The Viewpoint Issue 1 Vol. 1 Fall 2014

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In this edition of the Whitnall School District's quarterly newsletter, learn all about the district's facilities needs, the school forest, instructional coaches and more.









    PAGE1 2 3 4 5 7Facilities Needs Superintendents Message Whitnall Block Party School Forest Alumni Corner A Midsummer Nights Dream

    Focus on Facilities:

    Continued on page 2

    Community Input NeededPA

    GE 6 In Our Schools Gallery

    In 1948, Harry S. Truman, who helped end World War II a few years earlier, was beginning his second term as the 33rd president of the United States. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth was a popular song, and Howdy Doody played on black and white television sets across the country.! !Locally, Hales Corners had not yet been incorporated as a village, nor had Greenfield or Franklin as cities.! !Also in 1948, Hales Corners Elementary (HCE) opened. And just as the village, cities and world around it changed, so, too, did HCE. The original building received two additions in the 1950s one in 1954 and another in 1957 long before getting its final add-on in 1993. Change is once again being considered to ensure the learning spaces and teaching environments are the best the district can offer for the 640 students, more than three dozen teachers, and numerous other staff members that make up HCE.! !Facility needs related to student accessibility and safety concerns are most critical. Portions of the school are not handicap accessible for students nor visitors. In addition, the current layout does not provide for a controlled, secure main entrance, and there are persistent student drop-off/pick-up and parking issues.!!HCE also has limited areas for small group work, one-on-one teaching, and collaboration due to the size and design of classrooms. The lunch room is overcrowded, the gymnasium barely has enough capacity for all-school assemblies and there is very little storage space.!!For years, Principal Lori Komas and her staff have been great at finding ways to make everything fit and work at HCE, says Whitnall Superintendent Dr. Lowell Holtz. But there comes a time when a big change may be required to make a huge, positive impact on the community, our staff and most importantly, our students. The School Board and administration believe the time for this discussion with the community is now.

  • Dr. Lowell E. Holtz, Superintendent



    Continued on page 8

    Another school year has begun and I could not be more excited about where the Whitnall School District is headed. !!This summer, we learned our high school students recorded the highest ACT composite score in school history, and they continue to rank favorably against surrounding communities, districts across the state and students nationwide. Our academic achievement is a testament to our great teachers and students.!!But it also says a lot about the tremendous community support we have. Ours is a community that continues to allow the District to make improvements and changes to provide more academic and career-ready opportunities for our students, and encourages us to provide more staff-development chances.!!In short, you have always helped us make decisions that are best for our students and teachers.!!That steadfast support will be important as we continue to research, investigate and ultimately address the Districts facilities needs. As highlighted in this issues cover story, we have needs across the District. Thats common for most school districts.!!We realize how and when we address our current needs specifically those at Hales Corners Elementary and the high school pool and our deferred maintenance concerns will once again largely depend on our communitys priorities. The School Board and District administration cannot finalize the scope and costs of potential projects, how they will be funded, nor a timeline to complete the projects until we know if the Whitnall community believes we should move forward in a specific direction to address our needs. This is why providing YOUR input on the community-wide survey in November will be so critically important it all starts with you. Please take the time to take the survey and share your opinion and perspective.!!As always, thank you for making this a great District and for continually supporting our teachers and students.!!Sincerely,

    Dr. Lowell Holtz

    Administrators and the School Board have been exploring long-range solutions that improve our learning environments, address space issues, and make the school safer for students, staff, and community. Numerous preliminary options are being explored, including:!! renovating and rebuilding the existing HCE;! demolishing the existing HCE and building a new school on the same site; and! building a two-story addition onto Whitnall Middle School to serve ALL upper elementary school

    grades, and shifting the lower grades to Edgerton Elementary to create a campus-like setting along South 116th Street.!

    !Other Facility Needs!!District administration and the School Board are taking a look at other needs as well. ! !The High School pool, built in the late 1960s, does not have a regulation diving well, which prevents our divers from practicing and competing in their home pool. Its also too shallow for starting blocks. Current renovation plans include replacing the pool vessel with a deeper one and adding a diving well. Other potential projects associated with the pool include renovating and reconfiguring locker rooms, improving access to spectator seating with a new entrance (to eliminate the need to enter through the locker rooms), expanding the upper-level viewing area, adding family locker rooms and expanding the weight room.! !In addition, the District has identified capital maintenance needs and potential energy-efficiency improvement projects at the High School and Edgerton Elementary. Equipment, such as boilers, hot water heaters, air handlers and more have far exceeded their life expectancy some by as much as two decades. Lighting, ventilation and exterior building upgrades also would provide more comfortable and productive learning environments for students.!!In early November, School Perceptions, a Wisconsin-based, independent educational research firm, will help the School Board conduct a district-wide survey to gauge the priorities and preferences of the community concerning the future of HCE and other facility issues.

  • 5th Annual Whitnall Block Party

    Thousands of Whitnall students, parents, community members and teachers and staff attended the 5th Annual!

    Whitnall Back-to-School Block Party presented by Holz Motors !at Falcon Field on Sept. 13. They enjoyed live musical

    entertainment, carnival games, raffle prizes, food and much, much more. Thanks to everyone for their continued support of

    this great community event. 3

  • 4After walking through the Whitnall School Forest, the 17-acre parcel north of the districts middle and high schools, nearly 175 teachers were asked to collaboratively develop lessons that could be taught in or about the forest to the districts 2,500 students.!!The guided tours, which included stops at two ponds near Falcon Field on a warm summer day in August, were intended to spark interest in and raise awareness of the districts efforts to establish the land as an outdoor learning space. It certainly worked, as more than 150 lessons were logged by teachers that day in a display of enthusiasm and excitement around the projects.!!Its encouraging to see teachers of all subjects and all grade levels think critically about maximizing the potential of the school forest, says Laura Cerletty, the Whitnall School Forest manager and task force leader. We have a unique opportunity to give our students experiences they cant receive elsewhere, and our teachers are excited about it.

    On a field or court, a coach offers advice to his or her athletes, preparing them for the next play theyll run or move theyll make. Coaches develop game plans they feel will bring the team success, and then provide the tips, strategies and general guidance required to make that happen.!!The Whitnall School Districts new instructional effectiveness coaches are in place for the exact same reasons, only their players are hundreds of Whitnall teachers tasked with educating nearly 2,500 students annually. The coaches were added to the fold by administration and the School Board to help the district continue to strengthen its effective network of professional learning communities (PLC).!!We have spent a lot of time and

    effort to establish our PLCs over the last several years, says Anthony Brazouski, Whitnalls Executive Director of Academic Achievement. The PLCs are in place to allow and encourage teachers to collaborate when it comes to lesson plans, student data and much more. Our new coaches bring an advanced and much-needed layer to our PLCs.!!What do teacher coaches do? Instructional coaches are charged with providing support with, and helping teachers navigate the Educator Effectiveness (EE) System, the states new performance-based educator evaluation process. The coaches support teachers as they develop and monitor student learning outcomes as well as professional practice goals, two major

    Whitnall Teachers Coached in the Classroom

    Whitnall School Forest

    Whitnall School District teachers were given guided tours of the Whitnall School Forest during the week-long August Institute. Whitnalls School Forest Task Force arranged the guided tours after traveling to the Stevens Point School Forest this summer, where they were trained on how to develop education plans. Task force members include teachers Suzy Sabre, Sue Rosenberg, Scott Jaeckel, Jessie Hoida and Laura Cerletty, and Whitnall Executive Director of Academic Achievement Anthony Brazouski.

    Plans Moving Forward

    Continued on page 7

    Instructional coach Joe Wehrenberg sits in on Jenny Linds third-grade class at Hales Corners Elementary.Continued on page 6

  • WHO: Michael Sieger!THEN: Sieger graduated from Whitnall High School in 1970, and studied forestry at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 1976-79.!NOW: A forester with the Wisconsin

    Department of Natural Resources since 1991, Siegers zone includes Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties. He manages the forest resources on all the state-owned lands in the area, and assists private landowners with forest management. While most of his work is centered on the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit, he also assists schools that wish to enter land in the Wisconsins School Forest Program.!WHY FORESTRY? I always enjoyed camping, hunting and fishing with my dad, and finally decided, in 1976, that I wanted to pursue a job in the outdoors. Once in school, forestry just clicked with me. I loved it and that made the classes almost seem easy. Ive worked a couple different types of jobs and worked in many parts of the country, from the Pacific Northwest, through the lake states, and all of the states in the Southeastern U.S. Ive worked for the Wisconsin DNR since 1991, and the job is still a lot of fun.!RETURN TO WHITNALL: Sieger is a member of the Whitnall School Forest advisory committee. I was glad to be able to come back and see the place again. I hadnt been back since graduation, so this was a nice opportunity. Its enjoyable to assist the school with managing its forest land. Ive been more involved with this school forest than others because it was the school I went to and I like that connection.!WHATS NEXT? The Whitnall School Forest has some real challenges, but some great potential as well. The invasive, exotic vegetation present will be a lot of work to deal with, but dealing with that can be very educational for all involved, and very rewarding to see an area transitioned into a more pleasing, more productive woodland. One of the biggest gems the district and community have here is the staff at the school who are so excited about working with the school forest, and involved in making it happen. Theyve been a lot of fun to work with. The forest itself, while not large, offers a diversity of tree species and site conditions that can help students get to know and understand how a forest functions. There are plenty of opportunities for hands-on work, and its very rewarding to plant trees and see them grow.!

    5Do you know a former Whitnall student, teacher or administrator who should be featured in the Alumni Corner? Email suggestions to

    Want Whitnall High School sports schedules? Go to

    Alumni CornerCongratulations Lauren Lent (top), a WHS

    senior, won the sub-junior powerlifting world championship in Hungary in September.!

    HCEs Maya ODay-Biddle (middle) is in the Milwaukee Reps The Color Purple, which runs through Nov. 2.!

    WHS Student Senate Executive Board (bottom) put together a terrific Homecoming Week with activites for students and the community.

    Xs photo here

  • 6In Our Schools ...

    coaches. Matusin supports the kindergarten through second-grade teachers; Wehrenberg, the third- through fifth-grade teachers.!!Former longtime middle school band teacher Lynn LeRoy is that schools coach. And Amy Stenzel, who spent the previous 16 years as an English, speech and drama teacher in another district, is the high schools coach.

    COACHES, from Page 4components of the EE framework. !!The DPI has required that Teachscape software house teachers and principals EE work, so instructional coaches will train and support teachers in the technology, as well.!!But thats not all. Coaches will observe teachers and coach them in their classroom approaches

    and instruction, and guide conversations about student achievement and data. Building principals remain extensively involved in such processes, as well, as evaluators, whereas coaches provide low-pressure productive peer contact and feedback.!!This is where instructional coaches observe lessons and start discussions focused on celebrating

    successes, as well as opportunities for growth, improvement and increased student achievement, says Brazouski. !!There are four, full-time coaches in place for the 2014-15 school year, and many of them are familiar faces. Former Edgerton Elementary teachers Jill Matusin and Joseph Wehrenberg are elementary school

    Our students support and appreciate each other, have school spirit from the earliest ages and LOVE the district-wide homecoming parade.

  • 7Like Us, Follow UsGreat things happen in Whitnall schools every day, but dont wait for the Viewpoint to find out about them. The district provides daily updates on Facebook, Twitter, the district website and various community blogs.!!For more information, email


    Developing outdoor-related lesson plans is a key step in the evolution of the Whitnall School Forest, formerly known as the Whitnall Nature Pod. In May 2014, the Wisconsin Environmental Education Boa...