Our mission is to engage all of our students in rigorous and relevant learning to maximize their unique talents and abilities, and to prepare them for the challenges of the future.

March 2016
Watertown Unified School District: Celebrate our success

Dear Parents, Students, Community Members and Friends, 

It is hard to believe that spring has begun - especially considering our recent weather! 

Our students and staff continue to give us many reasons to be proud, especially our championship teams, the WHS Academic Decathlon team and the Watertown Blue Revue Dance team.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Trivia Night to support the WUSD Booster Club again this year. We had more than 1,200 participants this year, and we have raised more than $25,000 to support our student athletes. Huge thanks to Jody Naatz and everyone who helped make this event successful for another year. The Booster Club and Watertown athletics thanks all of you for your support! 

We have exciting events coming up, from spring sports, to the many concerts and events for our students and parents to enjoy. If you are looking for a fun way to support the school district, considering participating in the Fiesta 5K on Saturday, May 14. All proceeds from the event support Schurz Elementary School. 

I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events as the weather warms up! 


-Cassandra Schug
Superintendent, Watertown Unified School District

Enhancing Teaching and Learning for Every Child - Every Day
Math matters: How is math taught in the WUSD?

We often hear that math today doesn't look the same as it did "when we were kids." What is certainly the same for our students, is the important role math plays in our everyday lives, as well as in the future career choices for our students and children. We thought it might be helpful for families and community members to have some background information about how math is taught throughout our district.

Mathematics is one of those disciplines that has a place in all other disciplines. From cooking or paying for groceries, to calculating a car payment, math truly is part of everyday life. The approach to mathematics in our district is to blend the necessary skill work with the recognition that mathematics is all around us. 

Here's a simple breakdown of the basis for math instruction by school level:

Elementary school
At this stage, we focus on "everyday math," meaning that we work to strike a healthy balance between skills and concepts as students grow toward a higher level of mathematical reasoning. To do this, the curriculum moves from a complete emphasis on number calculations to developing conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills. In order for students to make sense of math in the real world, the curriculum links mathematics to daily situations.  

Middle school
As students progress through the middle grades, core mathematical practice is organized through the "big ideas" curriculum. Much like everyday math, this format provides students with the opportunity to solve problems in a variety of ways and utilize critical thinking skills, allowing them to move on to algebra and geometry. Students are exposed to relevant problems at the level of depth and rigor they need, including the use of online resources that help personalize their learning.

High school  
Mathematics at the high school level means a variety of courses that progressively promote reasoning skills and an ability to make sense of the abstract. We work to help students build new mathematical skills based on previously learned concepts. Our high school math courses engage students in solving open-ended problems, in groups and individually, and teach them to demonstrate the connectedness of mathematical ideas.  

The ultimate goal of our math program is to strengthen students' ability to illustrate and communicate their mathematical ideas, immersing each student with the belief that they have the foundation to succeed in mathematics as they move onto the next stage of their lives.

For questions about our math program, please contact Dave Vitale, assistant superintendent, your school's principal or your child's teacher.

The WHS Academic Decathlon team wrapped up a record-setting state tournament performance, bringing home the Division One championship, and scoring a school record 44,655 points.

Get REAL: Real Education About Life

Helping Watertown High School students prepare for life after high school, April 21 will mark our 8th annual Get REAL - Real Education About Life event. Get REAL is a reality simulation that gives high school students a dose of reality in only four hours. 

Students choose a life status, which may or may not include a spouse, children or career. They are then allocated one month's salary to pay for monthly living expenses. After deducting taxes, students make a deposit into their checking account. They move through a variety of stations, staffed by local business volunteers, who assist them in making choices that fit their lifestyle. A roving police officer also is on hand to issue an unsuspecting participant a ticket or two, and a judge will hear his or her plea.

The Watertown Blue Revue Dance Team followed up their state championship performance in High Kick by winning the national championship in the same event.

2016 Children's Day Community Fair

Join us from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 16 for our free annual community fair at Watertown High School. This event is for families with children, ages birth to 8 years old. Organizations throughout the area will highlight their services and resources. No registration is needed.

Do you represent an organization interested in participating in the event? Contact Andy Bare, principal, Schurz Elementary School, for more information.

Helping kids stay safe online

When it comes to kids and social media, every day is a test. Each post, search, chat, text message, file download and profile update could cause unexpected consequences. Too much information could be shared and relationships with friends, fellow students and family members damaged. It's always important to remind kids to behave safely and participate responsibly online. 

Here are some tips for you and your kids: 
  • Limit usage. Permit your kids to have set free time online. After that, the computer is used only for homework. 
  • Keep kids and the computer in sight. Have the computer centrally located so you can see what your kids are doing. 
  • Do your own homework. Check the browser history, and use security tools and privacy features. 
  • Know whom your child talks to online. Enough said. 
  • Never exchange personal information. Remind your kids to never share phone numbers, addresses, a best friend's name or picture. 
  • Set a code of conduct. Help your kids understand what is considered suitable language, content and behavior. 
  • Discuss content. Kids should think carefully about the content they read, checking facts from multiple sources. 

Most school districts now have a technology policy, which includes social media use, to address the legal and logical aspects of technology use in the district. We also teach kids about good digital citizenship. Read more about our technology policy. If you have any questions about technology or digital citizenship in our school district, please contact Bob Logan, supervisor, Instructional Technology. 

Developing People and Partnerships
"Stairway to Heroin"
Public forum: Heroin use in our community

A continued rise in heroin use among young people in our community and surrounding areas has prompted us to partner with other concerned local groups to schedule a public forum from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26 in the Watertown High School auditorium.  

This event is a must for every parent, student, educator and community member in our area. It is free and open to the public, ages 12 and older only please. "Stairway to Heroin" will feature a presentation by local law enforcement officers about the current drug trends in our community, as well as testimonials from parents who have battled addictions alongside their child. 

Participants will receive information about help available to steer children away from this deadly drug. Attendees will leave inspired to make a difference in our community and the lives of their loved ones. Prior to the event, from 6 - 6:30 p.m., local agencies will be available as part of a resource fair. 

Registration is not required but requested.  

Staff spotlight: Chris Kemp and Sandi Amis

Our staff spotlight column regularly highlights two staff members so you can get to know our team a little bit better. This month we're featuring Chris Kemp and Sandi Amis.

Chris Kemp_ WHS social studies teacher
Chris Kemp
Chris Kemp is a social studies teacher at Watertown High School. He and his wife Allison have two children, Isabel and Callaway, both graduates of WHS. 

In his seventh year at WHS, he said the best part of teaching here is the students. "This may sound sappy, but I learn as much from them as they learn from me," Kemp said. "I think we miss a great opportunity when we don't allow our students to make us better teachers. Every day these kids reaffirm my belief that just being around them is a gift to us. I truly believe the old proverb, 'when one teaches, two learn.' " 

Kemp talked about recent successes in the Academic Decathlon program. Kids once petrified by the very thought of public speaking, or even ordinary daily social interactions, are now confident in their abilities and have become engaged, productive members of a successful team." 

When working with students, Kemp's goal is to be "a caring person who understands that students are whole people, and not just our hourly or daily responsibility."

Kemp tries to teach his students to be conscientious and not take themselves too seriously. "Everyday, these kids lift my spirit and enthusiasm," he said. "Most days I go home feeling better for having spent the day with them."

Sandi Amis_ special education paraprofessional
Sandi Amis
Sandi Amis has worked in the district for about four years, first as a substitute teacher and currently as a special education paraprofessional at Webster Elementary School. Her background is in occupational therapy, and she always has worked with people who have special needs, starting out at Bethesda back in 1984. 

She and her husband, Bob, have two daughters, Shelby and Zoey, a dog named Braska, and a cat named Bobby.

Her favorite thing about the school district? The people, of course! "Both students and staff are a joy to work with. The many students I've been lucky enough to know keep me coming back year after year," Amis said. "I not only find reason to celebrate the small successes every day, but welcome the challenges that boggle my mind. It really brings tears to my eyes sometimes when they see their own ability to learn and the powerful feeling it gives them. It's motivating for them and me!"

Amis describes her Webster coworkers as supportive, knowledgeable and fun. "I really love how everyone has each other's backs and lends a helping hand whenever needed," Amis said. "It's great when teachers embrace my ideas and encourage me to run with them."

Amis is particularly proud of her fifth grade newspaper project, and specifically acknowledged the fifth grade team, Kate Rademaker, Amy Daniels, Mike Burd, Jeff Lehman and Laura Sherman, for their support.

"For the past three years, I have coordinated an online newspaper called the 5th Grade Webster Press, written by our fifth graders," Amis said. "It's been a real adventure trying to get students to volunteer their time to write interesting articles about their lives, hobbies, pets or favorite books. We couldn't accomplish this without our teachers giving us some of their precious classroom time to have meetings, editing sessions and to read our newspaper. I love that they see the value in what we are doing. It's fun for the newspaper staff to see classmates read their articles, and it's a great way to get them to think, write, edit and read more."

One of her favorite school success stories is from her first year of doing the newspaper. "There was a fifth grade student who had the same idea to create a newspaper. She didn't just write one article, but two to three continuing columns for most of the school year," Amis said. "She was a fantastic writer and her enthusiasm was amazing. She also wanted to design the newspaper, so I taught her some basic designing tips and off she went. It was really what I had hoped for, that my role would lessen and the students would take over."

Many people may not know that Amis also is a graphic designer. She makes art, has painted murals, designed printed materials and does calligraphy. 

When students talk about her, she hopes they say she's fun but has high expectations. Amis believes that every day is a chance to teach kids life lessons. 

School board spotlight: Jennifer Bakke

Jennifer Bakke_ school board member
Jennifer Bakke
Jennifer Bakke has been a member of the school board for two years. She grew up in Brookfield, Wis., and after graduating from UW-Madison, moved with her husband to Watertown in 1985. Her two children, Alec and Karla, are Watertown High School graduates.

We asked her a little about herself. Here's what she said:

If you could meet any person (celebrity, political, historical, etc.), who would you choose and why? 
I would like to meet Margaret Sanger, who, as as a historical figure, fought for and changed the lives of women.

Who was your favorite elementary school teacher and why? 
I will always remember my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Bradow, because she helped me believe that I was smart and had potential.

What is your all-time favorite movie or book? 
I love both the book and movie, Bridges of Madison County. Maybe the movie more because Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep are two of my favorite actors.

In your spare time, what are your hobbies?
Travel is at the top of my list. My most recent big adventure was during April 2015 when I spent two weeks traveling in northern India with my sister and daughter following Karla's semester abroad in Varanasi. Visiting Turkey for two weeks in September 2012 was awesome too. We visited with our AFS daughter, Deniz Kavukcu, who lived with us (and attended Watertown High School) from Aug. 2009 - June 2010. Her home city is Istanbul.  

Why did you choose to run for a school board position? 
To give back in appreciation of the great education our children received. All of their teachers, coaches, friends and friends' parents were part of the village that helped us raise them.

What do you see as the Board's challenges? 
Maintaining the high quality education the district is known for and takes pride in, during times of decreasing student enrollment and state funding changes.

As you look ahead in the next several years, what do you see as the Board's priorities? Continuing to retain and attract top notch teachers while balancing the annual budget.

If our school district was chosen to be the cover story of TIME magazine, what would that story be about? 
The passion and commitment of all faculty, staff and administrators who make it the great educational district that it is. It is a team effort, and we have a great team.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Nominations due May 1

The Distinguished Alumni Award was created to provide our current students and community with a vision of the outstanding legacies of Watertown High School. We hope these people will serve as role models for our current students and offer us a chance to celebrate the successes of those who have graduated.

Nominations are being accepted now. The 2016 award will be presented during Homecoming festivities this fall.
Fiesta 5k 2016 proceeds benefit Schurz Elementary

Fiesta Cultural LatinoAmericana is a local organization that promotes positive cross-cultural attitudes in our multicultural community. This year marks the fifth year of its Fiesta 5k, and Schurz Elementary School will receive the proceeds from registrations.

The Fiesta 5k will be Saturday, May 14, and the race starts and ends at Schurz Elementary. Read more.

Watertown Unified School District | 920-262-1460 | www.watertown.k12.wi.us

CESA 6 | 2935 Universal Court | Oshkosh | WI | 54904