NASSP President Gregg Wieczorek braved frigid weather in mid-January to resume Leading Forward: The Listening and Learning Tour in four more states: Nebraska, Iowa, and North and South Dakota. Below are brief highlights from the latest stops.
Elkhorn Grandview Middle School, Omaha NE
Mike Tomjack, Principal
Student of the Quarter
Any teacher can nominate a student for an honor called “Student of the Quarter.” Students can be nominated for whatever reason the teacher deems appropriate. After students are nominated, teachers from each grade level meet and select one boy and one girl from all the nominated students from that grade. During a schoolwide assembly, the honorees are announced and asked to come forward and be recognized by Elkhorn Grandview Middle School. The teacher who nominated the student then reads what they wrote about them in their nomination. The recipient’s parents are informed of the honor in advance so they and other family members can attend. In addition, each class holds a monthly assembly where teachers recognize many students in front of the whole grade. As with Student of the Quarter, teachers can use whatever criteria they choose to determine which students they recognize.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School, Sergeant Bluff, IA
Jason Klingensmith, Principal
Authentic Intellectual Work
Since the school adopted the Authentic Intellectual Work framework a few years back, it has become a cornerstone of their instructional practice. For this collaborative approach, teachers form cross-curricular teams that meet weekly. Teachers bring artifacts—labs, lessons, and assessments—to the meetings. Collectively, the team assesses the quality of the artifact and gives suggestions to the teacher about how to make it more powerful for student learning. The process has improved instruction and helped students gain a deeper understanding of the content.
Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, SD
Brad Seamer, Assistant Principal
Home Builders Academy
The school’s Home Builders Academy gives students hands-on experience building a home. The school has a large building that allows students to build a house (up to 1,800 square feet) in a climate-controlled environment. A local builder provides the materials and oversight of the building process, while students do the actual work. Sub-contractors demonstrate to the students how to do the specific stages of the home-building process. For example, students learn how to do roofing, basic carpentry, electrical work, installation of insulation, and drywalling. The finished house is then transported to a homesite and sold by the builder.
Davies High School, Fargo, ND
Troy Cody, Principal
On a Roll: Sharing the Positive
The principal has created a Google form that allows teachers to easily provide him with positive performance, behavioral, and attitudinal information about their students. After a teacher fills out the form, one of the building administrators calls the parents to share the teacher’s positive information about their child. This approach allows the principal to control the narrative and reinforce the idea that the school truly partners with parents to educate their child. The administrators also use the opportunity to share positive comments about the nominating teacher. At the end of the conversation, the principal asks the parents to tell their child how proud they—and their school—are of the recognized student.