MHS offers Board update on plans

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MHS principal Peg Shoemaker and Director of Secondary Education Laura Love provided an update on changes to the administrative team at the school at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, May 18.

Board president Annette Ashley presided over the meeting at the District Services Center, while other Board members participated remotely. The School Board has held four virtual meetings since mid-March.

Shoemaker noted she has spent much of her first year as principal listening and observing because, "I've always believed in earning the right to be heard.''  

Shoemaker noted rather than having one associate principal work directly with student services that all of her administrative team will be involved in that area starting next year. She said doing so means every associate principal will be connected to students. The plan is more feasible because MHS is adding two instructional coaches next year. Each team will include an associate principal, an instructional and two counselors. Each team will be tasked with analyzing data to find out which students are learning and which are falling short.

She also believes this will enhance the relationship between administration and student services, which will also benefit students and staff. The restructuring also includes meeting more regularly. This approach should result in more collaboration with the focus on serving students and create a streamlined approach in order that  teachers get same message, Shoemaker said.   

Love noted the rebuilt and expansion of MHS over the next two-plus years will also allow for designing a  facility in a way that supports these changes. The high school team visited seven high schools with 3,000-plus students in Illinois and Minnesota during the 2018 referendum process to learn about their house models and how to make a big school feel smaller. Love also plans to share more information with the Board in the fall about the Portrait of a Graduate efforts. 

Shoemaker noted MHS is hiring a new athletic director and wants to use this opportunity to create an onboarding process for the position. She also is looking to restructure the department as enrollment increases, more teams are added in every sport and as MHS works to develop an intramural program.
Board members had questions and showed support for adding teams and keeping roster sizes as large as possible. There were also questions about decreasing the cost of student athletic fees. Members also noted there need to be more opportunities for students who don't play sports. Shoemaker noted all of those things help students feel connected and play a role in academic success.

"We also know teachers have the greatest influence over whether students learn or not,'' she said. "We want our high school to have something for everyone.''
Shoemaker also noted she new staff who have a strong background in Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. But she also noted it is challenging to develop interventions for students until Tier 1 of MTSS is built. She noted right now there may be two teachers working with the same grade and identical content areas but they are teaching different to standards, which can create barriers and challenges for some students.

Assistant Superintendent Sherri Cyra also noted collaboration time was removed from the MHS schedule the last time it was changed so teachers no longer had time to consider common standards and assessments. The calendar committee is looking at possible adjustments to daily bell schedules to create time for collaboration.   
"This has been a really fascinating school year for Middleton High School,'' Superintendent Dana Monogue said. "I have been thankful for Peg's calmness, approach, student-centered focus and working with high school staff. I think Year 2 is going to be a fantastic year.''