SYRACUSE — Other school corporations have used professional learning communities and research has shown they improve the growth rate of student learning. This school year, the Wawasee Community School Corporation will implement professional learning communities.
During the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee School Board Tuesday evening, Sept. 10, in Syracuse, Geoff Walmer, Wawasee High School principal, gave a brief slide presentation to the board about PLCs. Walmer said PLCs emphasize teachers working together as teams in order to eventually improve growth rates of students.
Although he didn’t play the video, he briefly told the school board about a video of a principal speaking about PLCs. The principal noted teachers “need to work together with their colleagues” during the school day instead of spending extra hours after school on their own trying to figure out how to improve student learning.
Walmer said teachers feel the most impact on student learning occurs when they believe they are truly making a difference in how students learn.
PLCs will involve teams of teachers working together by departments and identifying courses, prioritizing standards and identifying power standards and when they are taught. He said emphasis will be placed on a group of 10 to 15 standards that are identified as the most important.
Rather than the traditional method of teachers typically working in isolation, PLCs emphasize a “collaborative culture and collective responsibility.”
In other business, Joy Goshert, assistant superintendent, noted there was not much positive news about the ILEARN state testing results released publicly Sept. 4, but there were some positive strides made by a few grades in both math and English and language arts. She noted ILEARN results statewide had double digit drops compared to ISTEP+ results, especially in English and language arts.
Since ILEARN is a new test first given in the spring of the 2018-19 school year, “there is no benchmark testing data to compare the results to,” she said. Because of the poor results statewide, Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state school board, along with State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, are seeking legislative action to not hold school corporations responsible and for the results not to affect teacher evaluations.
Other agenda items included:
• The board approved spending $435,365 to purchase three new 78-passenger school buses and one lift bus for special needs students.
• Camp Crosley and ProWake sponsored the back to school event Aug. 22 for North Webster Elementary at Camp Crosley at no cost to families and more than 400 people showed up.
• Holly Tuttle of Women of Today presented a check for $6,000 to the school corporation to be divided among each school and the central office to use as needed.
• Many local organizations donated school supplies to North Webster Elementary including Lakeland Kiwanis, Women of Today, Knights of Columbus and others.
• U.S. Rep. Jim Banks sent a congratulatory letter to WRWT-LP, the Wawasee High School campus radio station, for winning the Cardinal Community Service Award in August.
• The board approved the adoption of the 2020 budget which had been advertised in local newspapers and for which public hearings were held.
• Several out of state or overnight trips were approved including high school and middle school robotics teams to Sandusky, Ohio, Indianapolis and Louisville, WHS FFA horticulture judging to Lincoln, Neb., and Milford School fifth and sixth grade students to Dearborn, Mich.
• Geometry in Construction at WHS is building a “tiny house on wheels” during this school year.
• A letter is being sent to parents referencing teen vaping and Indiana’s first death that occurred as the result of vaping in Goshen.
• There were no public comments during a pre-bargaining with teachers public hearing held prior to the school board meeting. A new state law requires such a hearing to be held now.
• Approximately 170 freshman students attended the annual Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation rafting trip Monday, Sept. 9. The students learned about the watershed and much more during the day.