Monday, April 01, 2019
By Doug Tuetken, Superintendent - April 1, 2019
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you an update regarding the recently approved superintendent sharing agreement between Midland and Delwood, our ongoing construction process, and our solar installation. As most of you are aware, Midland recently entered into a 1-year superintendent sharing agreement with Mr. Todd Hawley. Mr. Hawley has been the elementary principal and superintendent at Delwood the past 2 years and has been an educator for over 20 years. Through my brief but productive conversations with Mr. Hawley as he begins his transition to Midland, it is apparent that he will be a great fit for our school community. It is obvious that he cares about kids and that is what we are about. If you have an opportunity to meet Mr. Hawley in the next couple of months, I encourage you to welcome him to our school community.
In the February newsletter I made the statement that we were near completion with our construction project. Believe it or not, we have inched a little bit closer to finalizing the project. We have finished a few more punch-list items and have just a few smaller inside projects to complete. This spring we will be starting our landscaping, hydroseeding and sodding round the facility. A representative from the company that produced the cement wall panels will be on site to begin the process of cleaning and sealing the stress fractures in the walls that have discolored. Later this summer the islands in our parking lot will be cemented and then Kluesner Construction will be blacktopping and seal coating around the Paul Petersen Center and the west parking lot. It is my intent to try and wrap this project up before the completion of my contract so Mr. Hawley can focus on our school wide academics. So please know that we are on the home stretch with this project. You cannot imagine how hard your Board of Directors have been working to see this project through. They all have put their hearts and souls into this project for our kids and for our community. I have said this many times since I have been here, this facility is something that all of us can be extremely proud of.
I also wanted to inform you that Rabe Hardware from Blairstown has begun the process of installing a solar system that will help us significantly reduce our electrical costs. The District anticipates a savings of approximately $3,000 per month on our electric usage bill and we will also have the opportunity to purchase this system outright in the near future if we decide to do so. In reviewing the numbers for this project, we all believe this will be a win/win scenario for our District and Rabe.
Finally, this will be my last submission to our newsletter. I want to thank our Board of Directors, in particular Mr. Pestka and Mr. Lineburg for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this district and also for being a huge source of support during my two years at Midland. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time and Midland and I will truly miss the people in this district. I hate to date me, but I am in my 37th year as an educator. Over this time frame I have worked in a number of school districts and believe me, it does not get much better than Midland. I realize there are areas that we can improve and let me assure you we are trying to do this every single day. Please know that the staff at Midland always has the best interest of our children at heart. The dedication and support that the staff provide to our kids in nothing short of amazing. I can tell you from experience, you will not find a more dedicated staff who's first priority is our kids.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any of these or other items, please do not hesitate to contact me or stop by and visit.
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Tech Update at Midland
By Dan Greenfield, IT Director - March 21, 2019
Technology at Midland, like everywhere, is continuing to change and improve every year. District wide we have been upgrading our wireless connections to be faster and support more devices. We will also be upgrading our internet access to much higher speeds to allow faster access for our students and staff. These improvements make for a better experience for everyone and will increase everyone's ability to learn.
This year at the elementary we have started replacing the old interactive whiteboards with a new version that is similar to a 65” touchscreen TV. These new boards have more capabilities, give a much better experience and are much more user friendly for staff and students. Everyone who has used the new boards loves them. We should finish replacing all the old boards at the elementary this summer.
We will also be replacing all the old computers at the elementary with new touchscreen Chromebooks. This will help make all the devices more user friendly for all ages.
The high school is also in the process of upgrading its current interactive boards to the new version. This process will take a few years to complete but will result in a better experience for all in the classrooms. We will also be starting to replace the old laptops with new devices. This process will take years as we work in a new rotation to replace some devices every year to help keep us up to date. Next year we will start with the 6th and 7th grade giving them new touchscreen Chromebooks to use.
Midland continues to give its students access to the best technology we can to enhance their learning.
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The Advances in School Health Services in the 21st Century
By Nurse Christine Gent - February 21, 2019
Over the past several years, Midland Community School District, in partnership with outside agencies, have been able to provide our students with some awesome health promotion initiatives. The two I want to address in this article are the I Smiles in School Program and the Vision to Learn Program.
Midland students have been offered the services of the I-Smile @ School Fluoride Varnish and Sealant program every spring since 2007. This program provides no-cost dental screenings, dental sealants, fluoride varnish, and education for all students Kindergarten through 8th grade. Students receive these services on school grounds during the school day therefore missing less class time versus if they had to go to a dental office. It is important to understand that it is not intended that this program ever replace a student's regular dental checkup. The screening that occurs is a simple visual check versus the complete tooth screening that a dentist does with in-depth x-rays and digital pictures of the tooth's surfaces above and below the gum line.
You may question why educators find dental care important. It is well documented and known that cavities negatively impact a student's ability to learn, eat, speak properly, and sleep, mainly because of the pain they cause. As I have learned from the I-Smiles Hygienists, we should never “wait for an ache” as this means the cavity has already eaten through the tooth's outer hard enamel and middle layers and has reached the nerve.
A majority of Midland families take advantage of this money saving program. Last year alone at the elementary, 82 % consents were received. Between screenings, sealants placed, and fluoride applications, a total of $7,358.68 of services were provided within a one week's time.
The second program I would like to discuss is a newer program. Vision to Learn is a biennial program that was first piloted in Dubuque and Jackson Counties in 2016. The need for this program is supported in the article Children's Vision Care in the 21st Century and its Impact on Education, Literacy, Social Issues and the Workplace: A Call to Action, September 2008. It is noted that failure to detect and treat children with vision problems early in their life affects rates of adult criminality, literacy, and labor productivity. The urgency for this program is also supported by several stats: 1 in 4 American students have vision problems that can affect their ability to achieve in school and engage in life and 2 million American children lack glasses they need to read a book, see the board or participate in class.
Midland students have gained access to this program twice since 2016. First, in the spring of 2017, and then this past fall. After failing a vision screening, students are referred to a mobile vision lab that is brought onto school property. The student is given a complete eye exam and two pair of free eye glasses are ordered as needed. Each exam takes approximately 20 minutes thus again minimizing lost classroom time. Students have to wait approximately 3-4 weeks until a trained optician delivers their glasses to them at school. Since being launched in Iowa, the Vision to Learn program has served over 3,000 Iowa students in over 80 school districts. This year Midland was fortunate to have these services offered to all students Kindergarten through 12 grade due to a great partnership between Vision to Learn, Jones County Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. Of the 387 students that I screened, 47 failed the screening and were referred on to the Vision to Learn. 38 or 87.23% of those students returned a participation consent. As a result, 36 Midland students receive 2 pair of free eye glasses. The Midland District extends much appreciation to Mrs. Sherri Hunt, ECI Director for Jones County her support in making this happen for all of our students.
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By Doug Tuetken, Superintendent - January 14, 2019
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you an update regarding our construction process, whole-grade sharing with Olin Community Schools, solar installation as well as a search for a new superintendent. Let's start with our construction process. Believe it or not, we are about finished. In late December we worked through a number of punch list items. This included painting touch-ups, adjustments to the ventilation system, finishing touches to our trophy cases, activating all of our security cameras, fixing identified countertops in our restrooms, replacing a few tile and carpet pieces, etc. We are not quite done with all items but there is light at the end of this tunnel. This spring we will finish up our landscaping. This will include the installation of sod in the green space located between the gymnasium and the Paul Petersen Center and also in front of the academic entrance. The islands in our parking lot will either be cemented or rocked to reduce maintenance. At our west entrance we will also do some additional paving to reduce our maintenance costs. Also this summer the district will finish blacktopping so our parking areas and driving lanes around our facility will be completed.
The one significant item not yet completed to the Board's satisfaction is our cement wall panels. If you have taken a close look at these panels, you will notice a variety of stress fractures that have become discolored. Last fall the wall panel company began the process of cleaning and sealing these areas but still have a considerable amount of work to do to fix all of these hairline cracks. The company will be back this spring to finish this work.
As I stated earlier, this has been a long time coming. Your Board of Directors have been working diligently the past 5 years planning and initiating this project. They have put all of put their hearts and souls into this project for our kids and for our community. Because of their work, and your support as a school community, this facility is something that all of us can be extremely proud of.
The second item I would like to briefly discuss is our whole grade sharing agreement with Olin. Earlier this fall the Olin district reached out to us to discuss possible whole-grade sharing at the 7th through 12th grade levels. After our initial discussions with Olin, our Board of Directors felt that this sharing agreement would be a benefit not only our school district but also a benefit to the Olin students and families. Olin will continue their sharing agreement with Anamosa but this will give the Olin families a choice in their child's education. In this initial 2-year agreement Midland will receive the state cost per pupil in SAVE revenue (1˘ sales tax) for any 7 – 12 Olin student that attends Midland. The Olin students will be able to participate in our activities as well. We look forward to this relationship and we know these students and families will be a great addition to our school community.
Third, solar installation. After a call for bids, our Board of Directors recently approved a lease agreement for solar installation with Rabe Hardware from Blairstown and Vinton, Iowa. In this agreement, Rabe will install, maintain and update this system and pay for all closing costs in this agreement. In the end, our District anticipates a savings of approximately $3,000 per month on our electric usage bill and we will also have the opportunity to purchase this system outright in the near future if we decide to do so. We feel this is a win/win scenario for our District and Rabe. Panel installation will begin in the very near future.
Finally, the search for a new superintendent. As you are probably already aware, the shared contract between Maquoketa Valley and Midland Community Schools will expire on June 30th of this year. The Board of Directors at Maquoketa Valley felt that it would be in the best interest of Maquoketa Valley to let this agreement expire and begin the process of sharing the Superintendent position with North Linn. This decision was based on the opportunity to share additional position due to the proximity between MV and NL. Quite honestly, the sharing agreement between Midland and MV for the superintendent position has been a great relationship. Both districts have saved considerable general fund dollars due to this agreement, both districts have been able to incorporate academic strategies and student interventions that we have learned from one another and both districts have been able to share other resources in some of our specific core content areas. It has been a great relationship!
Since Maquoketa Valley and North Linn are contiguous districts, this will give both districts opportunities to share other positions as well. With the distance between Maquoketa Valley and Midland, sharing other positions to reduce costs is difficult. This also makes sense for our District to try and locate a neighboring district in order to share multiple positions. In my opinion this only makes financial and academic sense for Midland. As I write this article, our Board of Directors are exploring this possibility with some of our neighboring districts. In the end, it is a win/win scenario for Midland and Maquoketa Valley.
If you have any questions regarding any of these or other items, please do not hesitate to contact me or stop by and visit.
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By Midland Athletic Directors Ryan Steines and Raymond Dosland - November 20, 2018
As we move into the winter sports season, there are a few things that we would like to summarize from the fall. Fall participation this year was high compared to most other schools. We were very fortunate to have large numbers of athletes competing in football and volleyball this year. Being a small school, we need to have as many students as possible participating in multiple sports. This is how we will compete for conference, district, and state titles in multiple sports. We have also been emphasising to many athletes this year that their chances of playing collegiately increases drastically if they participate in more than one sport.
We accomplished two things in cross country this fall that has not been done for quite some time at Midland. We registered a team score at a meet, and had a male runner qualify for state. Volleyball showed a lot of improvement from last year and continued to improve throughout the season. All three levels of volleyball stayed competitive in many matches, especially towards the end of the season. Football qualified for the state playoffs for the fourth straight year. This is an accomplishment that not very many schools in the state have achieved.
We would like to thank those who helped us out at football games, volleyball matches, and our cross country meet. It wouldn't be possible to do this job without those of you who put in time and effort to make our events run smoothly and efficiently. We would also like to thank our coaches for dedicating many hours of hard work to ensure our athletes are prepared for competition. Lastly, we would like to thank the athletes for putting forth their best effort in the classroom, on the practice field, in the weightroom, and during competition.
We have started a new week-to-week athletic eligibility procedure that was implemented at the beginning of this school year called Study Tables. We would like to continue to emphasise that this is solely in place to help our athletes achieve success in the classroom without missing valuable practice time. Study Tables is held on Wednesday early-outs from 1:15-3:15. Students with failing grades and have work to catch up on are required to attend in order to stay caught up in their classes. We feel that with the addition of Study Tables, we will decrease the likelihood of student athletes failing at semester and having to sit out for an extended period of time. Study Tables went exceedingly well for the fall sports athletes, even with it being a new concept for everyone. We will continue to gather feedback and answer questions from anyone that needs more information regarding the process throughout the year.
With the parking lot and areas leading to the events entry being fully functional, we are making the transition to using only the Event Entry to enter the school for athletic and fine arts events. The events entrance is located on the southwest side of the school nearest the gyms. This means that all patrons, students, and opposing teams must use these doors to enter the facility. The most convenient place to park for use of the Event Entry is the parking lot south of the school.
As we head into the winter sports season, we want to remind everyone of the new procedure in the event that one of our spectators gets ejected from a contest at home and away events. In the event that an ejection occurs, there will be a meeting set up between those who are ejected and the athletic directors and/ or administration. The procedure is as follows:
1st offense: Ejectee(s) are not allowed to attend the next event in that sport
2nd offense: Ejectee(s) are not allowed to attend any event in that sport for the rest of the season
3rd offense: Ejectee(s) are not allowed to attend any Midland sporting event for 1 year
We want to create a competitive, yet positive environment for our athletes and opposing teams' athletes to enjoyably compete in. Not only do we as a school district hold positive sportsmanship to the highest regard at our events; the Tri-Rivers Conference, Iowa High School Athletic Association, and the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union expect our athletes and spectators to exhibit positive sportsmanship as well. Respect must be used in supporting Midland athletes, opposing teams' athletes, as well as officials. Verbalizing negative or disrespectful comments towards player(s), coaches, and/ or officials does not help to fix the way the teams are playing or how the referees officiate. These actions increase tension in an already high stress environment and only leads to further issues. It is our goal when talking to other school coaches and administrators that we get commended on how respectful and positive our spectators are at both home and away events. This is a goal that we believe the Midland community will have no trouble surpassing in the upcoming winter season.
The winter sports season is the most unpredictable season in regards to weather. Unpredictable weather leads to increases in event time changes, postponing to later dates, cancellations, and the addition of events. If you would like to stay up to date on event changes, we ask you to please sign up for notifications on rSchool (tririversconference.org). Notifications are sent out instantaneously once changes have been made. This will ensure that you have the most up to date and accurate information in regards to Midland events. rSchool also offers a free mobile application to give you access to all Midland events in the palm of your hand. Many in the community already use rSchool, and we as a district use this as our primary location for schedules including all levels of sports, fine arts productions, band and vocal concerts, trips, FFA, youth practices, homecoming festivities, and much more.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us throughout the year. We look forward to seeing everyone come cheer on the Eagles in the upcoming months.
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THE ROLE OF PARENTS - WHAT CAN YOU DO?
By Angela Ruley, Elementary Principal - October 20, 2018
In the past, parent involvement was defined by one parent attending field trips, going to parent teacher conferences, assisting the in classroom, and fundraiser involvement. As society has changed through the years, so has family structures and parent involvement. Today the old model has been replaced with a much more inclusive approach: school-family-community partnerships now include mothers and fathers, step parents, grandparents, foster parents, other relatives and caregivers, business leaders, and community groups- all participating in goal-oriented activities, at all grade levels, linked to student achievement and school success.
Although a parent's role in their children's learning evolves as kids grow, one thing remains constant - we are our children's learning models. Our attitudes about education can inspire theirs and show them how to take charge of their own educational journey. Here are some things to think about to support your child.
Be a role model for learning. In the early years, parents are their children's first teachers: exploring nature, reading together, cooking together, and counting together. When a young child begins formal school, the parent's job is to show him how school can extend the learning you began together at home, and how exciting and meaningful this learning can be. As preschoolers grow into school age kids, parents become their children's learning coaches. Through guidance and reminders, parents help their kids organize their time and support their desires to learn new things in and out of school.
Pay attention to what your child loves. One of the most important things a parent can do is notice her child. Is he a talker or is he shy? Find out what interests him and help him explore it. Let your child show you the way he likes to learn.
Tune into how your child learns. Many children use a combination of modalities to study and learn. Some learn visually through making and seeing pictures, others through tactile experiences, like building block towers and working with clay. Still others are auditory learners who pay most attention to what they hear. And they may not learn the same way their siblings (or you) do. By paying attention to how your child learns, you may be able to pique his interest and explain tough topics by drawing pictures together, creating charts, building models, singing songs and even making up rhymes.
Practice what your child learns at school. Many teachers encourage parents to go over what their young children are learning in a non-pressured way and to practice what they may need extra help with. This doesn't mean drilling them for success, but it may mean going over basic counting skills, multiplication tables or letter recognition, depending on the needs and learning level of your child.
Set aside time to read together. Read aloud regularly, even to older kids. If your child is a reluctant reader, reading aloud will expose her to the structure and vocabulary of good literature and get her interested in reading more. Try alternating: you read one chapter aloud, she reads another to herself. And let kids pick the books they like. Book series are great for reluctant readers. It's OK to read easy, interesting books instead of harder novels.
Connect what your child learns to everyday life. Make learning part of your child's everyday experience, especially when it comes out of your child's natural questions. When you cook together, do measuring math. When you drive in the car, count license plates and talk about the states. When you turn on the blender, explore how it works together. When your child studies the weather, talk about why it was so hot at the beach. Have give-and-take conversations, listening to your child's ideas instead of pouring information into their heads.
Connect what your child learns to the world. Find age-appropriate ways to help your older child connect his school learning to world events. Start by asking questions. For example, ask a second-grader if she knows about a recent event, and what's she heard. Then ask what she could do to help (such as sending supplies to hurricane victims). You might ask a younger child if he's heard about anything the news, and find out what he knows. This will help your child become a caring learner.
Don't over-schedule your child. While you may want to supplement school with outside activities, be judicious about how much you let or urge your child to do. Kids need downtime as much as they may need to pursue extra-curricular activities. Monitor your child to see that he is truly enjoying what he is doing. If he isn't, cut something off the schedule.
Keep TV & Gaming to a minimum. Watching lots of TV does not give children the chance to develop their own interests and explore on their own, because it controls the agenda. However, unstructured time with books, toys, crafts and friends allows children to learn how to be in charge of their agenda, and to develop their own interests, skills, solutions and expertise. When our kids are entertained constantly, they never develop the skills to self-regulate themselves without assistance from a device, a TV show, or a gaming device. Our kids are becoming "entertained" by other attributes and not being able to find things to entertain themselves outside technology.
Learn something new yourself. Learning something new yourself is a great way to model the learning process for your child. Take up a new language or craft, or read about an unfamiliar topic. Show your child what you are learning and how you may be struggling. You'll gain a better understanding of what your child is going through and your child may learn study skills by watching you study. You might even establish a joint study time.
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SUPPORTS FOR STUDENTS AT MMHS
By Carol Reilly, Secondary Principal - September 20, 2018
We're off to a great start this year at the secondary. The staff worked hard over the summer working on new curriculum and to make preparations for the year. It's been nice seeing the students again and catching up with them after the summer break.
As the year is getting underway, I want to make sure that parents and guardians are aware of the many supports that are in place to help your student(s) to be successful.
RTI, Response to Intervention, time is scheduled nearly every day. During this time students can meet with teachers to get additional help in meeting learning targets. Students can request to meet with teachers, and teachers can assign students to their rooms during this time.
Remediation Days occur quarterly throughout the school year. Students who have unmet learning targets meet with teachers individually or in small group settings to get intensive assistance so that targets can be met. Students may also choose to attend Remediation Days to increase their learning from proficient to mastery.
Eagle Lab is held on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:15 to 5:00 in Ms. Christiansen's room. Eagle Lab allows students to work with staff members after school to receive assistance in course work. An activity bus leaves the building at 5:05 and travels to the district communities for students who stay for Eagle Lab.
Study Tables are held on our early out days from 1:00 to 3:45. This is a new support this year and is designed to provide support for athletes so they don't have to miss practices or become ineligible. Athletes are assigned to Study Tables by teachers if the athletes have unmet learning targets.
PBIS Support Team: As part of our PBIS program, members of the faculty and Grant Wood Personnel, meet weekly to evaluate student data in the areas of behavior, attendance, and academics. Members of the team also review teacher referrals and parent referrals. This team works to put individual plans of support in place for students who have been referred or who are struggling with attendance, behavior, or academics.
Student Success Coordinator: Lennie Miller fills this new position at the secondary level this year. Mr. Miller meets regularly with students to review PBIS expectations, address attendance issues, and promote positive behavior choices.
School Counselors: Debra Brokaw and Barb Hollinrake are available to meet with students on a variety of issues such as college and career options, mental health, conflict resolution, scheduling, and academics. Through our counseling department, students can learn about career opportunities, internships, job shadows, and take the ASVAB test for military entrance and take ACT practice tests. Newman, our school therapy dog, is also available to assist students in need.
Unified Classroom is our new Learning Management System produced by PowerSchool. Unified Classroom will provide more information to students and parents regarding classroom learning expectations, practice opportunities, and assessments. Unified Classroom will provide greater access to classroom content or more information about student progress. If you need assistance accessing your parent account, please schedule an appointment with Mrs. Reilly.
Parent Teacher Conferences are held twice a year. Our fall conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 23rd from 4 to 8pm and on Thursday, October 25 from 1:30 to 8pm. This a great opportunity for parents to meet with teachers one on one to discuss student progress and teacher or parent concerns.
The secondary faculty desires to work with parents to ensure student success, and we want to know when parents and guardians have concerns. We do ask that if a concern arises regarding a classroom issue, your first point of contact is the classroom teacher as they are closest to the situation and will have the most accurate information to share. Teachers are available via email or phone, or they can schedule a face to face meeting with parents, guardians, and students.
If after meeting with a teacher, you do not believe the issue has been resolved to your satisfaction, please feel free to make contact with the building principal, Ms. Reilly. As with teachers, she is available via email, phone, or a scheduled meeting. Mr. Tuetken, the district superintendent, is available to work with concerns should parents and guardians still feel the issue is not resolved after meeting with Ms. Reilly.
Finally, if after working with the teacher, principal, and superintendent, parents and guardians are welcome to contact members of the Midland School Board to discuss building concerns.
We're looking forward to a great school year and working closely with our families to help all our students be successful.
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BACK TO SCHOOL
By Doug Tuetken, Superintendent - July 23, 2018
With the beginning of a new school year, it is always a time in which student and staff enthusiasm run high. It also seems to always coincide with a number of changes. Obviously, this year is no exception! As you are fully aware we continue to try and wrap up our school addition and renovation project. I have to admit this has been a frustrating process with the delays and the management of the project by the general contractor. Please know that your Board of Directors and myself have done everything legally possible to try and expedite this process. The current timelines project that most of the work will be completed by the time school begins on August 23rd. Realistically and knowing the past history of the general contractor, I believe that we will be wrapping up the majority of the work by the end of September. Although this has been a slow and arduous process, in the end this is a fantastic facility that will meet the needs of our students of today and in the distant future. It is something that our communities can be very proud of.
In addition to the physical changes that continue to occur, we also have a number of instructional changes that have occurred within our district. With the departure of Katlin Rushford to the AEA at the elementary level, Charlene Tracy will move into the special education position. With Will Olson moving to Springville and Casey Hack departing to Solon, Judy Clark will move into 2nd grade for Mr. Olson and Eric Smith will come from the high school to the Elementary to teach Physical Education for Mr. Hack. Ryan Steines and Raymond Dosland will also assume Mr. Hack's Athletic Director duties.
We also have a number of new instructors to the district. At the elementary level Abagail Funke will be our new Kindergarten instructor, Daniel Ortiz will be our new 3rd grade instructor, Stacey Fuehring and Stephanie Bass will be new paras in Oxford Junction. At the secondary level, Heather Kidder will be our new English Language Arts instructor, Jason Smith will be our new Agriculture and FFA instructor, Zach Hebel will replace Scott Ahrendsen in our Math Department, Ryan Streets is our new Industrial
Technology Instructor, and Dalton Harms will be an addition to our Special Education and Alternative Education Department. Lennie Miller will be our new football coach and also be an At-Risk/Leadership liaison. Theresa Gravel and Col. Stephan Kaftan will be new para-educators in the building. So please take time to welcome all of these new individuals to our Midland School Community family when you see them in our schools.
Finally, I wanted to let you know that OPPA Food Services will be managing and revamping our food service program in the district. In the near future, you will have access to our new menus and communiques from OPPA regarding the new program.
All of us are extremely excited about the 2018–19 school year. With our building project wrapping up, our new teachers, coaches and support staff that will be joining our Midland team, I know it will be a fantastic year! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call, drop an email, or stop by to visit. The doors to Midland will always be open for the parents and patrons of this school district.
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IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR PARENTS OF ALL AGES
By Angela Ruley, Elementary Principal - June 2018
I am writing to you about issues that are coming to school from students being on Snap Chat and other social media apps outside of school hours. The school is not going to monitor the student's usage of social media at home, but I am seeing an increase in social media issues between students that are starting to cross into the area of bullying and harassment. These situations are coming to school and causing issues on the bus, at recess, and in the classroom. Students are creating group chats and talking about other students in their class, having disagreements, using profane language, and not being responsible digital citizens online. I am not only writing this letter as the principal, but as a parent of a 5th grade child. Social media can be SCARY and FRUSTRATING as a parent. When I was growing up, we had bag phones that would only get reception on a large hill outside Monmouth. Now we have small high tech computers available at our fingertips.
I encourage you to have a conversation with your child about the responsibilities of using social media apps to connect with friends. Many of the students that come to my office will not read their typed conversations out loud and say they would never say what they typed to another person because it is too hard to say the words out loud. The phone gives them power to communicate with several people at one time and not have to face the person they are talking about so it is easy to say what they want to say and not have to see who they are hurting. These conversations can sometimes be read and accessible between large groups of students so the problem between two people may start involving several students at once and the conversation is available all day and night.
Social media is a BIG responsibility that requires the user to be able to think before they type. Many times when I ask the students if their parents know what they are saying online they respond, No. Do you know what your child is doing online? Do you know who your child is talking to online and what they are saying? Some of our students have mentioned talking to older people online they don't even know. Some are playing role play games, making Musical.ly videos, and creating secret group chats with friends. It scares me kids have access to the world online and with each other 24/7 through social media. It scares me we live in a day and age where we wouldn't let elementary age kids wander around the mall alone for fear of strangers, but with these apps and internet access, strangers can access your kid's information while they are in their own home. Some of these apps can access your child's actual location while using the app and shows a map to your front door step.
Our kids are growing and changing every day and I challenge you as parents to ask questions about your child's online usage and what they are doing on social media and other apps they are using. We can all help guide them to be responsible digital citizens and to keep them safe. If we as parents don't know what our kids are doing online and if we as parents don't know how to use the apps they are using, should we be allowing them full access to the world unattended 24/7? I know as a parent myself we worry about invading the privacy of our children. The bottom line is that if my child was talking to adults through apps online, their privacy goes out the door and safety becomes my highest concern. If my child was involved in online conversations at 9 pm at night and is only 9 years old, I would be asking why my kid needs to be accessible to friends at 9 pm. What is so important is can't wait until morning? There are growing studies about young people actually being addicted to their phones because of the endorphins released in their brains while using them from instant gratification. It is crazy what research is saying about our digitally wired kids and the effects of technology on the brain.
There is no textbook to parenting and I am in the trenches with you all trying to figure out how to raise kids to be the best they can be. Parenting digital learners is tough. Finding the balance with social media access will continue to be an area we will all have to keep learning about and educating our children to be safe and smart online.
Mrs. Ruley, Elementary Principal
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THE END IS NEAR!!
By Doug Tuetken, Superintendent - May 2018
The school year is rapidly coming to a close as well as our building project. I wanted to walk us through some of the remaining building items to be completed this spring and throughout the summer.
As we are all aware, we have had access and basically full utilization of our new building in Wyoming since February. Although the facility is fully functioning there has been a number of interior and exterior updates that we will continue to work on to finish the building and grounds. We continue to do some additional interior painting and we have been installing new stage lights and a new sound system for the new stage area. Trophy cases continue to be worked on and we continue to tinker with our new ventilation system to ensure efficient operation. Our new gymnasium had the floor refinished due to a seal application that was applied incorrectly. Salvage work is currently occurring on the interior of our Bronson Building. This work will continue through all of April. Once the salvage is completed, demolition of the facility will begin the first part of May. After demolition and clean-up of the building, the excavator will begin preparation for our parking lot. We are hoping that the gravel base for the lot will be completed by May 20th so we can utilize this area for graduation parking. When school is completed, in June and part of July lot preparation and paving will take place. Also, this summer we have some clean-up of our exterior cement walls as well as attaching our electronic sign. Overall it is a work in progress but we are getting closer and closer. The end is near!
I also wanted to use this forum to bring to light a concern we all have. Throughout the nation we have seen a dramatic increase of the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping. We are also finding out that our district is not immune to this usage increase. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. In a study conducted 2 years ago, more than two million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, which is 11.3% of high school students and 4.3% of middle school students. And we realize this number is growing. Also, among current e-cigarette users aged 18-24, 40% had never been cigarette smokers.
Most of us are aware but vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease. When you use e-cigarettes, you are inhaling gases and particles into your lungs. The e-liquid in vaporizer products usually contains a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin-based liquid with varying amounts of nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals and metals, but not tobacco. This is the tobacco company's new business model to hook our youth on nicotine. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air. This vapor can contain potentially harmful substances like volatile organic compounds, cancer causing chemicals, heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead; and other chemicals linked to serious lung disease. Some people also use these devices to vape THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's mind-altering effects, or even synthetic drugs like flakka, instead of nicotine.
Just because something doesn't taste like tobacco or have actual tobacco in it, doesn't mean it is safe. This information is from the Centers of Disease Control and Dr. Linda Richter, Director of Policy Research and Analysis. As a school community, we are not going to slow the use of e-cigarettes unless our parents become actively involved and sit down and have conversations with their children about the dangers of this product. We will continue to send out to our parents information concerning this dangerous trend. I would encourage all of our parents to take a few minutes to Google these products so you become familiar with these products. Vendors are becoming increasingly creative in making these devices appear to look like items our children should have, such as flash drives that can be inserted into your child's computer USB port to be charged. The point is, make yourself aware so you can identify and have conversations with your children. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to email, call or stop by the school to visit.
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By Daniel Greenfield, Technology Director - April 2018
Technology. My how things have changed! Do you remember when you were in school and we had film protectors with the two reels or slide projectors with the little slides sitting in the carousel? How about VCRs, and overheads? Times changed and we moved into the age of computers. Dial up internet, we will never forget those sounds, and those lovely floppy disks. At school we had computer labs of 20 computers. Those were the only computers for the students. Teachers had to sign up to use the labs. There were never enough computers to go around.
Fast forward to today. In the elementary, the teachers are using Promethean Boards for instruction. These boards allow the kids to manipulate things on the board and the power to be interactive. IPADS are also popular with our students. Teachers and students are using them for math, reading, and other subjects. They are using the audiobook portion for kids to read and listen to literary material. Some students are also creating their own videos.
All teachers in the elementary have their own computers for school use. Their classrooms are also equipped with several computers for student use.
Middle school/ high school technology has also changed drastically. Use of Promethean Boards is a little different in the upper grades. Teachers use the boards to help with note taking, to display materials, or to give students a front row seat for demonstrations. The library has Android Tablets which are used regularly by Project Lead the Way classes, a STEM program to enhance student learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.
One of the biggest changes in middle school/high school is the use of 1:1 computing. Every student grades 7-12 is issued a school computer to use for the year. Students use the computers for research, word processing, to communicate with teachers, and to enhance the classroom experience. Teachers and students use the Canvas program to collect and receive materials from each other. Students carry their computers daily and are even allowed to take them home to complete work at night. The 1:1 computer use has truly changed teaching and learning in our present classrooms.
The sixth grade classrooms have computers that are housed in a computer stand in their classrooms. The computers are used in the classroom by the students, but do not leave the classroom.
With the new construction in the middle/high school building also came some upgrades to our internet system. The wireless internet system provides the school with faster service and the ability to handle more computers being on the system at the same time.
Outside of the classroom, computers are also used to run the heating systems in both buildings. Security methods that have recently been implemented in both buildings are also run by computers. All doors in both buildings are locked for the safety of our students. Cameras are placed around the building for our safety. All of these things, you guessed it, are run by computers.
The changes we have seen in computers over the last ten years are astounding. We are very proud to say that the Midland Community Schools is working very hard to keep up with the changes that have occurred. We can't wait to see what is coming next.
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HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED, A NURSE'S PERSPECTIVE
By Christine Gent, School Nurse - March 2018
How times have changed. 2017-2018 marks my 16th year as Midland's school nurse. It has been an interesting and challenging road for sure. I am Midland's third school nurse, hired in 2002. Mary Hansen, the pioneer in this district, was hired in the mid 1990's. When interviewed I was informed my primary responsibility was to keep the district compliant with the many state health requirements. In 2002 I merely had to be sure that every kindergartener was up to date on four immunizations; DTP, polio, hepatitis B, and MMR. Fast forward to 2018 and now it is required that every kindergarten student now also show proof of a vision screen, dental screen, and lead testing. In 2002, at the Jr/Sr level, I simply had to insure that all our athletes had a current sports physical on file and was cleared to participate. Now, like kindergarten students, 7th, and 12th grade students must show proof that they are up to date with their Tetanus, Pertussis, and Meningococcal immunizations and 9th grade students must show proof of having dental care or face exclusion from school.
Like Mary, I was hired as a part-time nurse to serve 4 buildings in 4 different towns; Onslow, Wyoming, Oxford Junction, and Lost Nation. I was the first nurse given a computer and began the journey towards electronic records and charting. You may think I am complaining of all these changes, but I am not. I have always appreciated how Midland seems to always be ahead of the game when it comes to student health and education throughout these past 16 years.
In 2007-2008 the Iowa Healthy Kids Act was enacted. Along with establishing requirements on physical activity and nutrition standards for all food and beverages sold on or provided on school grounds, it also mandated all school districts employ a nurse with a minimum of a Bachelor's of Science degree. At the time of my hiring in 2002, I was fortunate that Midland administration was looking ahead to the future needs of the District. I have always felt fortunate to work in an environment with a lower nurse to student ratio than the 1:750 state goal.
Another provision of the Act established the requirement that all students must complete ONE Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course before the end of 12th grade. Midland had already been teaching CPR to their students in 7th grade and every 2 years thereafter in PE, way before I became the school nurse here.
My last example of this district's dedication to wellness is in the district's dental health initiatives. Midland administration has consistently supported me as I began working with St Luke's Dental Health Center in 2005 to bring in a registered dental hygienist to do free dental screenings on our elementary students. These screenings allowed me to connect students and their families to area dentists in order to obtain dental care. Due to this dedication, in 2010, Midland was selected as a pilot school for IDPH as it embarked on a new venture; Free Dental Sealant and Varnish Clinics in schools. Since 2013, it is projected by the CDC that this program has prevented more than 4,700 caries (cavities) and saved parents hundreds of dollars in dental care.
A year before taking on the role of Midland District Nurse, I sat as a parent in a community outreach meeting in the Monmouth School gym listening as administration shared their ideas on what the District could look like in the future. We all now know that the wheels of progress move slower than we sometimes like, but in January, I moved into my new Jr/Sr. High office. Every time I am there, I feel like I am living in a dream and someone is going to wake me up and I am back to 2002. I want to thank administration and school board members, both past and present, and especially the district's patrons, who had the vision to make our new facilities a reality in order to continue to make the future bright for Midland students.
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A NEW YEAR
By Superintendent Doug Tuetken - Feburary 2018
As I sat down to write this for our February Newsletter, we have just begun a new year. The older I get, the more I seem to reflect on the past to determine what type of changes I should make for the future. As I began this process, my thoughts turned to a story that I had read again earlier in the year. I am sure that many of you had heard this story, but I feel that the underlying message it is very appropriate for a new year. It goes something like this:
A professor stood before his philosophy class with a few items in front of him. When the class began, silently, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill the jar with golf balls. The professor then asked the class if the jar was full. The class agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured these into the jar. He shook the jar slightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He asked the students if the jar was full. The students agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled everything else. The professor asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous, "yes. " The professor then pulled two cups of coffee from under his table and poured both cups into the jar, filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students all laughed. "Now, " said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things: family, God, children, health, friends, and favorite passions, things that if everything else was lost, and only these remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter such as your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. " The professor continued, "if you put the sand in first, there is no room for the golf balls or the pebbles. This holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are most important to you. "
So, the moral of this story is, as you reflect on the past and plan for the upcoming year, pay attention to things that are critical to your happiness. Play and spend time with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner and go ahead and play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house or fix the disposal. Take care of those golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities as you prepare for the New Year. The rest is just sand.
You may have asked yourself, "What about those cups of coffee. " A student did inquire what the coffee represented. The professor responded, "I am glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how busy and hectic your life is, there is always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend. "
Have a great year and remember to take some time for those "important things ", and that cup of coffee!!
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Guidance Counselor, School Counselor, Mental Health Counselor
What is the difference? And what we do?
By Sandy Hein, Midland Elementary School Counselor
Debra Brokaw, Middle/High School Counselor
Barb Hollinrake, High School Counselor - January 2018
School Counselors used to be called Guidance Counselors. Why the change? Guidance counselors focused on vocational guidance, worked within the school walls, worked with only a few students, and did not have set standards for practice. Currently in our building, our counselors are referred to as school counselors and our focus is on academic, career, and social/emotional development. Our work is in collaboration with teachers, administrators, parents, outside counseling agencies and other stakeholders. We are advocates for all student needs and work hard at eliminating barriers to achievement. We plan interventions, collaborate and consult with educational partners and connect students with school and community resources. Our standards are laid out by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model Framework and apply to all students.
The responsibilities of a school counselor and mental health counselor are clearly defined but sometimes misunderstood. Therapy or services provided by trained mental health professionals are long-term and may address psychological disorders. According to ASCA, school counselors are trained to recognize, respond and provide a short-term intervention to the the mental health needs of our students. After which, we must connect the student and family with available mental health resources outside of the school. It would be similar to having the PE teacher be the instructor for music. The PE teacher could probably figure out a short-term lesson for those students, but we would not wanting him/her to provide core instruction for music. This principle applies to school counseling as well. We are not trained to provide those services and it is unethical to do so.
In both buildings we are working towards the Future Ready Iowa Initiative which calls for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. We work on career exploration and on developing soft skills such as cooperation, communication, listening and self-advocacy skills.
At the high school we are very thankful for the recent addition of a part-time school counselor, Ms. Hollinrake. Her vast experience in helping students navigate through career exploration, college preparedness and scholarship searches is an invaluable asset to the students here. This has decreased the amount of time Mrs. Brokaw has spent on college preparedness by half and opened up her schedule to meet more of the social and emotional needs of the students in the building.
Current initiatives that the middle/high school counselors, Ms. Hollinrake and Mrs. Brokaw, are working on include: attending a college fair, practice ACT testing, ASVAB career readiness assessments, a free FAFSA completion night, ICAN FAFSA information night, 8th grade parent information night, job shadows, peer mediation, connecting and collaborating with outside mental health agencies to support our students, and weekly academic, social/emotional, and attendance interventions for students based on data.
At the elementary building, Mrs. Hein goes into all of the classrooms weekly and teaches the Second Step curriculum. This instruction strengthens and builds the students' soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, friendship, and emotional management skills. In the spring, all students will learn about various careers and do age-appropriate activities related to this domain.
Another area of focus is providing small group and individual counseling to help students with personal or friendship issues. Social-Academic Instructional Groups are offered to give students more practice to help them be successful in the classroom, manage their emotions, and interact with peers and adults.
School Counselors collaborate with both parents and teachers to help students be successful in school. If you have concerns about your child, do not hesitate to contact your child's school counselor. We will be happy to provide you with needed resources and work with you and your child! From preschool through 12th grade, Midland's School Counselors are here to make a difference for your child!
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CYBER CIVICS - VERY IMPORTANT LESSONS TO TEACH STUDENTS FOR SAFE TECHNOLOGY USE
By Angela Ruley, Elementary Principal
Technology shapes our lives everyday. I remember back in the late 90's when the internet became part of my life. It was a huge deal! I remember waiting for that magical sound of the dial up to complete so I could ICQ my friends or check my email. That was a time when checking your e-mail was the Facebook Messenger of the day! We also had to be strategic in planning your internet time around incoming calls because your landline phone would be busy for incoming calls if you were dialed in to the internet. Who would have ever imagined that in 2017 the internet would be accessible at your fingertips on a smartphone. You can text, call, snap, Facebook, e-mail, or Instagram your friends anytime you want. But how much time do we spend prepping our kids to this much access to the real world at the tip of their fingers or the responsibilities that go along with it?
In 2017, roughly 80 percent of children ages 13-17 own a smartphone. The average age parents decide to purchase a cell phone for their child is 10. Unlimited data, unlimited apps, unlimited contacts and unlimited free choice. As a parent and an administrator, I think it is important to really dive into the topic of "Cyber Civics" with any parent of a child with a cell phone. When we give kids a license to drive a car, they earn that license by getting a permit to drive, taking driver's education, and spending time behind the wheel with a more experienced driver. Why? Because giving kids such a big responsibility without guidance would be dangerous.
Cell phones provide 24/7 access to "instant feedback" from peers. How many people opened my snap, how many likes did I receive on Instagram, did anyone like my status on Facebook? It provides an empty blank screen to voice how you are feeling at the touch of a button that can be sent without voice to any audience of your choosing. You can't second guess anything you put online because it will always exist in cyberspace; even if you change your mind. Or a text picture that you sent to someone else that can be screenshot and sent to all of their friends. This year alone in our district, we have worked with students about sexting, online harassment, bullying, hacking into other student's accounts, suicide threats and more. I'm not saying that cellphones should be banned, but I am urging parents to talk with and teach your children about cell phone safety and "Cyber Civics."
Cyber Civic Basics: Digital Citizenship and Digital Footprint
Digital citizenship can be defined as responsible behavior with regard to technology use, within this is also your child's digital footprint. A digital footprint is the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity. Some basic areas to start with are as follows:
1. Do you know about the apps that are on our child's phone and who they are "friends" with? Several of the apps out there allow you to follow or be friends with people whom you might not know and the app allows that other person access to whatever your child posts within that app. Think it doesn't happen? This topic has been addressed in the elementary building on several occasions with the app musical.ly.
2. Friendship conflicts happen, but social media should not be the platform you choose to openly air your issues. I have talked with students about how some conversations should be in person and not via text messages. Emojiis do not give you insight into the "tone" of a text and sometimes these conversations become worse in times of conflict. Talk to your children about when to put the phone down and teach them to have face to face interaction with peers.
3. Digital footprints can follow you all the way into adulthood. When prospective employers search candidates, many times a google search can reveal a lot about someone. Are you aware of your child's digital footprint? Before they send that picture, remind them that anything can be screenshot and shared by someone else. You don't own anything you post online or share via text.
4. If something doesn't seem right, teach them to tell an adult. If your child receives information in a text or on an app that is violating someone's personal rights or shows someone making a threat against himself or others, please teach them to tell someone who can look into the situation. We live in a world where making a threat to harm one's self or others is real and many times it is discussed on social media before it happens.
We are raising the next generation of digital adults. Lets work together to keep our students safe online by increasing cyber civic discussions about safe cell phone usage. Parents be aware and ask questions about apps on phones and contacts with others through those apps. Safety is key and most important.