A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 100th Day. The 100th day has traditionally been a celebration, especially in the elementary. We use it for math and writing skills and also try to incorporate a little fun into learning. The teachers do an excellent job with this activity, and they are always re-creating ways to celebrate this event with an academic twist. As we continue to battle through winter, we soon will be approaching spring and the fourth quarter. It is hard to believe how fast it is all going. A few weeks ago we were able to host the acting group Steel-Toed Ballet Shoes who presented Steel Magnolias to the public. Because of the weather the attendance was low, but we are going to try to have another event like this again. A few weeks ago Representative Kristi Hager was at MFL MarMac, and participated in a couple of classes. Representative Mike Bergan has also been to the school district, as he works with Early Childhood Iowa. I was recently at the Capitol and I was able to visit with both of them with the Central and Clayton Ridge superintendents, as we all have similar needs found in rural schools. Right now our new money for public schools is being established at 1.11%, which is going to be very challenging. This is also combined with declining enrollment. Our enrollment decline is not because people are leaving, but because they are not being born; and consequently our class-sizes have shrunk from about 90-1000 to about 50-60. Over a K-12 period (thirteen years), the numbers of decline add up quickly. The good news is that we are starting to see the end of the enrollment decline.
We had a hard spell of winter in the first part of January, and I don’t think I can remember an ice event that was longer in duration. Our gravels were horrible, but the county and state workers diligently spent hours on end, and we finally were able to start having school regularly. Hopefully it will stay that way, but we still have over a month of winter left (I heard the groundhog saw his shadow). We have looked seriously at the possibility of having hard-surface roads only; however after analysis it is not a good option for MFL MarMac. We live in the “Driftless Area”, in which the topography and land formations are vastly different than the flat and evenly squared country-blocks not very far to the south of us. Due our hilly roads, our lack of hard-surfaced roads, and the number of kids who live in the country, we have decided that the hard-surface option is not the best for us at this time. There have been times in the spring, when the gravels are all mudded up, that we have considered a hard surface option; however, ice is a different situation because of the safety factor.
Our teachers have been working with three areas in our professional development program. These are Personalized PD, Responsibility Based Discipline (RCD), and Vertical Articulation. In Personalized PD, every teacher enters a “journey” which has four phases. These phases are Research, Integration, Reflection and Mastery/Professional Driven. This program involves sharing with the rest of the staff at all levels, and collaboration with other staff members. I spoke about RCD in a prior writing, but, in short, it is a systematic and positive approach to student behavior. We have been practicing RCD district-wide, and we have been having success with this program. Vertical Articulation is more of a process than a product; and our objective is to look at all of our curricular strands and make sure that we have no gaps or areas of redundancy. The goal is to teach the right things at the right times in a student’s growth and development, and to articulate the curriculum in to the principles of learning.
Dr. Dale Crozier, Superintendent