Details about a resource for improving leadership abilities of stakeholders in the Clarinda School District were reviewed for board of education directors during a meeting Wednesday, Jan. 15.
Lance Wheeler with the Franklin Covey Co. gave a report on the firm’s Leader in Me framework, which offers holistic experiences for staff, students and parents as part of an effort to establish a common culture and language within the school environment. Wheeler’s appearance at the meeting was for informational purposes, and was not an action item on the agenda.
Leadership principles and lessons are not delivered through a formal curriculum, but rather are incorporated into regular coursework, as well as blended with traditions, systems and cultural elements that already exist within a district
The framework, Wheeler said, “falls under the social and emotional learning umbrella, but we also believe that we are a school improvement process that impacts much more than that.”
Leader in Me includes training in goal setting, data tracking and personal accountability, and provides sequential steps to aid schools in reaching targeted outcomes.
“Our mindset is, ‘How can we develop a culture of leadership within adults that is going to communicate and transfer into the needs of our students?’,” Wheeler said. “And, ‘How can we develop goal setting strategies in our adults and then in our students?’”
He added: “If we are not first taking care of the adults who are standing in front of our students, teaching them these social and emotional learning skills, then we’re missing the boat. If we don’t do a better job taking care of our educators, first and foremost, we’re not going to get the results we want from our students.”
With enhanced leadership abilities in place for teachers, action can be pursued to successfully develop those skills in students, starting with pupils in elementary grades.
Wheeler said Leader in Me was not just another computer “app” to be implemented for a short period before possibly being replaced by another electronic educational tool.
“If you want to have gains and improvements in schools, you’ve got to stop throwing apps at teachers,” he said. “We don’t believe in programs. We believe in processes.”
The framework, he said, has three “pillars” -- leadership, culture and academics.
He noted each school building in the Clarinda district has separate needs related to meeting identified objectives.
“We want to help each of your buildings improve this idea of shared leadership, from adults down to students, which will then begin to impact parents as well,” Wheeler said. “People need to first reflect on themselves, then build some common language within the context of the schools. Our goal is to improve every aspect of what you do, and influence it that way.”
The abilities that students would acquire through the framework have “transferable” value beyond the individuals’ time in school, said Clarinda Superintendent Chris Bergman.
“These are life skills that help attain success in creativity, collaboration and critical thinking, all of the things that we have identified as extremely important,” she said.
Leader in Me has been endorsed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which through research and practice has studied how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, demonstrate empathy, form positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
Bergman said the Iowa Department of Education is considering these competencies for state requirements.
In other matters, Clarinda Middle School Principal Paul Henely discussed “report cards” issued by Iowa School Performance Profiles for the schools in the Clarinda district for the 2018 term.
The reports meet requirements set by the Every Student Succeeds Act and House File 215, adopted by Iowa legislators in 2013.
Garfield Elementary School achieved an “acceptable” score of 51.64, compared to the state average of 54.91.
For the middle school, the score was 44.44 compared to the state figure, which resulted in a designation of “needs improvement.”
The score for Clarinda High School, 58.01, topped the state average, earning a designation of “commendable.”
That designation was also achieved by the Clarinda Academy, since its score was indexed from Clarinda High School.
Henely said the score for the middle school reflected “low social and economic performance growth. We did not have the growth that we needed to have compared to other schools.”
But he said there were indications of improvement being shown in other evaluations, with positive changes occurring in different testing in which proficiency is based on growth.
In other business, the board:
Approved the acceptance of donations of $300 from Charles and Connie Richardson; $400 from the Together Class of the First United Methodist Church; $100 from the Westminster Presbyterian Church; and a used exercise bicycle from a private citizen.
Approved fundraising activities: middle school “Penny Wars”; high school government classes’ “Adopt-A-Family” project; “Butterbraids” sales by the BPA organization; bake sale, candy sales and solicitation of business sponsorships by the high school student council for the LEAD Conference in Chicago in February; and solicitations for a “Lift-A-Thon” in the high school weight room in March.
Approved participation in collective bargaining with the Clarinda Education Association. At present, there is a three-year contract that can only be opened to negotiate compensation.
Approved a contract with OPERA Iowa for the organization to conduct sessions and work with elementary school students to perform “Little Red’s Most Unusual Day,” by John Davies.
Approved a two-year gambling license for the Clarinda Athletic Booster Club to enable the group to hold raffles for fund-raising activities.
Approved resignations of Scott Jobe as middle school football coach and Tim Weinreich as freshmen baseball coach.
Approved the hiring of Joyce Morgan as interim school board official.
Approved the transfer of Lori Haffner from part-time to full-time paraprofessional at the high school.