SYRACUSE — Wawasee Middle School’s improvement plan continued a series of school improvement plan presentations during the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee school board Tuesday evening, Dec. 12, in Syracuse.
Susan Mishler, principal of WMS, noted her school’s improvement plan consists of the four goals of using technology more effectively, improving reading comprehension, data teams and meeting the emotional, social and behavioral needs of students.
Using technology more effectively includes teaching internet safety and avoiding cyber bullying. Teachers are encouraged to present ideas weekly on how to use technology more effectively.
For reading comprehension, students are being selected who have demonstrated a need for improved reading skills. Those students are then assigned to 90-minute blocks instead of 60 minutes. Students are also being encouraged to take ownership more of their “portfolio” to include keeping track of absences, the number of times late to class, knowing their test scores and more.
Data teams are looking at ISTEP+ and NWEA testing results more closely. “We are using data with more intention and purpose,” Mishler said. “It is more of a focus now because it is something we have probably not been doing very well.”
Meeting emotional, social and behavioral needs includes bringing in mental health therapists to assess needs, using Wednesday morning Smart Start training times to learn better how the teen brain works, working more closely with at-risk students and more.
The school board also heard a report from Jen Phillips, an eighth-grade special education teacher at WMS, who talked briefly about community based instruction where small groups of three to five students visit grocery stores and other businesses to learn different skills.
In other business, during his report to the board Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent, told the board experimenting is being done at Wawasee High School by using other teachers to fill in for teachers who have to leave the building for various reasons. There is a shortage of available substitute teachers. The teachers use their prep periods to fill in for absent teachers.
Other agenda items included:
• A group of at-risk WMS students took a field trip to see the movie “Wonder” and visited the Blue Apron restaurant in Warsaw.
• Apollo Design donated 12 strobe lights and various spotlights to be mounted throughout the gym in the high school.
• Durogreen Furniture donated a furniture set that was auctioned off during the craft bazaar at WMS. The PTO then took the funds and donated to the Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports program at WMS.
• Lakeland Quilt Club donated two quilts auctioned off by staff members at WMS and the funds were used for the school staff climate committee, along with a donation of 15 fleece blanket throws to give to students in need.
• The board approved renewing the property casualty insurance with Northern Lakes Insurance at a cost of $414,794, down about 6.5 percent compared to last year.
• Several overnight or out of state trips were approved including Milford School grades five through eight taking PE days to go skiing in Otsego, Mich., Milford sixth-graders to visit the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., WHS FFA to attend a leadership conference at Purdue, WHS Drama Club to visit New York City and WHS Spanish students to attend a Hispanic leadership conference in Chicago.
• The board approved employee appreciation grants of $260 to be awarded to non-teaching staff in January. Funding is being provided by the state department of education.
• Retired teachers who substitute teach will be paid $115 per day as approved by the board.
• And the school corporation is pursuing an agreement with Securely, a cloud based internet filtering system.