School superintendent Christensen shares info for start of new school year

Greene County Schools superintendent Tim Christensen provides the following information for district residents as students and staff begin a new school year Thursday, Aug. 23:

Real World Learning – With the 2018-2019 school year just around the corner, I want to take time to share some information about the upcoming school year.

The vision of the Greene County Schools continues to be “Promoting Lifelong Learnings through Real World Experiences.” Providing students with Real World experiences is the key to keeping them engaged in learning and preparing them for life beyond school. Real World experiences are about connecting what students are learning to real world issues, problem solving, and application.

In order to fulfill this vision we need everyone’s help. I am sure everyone is familiar with the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” The same can be said about providing students with Real World experiences. We need community members and businesses to come into our schools to share experiences and expectations with students. Students also need to be able to go to businesses in the communities in order to see real work experiences and work on real world problems.

MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) – Throughout the school district we will also be focusing on “MTSS.” “MTSS” is an acronym for Multi-Tiered System of Supports.

Tier 1 is the grade level or content level curriculum that all students should receive. Effective Tier 1 instruction should meet the needs of at least 80 percent of students.

Tier 2 is supplemental academic and behavioral help provided to master the curriculum taught in Tier 1. These interventions are provided in addition to the regular classroom instruction. Some students need additional time to learn. Tier 2 is also an opportunity for students who have already mastered specific curriculum to have extended learning opportunities.

As we look at Tier 3 interventions, some students do not have the necessary background knowledge or skills in order to learn the curriculum being taught at Tier 1. These students will receive instruction at Tier 1 (grade level curriculum), Tier 2 (additional time focused on learning grade level curriculum), and Tier 3 (additional time spent learning basic skill information in order to master grade level curriculum).

Bullying/Harassment Prevention – Prevention of bullying/harassment will continue to be a district-wide focus as well. An additional school counselor has been hired at the Greene County Elementary. This will provide the opportunity to teach regular classes to elementary students focused on empathy, emotion management, friendship building, and problem solving.

We will have a fulltime and a part-time counselor at the middle school. The middle school will also be teaching the “2nd Step” curriculum to all middle school students. The curriculum continues to focus on empathy, emotion management, and problem solving, but also addresses mindset, setting goals, values, friendships, and serious peer conflict. All staff will take training on recognizing bullying and prevention.

Computer Science Instruction – Computer science instruction will not only be a focus at the Greene County Schools, but at all schools across the state of Iowa.

Last year the legislature passed legislation mandating all high schools provide students an opportunity to take a high quality computer science course. We are currently offering this at the high school, but need to expand our computer science curriculum at the elementary and middle school levels to ensure students are prepared for this coursework at the high school. This will be extremely important moving forward as Pillar Technologies moves into Jefferson and outstanding computer science/programming related jobs become available.

Through our school curriculum and the Career Academy we want to make sure that our students have the skills and knowledge they need to secure these jobs and continue living in Greene County.

New High School and Career Academy – Planning for the new high school and career academy is on-going. We continue to meet with OPN architects to develop a final design of the school and career academy.

The process has included receiving input from faculty, staff, and some community members, visiting schools, and several meetings. The goal remains to have an initial design completed in the next month. Building specifications and drawings would then be developed in order to allow for the project to be bid over the winter months. It is hoped that work on the building pad could be completed this fall allowing for actual construction to begin as soon as possible in the spring.

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