Board hears new grade school teaching model

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH — If one’s conception of grade school is largely populated with memories of being one of the herd at what amounted to lectures and explanations without number, reading assignments, discussions where the shy kids never took part and lots of fill-in-the-blank workbooks, a glimpse at grade school as it is now becoming can be a real eye-opener.

This was the case at Tuesday’s Plymouth School Board meeting once Horizon principal Todd Hunt introduced Horizon secondgrade teachers Kari Langenhahn, Kait Beck and Judy Woelfel, who spoke on “Collaborating, Co-Teaching and Inclusion” as they have put it into practice. They will also give a presentation on the same subject at a Marian University symposium in March.

The three said one of the keys to success had been regular meetings with each other. This, they said, made the whole process of teaching together go much more smoothly, especially as they grew to know each other better, as well as their students. Gradually they developed a spirit of something like ‘one for all and all for one’ which, they said, has also rubbed off on the students.

Interestingly, the students meet in one large room with all the teachers; the teachers say they know all the kids more or less equally. They said this is an advantage for the kids because they know more than one teacher — and at the beginning of the year they will already know everyone in their grade no matter what teacher they are assigned to.

The teachers did not describe specific classroom activities, but mentioned that they had been able to include other teachers and especially parents, in many of them, including District Business Manager Jon Miller, who they had on video. Board President Tim St Clair said he had seen the video and felt it was good enough to be copyrighted and rented out.

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The board approved a request from high school science teacher Tina Henriksen to take students on an ecological trip to Florida March 27-31, 2017. Henricksen said areas of interest would include the Everglades, Alligator Alley, Biscayne Bay, Key Largo, a mangrove forest and an opportunity to swim with dolphins. The trip is open to all students. Henricksen said the trip follows district guidelines and that costs are the responsibility of individual students and their families.

The board also approved an updated version of its formal policy manual. The policies, series 0000 through 9000, had been worked on by NEOLA, a firm that provides school districts with a policy-developing service, and then were taken up by the Policy Committee and reviewed by the full board.

The first reading had been approved at the January Board meeting and the second Tuesday, followed by an adoption resolution which was passed unanimously. The board tendered special thanks to members Richard York and Sally Isely for their efforts on this project.

The board gave special thanks to Jonathan and Jackie Ausloos, who donated a 1996 Dodge Ram 4x4 Club Cab Pickup to the automotive program last month. At the time of the donation last month, it was not known if they wanted to remain anonymous so their names were not then publicized.

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The board also accepted the following gifts and donations:

• $500 from Local 833, UAW Emil Mazey Hall as thanks for the district’s hospitality and willingness to work with them through the process of ratifying their contract. The donation “should be used for” the PHS auditorium.

• $2,000 from the PHS Music Boosters Club and $2,000 from the Riverview Middle School Music Boosters, to be put toward a sonic cleaner for instruments.

• $750 from Walmart for Fairview Elementary Shool. Walmart picked an area school at random and made a donation.

• $160.08 from Lakeland College for transportation of PHS Writing Club participants to Lakeland College.

• $500 in $25 gift cards and a donation of $346 from First Congregational

UCC, Plymouth, for district families in need. The donations were taken during the recent holiday season..

• A donation of $2,400 from Jeff Tauschek to be used at the Board’s discretion. This money was raised at the Rotary Roast last fall.

• A donation of $135 by the Horizon PATH for student transportation.

• A donation of lab supplies given by Dairy Farmers of America, to be used at PHS.

Nearing the end of a three-year effort to sell off an unneeded 20- acre parcel of land near the intersection of State 67 and County PP, the board voted to accept an offer of $24,250 per acre for approximately 15 acres in the parcel, the total to depend upon a survey. For 15 acres, this would mean a total of $353,750.

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