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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

ISTEP+ and Volunteers

Wawasee Community School Corporation is in need of some licensed teachers who would be willing to volunteer in our buildings during the mornings of September 19, 20, 21, 26, and 27 when we are administering the ISTEP+ tests to students in grades 3-10. This would be a great opportunity for retired teachers!

The ISTEP+ allows specific special accommodations that are permitted through a student's IEP (special education students), Section 504 plan, or LEP (Limited English Proficient) plan. The accommodations might include being tested in small groups. Having some extra licensed teachers in the buildings would greatly help us!

If you would be willing to volunteer to help with testing, please call Joy Swartzentruber at 457-3188.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Checking on your child's grades, attendance and discipline

The Harmony Parent Portal is up and running. Using the internet, each parent can keep regular tabs on their children's grades, attendance and discipline that has been entered into the system.
As the year progresses more of this information will be entered. The data will be "real-time" as it is entered into the system by the faculty.

Here is the latest information from the principals on when to expect the information:

Syracuse Elementary: There will be a one page "Parent/guardian ACCESS to HARMONY" section on the back of this week's parent newsletter explaining how each parent will be able to get access. Once e-mail addresses are obtained, access codes will be e-mailed to parents.

Milford School: The information will go home with students on Thursday, August 31 in a separate newsletter. The information will also be shared with the teachers at their next two meetings so they can include it in their weekly newsletters (elem) or as parents contact them (MS). At open house night September 7, the Computer Technician will also be available to collect e-mail addresses from parents.

North Webster School: The information and sign-up sheet for the Harmony Parent Portal will go home with the parent newsletter on September 8, after the grade level teams are trained in using the grade book. Once e-mail addresses are entered into the computer, an e-mail with a user ID will be sent to each e-mail address.

Wawasee Middle School: A paper will come home with advisory classes Wednesday to receive necessary information. Once they have updated e-mails, etc...they will begin creating user id's and sending information home via e-mails.

Wawasee High School: Parents were able to get their passwords following registration and it was also explained at the freshmen parent meeting. At the first parent teacher conference the information will be printed so each parent who attends will receive the information again. Teachers are currently reinforcing the use of the Harmony website for parents and for the students. The Dean of Students will also explain it to parents when he calls on attendance and discipline issues.

Huntington approves divided gender classes

Huntington schools has recently approved a pilot program with gender-divided classes.

Article here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Did you know that 1 out of 3 believe...

The arrival of modern communication tools has greatly increased the use of polling to influence public opinion. Readers have to be fairly knowledgeable about the science of public polling to be able to identify sloppy public opinion polls.

In this article the NY Times provides a basic review of the cautions we should take when reading articles that use public polling numbers to make a point.

Heading into the fall elections, I think all voters should be aware of these cautions.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Charter schools score lower

The debate continues. Another study shows that charter schools scored lower than public schools.

Story here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

First day jitters...

It's not just the kids!

Article here. (May require sign in)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Polls show support for vouchers is fading

Recent public opinion polls show that support for vouchers has faded.

Indy Star article here.

This issue will be an interesting one in this year's General Assembly.

Perhaps the public is more interested in improving the public schools we have instead of spending public tax money to send people to private schools.

Monday, August 21, 2006

School delays and cancellations

We are entering the foggy season here around the lakes. That means patchy fog that moves around in mysterious ways creating havoc for administrators who have to decide two hours before buses roll whether or not it is going to improve, worsen, move away or sock-in for the day.


We want to remind everyone that with the advent of daylight savings time (DST) the probability of delays has increased due to the loss of morning daylight time. This will only worsen when DST time starts even earlier the next few years. In 2007 DST will move from April 2 to March 11. In 2008 it will move to March 9 and in 2009 DST moves to March 8 and ends on November 1.

We also want to remind everyone that this year we will only be contacting 5 media outlets with school delay and cancellation information.

The outlets are:

1. The Wawascene ( (It is posted here first.)
2. WAWC 103.5 FM
3. WRSW 107.3 FM
4. Channel 15
5. Channel 22

In the past we have tried contacting 13 different media outlets. We had troubles with accuracy with a few of them and have had trouble getting through on others. Some are internet based and some utilized digital phone systems. All have different systems and different passwords and procedures.

After hassling our way through all this for several years we have tried to limit our contacts to local radio and one South Bend TV station and one Fort Wayne TV station.

While we understand everyone prefers their own favorite radio stations, unfortunately there are almost as many favorites as there are people.

We announced this in The Reporter this summer and provided a small cutout for you to place on your refrigerator. This is just another reminder!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Did you ever wonder what your child's current grades are?

How about her attendance? How about his discipline record? Did you ever wish there were an easier way to find out?

Coming soon at a school near you...

Wawasee Schools is in the process of putting in place an entirely new student management software program that will allow parents to check on their child's grades, attendance and discipline on a "real time" basis as teachers and administrators input the information into the electronic grade books. This will replace K12 planet which was our first attempt but was notorious for being "down" all the time. We hope our new system will be better for parents.

Of course this information is secure and password protected so you will have to wait until you are provided a Web ID from the school.

On the sidebar you will see all the schools' Grade Portals so you will be able to click on every link right from The Wawascene to access this information about your child. Make this your "one-stop shop" for corporation, school and now individual student updates.

The links are not operative yet but as the system is up and teachers begin entering grades and information, these links will go live.

Please help us help your children by providing that important "monitoring" responsibility that children first resent and then later THANK you for when they get older!

(I hear that happens somewhere around the age of 24!)

Friday's Funnies

Don't forget to send me funny school stories. I will use as many as I can.

Here are a few taken from the internet.

One year my opening bulletin board was dalmations with the title "Pick of the litter." When the kindergarten classes went to PE one of the PE teachers asked a little girl whose class she was in. She said "I'm in that damnation class.

Our 6-year-old granddaughter was going with her mother to her first day of school. Our daughter asked her if the young girl remembered her teacher's name, which happened to be Miss Rood. She thought about it for a second and then replied: "Yes, it's Miss Meanie."

My first day of subbing one student arrived a half hour early, and before the class asked me if it was my first day. "Yes, it is." I said. "How did you know?" He thought for a few seconds and then replied, "You're too happy."

The child comes home from his first day at school. Mother asks, "What did you learn today?"
The kid replies, "Not enough. I have to go back tomorrow."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Wawasee Blog

Mrs. Ruth Ayres, Wawasee's writing teacher and trainer for the district, has created a new blog called Inspiring Readers and Writers. She will be blogging about reading and writing tips that will inspire our students to greater literacy. This blog will be a great weekly read for all parents and teachers.

Give it try!

Here is the link. I will also provide a link on the sidebar.

Put it in your favorites list and check it out! It could be an awesome forum for educators to exchange ideas on writing and to ask questions directly to our writing coach! It would also be a great way for parents to ask questions and get tips for helping their children with writing assignments. It could also be a great way for homeschool parents to stay in touch with a quality writing coach!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What to make of a label.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette provides a thoughtful editorial on the use of Indiana's Public Law 221 labels for public schools.

Click here.

School Tomorrow

Ready or not ... here they come!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

School starts for Wawasee staff Wednesday

Wawasee will have its annual teachers' meeting to kick off the school year on Wednesday, August 16th at 7:30 AM at the Wawasee Middle School Cafeteria.

I thought I would share with the community what will happen and what will be said to our community's professional educators.

7:30 - 8:00 Continental Breakfast, Coffee and Juice
8:00 - 8:10 Principals will introduce New Teachers to Everyone Present
8:10 - 8:30 Superintendent Remarks

This year I will review the following topics with the staff:
1. 06-07 is Wawasee's School Improvement Documentation Year: Over the last 5-6 years, each school in Wawasee has been attempting to improve the academic skills of students in several goal areas. Each school will be collecting a variety of information and test results and comparing the overall student performance to the students from 5-6 years ago to see if the changes that have been implemented have made any measurable difference in the skills of students. From this information, each staff will be expected to make professional judgments about how much student achievement patterns have changed and what specific methods or changes, if any, influenced these differences. While this is all fairly technical and complex, a core team of principals and teachers will be trained and coached through the process. Most staff will only be involved in helping evaluate students and/or collect data. They will then be asked to develop new improvement plans. The general school improvement process is a legal requirement for all public schools under Indiana's Public Law 221.

2. Grant Opportunities for Teachers: I will also explain Wawasee's creation of a grant fund under the Kosciusko County Community Foundation. This fund will be used to give financial mini-grants to teachers to encourage creativity and innovation so that students have increased opportunities to enjoy their classes. Wawasee High School students will also be present to explain their KEYS grants that are also available for teachers.

3. I will encourage and challenge everyone to have a good year and to remember to put students first.

8:30 - 8:45 The Wawasee Community Education Association President will have opening remarks
8:45 - Staff will be dismissed to the buildings where they will have building meetings and some time to work in their rooms.

Students start on Thursday!

Monday, August 14, 2006

"When all else fails..some kids pass."

The Indy Star discusses social promotion and it's opposite twin, retention.

Is there a middle ground or a third option?

Article here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday's Funnies

Kids' Science Theories taken from the Education World website.

The beguiling ideas about science quoted here were gleaned from essays, exams, and classroom discussions. Most were from 5th and 6th graders. They illustrate Mark Twain's contention that the "most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop."

Q: What is one horsepower?
A: One horsepower is the amount of energy it takes to drag a horse 500 feet in one second.

You can listen to thunder after lightening and tell how close you came.

Rainbows are just to look at, not to really understand.

South America has cold summers and hot winters, but somehow they still manage.

Most books now say our sun is a star. But it still knows how to change back into a sun in the daytime.

Lime is a green-tasting rock.

Some oxygen molecules help fires burn while others help make water, so sometimes it's brother against brother.

We say the cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.

In looking at a drop of water under a microscope, we find there are twice as many H's as O's.

I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing.

Water vapor gets together in a cloud. When it is big enough to be called a drop, it does.

Thunder is a rich source of loudness.

Isotherms and isobars are even more important than their names sound.

It is so hot in some places that the people there have to live in other places.

Have a great weekend and rest up.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Board Meeting Highlights

At Tuesday evening's school board meeting the board:

1. Approved board minutes from last month, personnel, and claims
2. Heard a report from Mrs Sigler on the Alternative School
* 30 students graduated last year with at least one credit from the Academy
3. Approved the financial report
4. Approved a resolution for additional appropriation for special ed preschool
5. Adopted the Student Wellness Policy
6. Heard a report from the superintendent on:
* Class sizes (added teacher to NW 3rd gr and instructional para's at MLF)
* Indiana School Board Association conferences are September 25-26
* First day for students is 17th and staff the 16th
7. Heard a report from the Dir. of Curriculum and Instruction:
* New teacher orientation training is this week
* Alternative to Suspension and Expulsion report from last year

The next meeting is August 22nd at 5:00 PM for a budget hearing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Feedback on Registration

Fall school registration has normally rated somewhere just above a root canal in terms of favored activities for most parents of school-age children.

Principals have worked on shortening the process and making it quicker and easier for parents. It would be nice if we could do on-line registration for parents but we aren't ready for that yet.

In the meantime, principals have been trying to shorten your visit to the school.

I am open to feedback in the comment section. We would appreciate any positive comments you might have as well as suggestions for improvement. Please indicate the school building you were registering at so that we can pass the information along to principals.

Thank you!

Wawasee Welcomes New Teachers

Wawasee Schools has new teacher orientation activities this week. This orientation is for all new teachers on regular contract as well as teachers filling temporary contracts for teachers on leave. New teachers will be discussing instructional process, crisis prevention, personnel paperwork, meetings with building principals, a million other things, and time to work in their buildings.

We give a warm Wawasee welcome to the following:

1. Christopher Berg - Wawasee High School - English
2. Emily Quandt - Wawasee Middle School - Special Education
3. Julie Harkema - Wawasee High School - Family and Consumer Science
4. Kelly Holbrook - Syracuse Elementary - Special Education
5. Kari Flanigan - School Psychologist
6. Jamie Baker - Syracuse Elementary - First Grade
7. Christie Holst - Wawasee Middle School - Sixth Grade
8. Gina Bordones - Milford Middle School
9. Andrew Dittmer - Milford School - PE
10. Mason McIntyre - Milford Elementary School - Fifth Grade
11. Todd Lucas - Syracuse Elementary - Fourth Grade
12. Danielle Wells - Wawasee High School - Special Education
13. Carla Winegardner, Wawasee Middle School - Special Education Teacher

Good luck to all!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Parents - the key?

Parents are so important to a child's progress in school and success in life that it is difficult to overestimate their influence.

Here the Indy Star weighs in on the topic.

Do superintendents matter?

Just like there is more to being a teacher than looking at how students score on a test, there is more to being a "boss" in the school district than just looking at how students are doing on standardized tests. Yet again, when looking for data, test scores always show up on the list.

A recent study by McRel (found here) looked at 6 areas of superintendent responsibilities: 1) goal setting process 2) relationships with schools 3) board alignment 4)monitoring and evaluating 5) resource alignment 6) goal adoption

The study looked at 1400+ school districts and found the following:

The impact on students whose superintendent is considered in the "top half" of superintendent performance is that 62.5% pass standardized tests versus 37.5% that fail. Students with superintendents identified as performing in the bottom half of their cohort group are reversed with 37.5% pass and 62.5% fail.

The study also found what it refers to as a "bonus finding" that "stability in superintendent leadership matters." A positive effect of superintendent tenure "appears after two years and is evident through year ten." The average effect based on the research models is seven years of a superintendent's tenure is .75 which is three times the average general effect anticipated.

We always thought we mattered to some degree but I guess now someone has actually tried to quantify it. Nothing like a little more pressure!! :-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Friday's Funnies

Here are a few more excerpts supposedly taken from history exam essay questions.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Dames, King Arthur lived in the Age of Shivery, King Harlod mustarded his troops before the Battle of Hastings, Joan of Arc was cannonized by George Bernard Shaw. Finally, the magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

In midevil times most of the people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the time was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verse and also wrote literature. Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son's head.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull. it was the painter Donatello's interest in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarette. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The government of England was a limited mockery. Henry VIII found walking difficult because he had an abbess on his knee. Queen Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted "hurrah." Then her navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

There, now don't you feel enlightened? Maybe they won't become authors but they might be able to write for Letterman or Leno although these essay answers are more likely to be "urban legends."

American education: Is the glass half empty or half full?

Here are two articles in the Stanford Magazine. Two leading American researchers and authors were asked to weigh in on their opinions of American education.

They couldn't be more different.

Read the Bracey article carefully and note his comments about poverty. THIS appears to be the dirty little American secret no one will talk about openly. America leads the civilized nations in the percentages of students living in poverty. It was only the American schools with more than 75% poverty that were below international averages on test scores. The problem? We have so many of them.

Bracey's point? It's a poverty issue not an educational issue.

He points out that it is only our poorest schools that score low. Even if our schools with 25% - 49% poverty rates were considered a separate nation, they would have placed 4th in the world.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Unasked Question

What are schools for?

Schools are mirrors of social belief, giving back what citizens put in front of them. But they are not fixed in one position. They can be moved up and down and sideways, so that at different times and in different venues, they will reflect one thing and not another. But always they show something that is there, not of the schools' invention but of the society that pays for the schools and uses them for various purposes. (From Neil Postman's "The End of Education: Redefining the value of school." pg 59-60)

So what are schools reflecting now? What purposes and motivations are driving American school reform efforts? What are schools being USED for now?

In Neil Postman's book he describes different purposes that play a role in influencing American education. One of the most obvious purposes in today's educational world is what Postman calls Economic Utility. In this view, the main purpose of schooling is to provide an economic benefit to society. Postman says...

It is a passionless god, cold and severe. Addressing the young, if offers a covenant of sorts with them: If you will pay attention in school, and do your homework, and score well on tests, and behave yourself, you will be rewarded with a well-paying job when you are done. It's driving idea is that the purpose of schooling is to prepare children for competent entry into the economic life of a community. It follows from this that anything that takes away from this is a frill or a waste of time. (Postman)

Postman would argue that using schools for economic purposes takes the view that America is not so much a culture as it is an economy and that our nation's economy rests upon high standards of achievement and rigorous discipline. He would consider this a fairly narrow view of schooling.

My opinion? Of course parents are hopeful that their children will have gainful employment that will keep them from hardship. Yet I can't help but feel this only represents a minimum of what parents truly hope schools will help provide. I believe most parents want their children to get along well with others, to be happy, to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose, to be empathetic, to be compassionate, to be a contributing member in our democracy, to be civic minded, and YES to read, write and do math. Postman would say that it is these deeper things that have created and sustained what it is to be American.

Postman also argues that one of the greatest traditional benefits that schools provide society is teaching children how to behave in groups.
You cannot have a democratic - indeed civilized - community life unless people have learned to participate in a disciplined way within a group. (Postman)
So why has America gone down the road of overhyped standardized testing, ranking and rating schools and overbearing curriculum standards that are too voluminous to be taught at any grade level?

Is it not because America is captivated by what is easiest to measure? Could it be that the murky world of psychology, motivation, soft people skills and human interaction is more important but harder to measure and is therefore being ignored or at least just given lip service?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

NE Kosciusko County's Declining Population

Northeastern Kosciusko county is the only part of our county with a declining population. That's us.

Click here for image. Click here for more information about the rest of Indiana.

The last few years Wawasee has posted the lowest student enrollment in many years and this chart seems to support the reasons.

I suppose Dana Corporation's major reductions have most likely contributed and while rumors are out there that more industry is on the way, it hasn't happened yet.

Registration is this week so we will see what happens to student enrollment this year.