At the beginning of the school year Responsibility-Based-Discipline trainer Larry Thompson spoke to our staff. We have implemented a new district-wide program of positive interactions with students, starting in 2016-17; and this program has been helping us. We then had positive mindset speaker Trevor Ragan talk to the staff, students and community. Although we had only about 125 people attend the community session; Ragan said that this was more than he has ever had at a night event, including urban areas. Ragan has been a mindset trainer for the USA Olympic Volleyball Team, professional baseball players, and others. We then had a visit from the Iowa Department of Education.
Most recently we had a visit from Aaron Thomas who is the principal at Aplington-Parkersburg near Waterloo. Mr. Thomas is the son of the late Ed Thomas who was an extremely successful football coach and teacher at AP high school. Ed Thomas was tragically killed by a former student while at weightlifting practice. The school and town also experienced a Category EF5 Tornado that destroyed many homes and the high school. Aaron Thomas spoke to the student body about his strategies and ways of dealing with these tragedies. He spoke about keeping a positive mindset and dealing with tragedy and change. The students were impressed with his message, and he told us that we need to move forward and pick ourselves up after every difficult situation. He said that we all have difficult situations, and those hard times define us more than the easy times.
The Iowa Department of Education Director Dr. Ryan Wise spent part of the morning at MFL MarMac Elementary, Middle School and High School. During this he attended classes, addressed students and met with staff. He arrived on Monday evening and stayed at the Cobblestone In at Marquette. Hotel Manager, and former student Stacy Ellis (Kristofferson) made sure that he had a great room with a good view of the area. I picked him up at 6:45 A.M., headed to Monona and handed him off to High School Principal Larry Meyer. Mr. Meyer gave him a tour of the high school facilities, and then handed off to Director Sheena Bouzek, who showed him the Little Bulldog Daycare Center in action. By 7:20 A.M., which was about the time he was there, the center is full of activity. Then, at 7:45-8:15 he had a "Meet and Greet" session in the Learning Commons. About twenty staff members from all centers, and a representative from Eastern Allamakee, asked questions and discussed issues while enjoying continental breakfast items prepared by our cooks. We discussed our Teacher Leadership Compensation Program, the need for future collaboration, and continued time for professional development, among other things. Dr. Wise was interested in our first year teachers, and what mentoring opportunities we have in place for them. Then school started and Dr. Wise gave about a 20 minute address to the high school students in the auditorium. He explained what the Department of Education does, and how education is important to our future. He ended his session with a question and answer session. After this, he spent another twenty minutes touring the elementary with Elementary Principal Kathy Koether. He was able to see some of our elementary classes in action, and he visited several rooms. During this time he spoke directly with several students, listened to students read, and held conversations with teachers. Dr. Wise was able to get down to the student’s level. Then I drove him to McGregor where we spent about thirty minutes with Middle School Principal Denise Mueller doing the same types of things with teachers and students. At about 10:05 we left for New Albin, where we spent time at Eastern Allamakee doing many of the same things, and then he left for Decorah to spend afternoon time in their district. My time with Director Wise was mostly seat time in my wife's Subaru (I wasn't allowed to drive my truck), and his state car. I found him personable, intelligent, and one who wants to listen to the direct problems that we are dealing with in Iowa's schools. We were able to talk about the declining enrollment in rural areas, the need for small communities to prosper, and transportation equalization. After he left, I felt that he actually came to celebrate Iowa school districts, and to better understand us. He had never driven by Effigy Mounds, he hadn't been to the extreme NE corner before, and he was impressed by the Driftless Area geography and topography.
Throughout the fall and winter there will be various drills. These drills will include fire, tornado, and evacuation. It is of extreme importance to ensure a safe environment at MFL MarMac. We will continue to provide these drills from time to time. If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact myself or one of the principals. As this is being written, it is extremely hot out, but soon it will be much colder and soon there will be snow and ice. Be sure and stay tuned to our notification systems we have in place. I wish all of you to enjoy a great fall season and to stay healthy and safe.
Dr. Dale Crozier, Superintendent