High schools provide update to Board

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Principals Jill Gurtner (CSCS) and Peg Shoemaker (MHS) gave an update about how the year is going at their respective schools at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 24.
CSCS has two academic goals related to reading and mathematics. Gurtner noted CSCS is paying particular attention to those students who need support in those areas and how much they are growing. Mid-year results look very good and she is particularly happy with the improvements in math.  
Gurtner noted CSCS has been recognized as a School of Opportunity. She is thrilled that CSCS has created a climate where students always strive to become better learners while knowing learning is a struggle. She is also proud of the partnerships the school has established with outside organizations.  
Gurtner noted CSCS has been able to provide time for staff to meet across disciplines in their professional learning communities. PLCs are important because it allows staff to better find out what is working, she said.
She also noted CSCS continues to be involved in the high school construction project. When the project is completed, CSCS will have its own area within the rebuilt and expanded MHS.  
"We want to make sure we know what makes Clark Street unique and special. We want make sure we maintain our identify,'' Gurtner said. "We are a small lab of innovation and we will continue to be. ... We have a very diverse and talented community. We want to make sure everyone has a place.''
MHS has set a goal of increasing the number of students at benchmark in reading by 10 percent. Shoemaker noted it isn't an easy goal to achieve as some students are still reading at an elementary level.  
She is excited by African-American History Challenge. Students involved with participate in a regional competition at the end of April. It has elevated their sense of status and sense of belonging and makes them feel like scholars, she said. A Do School mentoring program with 100 Black Men of Madison has also had a significant impact, Shoemaker said.   
There are lots of individual meetings with students about coursework and expectations. She is proud of the efforts to hold students accountable and making sure they are in their classrooms rather than the hallways. She also noted efforts continue with MTSS and supports for those who are in Tier 2 and Tier 3. Shoemaker also noted staff are working to make sure all students are achieving at a high level.
"Every classroom is held to high standards for all students,'' she said.  
The Board had questions about how high school is helping our most marginalized students have more academic success. Shoemaker noted there is continual work with students and staff about identity, creating spaces where students see themselves more frequently, and restorative work. She also stressed it is everyone's responsibility to see the strengths of every student rather than what they might lack.