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Teachers share success stories of Wednesday intervention

District 518 board approves March learning plan with Wednesday early release time

district 518 brown house
District 518's administration building in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON — About 30 local teachers attended Tuesday night's regular District 518 school board meeting and made statements in response to a committee discussion that occurred last week.

The instructional committee began to consider the March learning plan last week , and one factor was whether or not to continue with Wednesday early release. Teachers spoke Tuesday night in favor of continuing early release to allow them enough preparation time.

Jenny Newman, a third-grade special education teacher, talked about small-group instruction taking place in the Prairie Elementary commons.

"It was an amazing thing to see all these staff members taking such an all-hands-on-deck approach on a Wednesday morning, even if the topic was not something they typically teach," she said. "The work teachers put into coordinating this and making it effective must have taken much time, collaboration and planning, which had to have occurred on a Wednesday afternoon — the only time we have available to collaborate across grade levels or subject areas without students in our rooms."

Jose Morales, a science teacher at WHS, also spoke.

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"Wednesday is the day I end up most exhausted and tired," he said. He walked the school board through what he is able to accomplish during the three hours of school.

"I actually invite you to come to my classroom to see how much work we put in on Wednesdays in order to get our students caught up," he said.

Becca McGaughey, a WMS English teacher, shared statements on behalf of two teachers who weren't able to attend Tuesday's meeting. These teachers wrote that Wednesday mornings are devoted to complex math concepts and other items that need a little more attention for the students to understand.

Lastly, Jodi Hansen, president of Education Minnesota Worthington, addressed the board. She told board members that she would be sending them an email sharing additional Wednesday morning intervention success stories from teachers, as well as how teachers are utilizing their afternoon prep time in a further effort to help students succeed.

Board members responded to these comments.

"The entire time I've been on the school board, there's no doubt in my mind that we have absolutely outstanding teachers and staff in this district," board member Brad Shaffer said. "Many people have gone the extra mile, have gone out of their way — they've made personal sacrifices to try to make our kids successful during this time. There is no doubt about that.

"The success stories I'm sure go on and on and on, I have no doubt about that," Shaffer added. "But there's also the stories that are not so successful. We have kids that were not successful. Now, that blame goes to the entire room, school board included, as far as — somehow — we did not reach certain kids."

Board member Adam Blume also responded to the teachers' comments.

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"I guess I'm going to be very blunt and say I'm a little frustrated with the headline that said that we objected to your guys' Wednesday time," said Blume, referring to a story published by The Globe on Feb. 10. "All I did was ask questions to get more information on what's going on. ... I thought it (story) was very misleading."

Blume added that since last week's meeting, he visited district buildings to observe classrooms.

"I was very impressed. You're doing a very good job," he told the teachers. "We never questioned that. We never doubted you."

He also encouraged the rest of the board members to walk through the schools.

"It was a good learning experience," he said.

Board member Tom Prins, who joined the school board in January, thanked the teachers for coming to the meeting. He suggested that the school board all tour the district's buildings together, maybe twice a year, so they can all be better informed and get to know the district staff.

When it came time to vote later in the meeting, the March learning plan, including Wednesday early release, passed unanimously.

Community education building

Board members heard an update from Wold and ICS on the planning of the community education building. Sal Bagley, architect from Wold, explained that there is a basic building plan, and the planning group is considering questions like which parts of the building should be open at which times of day, how traffic should flow through the parking lot and roadways.

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Board member Mike Harberts had some additional questions about capacity. Bagley explained that there is room for the planned building to expand to the west, and Harberts turned to Community Education Director Sharon Johnson, asking how soon she could use extra space if she had it.

"Immediately," Johnson said.

She'd like to offer more opportunities for early childhood education, particularly for incoming kindergarteners.

"At some point the state may require us to provide preschool for all 4-year-olds," she said. "If that happens, this facility could not accommodate that."

There is enough space on the plot of land for the building to have an additional four classrooms for early childhood/family education and an additional four for adult basic education. Board members asked to see a sketch of what that would look like.

Next Tuesday, the school board has scheduled a work session to discuss its options for the community education building.

Also at the school board meeting:

  • The board approved a Nobles Home Initiative request from KJSM Investments LLC.
  • Board members approved the purchase of Navigate 360 software to help track students' whereabouts in the event of a crisis situation.
  • The board approved agreements with the city of Worthington to lease and maintain the district's baseball fields. The lease agreement allows the city to sell beer at baseball games.
Related Topics: EDUCATION
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