THE RAPTOR | Issue 9-10
A NEWSLETTER FOR THE NORTH FAYETTE VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY
Lighting a Spark!
“Spark,” as a noun can be defined as “a trace of a specified quality or intense feeling.” The word is also commonly used as a verb and means “ignite.” Both are applicable to a new program that is being piloted at North Fayette Valley High School this semester.
Over the past couple of years, high school administration and a cadre of teachers have investigated a project-based program that is integrated into the community. Programs like this have been around for a while, but generally in larger school districts, or in consortiums of multiple schools. The goal has been to identify a way to create a program that is exciting to students and would provide buy-in from potential community partners.
In recent months, NFVHS staff have worked with Laura Williams, a 21st Century learning specialist, who has recently moved to West Union and works for AEA Learning Online. Williams has experience working in different education settings, as well as with a number of different schools implementing project-based programs. She has provided training for our staff that has helped provide a structure for instruction, as well as a sensible plan to accomplish tasks.
A core group of a half-dozen teachers have been involved in the study and development of this program. All of them are contributing to the development of Spark. To get it off the ground, Rachael Strong is serving as the lead teacher or facilitator with the students. Kathy Hageman is also working with the program at the current time. Other teachers who are contributing include Neal Bentley, Jon Kullen, Cassie Gruman, Darcy Einck, and Molli Stephens.
A group of about a dozen students have been recruited for the pilot and are underway with the course. We will move forward with the plan to fully implement the program next year.
IN THIS ISSUE
Each month NFVHS Principal Todd Wolverton shares his thoughts on a variety of topics, most of them having to do with school!
Hey Mr. Clark!
School counselor Bill Clark shares pertinent information relative to the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students.
WHAT’S GOING ON AT NFVHS
Of high school sophomores - vape. This is up from 23.9 % a year ago.
Of students in 8th grade - vape. This is up from 13.3% a year ago
by Todd F. Wolverton
One of the things that I really like to do is visit other schools to listen and see what they have going on. Rarely have I walked away from one of those experiences without bringing something back to try or put in place at our school. Educators borrow a lot from one another, and hopefully we can improve upon those things in order to benefit our students, staff, or school. I think it is important to get staff members out to see what is happening in other schools as well. This past week, a few of us were able to do that, and I think all of us found something that we want to do back here at NFVHS.
Later this month, we are hosting a few teachers for Kee High School as part of their professional development. They have asked to come and spend a day with individual teachers in the high school to learn more about how they teach, and get a better idea about how their content area is taught. I did the same early in my teaching career when all of the teachers in our school were given a day to visit any teacher in any school to watch and learn. I opted to visit the Iowa Social Studies Teacher of the Year from Mount Vernon, and I still remember some of the things I learned that day. Here at NFVHS, two or three times a year we have teachers spend a class period observing each other. We also have a process in place where teachers open their rooms for a learning lab, in which any other teachers can go in and see how a certain strategy is used, or to watch a specific type of activity. The point is that all of us can learn by watching and talking with others. I would love to find a way to get our teachers into other classrooms with great teachers three or four times a year as I believe the best resource we have in this profession is ourselves.
When I visit another school, I see an opportunity to learn about things they believe they do really well. In some instances, we may have something similar in place and I can pick up an idea or two about how to make it better. The school that we visited recently was one outside St. Louis called Northwest High School. They have 1800 students in grades 9 through 12, and is basically a combination of a suburban and rural school. Our primary purpose for the visit was to learn about how they were implementing Leader in Me, as the tour was part of a conference we were attending.
Specific to student leadership, we learned how this school empowered students to come up with ways to teach their peers about the 7 Habits. In addition, we learned about how student leadership exists in other aspects of the school. As happens many times, some of what I heard confirms what we are doing at NFVHS. In this case, our student council is doing many of the same things I heard about at Northwest. At the same time, I found it interesting how they have a pretty large group of students who are responsible for putting together a number of activities to transition incoming 9th graders.
Sometimes it is the unexpected that catches your eye. We have just begun the process to induct our first class for our Hall of Fame. Right when we went into the main hallway of this high school, we saw their hall of fame and how they recognized their inductees. This has given me something to think about as we move forward with our’s.
In the past couple of years various staff members have made visits to schools to look at their authentic learning programs. We have had staff go to New Hampton and Charles City, and we will visit a couple of others in the near future. In addition, we have had a number of conversations on the phone and via email with educators from other schools who have programs similar to what we plan to implement.
There was a time earlier in my career when I attended the NASSP national conference that a school visit was always on the agenda. I was very fortunate to go to some incredible schools, and remember vividly ones in San Antonio, San Francisco, San Diego, and Orlando. In each of those visits I found something that I brought back to the school I was at to try and enhance what we did. There were also some things that I remember that would be impossible to implement back home! One of those was something I saw at Mr. Carmel High School in San Diego. They had over 300 students in band, and in a six-period day, had three periods dedicated to band. A student would take band either first or second period, and then everyone was together sixth period. Wow! Talk about a commitment! And to go even further, if you were a student at that high school and were in band, you had to take summer school to be able to earn enough credits to graduate in four years. I have reservations as to whether something like that would work in any school I have worked at!
I also saw a Junior ROTC program in San Antonio. There are a few schools in Iowa, mostly Des Moines, that have those kinds of programs, yet I checked into it to see if it was possible in a small school. Unfortunately, it was not something that would work because of needing more students in the program than a smaller school could provide. This is one of those things that frustrates a “small school guy” that wants opportunities for students!
Hey, Mr. Clark!
by Bill Clark, School Counselor
12 Phrases That Will Help You Resolve Any Conflict (Copied from Lolly Daskal’s blog)
Conflicts are an inevitable part of any workplace and a constant source of stress for many leaders. Conflict resolution is an important skill for any leader to master.
Like many other challenges, conflicts can actually present opportunities for positive change. Effective conflict resolution can build deeper relationships and foster more effective communication.
One of the issues many leaders face in conflict resolution is simply knowing what to say. Here are some effective phrases that I have coached my clients to use in times of conflict. Try them out the next time you’re faced with a conflict:
I sense that you’re feeling emotional about this topic. Is that right? Sometimes to break tension you need to label the emotion. Never ignore emotions, because they will only escalate. Labeling acknowledges what the person feels without judgment, helping them feel recognized and acknowledged and decreasing their tension.
Let’s take a breather before we think this through. Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a break. The word breather is deliberate—giving pause to the situation and giving everyone involved a chance to take a few deep breaths.
Thank you for your candor—I appreciate your feedback. Most people who tell the truth don’t receive appreciation. The best way to resolve conflict is to remain open to all feedback, because resolution requires that people tell it like it is.
I recognize your efforts and hard work. Most people are appreciated only for results, not for the effort that they put in—especially if that effort was part of something unsuccessful. If you appreciate someone’s effort you are telling them they are valuable even if they haven’t succeeded. Helping people feel appreciated and valued can establish a positive connection and help open up common ground.
Let’s work on this problem and fix it together. This phrase is important because instead of placing people on opposite sides of the conflict, you are signaling partnership. It shows that you care not just about resolving the current conflict but also about building and maintaining a spirit of collaboration.
Tell me more—I want to understand. Most people speak to be heard, but few take the time to understand. This phrase is powerful because everyone wants to be understood. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, just that you are willing to hear them out.
Let’s see what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When you express concern for the work without placing blame, you shift the discussion from a defensive back-and-forth to a prevention-focused exploration.
What can we do to change the situation? The important word in this phrase is we—it’s not about what you can do. Using we signals collaboration instead of hierarchy and problem-solving instead of finger-pointing.
Yes, you’re completely right. If you are miles apart, find something you can agree on together so you can start the conversation with this phrase. When people feel heard and validated, they’re more likely to engage in a constructive dialogue.
I wasn’t aware of this—tell me more. Stating your ignorance is sometimes a good place to begin defusing a situation. Stop talking and really listen; let the other person know that you are interested in what they are saying. Keep asking questions and listening empathetically until you get to the root of the conflict.
I am with you on that. It can be hard to hear yourself being blamed, but your willingness to be accountable can work wonders. If you let people know you are with them, you can resolve the current situation more readily and avoid future confrontations.
How can I support you? This phrase is one that every leader should use over and over and over again—in conflict, in dialogue, in conversation, in all communication. It eases stress, defuses conflicts and sets a positive tone for relationships.
Lead from within: The bottom line is that conflict will always exist, but a satisfactory resolution and positive outcomes are within your power.
PROUD TO BE NFV!
NFVHS has become a Special Olympics dynasty in snowshoe racing at the State Winter Games!
Teachers take time last month for learning about authentic learning.
Encouraging words and a few pointers can go a long way for a young wrestler.
It’s School Counselor Week!
February 3-7, 2020 is National School Counseling Week, and without a doubt, our counselor at the high school, Mr. Bill Clark, does an outstanding job working with our students at North Fayette Valley High School! Many of you know that he wears a number of different hats, but few probably are aware of all of the different roles he plays throughout the course of the school year.
From a general perspective, the school counselor is there to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of the students. At this time of the year, he is working real hard with seniors to help them through the scholarship application process, as well as with juniors to get going with college applications. Also on the post-secondary front, Mr. Clark oversees students taking college level courses, making sure students are registered and are staying on track with their course work. He also schedules meetings for students and parents to learn more about financial aid and the college application process. In the next month, it will be time to start planning for next year, registering students for classes and helping put the course schedule together.
On most days, his office is constantly busy with students dropping in for many different reasons. Sometimes the door is shut as he has conversations with students about concerns they have in their life, and other times he is answering questions about a multitude of things. He is a busy man, juggling a lot of things. As school counselors are honored this week, think of Mr. Clark!
North Fayette Valley High School Staff
Administration and Guidance
Todd Wolverton - Principal
Bill Clark - School Counselor
Ron Imoehl - Liaison
Robin Albert - Secretary
Barb Schroeder - Secretary
Stephanie Wagner - Nurse
Cassie Peterson - Interventionist
Brent Kuker - Teacher
Jacob Pedersen - Interventionist
Debbie Ruroden - Associate
Julie Kopsa - Associate
Neal Bentley, Garrett Crandall, Megan DeBack, Stephanie Ellis, Darcy Einck, Tim Feldman, Cassie Gruman, Kathy Hageman, Elaine Hanson, Kyle Harms, Justin Heins, Cyndy Hinton, Molly Holthaus, Ryan Holthaus, Dan Hovden, Amy Ihde, Kelli Kovarik, Matt Krambeer, Jon Kullen, Brooke Lodge, Julianne Meyer, Tracy Nuss, Sarah Pisney, Kayla Pollock, David Riemer, Ted Schacherer, Molli Steffens, Kari Straube, Rachael Strong, Rick Taylor, Denice Vandersee
Bobbi Jo Koch