does not fall from the sky; it is due to the hard work of people who care about the young people of Oostburg and their education. The resources provided by these grants—as well as all of the grants that OCEF has provided over the years—help us to serve students better. Thanks for your efforts and generosity on behalf of our teachers and students.
The second thing I am thankful for are the people I work with every day. While I don’t have the ability to make comparisons between our staff and those from other districts, because I have spent my entire career in Oostburg, it is abundantly clear that our staff really cares very much about our students, school and community. Working with people every day allows me to see firsthand how committed people are to their work, how willing they are to meet challenges and work together to constantly improve, and how much their actions show they care about the learning and success of each of their students. I would just like parents to know from someone who is here at school every day, that while we are not anywhere near perfect, your children’s teachers are working hard and really care about the success of your children. I am thankful to be part of a quality team, and I am proud of our staff for how much they care about our students and school.
Have a great Thanksgiving holiday,
We’d like to thank those of you who have taken the time to complete the home/school communication survey. The information and comments you provided were helpful to us as we continue to work to improve our communication and the Friday Folder process. As a result of the survey, we are working through some changes that will hopefully improve the navigation of Friday Folders. First, every Friday you will be receiving automatic weekly email reminders with appropriate links to the online Friday Folders. Second, we are working to reorganize the Friday Folders, so that they are easier to navigate and find information pertinent to your needs. Third, we are working to make sure the folders are updated and that older information comes off of the website in a timely manner. Thank you for your patience as we work through these changes in the interim before the new district website is launched. Also, please remember that the best form of communication is two-way communication. Please contact us if you have any other concerns or needs. Parent/teacher conferences last week were a perfect example of how productive and beneficial this two-way communication can be.
In this season of abundant blessings and thanksgivings, I continue to be so grateful for this school and all of the families and students that make this truly the best place to be. Thank you for being a part of this community. I hope you will enjoy the time off with your children and extended families as we take time to focus on what it means to be thankful.
At a recent CLC principal’s meeting, I learned about what some schools are doing to improve their class ranking processes, and we have begun some discussions with our faculty to understand and test the impact of these ideas. We want to keep parents informed about these discussions in the hope of hearing your views as well. Ultimately, how we calculate class rank is a matter of Board policy, so any decisions would be made at that level and would be implemented with some delay, but at this point we simply want to explore some interesting ideas that may lead to improvements.
For some time now, many schools have used ACT scores and Strength of Schedule measures to break ties, especially for Valedictorian and Salutatorian. More recently, schools have begun to include some of these measures in the ranking process. (Actually, many schools who used weighted grades have included a strength of schedule measure in their rankings for some time as well.) Admittedly, we are intrigued by the idea of including ACT scores and a form of Strength of Schedule measure in our ranking because it would support our school goals of improving our students’ college and career readiness as measured by the ACT. We also believe that when students take rigorous college level classes while in high school, and do well in them, those students are well prepared for college or technical training programs.
With this in mind, we are studying a class rank process that would combine grade point average (GPA) with a Strength of Schedule measure and ACT scores. These student scores would be compared against a standard—such as their ACT score as a percentage of the perfect ACT score(36)— versus against their peers.
Our motivation in studying and discussing this sort of change is not only that it would likely produce a more complete and equitable ranking formula, but it would also reinforce the types of student/parent decisions that are good for learning. Including Strength of Schedule measures would encourage students to take challenging courses that–absent this measure in the rankings–are sometimes avoided to protect GPAs. And including ACT scores, which we are focused on improving in all of our students, would remind students that the ACT score is still the best measure we have of their preparation for the future.
If you have thoughts on this subject or would like to share your perspective, please give me a call at (920)564-2346 x1001. It would be great to hear from parents on this subject.
It’s hard to believe that we are a week into 2nd quarter already and snow is in the air. I hope that parents that attended parent/teacher conferences on November 11 found them to be informative and helpful in understanding their child’s progress thus far and areas to focus on for improvement. We are looking forward to our second night of parent/teacher conferences this Tuesday, November 18 from 3-7 pm.
With the end of a quarter comes report cards. Report cards are being sent home with students today. Please ask your child to see their report card and ask them questions about what they’ve learned so far this school year. In order to ensure that parents received the report cards, we are asking that the report card envelope be signed and returned to school. This will also allow us to reuse the same envelope all four quarters for your child.
Teacher Feature: MS. VANDOSKE
Ms. Vandoske is in her 2nd year at OMS. She currently teachers 8th grade language and literature and had the privilege of attending a summer training on Readers Workshop at the Teachers College. Prior to coming to OMS, she taught English and Spanish at Racine Lutheran High School for 4 years. She’s a graduate of rival Howards Grove and is happy to be back in the area. Ms. Vandoske loves to learn and try new ideas using technology in her classroom. In fact, check out her blog at msvandoske.blogspot.com to learn more about what she is doing with her 8th grade classes. Her proudest moments teaching are when students have that “aha” moment when they learn something new.
In her free time she likes to run, read, and cook. She just finished her first full marathon last month. 26.2 miles….what an accomplishment!
Ms. Vandoske loves 8th grade as the students bring so much energy and life to the classroom. She brings this same life and energy into her teaching. She is continually learning best practice and implementing them in her classroom. We are happy to have Ms. Vandoske at OMS!
Have a wonderful weekend,
My last blog indicated a plan to
follow up on the ways we have used community feedback to drive our strategic
improvement efforts. I would like to put that blog topic off a few weeks,
instead focusing on what I believe is a much more important and timely topic.
I just came from the final portion of the events our School District has
in place for Veterans’ Day. Humbled and thankful are really
the best ways to describe the feelings our students and staff have as we honor
those who have served our country.
Our week began with the HS
Student Council preparing breakfast for over 40 local Veterans. The pancakes,
eggs, sausage, bakery, fruit and coffee, were just our small way of saying
thank you as well as providing an opportunity to connect with our servicemen
and servicewomen. Monday began with the student council breakfast and
ended with an evening program in our HS gymnasium. During the evening
program our HS band and Voice groups shared their talents through some outstanding
musical selections. The program also included several messages from
Veterans, along with the shared singing of our National Anthem and God Bless
America. As our night concluded with a 21 gun salute and the playing of
taps, you could literally feel the respect and admiration from all in
attendance – once again, humbled and thankful is how we were
Today, on Veterans’ Day we
honored 53 Veterans who joined the entire OES student body in a program
honoring all those who have served. This program included a standing ovation
from 470 elementary students, introductions of all Veterans, student speeches,
slide shows, sharing in classrooms, and a soup dinner in our OES quad.
What a great morning!
As Nov. 11 closes it is our hope
and prayer that our students and staff continue to recognize the tremendous
sacrifice made by so many, so that we could live in a land that is free.
The students and staff of the Oostburg School District are humbled
and thankful that we could share in these events with our Veterans!
With our Deepest and Sincere
Kevin Bruggink and the students
and staff of OSD
It’s hard to believe that 1st quarter is already finished. This week our teachers have been preparing for Parent/Teacher Conferences, which are scheduled for next Tuesday, November 18 and Thursday, November 20. Report cards are almost completed, and teachers are finishing up any last minute assessments and observations, so that they will be ready to report on your child’s learning goals and how your child is doing academically and socially. Our teachers often have a lot to communicate in the limited time available during a conference, but we encourage you to ask questions as well. Here are a few suggestions that could help as you consider your child’s conference:
· What specific knowledge and skills are expected of my child that may not be reflected on their report card?
· How is my child’s progress measured?
· How can I support you at home?
On the 18th, we are also offering technology information sessions in the computer lab. These sessions will share information on how to navigate and use the Infinite Campus parent portal, how to locate administrator blogs, how to use Twitter, and any other additional questions you might have about using technology to stay connected with your child’s learning. Each session will be led by Erica Wray and Bryce DeRoos and will last approximately 25 minutes. You will not need to sign up in advance. The sessions will be held at 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.
Also, please do not forget to check the “Lost and Not Yet Found” area, located in the kindergarten wing.
We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday and Thursday night!
My last blog indicated a plan to follow up on the ways we have used community feedback to drive our strategic improvement efforts. I would like to put that blog topic off a few weeks, instead focusing on what I believe is a much more important and timely topic. I just came from the final portion of the events our School District has in place for Veterans’ Day. Humbled and thankful are really the best ways to describe the feelings our students and staff have as we honor those who have served our country.
Our week began with the HS Student Council preparing breakfast for over 40 local Veterans. The pancakes, eggs, sausage, bakery, fruit and coffee, were just our small way of saying thank you as well as providing an opportunity to connect with our servicemen and servicewomen. Monday began with the student council breakfast and ended with an evening program in our HS gymnasium. During the evening program our HS band and Voice groups shared their talents through some outstanding musical selections. The program also included several messages from Veterans, along with the shared singing of our National Anthem and God Bless America. As our night concluded with a 21 gun salute and the playing of taps, you could literally feel the respect and admiration from all in attendance – once again, humbled and thankful is how we were feeling.
Today, on Veterans’ Day we honored 53 Veterans who joined the entire OES student body in a program honoring all those who have served. This program included a standing ovation from 470 elementary students, introductions of all Veterans, student speeches, slide shows, sharing in classrooms, and a soup dinner in our OES quad. What a great morning!
As Nov. 11 closes it is our hope and prayer that our students and staff continue to recognize the tremendous sacrifice made by so many, so that we could live in a land that is free. The students and staff of the Oostburg School District are humbled and thankful that we could share in these events with our Veterans!
With our Deepest and Sincere Appreciation,
Kevin Bruggink and the students and staff of OSD
In recent years, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth has studied spelling bee champs, Ivy League undergrads and cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.—all together, over 2,800 subjects. In all of them, she found that grit—defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals—is the best predictor of success. In fact, grit is usually unrelated or even negatively correlated with talent.
Prof. Duckworth developed a “Grit Scale” that asks people to rate themselves on a dozen statements, like “I finish whatever I begin” and “I become interested in new pursuits every few months.” When she applied the scale to incoming West Point cadets, she found that those who scored higher were less likely to drop out of the school’s notoriously brutal summer boot camp known as “Beast Barracks.”
Prof. Duckworth believes that grit can be taught. One surprisingly simple factor, she says, is optimism—the belief among both teachers and students that they have the ability to change and thus to improve. In a 2009 study of newly minted teachers, she rated each for optimism (as measured by a questionnaire) before the school year began. At the end of the year, the students whose teachers were optimists had made greater academic gains.
I took these paraphrased excerpts from an article that was recently shared with me by one of our faculty members, and I felt they were worth sharing with all of our parents as well. If the quality of grit is the best predictor of success for our students in their futures, then we certainly hope we are supporting parents in developing this characteristic in students. We know students develop grit when they persevere in challenging situations. One of our informal goals for this school year is to raise our expectations for learning across the school. Having more rigorous expectations or more demanding classes will not only be very good for student learning, it would also contribute to students developing more grit. And having higher expectations for students in the context of our teachers and parents holding the strong belief that all students can grow to meet those expectations is critical. As we demand more of students, we hope parents will partner with us to support students in working harder, persevering in difficult tasks, and growing to meet these challenges.
We hope to see many of your tonight (Monday) or tomorrow evening (Tuesday) between 3:00-7:00 pm for Parent/Teacher Conferences.
Good morning, Parents.
It seems a little surprising to share that the first quarter of the school year is coming to an end this Thursday. It does not seem very long ago that the students had just come back to school and were settling into their new classes. However, here we are preparing for the first grade reporting period of the year.
With the quarter ending on Thursday, November 6th, the HS teachers will be submitting their grades by early Monday morning. During the day on Monday, our guidance department will be processing each students report card, and they plan to have copies of the report cards available by 3:00 pm on Monday when the HS Parent/Teacher Conferences begin. When parents come to Parent/Teacher Conferences on Monday or Tuesday, you can pick up a copy of your child’s report card in the guidance office and go see your child’s teachers in their classrooms. We will also provide maps of the school designating where each teacher’s classroom is located. You do not need to schedule appointments for HS Parent/Teacher conferences because all of the teachers are available between 3:00 and 7:00 pm. Our turnout of parents visiting with teachers for conferences is generally mild—certainly not as busy as the Elementary School—so parents usually find they can talk with most of their children’s teachers in about 45 minutes. Occasionally you will encounter short wait times for certain teachers, but we will set up a few chairs outside each classroom so you can sit and wait comfortably for a few minutes until it is your turn. Our experience would suggest that the busiest times are after dinner from 5:00-7:00 pm, so if you can come earlier you will find you can be more efficient with your time.
We hope to see as many of you as possible for Parent/Teacher Conferences on Monday, November 10th and Tuesday, November 11th from 3:00-7:00 pm. We will also be offering sessions on how to use Infinite Campus as listed below in the HS Conference Room on Tuesday, November 11th. The Infinite campus demos/workshops will be at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30.
Hope to see you next week Monday or Tuesday,