The new Webster Elementary School library and computer lab offers students a great space for learning. Above: Students enjoy reading time with Instructional Paraprofessional, Susan Reierson (sitting) and Media Clerical Technician, Joanne Schmidt (kneeling).

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterOctober 2014 
In This Issue
Watertown Unified School District: Celebrate our success

 

Dear parents, students, friends and neighbors,

 

We are excited to announce that Watertown Unified School District (WUSD) "exceeds expectations" according to the 2013-2014 district report card from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. District report cards provide information on how the district and its schools are performing, and where improvements are needed. They are intended to help give a better picture of how well students are prepared to graduate ready for college and a career.  

 

Here's a brief snapshot of our scores: 
  • Our district improved by 4.6 points this year, with an overall score of 73.0.
  • Lebanon Elementary School score, 80.8 shows that it exceeded expectations for the second year in a row.
  • Schurz Elementary School scored 73.5, up 8.9 points, putting that school in the "exceeds expectations" range for the very first time.

All other district schools report card scores improved as well, increasing between 1.6 and 4.2 points. 

 

What does this mean to you? I'm happy to say that you can expect the highest level of education for your child in our district. We are extremely proud of our students and appreciate the dedication of staff and families. Our goal is to ensure that students are prepared to pursue excellence as they step into the future, and the data proves that we are providing students with the tools they need to succeed. 

 

Report cards are generated through an examination of student achievement data, student growth, closing achievement gaps and post-secondary readiness. 

 

We also are proud to be good stewards of tax-payer dollars while providing an exceptional education to your children. While our district is among the largest in the state, it is one of those that spends the least, approximately $1,000 less per pupil than the state average over the past seven years. Over the past two years, we have needed to reduce our budget by more than $1.7 million, and in that same time, our school board has voted to refinance our Wisconsin Retirement Service liability to save more than $2 million in cash-flow savings. Additionally, you'll be pleased to know that for the third year in a row, we anticipate that the tax levy will be decreased! This year we are anticipating a decrease in the mill rate as well. 

 

I am so excited to be a parent and leader in this district. We not only exceed academic expectations, we have a warm and welcoming staff, and we are located in a town dedicated to community.  

 

-Cassandra Schug

Superintendent, Watertown Unified School District

EnhancingEnhancing Teaching and Learning 
New collaborative meeting structure benefits teachers, students 

Watertown High School teachers recently completed their first month of weekly collaborative meetings. During this time, teachers meet with their content area departments and also with specific subject area teams, like Biology. Conversations and work have been based on curriculum, instruction, assessment and data analysis. "Our teachers have expressed strong appreciation for this time to meet as professionals," said Scott Mantei, WHS principal. "It allows them to utilize the collective expertise of the group rather than simply relying on individual knowledge."

To help teachers maximize productivity, team leaders recently visited Adlai Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Ill., to observe their processes. Adlai Stevenson High School is a national leader in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

WHS students have adapted well to the new Wednesday morning schedule. Many students are taking advantage of this time to work in the Media Center, while others gather in the commons to eat breakfast or socialize before classes. 

"We are excited to continue this important work and thank the school community for the support," Mantei said.

Math program refocused on fundamentals

The sixth to eighth grade math program is being refocused on the fundamentals, including implementing fluency skill sets four times weekly. Fluency areas focus on basic operations and multi-step equations to ensure students are more than ready for the skills needed in algebra and beyond. 

"We are integrating a new curriculum called, 'Big Ideas Math' in grades seven and eight, and using the most updated version of everyday math in sixth grade," said Daniela Stuckey, RMS principal. "Our sixth to eighth grade math curriculum now is more focused on applying knowledge in interactive ways, rather than 'sitting and getting information' through direct instruction."

What can parents expect to see if they walk into one of the increased math sections? Students are engaged in SMART board lessons on an interactive white board, concept-related games, like fluency bingo, peer group investigations and video lessons. 

"I encourage you to stop by and see what 21st century-math application looks like," Stuckey said. "It's nothing like the classroom of the past."

DevelopingDeveloping People and Partnerships
Kristine Leonard
Staff spotlight: Kristine Leonard and Sandra Olaguez

Beginning with this issue of Out of the Blue, we are showcasing WUSD employees who go above and beyond, doing or working on something special in the District. 

Kristine Leonard is the transition coordinator and a teacher in the Real Life Experiences about Community and Home (REACH) program for 18 to 21-year old students with special needs. This new program focuses on transitions for students by incorporating community instruction to assist with the change from school to adult life.   

Leonard grew up in Jefferson, Wis., the daughter of two teachers who worked in the School District of Jefferson. Her brother is the football coach at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and her son attends Western Illinois University, Macomb, majoring in Zoology. 

Leonard has been teaching for 31 years, 27 of them in Watertown. She started working with individuals with special needs at the age of 11, while volunteering at St. Coletta of Wisconsin, Jefferson. "I was hooked from that point," Leonard said. "I have taught at Webster, Riverside Middle School and now WHS."

She loves trying new approaches and expanding opportunities for students with disabilities. "WUSD continues to offer me the opportunity to grow as an educator, and try new and innovative approaches for the students that I work with and their families," Leonard said. "It is such a joy to have a District that allows me to do that." 

Her favorite school success story? "It's really hard after all these years to pick a favorite story, but I think my favorite is seeing students after they are out of school, and are successful in their adult lives," Leonard said. 

Leonard believes students and families are part of the team, so she always recommends staying in touch with them. "We need to work together, and open communication does a lot in that process," Leonard said. Leonard's goal is to always help other colleagues by sharing materials, and going the extra mile to help students and families as they navigate the systems both in and out of school. "I hope my colleagues, students and families recognize that about me," she said.

A surprising fact? Leonard does a lot of respite care for families on weekends. She runs a social club for adults with disabilities one Friday night a month and proudly shared that the club is up to 35 members. 



Sandra Olaguez was born in Brownsville, Texas and moved to Wisconsin when she was 18 years old.  She laughingly says she loves the snow but doesn't like to shovel! Olaguez has worked in the WUSD for seven years as an instructional paraprofessional at Schurz Elementary School. She not only works in the classroom, but she is also an advocate for Spanish-speaking families, helping them find resources throughout Watertown and nearby communities. She also assists staff with phone calls and conversations, translates communication materials for the school and District, and supports building relationships between the community, families and staff.
Sandra Olaguez
 
Sandra enjoys seeing the children that she worked with in elementary school, graduate from high school. She said, "I always encourage my students
to stay positive and be themselves, and so it's very rewarding to see how much they've grown from elementary to high school."
 
Some of Sandra's favorite school success stories are those that include families volunteering for school events. Sandra has helped form a Latino Parent Group at Schurz Elementary School, and it has grown exponentially over the years.  The Latino Parent Group meets to plan events around traditional Latino holidays, brainstorm ideas to support the schools and the children, and provide support and encouragement to one another. One of the largest observances for the Hispanic community is El Dia del Niño (Day of the Child), which traditionally is celebrated on April 30. The group has planned family activities for this event with great results.
 
In her spare time, Sandra makes beaded jewelry that she sells to families and friends. She currently is working on breast cancer awareness pieces.

Watertown Rotary Club sponsors Swedish student

Anna Mia Restadh and Dave Morstad, president, Watertown Rotary Club.

Anna Mika Restadh is an exchange student at Watertown High School, attending through the Rotary Youth Exchange program. This study-abroad opportunity offers young people the opportunity to spend anywhere from a few weeks to a full year as an international student.


 
Restadh is from Stureby, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. Her father is a carpenter, and her mother teaches English and Swedish. She has a younger sister and two older brothers.

 

In addition to Swedish, Restadh speaks English and Spanish. Her favorite activities include working out and drama, and she enjoys spending time with her friends. She has traveled with her family to several countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malta and most of the European countries. 


 
Restadh enjoys helping out at home, particularly cooking and baking. She is interested in improving her English skills and learning more about American culture. Possible career interests include nursing and diplomacy.

  

Plan to attend the WHS fall musical

More than 60 on-stage performers, 31 instrumentalists and other behind-the-scenes students will perform the Broadway classic, "Bye Bye Birdie" in the WHS auditorium. 
 
"Bye Bye Birdie" is a musical comedy which first appeared on Broadway in 1960. Well-known music includes "The Telephone Hour," "Put on a Happy Face" and "A Lot of Livin' to Do." 

Performances are scheduled for:
  • 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7 and Saturday, Nov. 8th 
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9

Tickets for "Bye Bye Birdie" go on sale Monday, Oct. 20. Reserved seating tickets will be available for purchase at the WHS front office during regular school hours. Adult tickets are $10, and student and senior citizen tickets are $7.


 

MeetingMeeting the Needs of a Diverse Population
New program addresses students' unique talents and gifts

The District's newly adopted Talent Development Plan recognizes the need for specific instruction to meet the needs of all learners within a regular classroom. Specifically, the needs of students with unique gifts and talents must be addressed for optimal development. The District plan calls for a support system that is more inclusive and flexible than traditional gifted education programs. We are committed to providing individualized learning experiences for your child.

Kathy Kennon, the new Talent Development Resource teacher, recently was hired and will focus on serving as an advocate for the needs of students, as well as providing resources, materials and ideas for the teachers and staff. She also will monitor the needed support for students in the Talent Development Program. 

"I started a blog to communicate information and opportunities that are available to the gifted and talented students in our area," Kennon said. "I hope you'll subscribe and contact me with questions." Check out Kathy's blog. 

If you have any questions, contact Kathy Kennon at kennonk@watertown.k12.wi.us or (920) 262-1480, ext. 5224.  

Schurz Elementary School students are proud of their anti-bullying bracelets.
Bullying prevention activities in WUSD schools

 

Watertown Unified School District has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that all students feel welcome and safe in their schools. Bullying has come to the forefront in recent years as an important issue that schools need to address. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction instituted Bullying Awareness Day, traditionally held in September, to bring attention to the harmful effects of bullying in the school setting. 

  

Many ongoing programs are occurring throughout the district related to the anti-bullying message. Elementary students receive guidance lessons in their classrooms specifically related to respecting others and being a good friend, as well as participating in Bully Awareness Day activities. At Schurz Elementary School, students received a bracelet and watched a video related to bullying prevention. Webster Elementary School teachers led classroom discussions, and students had the opportunity to take the "anti-bully pledge." At Lincoln and Lebanon elementary schools, students learned how anti-bullying relates to being safe, responsible and respectful, and some students with great anti-bullying behavior will receive special recognition. Douglas Elementary School students recognized Bully Awareness Day in September and will continue to highlight healthy, respectful choices throughout October. 

 

Riverside Middle School addressed bullying with special announcements, and this topic will continue to be addressed during Flexible Instruction Time (FIT) in October. At Watertown High School, 36 "Watertown ambassadors" were trained last year, and this year up to 40 new ambassadors will be trained in November. These student leaders learn specific actions to employ when they see bullying within their friendship groups. Challenge Day, another program at WHS, leads to increased understanding of individual differences and builds empathy to improve overall school climate.   

 

In all buildings, students are encouraged to report any incidence of bullying. Bullying is a serious issue that can result in emotional problems like anxiety and depression, as well as behavioral and academic difficulties. Students need to receive a strong message that bullying is not a normal rite of passage and will not be tolerated. Please remember to talk to your children about bullying and encourage them to take a stand against bullying in their school. If you are concerned that your son or daughter is struggling with this issue, please alert student services or a school administrator.  

 

Fourth-grade teacher Melissa Prochaska works with a small group of students.
Intervention blocks help students improve skills

Last year, Schurz Elementary School began implementing daily intervention blocks to help students with skills like reading, spelling or math. Due to overwhelming success, intervention blocks are growing and developing at many of our schools this year.

 

During intervention blocks, students are assigned to work in small groups with a trained adult on skills they need to improve or enhance. Subjects include reading fluency and comprehension, spelling, math facts, word recognition and project learning. Although intervention sessions are scheduled daily for 30 minutes and last about eight weeks, students often show progress much sooner, and move on to another skill.  

 

Using classroom assessments, standardized tests and teacher observation, teachers and specialists determine each student's intervention group. Teachers meet weekly by grade level in their Professional Learning Communities to discuss student placement, which interventions are working well and which may need changes. Through this collaborative process, students are given the best possible instruction to improve their progress in reading and math.  

 

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Watertown Unified School District 
 111 Dodge St. Watertown, WI 53094  |  920.262.1460


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