WRV School board approves innovative plans for the future

WRV School Board Approves Innovative Plans For The Future
Posted on 09/24/2019
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WRV School Board approves innovative plans for the future

Saturday, February 22, 2020
By Patti Danner, Assistant Editor

The White River Valley Board of School Trustees met in regular session on Monday, Feb. 17.

The board heard and approved agenda items and plans for the future of WRV, including addressing the lack of student soft skills with the addition of Life Skills courses, expanding Advanced Placement course offerings, expanding dual-credit offerings in partnership with Vincennes University and Ivy Tech, the creation of seven different student-led businesses with student profit-sharing programs, acceptance into the Student Paid Internship Program with Conexus Hire Tech and plans to develop a partnership with Indiana State University’s Professional Development School.

The district plans to use funding already obtained from Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) Ready Schools Initiative grant program as well as plans that will utilize grant funding from the Greene County Community Foundation, and possible future implementation funding after presenting final plans to ROI sometime in May.

The district will be notified about implementation funding in June.

WRV Superintendent Dr. Bob Hacker said they feel they have a great plan and will move forward regardless of funding.

“It’s good for kids, and through all of the interviews (over 1,100) we conducted with the WRV community, we found ways that will meet the needs of the community and area businesses as well,”

At Monday’s meeting, Hacker sought and was granted permission from the board to begin utilizing grant funds for the purchase of a VF-2 CNC machine, associated software and hardware, a screw compressor and added electrical capabilities to the classroom areas for the planned Precision Machining business, the first of the seven planned student-led industries to be run under the umbrella of ‘Wolverine Enterprises’.

Hacker then announced a presentation by WRV High School Principal Doug Lewis, who explained WRV’s upcoming involvement, through a grant obtained by Lewis and approved by the WRV board last December, in AP-TIP, a two-year rigorous STEM program offered by the University of Notre Dame.

According to www.stemeducation.nd.edu the Advanced Placement Teacher Investment Progam (AP-TIP) is housed under the University of Notre Dame’s Center for STEM Education.

The grant includes intensive professional development for teaching staff as well as incentives for AP students and teachers.

For example, students passing an AP MSE (Math, Science and English) test with a score of 3, 4 or 5 will earn a $100 stipend for each test passed and AP teachers can receive $100 for each student that passes the course in their discipline as well as earn, based on enrollment, a $500 incentive.

This program and funding will allow WRV to add AP courses in science/biology, year-four Spanish and statistics mathematics to go with the school’s current AP US history, literature, composition and calculus classes and a planned AP chemistry class for the 2021-22 school year, for a total of eight Advanced Placement classes offered.

Hacker next announced WRV has been named a Professional Development School by ISU. WRV plans to build a unique partnership with the university, which is located in Terre Haute.

The program, which is not finalized and is subject to change, will give WRV students extra collegiate offerings and experiences both on and off-campus, as well as via video courses streamed to the WRV campus.

Hacker said the topic will again be addressed as plans are made and further developments have been made.

Lewis continued his presentation, moving on to the topic of expanded dual-credit offerings for the 2021-22 school year, to be held on-campus as well as at VU, IU and Ivy Tech. The expansion of dual-credit offerings was created by Lewis and by Guidance Counselor Teresa Mansfield.

The expanded dual-credit courses will include AP Composition, AP Calculus, Biology 105, Biotechnology (if entire Biomed series has been completed), Ag-Animal Science, Ag-Horticulture, Ag-Welding Technology, Ag-Welding Technology II, Ag-Landscape Management, Ag- Plant/Soils, Ag-Agribusiness, Precision Machining I, Precision Machining II, Precision Machining-Hire Tech, Precision Machining-Hire Tech II, Industrial Tech-POE, Industrial Tech-Electricity, AP Literature, College Algebra, Biology 107 and, pending Ivy Tech approval, Business Accounting, Principles of Business, Business-Digital Applications and Business-Introduction to Business.

Hacker then addressed WRV’s progress as a cohort school in the ROI program and said at some point during the process, he and others realized since WRV already had several successful career pathway programs in place, the district has somewhat of a head start in developing new programs in line with what they had learned, through their interviews, the community wants to see.

The Design Team, created by ROI Readiness Grant Coordinator Dr. Jimmy Beasley Jr. last fall, consists of Dr. Beasley, WRV Superintendent Dr. Bob Hacker, WRV Elementary Principal Jill Staggs, WRV, High School Principal Doug Lewis, Nick Trabant, Amanda O’Neal, Jacob Graham, Amy Jackson, Tracy Morrison, Rebecca Harris and Susan Myers.

The team visited schools in other states with successful career-based programs in place in order to study what worked for them and what to avoid in their own planning process.

“Being in the ROI process and having the ability to go to other rural schools to view their programs has been a great blessing,” Hacker said. “On Oct. 8, we visited Eleva-Strum Schools in Wisconsin. They had developed a student-led business that had started much like our Precision Machining program. We came back and started designing and developing a plan.”

Hacker said the team talked to WRV CTE teachers in December in a “what if” meeting. In January, the same teachers developed business plans and submitted their propositions in late January.

“Mind you, ROI was the vehicle that showed us we could indeed capture our vision through school visitations,” Hacker said, “But WRV already has programs in place that fit right into this vision and embody the needs our area patrons and business owners had suggested and so tonight we are asking the board to move ahead with some program alterations.”

Hacker explained the team’s plan to turn innovation into action, introducing what could become an example for other rural schools to follow.

WRV has, in recent times, been the source of much education innovation in Greene County, being the first district to implement the Telehealth program, the TeamOrtho partnership with Greene County General Hospital and the first to obtain state funding enabling all students at WRV Elementary and Middle Schools to eat breakfast and lunch for free.

“Gentlemen, I want you to imagine what it would be like for a student to come across the stage at graduation, receive their diploma from me as superintendent and then to receive a profit-sharing check from one of the members of the school board,” Hacker said. “That is our vision, to tie relevance in our classrooms to relevance in preparation for college and career. Experience for our students that will give all Wolverines the best possible chance for success in all areas. In college, in tech, in school, in the military and in the workforce.”

Hacker continued, revealing the biggest news yet.

“I would like to introduce the formation of Wolverine Enterprises,” he began, “A series of seven student-led businesses that will operate on a daily basis for junior and senior involvement in 2020-21. WRV will help to develop all of the employability skills that our community businesses are emphasizing, give students the opportunity to learn marketing, design, quality control, supply and demand, accounting, production and logistical skills in one of the seven interest areas. Businesses will be created in precision machining, agriculture and agriculture power, hospitality and FACS (family and career sciences), art design and pottery, advanced manufacturing with woodwork design and construction and printing services. There will be a student CEO and a student CFO, who will work hand-in-hand with faculty sponsors and area business partners for real-life, hands-on student engagement. A student leadership logistics team will be the organizational branch of the enterprises, with students being active in sales, media production, human resources and accounting.”

He said the student CFO will work with an office management team and an area bank, which will give students experience in accounting and the financial operations of running the businesses.

Each business will employ up to 15 student workers learning entrepreneurial skills, design skills, production skills and quality control skills while building the soft skills so desired by area employers.

The costs to implement each business will vary, as will specific business needs and all business will operate under the scrutiny of an executive board.

“Being involved in the ROI planning grant this year has been an eye-opening experience,” Hacker said. “The more we talked to people, the more we realized that we had the pieces in place to be really innovative in our approach to education. One thing that is great about the ROI experience has been that it is a PK-12 set of initiatives, meaning that students at all levels will benefit from our involvement.”

Hacker explained the relevance of teaching soft skills.

“Business after business spoke to us during our interviews about the lack of soft skills in today’s high school and college graduates,” he said. “Things like getting along with coworkers, attendance, punctuality, teamwork skills, creative problem-solving skills and other things. Parents we interviewed spoke to us about general life skills, the things an individual needs to know to be successful in life, but that might not be taught in traditional subjects like math, science or English. The need in our community to tie relevant life skills everyone needs in order to be a good employee to our school curriculum.”

Hacker added that, through the Conexus Hire Tech Internship program, students involved in the Logistics Team, Agriculture Power, Precision Machining and Advanced Manufacturing businesses will be eligible to make up to $2,400 in 2021, $1,200 in 2022 and $1,200 in 2023 through paid internships at no cost to the school.

This is in addition to the profit-sharing model, details of which will be decided on as the program develops. Businesses will continue to operate through June as summer positions for students.

Each business will be paired with a similar business in the community as an advisory board is built to help oversee the program.

“In essence, we are developing a feeder system for our businesses that will help keep developing Greene County’s workforce talent locally,” Hacker said. “We have already started building local relationships, as both Metal Technologies of Bloomfield and Hutson’s in Newberry have agreed to offer our students paid opportunities.”

The program will be supervised under the direction of an executive board comprised of WRV’s superintendent, high school principal, two school board members, a community business representative and staff member CEO, CFO and program director. Monthly and quarterly meetings will be held and complete board reports will be made during the regular monthly public session school board meetings.

All WRV juniors and seniors will be involved in the program in some way, unless they have other internship opportunities.

Business will be brought online as they become ready. The tentative schedule will introduce Precision Machining, Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture and Agriculture Power and the Hospitality online in August.

The district plans a Grand Opening Ceremony at the end of the first nine weeks next fall.

“While juniors and seniors run the business model, freshmen and sophomores will take a series of courses in areas such as resume writing, interviewing skills, application skills, ACT/SAT prep, financial literacy including credit card management, credit scores, how to secure a loan or financing and life skills in everything from how to tie a necktie, etiquette and formal manners and how to change a tire,” Hacker said. “All of the things kids need to know but generally aren’t taught. From sophomore to junior year, students will have to construct resumes and interview for positions within the businesses. Real-world applications and experiences all students need.”

Hacker added the board will host a public meeting for all parents and students to explain the program and WRV’s new opportunities.

In other business:

• Hacker announced the honorees for this year’s Stephen Campbell Alumni Banquet, to be held at 6 p.m. April 3. Honorees include Teddy York (Switz City Central), Joe Cabel (L&M), Dan McKee (Worthington) and Brenda Reetz (WRV High School).

• The board accepted the resignation of WRV HS English teacher Katy Whitehouse, the reduction-in-force elimination of the Director of Learning position, the hirings of Nathan Bever, Andrew Bever, Robby Hamm and Andy Bright as HS volunteer assistant baseball coaches and the postings for hire for the positions of high school English teacher, elementary teacher and STEAM coordinator/teacher.

Upcoming dates/events include high school scheduling night/program announcements Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria or gym, superintendent office hours Monday, March 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and executive session meeting Monday March 16 at 6 p.m. and the regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m.