Focus of agriculture class changes

“Flipping the classroom” is a new way for Gillett High School agricultural students to learn outside the classroom. It involves the development of lectures online for students to watch during a study hall or after school and reserves classroom time for hands-on projects or individual help for struggling students.

Kellie Claflin, agricultural teacher at Gillett, applied for and received a $250 grant from the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Foundation to help implement the program for her classes. The money will go toward software, a Web cam and microphone. Claflin plans to use the system in all of the classes she teaches.


Activity-based agriculture

Photo by Anne Renel

Brittany Fetterly, left, and Sydnie Kopp learn about correctly trimming a dog’s nails in their small animal and horses class at Gillett High School. Agricultural teacher Kellie Claflin attended a national seminar aimed at engaging students in hands-on learning.

An agricultural teacher in Gillett is changing the way she teaches by applying what she learned at a national conference.

“I love finding ways to keep the students engaged,” said Kellie Claflin, Gillett High School ag teacher.

Claflin has been teaching for three years, with her first year split between Suring and Gillett and her last two years in Gillett. In August, she attended a Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education conference in Oregon to learn about the National Council for Agricultural Education’s 2007 goal of implementing a national curriculum for secondary education.

“There isn’t a lot of agricultural curriculum out there,” Claflin explained.

She said she develops all of the curriculum she uses in her ag classes. The CASE project helps to develop agricultural curriculum using science inquiry for class lessons. Activities and projects take the place of textbooks.

Freshman Erin Balthazor said she likes the approach.


Building their skills

Photo by RJ Reinhold

Oconto Falls High School instructor David Heisel discusses a technique with Brandon Kamm, as Nate Van Ark measures for the next piece of siding on a duplex under construction by OFHS students for NEWCAP.

A group of Oconto Falls students is raising the roof for low-income tenants.

The Oconto Falls High School construction crew has been working since the second week in August to build a duplex at 582-584 King St. for NEWCAP. NEWCAP is a private, nonprofit agency that assists low-income residents.

When completed by June 2014, the duplex will provide handicap-accessible, low-income housing. The one-bedroom units are designed for a single person or elderly couple.

Oconto Falls High School tech ed instructor David Heisel said projects like this bridge the gap between the school and the community. Students work on the duplex from 10-11:15 a.m. every school day.

“We hope to finish exterior work prior to winter and then work indoors throughout the winter, doing interior finishing,” Heisel said.

The project is overseen by Paul Mogged, a contractor from NEWCAP, who checks the work on a regular basis.


Magnin to make history at national FFA convention

Times Herald photo by Joan Koehne
Ally Magnin recites the FFA creed at the Oct. 14 meeting of the Oconto Falls School Board. She will compete at the FFA National Convention this week.

For Ally Magnin, it took three days last winter to commit the FFA Creed to memory.

Since then, she’s tried to commit the words to heart.

The Oconto Falls High School sophomore will be the first student from the school to compete in the Creed Speaking Career Development Event this week at the national FFA convention. Magnin will recite the words of the FFA Creed, written by a college instructor in 1929, then answer questions from a trio of judges.

For Magnin, the question-and-answer portion of the contest is the most challenging.

“Everybody can memorize (the creed) and have good gestures and learn it, but the questions are what set you apart,” she said.

After reciting the FFA Creed at the Oct. 14 School Board meeting, Magnin was asked to explain the joys and trials she experienced relating to agriculture, her personal experiences in agriculture and how agriculture production has changed over time.


Summer school attendance up in Oconto Falls district

Busing and school-aged child care are expected to continue for students attending summer school in the Oconto Falls School District in 2014, after a positive first year.

The two programs encouraged more students to enroll in summer courses, said Candie Lehto, assistant superintendent of the Oconto Falls School District, at the School Board meeting Oct. 14.

Summer school attracted students who would not be able to attend unless transportation and the Kids Station child care program were provided, she said.

The number of full-time equivalent students in summer increased from 64 in 2012 to 71 in 2013, Lehto reported. This generated $404,700 in state aid for the school district, according to Lehto.

Busing was an expensive service. The cost of bus driver salaries and benefits was $6,759 , while state reimbursement was $356.

The net budget impact of summer school was $239,312 to the positive.


Oconto Falls welcomes new teachers

The Oconto Falls School District started the school year with 13 new staff members, one of the biggest incoming groups in several years.

Joining the staff at Abrams Elementary was Kary Hayes, who will teach fourth grade. She had been working in the La Crosse area before making the jump to Northeast Wisconsin.

Oconto Falls High School alumnus Scott Schroeder will teach second grade at Abrams and assist with high school football.

Hannah Schullo, who comes from a long line of educators, is another OFHS grad. She will teach fifth grade at Oconto Falls Elementary School.

Sarah Hemmy joins the OFES staff and will work with students who have exceptional educational needs. She just completed her degree at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


Gillett Elementary honored as School of Recognition

For the third consecutive year, Gillett Elementary School has been recognized as one of the best performing Title I schools in Wisconsin. The school was one of 167 statewide named by State Superintendent Tony Evers as a Title I School of Recognition, an honor that recognizes success in educating students from low-income families.

Gillett Elementary was recognized as a Beating the Odds School for being in the top 25 percent of high-poverty schools in the state and having above-average student achievement in reading and mathematics when compared to schools from similarly sized districts, schools, grade configurations and poverty levels.

“The staff and administration of these schools are committed to breaking the link between poverty and low academic achievement through rigorous programming and attention to student needs,” Evers said.


CESA offers free training sessions

CESA 8 will present a series of free training and learning opportunities for parents this fall. The workshops take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the CESA 8 office, 233 W. Park St., Gillett. A light dinner will be provided.

The first session, on Sept. 12, is titled “We’re Not Broken: Empowering Labeled Students,” presented by nationally known speaker Jonathon Mooney. Mooney is a dyslexic who did not learn to read until he was 12. The writer and activist is a 2000 graduate of Brown University and holds an honors degree in English literature. He is founder and president of Project Eye-To-Eye, a mentoring and advocacy nonprofit organization for students with learning differences.

Mooney infuses humor in a powerful presentation that supports parents in celebrating the strengths, gifts and talents of their exceptional child.


Rogatzki retirement ends 40-year career

Faculty, staff, family and friends gathered Aug. 4 at Romy’s Holiday Inn, Kelly Lake, to celebrate the retirement of Duane Rogatzki from Oconto Falls High School.

Rogatzki was honored for his 40 years of service to the Oconto Falls School District as a math and science instructor and as a coach. The celebration highlighted his many contributions to the community, athletics and education.

Rogatzki and his wife, Trish, have three children, Seth, Joy and Nate (fiancé Jen) and a granddaughter, Addison.


Huisman brings student-centered focus to Suring

Photo by Vicki Buettner

Principal Steve Huisman welcomes second-grader Austin Ritter with a high five. Huisman is the new principal at Suring School.

Prior to the start of the school year, Steve Huisman, principal at Suring School, answered a few questions about his new position.

Q Why did you want to be principal of Suring School?

A Personally, becoming Suring’s principal is a great professional development opportunity for me. Even better, the move is a return to northern Wisconsin—a great place to raise a family. The people of this area have the culture and values of a hard work ethic. These are the kind of people I want to be around, and I want to work with their children.

Q What strengths do you bring?

A I am a student-centered decision maker. My leadership philosophy and decision-making process is centered on what is best for the students.

Q What is your vision for the future of the district?


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