New members sworn in to school board

HARLAN — Monday, November 20 was eventful with not just one, but two Harlan Community School Board meetings. Three board members- Monte Schechinger, Joe Herzberg, and Joni Larsen ended their terms at adjournment of the first meeting, and upon the second,  newly elected members Jennifer Anderson, Jen Arkfeld, and Roger Kenkel were sworn in. Two presentations also started the evening.
FFA advisors Justine Holloway and Alexis Boes took ten FFA students on a trip to Indianapolis, IN on October 31 through November 3. Along the way they made stops at the Kinze Planter Assembly, Ozark Fisheries, and Umbarger Show Feeds. Harlan Community students added to the record attendance of 73,000 FFA members this year heard from national FFA officers, the governor of Indiana, and keynote speakers and attended a by Laney Wilson and a Career Fair with over 400 colleges and businesses represented.
Teachers presented to the board about the undertaking of differentiation in the math curriculum from the primary building to the high school. Professional development at the schools has been focusing on this need to address the different learners and levels in each classroom. Across the schools, teachers are trying to find ways to meet the students’ needs while fostering concept learning, common math language, application to real life, and critical thinking in their students.
Grace Curren, 2nd grade teacher, and Julie Juhl, 5th grade teacher, talked about the “Illustrative Math” curriculum the elementary school has been piloting since they observed a decrease in math scores three years ago. Starting with a variety of different curriculum options, a committee narrowed down the curriculums that would meet the CORE standards and address the school’s math needs in rigor.
Curren shared an analogy she gives to her students between solving a math problem to the different ways to get to Omaha. “You have to find a way that works, and it’s okay if you’re driving to Omaha the long way at first.”
Juhl added, “There are a lot of different ways. Along with that, I had to teach myself all of the different ways. There’s just a variety of ways, which helps with the kids to understand and puts a lot of different tools in their toolbox.”
Katie Arentsen talked about the different tracks of math at the middle school. She found a curriculum guide called “Maneuvering the Middle” with scaffolded and multiple-learner-approach notes guides, video lessons, and application activities.  “They’re coming in at different levels. In math we are going to the same goal, but how we get there does not always look the same.”
At the high school, Jenny Hamilton and Amber Nicholson work to give choices to students to demonstrate their understanding. Like the earlier grade levels, the high school units are centered around a concept, while lessons, activities, and assessments are designed accordingly to lead up to the concepts. They provide options for students to work on their strengths and weaknesses. Hamilton and Nicholson talked about the standards based grading that has helped to provide clear learning targets and pathways.
Hamilton explained, “We can break each unit into three to five specific standards. Instead of getting one grade on the [summative test], they would get a grade for each individual standard that was on the test. We found this is meaningful because they can look at each standard, and say, ‘I was really strong on these three standards and on this one, I was weak’.”
Nicholson described the process that allows for opportunity in individualized reflection and responsibility in learning, “It puts a lot on the student to make the choices. We try to guide them where their time is best spent, but it allows for each standard to be honed in on.”
There is a lot of work, and as Curren said, “no curriculum is perfect.” Math scores are back on the rise, and the board agreed about the passion of the teachers who navigate the many challenging and complex demands of teaching a subject.
The board moved to action items, starting with the “Personnel Report”.  A new job position for an English Language Learning (ELL) Navigator was created. Anna Gil, the current ELL teacher has one para to help with translations and student/family support, but with a roster of 58 ELL students, all said “aye” in giving her more support.
 A coaching endorsement was created for women’s wrestling.
Action item 2 addressed three teachers who applied, and were approved, for the Early Retirement Incentive Program.
Item number 3- “Sales Tax Financing Proposals” was tabled for a future meeting, until numbers come in and have been worked out. The rest of the action items- supplemental amounts for LEP instruction and enrollment, Badding change order, and reading reviews- were also approved with all in favor.
With action items completed, the final adjournment closed a chapter for Joe Herzberg of 4 years, Monte Schechinger of 8 years, and Joni Larsen of 12 years. With a collection of almost 25 years of serving the schools and community, Dr. Jenny Barnett showed appreciation again to the departing members, “I want to say thanks again. [You have all served] a lot of years, much longer than I have been here. I just appreciate all of your support, and you have really helped us work together to get everything done that’s been accomplished. With the bond issue and all of it, it’s been wonderful.”
The next chapter started immediately with the swearing in of new members and appointments of positions and committees. Jim Reischl was elected board president for a third year with a 7-0 vote. Al Hazelton, who is finishing his term of seven years on the state board and has been on the HCSD Board for 20 years, was elected as the vice president. Appointments of secretary and treasurer remained the same with Catherine Hubbard and Brian Gubbels. The dates of the board meetings will remain the third Thursday of the month, but with a shift to a 5 p.m. start time.




Harlan Newspapers

1114 7th Street
P.O. Box 721
Harlan, IA 51537-0721

(800) 909-6397

Comment Here