School Board chooses Backhaus new vice-president

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth School Board held an election of its own Tuesday night — to select a successor to former board member John Klemme, who moved out of the district.

Under state rules, a winning candidate must receive at least 51 percent of the ballots cast. That meant four of the six board members would have to agree. With four candidates to choose from — Camisha Miller, Michael Olig, Jim Wilson and Tony Backhaus— Board President Tim St. Clair said multiple ballots were likely.

The candidates had declared their interest to the district last month and attended a meeting with the board. The election took three ballots with the vote going 2-2-2, and then 3-2-1 before Backhaus was selected on a 4-2 vote.

In a separate action, the board appointed member Jamie Gambrell as its treasurer.

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High School Principal Jennifer Rauscher introduced Chamber of Commerce members who presented a placque commemorating the Great Chili Cook-off to PHS grad Derek Schweiger. It was Schweiger’s second accolade in recent months. In a competition at Fox Valley Technical College, Schwieger had taken first in all four categories, winning a medal. He is employed at Antoinette’s restaurant in Plymouth.

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Assistant Superintendent Dan Mella said he was quite pleased with the Master’s Project taking place at Riverview Middle School. The project, which has an experimental character, seems anything but top-down. It involves a group of teachers — termed a ‘cohort’ — taking an idea and researching it with a view toward finding out what impact the idea has on students and trying to make a good idea better.

The project was described by sixth-grade teacher Brad Mey and German Culture and Gifted teacher Jessica Barrington.

The teachers started by selecting students for the project. Initially, higher-performing students were selected and “pulled” from math classes. Part of the research, it was said, was to determine what effect this would have on the classes from which the students were “pulled” and the overall social development.

Instruction was carried out and fostered by tailoring what is asked of a student to that student’s optimal pace, determined through class activities (utilizing small-group and whole-class projects, individual instruction and discussion with other students). As part of the project, parental input is sought.

So far, they said, the project seems quite successful,especially in getting students to like math better, and it is looking like a recommendation coming from it will be to add a high school math class to Riverview’s curriculum.

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Board member Richard York, board liaison to the Community Education board, said he felt area residents should know that Community Ed sponsors six sports in area schools, involving some 325 kids, coached for the most part by school district staff. Community Ed programs, he added, reach some 1,180 people, about ten percent of the district’s population.

Board member Pam Holzhaeuser reported that the Family Resource Center will be offering a course called “loving logic” starting Jan. 18. The $20 class was developed to help young parent couples avoid arguments.

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