On Wednesday, February 20, the District held its annual Mid-Year Strategic Plan Review. Administrators discussed with the community the work that has been completed so far, as well as the remaining work that needs to be done, in the five different categories of the Strategic Plan: Academic Mastery, Character and Citizenship, Wellness, Diversity, and Facilities. School Board members were also available to discuss the upcoming April 2 facilities referendum.
Highlights from the review are as follows:
In the District’s fourth year of partnership with EL Education, the elementary staff is continuing to develop and implement interdisciplinary, engaging expeditions. Examples include multiple Lake Bluff Elementary classes studying Wisconsin prairies and sixth grade Atwater Elementary students studying human rights.
Nine staff members from SIS and SHS attended and completed the Design Thinking Fellowship, sponsored by SEED and Shorewood Excellence in Teaching, in partnership with UW-Milwaukee, on Saturday, February 23rd. Teachers have used Stanford University’s d.school model of Design Thinking to re-evaluate instructional practices and curriculum. This year, instead of focusing on creating new classes, the District focused on teachers in the current coursework.
At SIS, students have continued to develop online learning profiles in which they documented their learning journey, reflecting on their academic strengths and opportunities for growth. They also reflected on their character traits known as HOWLS, habits of work and learning. This spring, seventh grade students will participate in Capstone Project planning where they will identify a problem-based passion project that they will solve throughout their intermediate school experience. They will apply skills learned in the followed courses to their Capstone Project.
Science = Asking Good Questions
Social Studies = Research
Math = Data Analysis
Art and PLTW = Prototyping Solution and problem solving skills
English = Presentation
Using this format, all departments will be involved in supporting student work. Students will then present their research findings and response to their problem of choice to an authentic audience, and this capstone project will become part of their eighth grade Passages presentation during the 2019-2020 School Year.
Character and Citizenship
Atwater has worked to bring restorative practices to the school . Between the Counselor, Principal and Dean, they are using restorative circles to problem solve, and teachers are being trained by counselors in the District so that they can apply these practices to their classrooms.
Atwater is also working on goal setting. All students have a character journal and portfolio that will follow them throughout their time at Atwater. The students are charged with setting character and academic goals for themselves, even at the junior kindergarten level.
In terms of expeditions, Atwater has ELL students who are getting tutored by seniors in the community once a month. The school’s expedition work is bringing the community and school together.
Another important highlight noted was the Kindness Retreat that was held for the fifth grade class, which involved SHS students participating as group leaders for the day.
Lake Bluff Elementary
Lake Bluff Elementary has been working through their Lake Bluff crew, Cross-Age crew, and Classroom crew on answering the guiding question “How can WE make Lake Bluff a better place this year?” (Flex crew also exists to create multi-grade experiences.)
Regarding restorative practices (RP), Lake Bluff added a dean of students, Catherine Harrison, this year to support the restorative circles and these practices have been used to support student conflicts on a regular basis. Harrison attended a RP conference in January during which she collected many resources to bring back to staff, and she as well as the school counselor has provided professional development to Lake Bluff staff.
Student goal setting is another area where Lake Bluff has been focusing efforts. Goal setting was built into the teacher work plans this year, and staff have worked through a professional development cycle surrounding goal setting. All students are also setting behavioral and/or academic goals this year that involve reflection and feedback from their teachers.
Lastly, students are continuing to engage in authentic learning experiences that are connected to problems that exist around them. They are working with community experts and doing field work which supports students in their learning.
Shorewood Intermediate School
SIS has been focused on building student connectedness throughout the year in a number of ways. They are monitoring progress toward this goal by surveying students quarterly using the following five questions: 1) I feel comfortable participating in class; 2) My classmates care about me; 3) I feel I belong at school; 4) I have good relationships with adults; 5) I have a trusted adult at school that I can talk to when I need help.
SIS uses the survey feedback to build connections with students who report "not feeling like they belong" and "not having a trusted adult at school who I can talk to when they need help." Additional staff action steps around this goal have included creating culturally relevant curriculums in which all students see themselves and their culture represented in the curriculum, as well as providing students with specific feedback focused on student growth in the classroom.
Quarterly, students create academic and character goals related to SIS’s Habits of Work and Learning which include: leadership, integrity, perseverance, and collaboration. There are built-in lessons during Guided Study that target the SIS core values: Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Respectful, Be Responsible. The activities are a mixture of teacher and student-designed learning opportunities focused on character development.
Examples include: reviewing school expectations using the core values; active team-building activities; discussions about building empathy through conversation; discussions on the history and impact of the n-word, a "Words Hurt" activity designed by Ally Club; most recently, a celebration of African American history through student announcements, a trivia contest, and posters designed by students highlighting significant African Americans related to each teacher's content area which were discussed in classrooms and are on display throughout the building.
Shorewood High School
The strong emphasis SHS is putting on Character and Citizenship this year is illustrated through a number of different areas, most notably in the amount of co-curricular/student club opportunities the high school is offering this year. SHS has many student lead organizations that are service-oriented or have service as an important facet.
For example, Youth Rising Up (a student advocacy group) recently completed an amazing Black History Month Celebration for both SIS and SHS students, as well as the community. YRU students have been working diligently with SIS students in a mentoring capacity and have spent time at both Lake Bluff and Atwater Elementary schools reading children's books written by African American authors to many different classrooms.
Another group doing important work is SHS Student Council, who is philanthropic in nature, and structures events for students of all ages in order to raise money for the "charity of the year." This year, the charity is the William Pemberton Foundation.
Additional SHS groups that are making an impact with their strong service components are: Random Acts of Kindness (who is currently working to team up with the Shorewood Senior Center), Key Club (who does a lot of work with the Hunger Task Force) and National Honor Society (who does a wide variety of community service activities & whose participants have served SIS and Atwater through Courage and Respect retreats run by Youth Frontiers).
Programming efforts in the area of wellness are focused not only on improving the academic skills of students, but also their mental, social, and physical well-being. To address student wellness needs, District staff has been working to improve their capacity to identify and intervene with students who are struggling. Wellness initiatives have included:
-A district-wide focus on building positive and meaningful relationships with students to increase their sense of connectedness in the classroom and in their school
-Introducing new screening tools to better identify students who may be struggling with mental health and/or other issues such as challenging behaviors
-Student support services staff utilizing new intervention approaches to address the mental health and/or other needs of our students
-Focusing on and enhancing current policies and practices that can impact physical health such as social balance (e.g., technology and social media use), nutritional balance, and sleep balance
-Involving staff from each of the buildings in professional development surrounding trauma sensitive practices
At the beginning of the school year, all staff were provided with three hours of introductory training in the area of trauma sensitive practices. Given the importance of recognizing that each student brings unique experiences to the classroom and the need to take such experiences into consideration when addressing their academic, behavioral, and social needs, a work group comprised of 17 staff members from each of the District’s four schools has recently completed more extensive training on trauma sensitive practices. These staff members will be meeting to plan for the introduction of additional trauma sensitive practices during the 2019-20 school year and beyond.
The District Wellness Committee, comprised of administrators, teachers, student support services staff, and community members, has met on a regular basis to review current wellness programming and to plan for future programming needs. District staff and students also remain heavily involved in the North Shore Chapter of REDgen, an organization created to advocate for the mental health and well-being of all youth. Events sponsored by REDgen have been publicized on the District’s website, and the parents who are able to attend these events have been provided with additional information about ways to promote balance and resiliency in their child’s life.
This year, the District has put an emphasis on hiring staff of color, as the need for more staff of color came from the African American student research study that was conducted last year and from the community school summit in 2016. In preparing for the 2019-2020 hiring season, the following changes have been made to District hiring processes:
-In addition to WECAN, a majority of District job postings are advertised on Wisconsin TechConnect and Handshake. Wisconsin TechConnect reaches students and graduates of the Wisconsin Technical College System. Handshake, founded in 2013 by three Michigan Tech students with the goal of democratizing opportunity, has partnership with colleges and universities which is dramatically increasing the access to jobs and internships for students and young alumni nationwide. The Handshake network includes 700 colleges and universities, 14 million students, and proudly supports more than 100+ minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions across the country.
-A list of certified staff including email addresses, that are coded as Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and/or African American will be obtained from DPI and used to advertise vacancies in the District.
Additionally, the Diversity work team has been focused this year on partnering with the community through a book study and increasing student voice with student groups at both SHS and SIS. The current book, Despite the Best Intentions - How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools by Amanda Lewis and John Diamond, is a case study of black and white students at an affluent suburban high school that examines a range of critical issues in race and education, revealing insights that can be further explored in subsequent studies. While hardly the final word on these questions, it also highlights issues that can be useful for practicing educators. The District participates in this book club in affiliation with the Closing the Achievement Gap Consortium and members of the Shorewood community.
During this school year, a Student Equity Task Force was also developed at Shorewood High School. This task force is comprised of student leaders who represent a variety of SHS clubs with a mission to serve as an active network and student voice that embodies the District's commitment to inclusion and student success. The students brainstorm topics such as representation in curriculum, practices and procedures, and District policies.
In addition to this, the Student Advisory Board at SIS was also developed with the help of staff members Ebony Grice and Samantha Prystawik. The students on this board focus on academic, social, and equity problems that students face every day and seek to establish a strong school community by working from the students’ perspective to communicate and develop an action plan towards solving school issues.
Another important thing to note is that teachers involved in the UWM Fellowship program, who have created new courses based on knowledge gained from the program, are experiencing a growth in course requests for next year. (Examples include: Image and Word which has social justice theme throughout the course, Visual Journalism which has focused on de-stigmatizing mental health, and Environmental Literature which is working to create strong environmental stewards).
Lastly, the District’s charter school, New Horizons, is steeped heavily in community service and partnerships as part of the everyday curriculum, and have been doing some incredible work.
The Shorewood School Board has been working extensively with community groups, staff and administrators to prioritize the work that was identified in the Facilities Master Plan. In their process, four key categories of work were established: Safety and Security, ADA Accessibility, Building Systems and Infrastructure, and Learning Spaces.
As an additional part of this work, projects were placed into cost bands in order to develop a survey to solicit feedback from the community. This survey was sent out in Fall 2018, and the results of the survey indicated community support and tax tolerance to support two referenda questions: a $65 million capital improvement referendum, and a $275,000 recurring revenue limit exemption referendum for ongoing capital maintenance.
Information regarding the referendum questions is available on the district referendum website. This link is located on the District website: https://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/referendum/. The website features information and FAQ’s related to each of the questions that will be on the April 2nd ballot, as well as floor plan information specific to each campus.
The District will be holding the following information sessions for community members to learn more about this important April 2nd vote in the Village of Shorewood:
-March 11 Atwater Library, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
-March 13 SHS Library, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
-March 13 SIS Commons, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
-March 18 Lake Bluff Library, 9:30-11:00 a.m.