Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Climate Change at BDMS: It's Real!

“Nothing could be as hard as middle school,” according to actress Zooey Deschanel, and depending on your own experiences, perhaps you might agree. However, if you walk into Beaver Dam Middle School today, you’ll almost instantly reconsider your point of view as you observe the interactions among the people inside. You will see students, teachers, staff, and school leaders treating each other with respect. You will see students engaged in their learning, and you will see a clean and orderly facility. This is something that Beaver Dam Middle School students, teachers, staff, and leaders work hard each day to achieve.

Creating a positive and welcoming school climate requires close attention to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all students. “Our students, teachers, and staff deserve school environments that are safe, inclusive, and conducive to teaching and learning,” explains Associate Principal Kerri jo Patten.  “In order for us to create and maintain this supportive school climate, we offer weekly lessons centered on school-wide behavioral expectations with positive interventions and supports; caring school-climate programs, including our Safe School Ambassadors; and violence-prevention programs such as social-skill development and conflict mediation.  We also expanded our school-counseling services to include after-school contact with students.”

Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is a data-driven program that promotes positive behavior, improves school climate, and increases student achievement. Beaver Dam Middle School utilizes PBIS to set clear expectations and inspire new ways to recognize desired behaviors while reducing negative behaviors.  Currently, 95% of the 770 students meet or exceed school-wide behavior expectations and enjoy the satisfaction of creating a positive-learning environment.

Safe School Ambassadors is a group currently made up of 40 students from 7th and 8th grade, and will increase with 20 new 6th grade members in early winter.  The school social worker, counselors, and select teachers empower these students with five targeted skills to notice and then minimize or diffuse situations that could lead to mistreatment.  Grace Madeiros, an 8th grader, says, “I like being looked at as a leader in school.  Safe School Ambassadors taught me the skills to stand up for what’s right.”

The Beaver Dam Middle School community takes pride in knowing that their collective efforts to improve the school climate will result in today’s students looking back fondly on their middle-school years.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Coach Kotinek Honored

New signs honoring retired tennis coach, Gordie Kotinek, were recently donated for the Beaver Dam High School tennis courts.  The courts will be labeled as Kotinek 1, Kotinek 2, Kotinek 3, and Kotinek 4.  The signs were donated by Hans Berger who played with Coach Kotinek on the senior circuit.
Coach Kotinek coached tennis at Beaver Dam High School for more than 25 years, coaching numerous conference championship teams and many players who were sectional and state qualifiers.  He began the Beaver Dam City Tennis Program in 1957 and was the assistant director for the world-renowned Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.  Coach Kotinek was inducted to the Beaver Dam High School Sports Hall-of-Fame inaugural class of 2005 and into the University of Wisconsin Tennis Coaches Hall-of-Fame class of 1983.  He also published a book Tennis: The Game, which is a resource for those playing or coaching at all levels.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Honoring Friends of Eduction

The Beaver Dam Unified School District will honor the 2015 Friends of Education at the Eighteenth Annual Wall-of-Fame Banquet on Sunday, November 1st, at the Beaver Dam High School.  Friends-of-Education Awards are given to individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the district and its students.  The nominators provided the following information about the award recipients:
Friend of Education – Mr. Mark Killingsworth
Mark Killingsworth has a strong belief in the value of education and has demonstrated that belief in the countless hours he has volunteered to serve the students in the Beaver Dam Unified School District.
Mr. Killingsworth’s nominator stated, “He has always shown a tremendous interest in education in Beaver Dam and continues to support local education to this day.”  This is evident in his involvement in youth-oriented organizations and programs that benefit students, including the school district’s Partners are Learning (PaLs) program.  He has been a mentor for several years, not only tutoring a number of students, but also making a difference in their lives.  Further testimony of Mark’s interest is his service to the Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation, where he served as a board member. Mark has been instrumental to the success of the Foundation’s annual golf-outing fundraiser.  The proceeds of the fundraiser provide scholarships for students who otherwise may not have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
Mark was able to affect student achievement during his tenure on the Beaver Dam Unified School District’s Board of Education, where he served as president, treasurer, and clerk.  Mark also served on the board of the YMCA of Dodge County, where he was key in the fund drive to construct the new facility which serves families and students.
Friend of Education – Mr. Jerry Rechek and Rechek’s Food Pride
Jerry Rechek and Rechek's Food Pride have been a foundational supporter of the Beaver Dam educational system and the Beaver Dam youth for more than 20 years. Mr. Rechek instilled a belief system within Rechek's Food Pride that values community service and giving back to the greater Beaver Dam community. Educating the youth of Beaver Dam is the primary area that Jerry and Rechek's Food Pride have chosen in which to give back. He encouraged his employees to actively participate in the school system. Mr. Rechek and many of the store managers find themselves in the Beaver Dam Middle School and High School classrooms working with students to bring real-life learning to classroom communities.
Mr. Rechek and Rechek's Food Pride have always encouraged student employees to take part in their school and the community, and he also directed all managers to work around the student employees' school schedules: a trademark of Rechek's Food Pride. Jerry’s commitment to students and their education is further evident in the scholarships provided to student employees attending two and four-year colleges.  Mr. Rechek and Rechek’s Food Pride have been staunch supporters of many school activities, including wrestling, baseball, softball, basketball, football, trap shooting, and hockey.  They have also given substantial financial support to the community of Beaver Dam with a great majority of those funds implemented in the schools and classrooms, student activities, and youth to help extend their education beyond high school.
The nominator stated, “Jerry Rechek and Rechek’s Food Pride have never turned down the opportunity to provide gifts, guidance and help.”
Friend of Education – The Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation
The Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation is an integral part of education in Beaver Dam.  Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded 569 scholarships totaling $3,500,000.  The Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation was created 24 years ago by a group of local citizens who were concerned with the rising costs of education.  The mission of the Foundation is to provide talented local students with funds to attend either a 4-year college or a technical college of their choice.  The scholarships are awarded based on need and  merit, thus providing funds for students who may not have otherwise had the resources to attend college.  

One of the nominators stated, “The assistance the Scholarship Foundation provided allowed me to attend college and have those experiences that have shaped my life.”  The nominator further stated, “It’s allowed many students from Beaver Dam to attend school and pursue their dreams.  The impact Beaver Dam has on other communities, both near and far can be in many ways a big result of the assistance that the Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation provides.” The Foundation also continues to support the district’s Partners are Learning (PaLs) program that assists students who need additional help and support.  The Foundation recognizes the importance of instilling learning skills in all students.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Career Ready!

In the wake of some of the highest academic achievement in Beaver Dam High School’s (BDHS) history, BDHS continues to keep a sharp focus on the balanced needs of all students, regardless of post-secondary goals. Most recently, Beaver Dam High School was awarded the silver nomination by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best high schools in the nation, placing it in the top 10% of schools at the state and national level. Contributing to this trend of excellence, BDHS had 197 students participate in 342 Advanced-Placement courses and exams in 2015, with a pass rate of 80%.  This pass rate is substantially above both State and National benchmarks and a 14% increase from 2014.

BDHS will continue to lead the way with a balanced approach to students’ educational experiences by ensuring that opportunities are growing in both college and career readiness.  Not all students attend college, but all students will enter our workforce.  Having the skill set to be gainfully employed and work as positive and productive members of society’s workforce is essential for our students’ and community’s future growth.  Mark DiStefano, Principal of Beaver Dam High School, states: “We are very proud of our immediate and extended school community for the academic growth we have seen in the past few years.  A big part of our success as a school has and should continue to be an emphasis on career preparation.  Many of our students move right into the workforce after high school and have the opportunity to develop those readiness skills, which benefits our students and their prospective employers.”

download.jpgWithin the realm of Career and Technical Education (CTE), BDHS continues the trend in growing youth apprenticeship opportunities and participation.  Joe Kutzler, Technology and Engineering-Education Teacher, states: “Students are exposed to a range of skills and experiences that we cannot provide in a school setting. Students get to interact with other employees and customers, hold more responsibilities, learn about trades and careers that work in conjunction with their interests, and build a strong relationship with that company for possible future employment. It really gives students an opportunity to grasp the expectations of the work world while still attending school. That student can then use a youth-apprenticeship opportunity to help give meaning and direction to a career choice.”

The youth apprenticeship program is overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and is a part of the statewide school-to-work initiative that offers students an opportunity of working onsite at a local employer while taking related coursework within the high school. BDHS is focused on reaching out to our students and encouraging a youth apprenticeship opportunity during their junior or senior years in high school. During the 2014-2015 school year, there were six youth apprentices in hospitality and three youth apprentices in the manufacturing-career clusters. Mr. Kutzler notes three local success stories: Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation, Karavan Trailers, Inc., and Kirsh Foundry all reported a successful experience with a local youth apprentice during the 2014-2015 school year.  All three students were offered full-time positions upon graduation or the option for the company to assist in a tuition-reimbursement program. One specific student was working for a local manufacturer and excelling in the area of welding and decided to pursue a degree in engineering. He is now enrolled at a UW institution while holding a well-paying job in this area of interest.  

Beaver Dam High School is striving to place 18 students within the career clusters of hospitality and manufacturing during the 2015-2016 school year. Sue Shore, Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Teacher at BDHS, agrees and states that the benefits of placing students in youth apprenticeships and working with local businesses includes an “improved job performance, a connection between classroom learning and the work environment, the opportunity for students to earn school credit and a state certification from the Department of Workforce Development as well as a  positive interaction between the education and business communities.”

Lastly, Joe Kutzler, Technology and Engineering-Education Teacher, and Rebecca Droessler, School-to-Work Coordinator for Beaver Dam High School, participate on the Manufacturing Business Alliance (MBA) of Dodge County. Local employers, educators, and community leaders meet quarterly to discuss and implement strategies regarding the future workforce in manufacturing.  Visit to learn more about the Dodge County MBA.

What’s on the horizon?  Beaver Dam High School staff are currently in the research and development phase of implementing a school-based enterprise within the manufacturing department at BDHS that will work directly with local manufacturers to provide custom-designed and manufactured parts and services in a no-compete environment.  We want to thank the business community of Beaver Dam for their support and guidance and look forward to our continued mutual successes.  Thank you!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

BDUSD Summer Food Service Program Serves Nearly 10,000 Meals

This summer, the Beaver Dam Unified School District (BDUSD) food service program, managed by Taher, Inc., served nearly 10,000 free meals to children up to age 18 in the community through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In conjunction with summer school, 9,763 meals were served to children at Prairie View Elementary and Jefferson Elementary Schools, as well as at the Dodge County YMCA, from June 15th through August 15th (plus an additional 242 to adults who purchased theirs).

Children need healthy food as their brains and bodies are developing. During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-priced meals through the school breakfast and national school lunch programs. When school is not in session, some children may experience poor nutrition and hunger. Poor nutrition can negatively impact the overall development of children. Lack of good nutrition during the summer months can begin a cycle of poor health that may continue into the school year negatively impacting health, causing illness and impeding the learning process. The SFSP is designed to fill the summer nutrition gap and make sure children get the nutritious meals they need.

In Beaver Dam, Chef Chris Marks and Food Service Director Kevin Dresdow created menus of nutritious and delicious meals. Lunches featured favorites like cheese pizza, hamburgers, chicken dishes and fresh fruits and vegetables. “I was amazed at how delicious and healthy the food choices were,” stated one parent.

Dodge County YMCA Director Jen Kruel had this to say about the summer lunch program.

“Our Y was thrilled to be a partner site for the Beaver Dam Unified School District’s summer lunch program. This program provided free hot lunches daily for hundreds of youth in our community. The children from our Y day camp and swim lessons programs, along with the many youth that rode their bikes here, truly enjoyed the lunches and the changing menu items. The parents, especially those that work throughout the day, commented how much they appreciated the opportunity for their children to have a hot and healthy lunch each and every weekday. This free summer lunch program, which is open to all youth, was received well and provided positive outcomes for youth development and healthy living—of which our Y was thankful to be a part of.”

Through the financial support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Beaver Dam
School District was able to provide meals at no cost to the children of the Beaver Dam area this summer. This program is a federally funded program under the USDA and managed at the state level by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The SFSP is an extension of the National School Lunch Program and serves healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas at no charge, primarily during the summer months when school is not in session.