Learning at the state education convention – Part 1

At the end of January, I attended the 2019 Wisconsin State Education Convention. It was a great opportunity to listen and learn from keynote speakers, breakout sessions and other districts.

I even was able to see Scott Walter honored as the State Principal of the Year, which is certainly a well-deserved honor.

Meeting Keynote Speaker Tasha Schuh

School Board President Faith VanderHorst, inspirational keynote speaker, Tasha Schuh , Board Members Mark Nadolski and Cathy Olig. 

During a breakfast keynote address, we heard the incredible story of Tasha Schuh. She brings a message of hope & resiliency that is so inspiring!  At the end of her speech, she held a drawing for having a free presentation to one lucky district. AND WE WON!! Stay tuned for more details on her plans to come to the Falls.

Learn more about Tasha here: https://www.tashaschuh.com/

How to develop career-ready students

Franklin Public Schools presented a breakout session I attended called, “Community Connected: Developing Career-Ready Students through Strategic Partnerships.  They shared their process for developing the vision, programs, partnerships and metrics for the Saber Business Alliance.

Similar to Menomonee Falls High School academies (STEM, Healthcare, Business, Design-Communications-Media), Franklin Public Schools has several career pathways that have a capstone experience.  Pathways include:

  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Health Sciences
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Interior Design
  • Manufacturing
  • Teaching, Training, Childcare, Child Health

There’s also opportunities for dual enrollment courses with MATC (Menomonee Falls partners with WCTC), and work-based learning opportunities for all students.

At least 41 percent of students in Franklin participate in one work-based learning experience. In three years of the Saber Business Alliance, there are 140 partners actively involved.  A community experience coordinator helps manage the partnerships and placement of students.

I’m excited to work with the board and district leaders to identify ways we could enhance and improve community partnerships to increase exposure to different careers. 

The Status of Gifted Education

I attended another breakout session about policy and the status of gifted education in Wisconsin. Board Members of Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted (WATG) discussed grants and local initiatives. There are limited state grants and federal Javits grants to help fund advanced programming and educate teachers on how to identify gifted learners.

One line that stood out:

“Gifts and talents occur everywhere, but are often overlooked.”

– WATG State Education Convention Session Handout

Sometimes you will find a gifted student with a low English proficiency, so it’s important to avoid gate-keeping and assess all students.

Best practices include:

  • Screen all students with “try-it” experiences
  • Provide tools: technology, tutors, mentors
  • Recruit more diverse teachers
  • Provide project based learning, eg. community problem solving projects
  • Promote debate, questioning, student-directed interest centers
  • Use flexible grouping, tiered assignments

I noticed that Menomonee Falls is part of WATG, and I plan on learning more about how we support all levels of learners.

I’ll cover additional breakout sessions in State Education Convention Part 2 blog post.

Learning at the state education convention – Part 1
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