by Superintendent Mitch Wainwright

The school district recently had a workday scheduled for teachers.  The first nine weeks have come to an end and most teachers were working on grades, diving deeper into the new curriculum, or working with outside experts.  The middle school staff had a representative from CESA #3, out of Fennimore, guiding them through data from the last five years worth of state testing scores.  They investigated Math and English Language Arts results, looking for areas that can have the biggest influence.  There was also a group of educators that met with a representative from CESA #7, out of Green Bay, working on an idea called “Portrait of a Pointer.”

Both of these meetings were very productive.  I was able to sit in on only a portion of the middle school meeting as my presence was needed during the Portrait meeting.  This meeting focused on the concept of giving students what they need to be ready for a career or college.  The School Board has been encouraging movement in this direction, and this is a goal of mine as the Superintendent of the district.  

We have been tracking several indicators such as successfully completing Algebra II with at least a C, attendance rates, and participation in co or extracurricular activities.  These are just a few of the pieces of information that were part of a program called Redefining Ready.  This was a state-wide initiative to help set students up for success, no matter what path they wanted to follow.  I continue to talk with staff members about “keeping doors open” for our students once they graduate from high school.  One of the most difficult questions to ask any 17 or 18-year-old is, “What do you want to do when you graduate?”  My goal is to provide the best education possible so that if your student wants to attend a four-year school, they can do so confidently.  However, if they want to attend a two-year program, or go straight into the workforce, they are equally prepared.  

This brings the Portrait of a Pointer into the conversation.  How can we provide our students experiences that prepare them for such a wide variety of possibilities?  The most obvious obstacle is the size of our school which prevents us from offering every class combination due to all the associated costs.  We cannot offer a class for one student, or 200 different classes for 200 students.  What we can do, and have done, is partner with businesses and surrounding communities to offer more options for our students.  Our school counselor, youth apprenticeship coordinator, and high school principal have created a Business Connection Night.  This helps open the door for our students to get into different careers and explore possibilities.  We all hear the same thing: that there is a shortage of people “going into the trades.”  This is an opportunity to help give our students a taste of what that could be.  We have made progress toward this goal, but still have work to do ahead of us.  It is exciting to be able to keep these doors open for all of our students.  

The ultimate goal for me is to have our students follow their path forward knowing they have the tools necessary to succeed, and always, always leave the door open to make Mineral Point their home.