The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

Blog Rules

Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Snow Delays and Cancellations

As we enter the bad weather season, I wanted to remind everyone that they can use The Wawascene for immediate information on school delays and cancellations. When the decision is made to delay or cancel- it is instantly posted here. This site is guaranteed to beat all media outlets and all faculty phone chains. Barring last minute ice storms etc., this means it is normally posted here prior to 6:00 am. For those who use the radio, my second call goes to Hoosier 103.5. In all the years I have done this, I can never remember Bill Dixon getting the message wrong. I can't say that about other TV and radio programs. I do call 12 other media outlets. However, sometimes their internet connections and password protection programs are messed up and the message doesn't always get through and it doesn't always come through correctly.

Another benefit to The Wawascene is that I will often post a little information about the local road conditions we have encountered. And....when I blow the call I will grovel here and admit it. That has to be worth something.

For the benefit of those who don't already know, the following procedure explains how we make decisions:

4:00 AM: Director of Transportation checks actual road conditions starting at the north end of the district and drives to the southern end.
4:45 AM: When road conditions look troublesome, he calls the Superintendent (that's me :-) and the Business Manager, Jim Evans who goes to the office and monitors the media outlets and internet to see what conditions other schools are facing
5:20 AM: We all drive different areas and meet at the central office at 5:50 AM
5:50 AM: We compare conditions. Sometimes it is a no-brainer - but often it is hard to tell because conditions can vary widely across the district.
5:55 AM: After listening to all the opinions it is ultimately the superintendent's decision. We don't always agree, but we all drove the roads. I estimate on most days that up to 80 miles of local roads have been driven before decisions are made. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not look out my window and guess.What is the most difficult to deal with? Shifting fog, last minute freezing rain and bad timing make the decisions tough. Most of the time we are deciding one to two hours in advance what the road conditions are going to be later.
6:00 AM: We call all media outlets and start employee call chains.

Have a safe winter and drive carefully.

Congratulations Mr. Karns!

We want to congratulate Mr. Karns for his 400th career win as a Swim Coach. Mr. Karns has been the mainstay to the Wawasee Swimming program for many years. Attaining such a feat means that Wawasee Swimming programs have been consistently competitive for many years.

It is also an accomplishment for the individual athletes who have dedicated themselves to many early morning swims over the years while everyone else remains firmly snuggled up in a warm bed!

Congratulations to Mr. Karns and to the student athletes over the years that have helped contribute to Wawasee success.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kids gone wild - Yes or No?

The NY Times poses the question, "Are kids today ruder and less civilized than in the past?"

I am not so sure it's that simple although from their surveys it sounds like most Americans think so.

I grew up in a large suburban high school near Dayton, Ohio in the 70's. There were 637 students in my senior class and their reputation wasn't good. Drugs and vandalism were rampant and police busts for drugs was a weekly occurrence. Students were apathetic and school spirit did not exist. Disrespectful and rude behavior to teachers was common.

We moved here to raise our families and enjoy the benefits of our county.

In terms of general politeness, when I walk the halls of our schools today, I see students that regularly make eye contact and smile. Many say "Hi," and a surprising number of them say, "Hi Dr. Stock." (Usually followed by, "How come you didn't call a snow delay today?" This year a small group of students even told me they were going to rent giant fog machines to put outside my house! There you go Tyler Wear - I told you I would use your name. LOL)

When I was in school I didn't even know that a school had a superintendent much less what his name was. Even if I did, I wouldn't have felt welcome to smile at them and address them by name.

In the classrooms today, many teachers say that students are more outgoing, talkative and aware than students from decades ago. However, many also say that general politeness has clearly declined. I suppose students today are more outgoing and generally more "aware" due to the increased openness of society. That can be good and bad. They are more comfortable to talk to people and share how they feel about things, which includes snapping off rude comments when angry or upset.

Maybe some of this perceived rudeness is due to the lack of formality that politeness requires. I guess I am getting old, but I even remember the exact year when my neighbors asked me to quit calling them "Mr. and Mrs. Osborne," and start calling them, "Claude and Bernice."

It seems like there are positives and negatives to raising our children to be more open.

What do you think?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Why we don't want to be Japan!

Most educators have grown weary of reading the steady supply of national "bad news" about where America ranks internationally on different standardized exams. The truth is we rank pretty well on most measures but you won't read about it very often.

Throughout this week, I will run a few short highlights that point out the good news in education that you won't find in the mass media.

I'll start with a recent quote from Joseph Renzulli, who was reporting on why a group of Japanese educators were visiting his National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Renzulli expressed astonishment that Japanese educators with the highest test scores in the world would think they could learn something from us. This was their reply, a direct quote:
"Very simple professor. We have no Nobel Prize Winners. Your schools have produced a continuous flow of inventors, designers, entrepreneurs, and innovative leaders. We can make anything you invent faster, cheaper and, in most cases, better. But we want to learn what role this "creative productivity" focus plays in the production of creative and inventive people."

So I ask you, do you want your children and grandchildren to lead the world in the creation of ideas, products and services or to bubble in answer sheets with the world's best? It doesn't have to be an either/or question, but I'll at least settle for schools that "produce a continuous flow of inventors, designers, entrepreneurs and innovative leaders."

Source: Renzulli, Joseph: "Neglecting Creativity: A Quiet Crisis Clouding the Future of R&D." Education Week, May 25,2005.

Parent and Teacher Resources

This parent and teacher resource link was passed along by a Wawasee teacher.

Someone posted a comment after I linked to the website called "Worksheet Generator" to indicate we should be careful promoting "worksheets" because we may be too "paper and pencil oriented" already.

This is a valid caution. However, my main reason for posting was to provide a resource for parents. Parents are more likely to need a specific practice activity for home use and may have limited resources. I wanted parents (as well as teachers) to be aware of the many resources that are daily popping up on the web.

The link was not intended to endorse the overuse of any materials or methods.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

End of the School Week Funnies

Blogging will be light for the remainder of the week as everyone will be busy trying to find room for another piece of pumpkin pie.

For all of you hosting guests this week - smile and ask them to help you - especially the males who think watching Thanksgiving football is a constitutional right.

This story was given to me by a patron who read it in a newsletter.

A teacher was doing a lesson on whale anatomy and the discussion came up about whether or not Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher made a comment that the type of whale they were studying would not be able to physically swallow an object the size of a person.

To which a little girl interjected, "When I get to heaven I am going to ask Jonah." To which the teacher without thinking quickly responded, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl looked up and said, "Then you ask him!"

Enjoy your holiday with friends and family.

What a mess this morning!

Bad timing hits again.

The snow hit well after the deadlines and buses were well on the way this morning when the lake effect hammered us. Roads were slick with numerous car accidents.

Take care. Have a good day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Parent Tip of the Day

As a parent have you ever tried to help your children practice or drill for a very specific topic they were having trouble with, yet you had already used up the practice sheets your child brought home?

In 5 minutes using the following website you can create and print your own custom worksheets for practice or drill on most subjects.

Use the Worksheet Generator

Note to teachers: It works for you too if you need to provide additional practice opportunities for children. Subjects range from Math to Social Studies and numerous sub topics.

Most of you know the problem isn't the lack of practice materials available, it is getting the exact one you need for a handful of students that need the extra work.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Einstein says...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Funnies

From Reader's Digest:

The school where I teach asks the parents to fill out a questionnaire, The questions are pretty basic and they include this one: "Language spoken at home?"

One family answered, "Some swearing, but we're trying to stop."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Elvis spotted?

Was Elvis spotted at a recent Indiana State Property Tax Control Board Hearing?

Who should decide how local taxpayers spend local taxpayer funded construction projects?

The state government's appointees or local tax payers?

Friday's Funnies

This is a true story from my days as a third grade teacher.

One year our PTO had the idea of having an aluminum can drive as a fundraiser for the PTO. (What were they thinking!) Every Friday morning plastic garbage bags bulging with crushed aluminum cans were stacked two rows deep in the elementary hallways. The yeasty odor of crushed beer cans wafted down the corridor. PTO members actually counted the cans to see who was collecting the most.

One morning after the weekly can collection a little boy came up to the teacher and said, "Mrs. Lintz, my dad said to apologize to you for the can collection, he just can't put 'em away like he used to."

Please e-mail your funny stories to

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Wawascene goes national!

The following was posted on The Education Wonks website today.

Survival Guide For Parents And Students:

Editor's Choice: The Wawascene, which is written by Superintendent Dr. Mark J. Stock, of the Wawasee Community School Corporation in Syracuse, Indiana, is introducing us to a brand-new (and very exciting) use of blogging. Who would have thought that a weblog may be used to facilitate communications between school and community? The benefits of such a weblog to both parents and educators should be obvious. If your local superintendent isn't writing a blog, perhaps you should consider making the suggestion...

Sample of Friday Funnies

Please e-mail one funny school story.


Two first graders were sitting outside the classroom door in the hallway. They had been in a scuffle and were in "time-out" and it was only the first week of school. They sat dejectedly.

A teacher was walking by and overheard one child say to the other, "Do you think they'll let us come back tomorrow?"

To which the other boy whipped his head around and replied emphatically, "I HOPE not, I wanted to go fishing!"

Send your story to

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kids say the darndest things!

I am going to start a new feature since everyone could use a good school chuckle now and then. Laughter truly is good for the soul.

I would like to collect humorous school stories that involve children. I will feature one every week as a Friday Funny.

1. Good clean fun
2. True story or mostly true :-)
3. About kids or young adults

I will be placing an e-mail link on the the side of The Wawascene page that says
E-mail Doc Stock ( a nickname my kid's friends gave me. I am not sure if the nickname came because I finally finished my college work or because I fell off the pier at home - I'll let you decide)

If you do not want your name used as a contributor for your story please indicate so.

Until the web link goes up - here is the e-mail address

I will put them in a folder and use one of them every week.

Don't be shy now!

Monday, November 14, 2005

4 Day Week Update

A few school folks have heard the 4 day school week being discussed in the community and so I thought a clarification would be in order.

There have not been any planning meetings or administration efforts to pursue the 4 day week in Wawasee at this time.

I purposely blogged about it to create community awareness of the issue and frankly to get some feedback about it.

It was a "political trial balloon" if you will.

We will revisit it later, especially if there is any momentum for it out there.

Root Canal or Negative Integers: What's your preference?

Could it be? American teenagers would rather go to the dentist than do math?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Wawascene Phenomenon

Thank you to all employees, community members and patrons for being a faithful reader of The Wawascene.

Our internet hits are going through the roof and will soon result in new information and new possibilities for this site.

Monday: 3,001 hits
Tuesday: 1,600 + hits
Wednesday: 1,800 + hits
Thursday: 1,400 + hits at 4:30 PM and counting

When you consider that only a few hundred employees probably hit the site every day, it shows that the community is bookmarking it and keeping tabs on school issues.

Spread the word. Everyone tell one person you know to check us out. I will tell you more about why...later.

Comments back on now

My apologies to blog readers who tried to make comments and were told by the computer "you aren't a registered member.." Somehow the comments settings were altered and I didn't realize it. It should work now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Take a ride on the midway!

Educators and others:

Have you taken a ride on the midway of the edu-blogosphere?

Want to know what other educators are talking about out there?

Take a ride on the midway - Click here for this week's roundup.

Staff survey shows tremendous changes

In 1997 the ACT (Assessment of Curriculum and Teaching) committee distributed a staff survey of 33 questions on a variety of topics from leadership to school climate. We agreed to do the survey again after a number of years to see if staff opinions had changed. We readministered the survey in the spring of 2005.

The results indicate that the staff showed increases in 32 of 33 questions.

Click here to see the SUMMARY of the categories.

Click here to see EACH question on the survey.

The blue lines show the percentages of teachers that said TRUE and the white lines show the percentages of teachers that said NOT TRUE.

One curiosity is that the only question on the survey that showed a decline was the question on "morale." However, when asked, "Do you find your work personally fulfilling and challenging?" teachers overwhelmingly said, "True."

We have been sharing the student successes, but the surveys indicate major gains in the way teachers see things as well.

Once again, the commitment and professionalism of our faculty shines through.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What does our improvement mean to students?

Yesterday we showed you this graph (Click here to see) charting the improvement of Wawasee students on the ISTEP+ assessments.

What does this mean in student terms?

Well, we aren't interested in improving test scores, we are interested only in helping our students improve in the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. (For the cynics, keep saying this until you believe it. It's true! :-)

However, society keeps asking us, "How do you know if you are improving or not?" SO.....we end up looking for simpler and more clearly understand ways of showing the patterns in the data.

This what the graph means for students.

The corporation drop from 31% to 27% of students who Did Not Pass (DNP) ISTEP+ in English means that 83 more Wawasee students now possess the skills the state says they need to be successful in the next grade.

The corporation drop from 28% to 23% of students who Did Not Pass (DNP) ISTEP+ in Math means that 103 additional Wawasee students now possess the range of skills the state determines they need to be successful at the next grade level.

The corporation increase from 8% to 14% of students who scored Pass + in Math means that 124 more students moved into the top 10% of students in the state at their grade level.

The corporation increase from 7% to 8% of students who scored Pass + in English means that 21 more students moved into the top 10% in the state at their grade level.

Tomorrow, time permitting, we will look at the individual grade spans and how they differ.

Compiled with data support from Dr. Robert Cockburn

Monday, November 07, 2005

How about some good news!!

At Tuesday evening's board meeting, I plan to update the board on the progress Wawasee students have been making academically.

Our district grows and improves in the same manner our children do, in fits and spurts. This is revealed in the data that we track as well. However, using corporation totals, we have improved in 4/4 categories. Later, we'll discuss it by grade level.

The graph shows student progress in grades 3,6,and 8 since the ISTEP+ test was revised.

Grades 4,5,7,9, and 10 do not have enough consecutive years to track.

The top lines show the drop in percentages of students who Did Not Pass the ISTEP+ test in Language and Math. The bottom lines show the increase in percentages of students who were in Pass +. Pass + means they were in the top 10% in the state on the test.

Click here to see the good news!

Tomorrow we will share the news about how many students have improved.

Prepared with data support from Dr. Robert Cockburn and technical help from Wade Wirebaugh.

The Fog

Well, I admit. I blew it.

At 5:50 am it was medium to light fog with some heavy places. The fog was shallow and I was hoping the daylight would make it non-issue like the last time. You may remember the last time. I delayed two hours and it was totally clear by 6:30 am.

Today it thickened up and conditions grew worse instead of better.

I would like to remind everyone that parents under these circumstances have the right to bring their students in or send them as soon as they feel the conditions have improved enough. Bus drivers also have the right to pull over and wait until they feel the route they are driving has improved. From time to time bus drivers and parents exercise this right. Parents that bring their children in a little late and report to the office are generally excused to class and not counted tardy unless the policy is being taken advantage of.

At the time of the decision many schools east of us were on delay and very few west of us were on delay. We must have been on the edge of the worst of it.

Hope your day clears up.

Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005