Tuesday, September 25, 2018

All Means All: Creating Healthy School Culture

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Anthony Muhammad, PhD, presenting to Colstrip faculty and staff.
The District hosted Anthony Muhammad, PhD, one of the most sought-after educational consultants in North America on Monday, September 24, 2018 for a full day of Pupil-Instructional-Related (PIR) activities.

Creating a healthy school culture was the focus of the PIR. His prescription for a healthy school culture is based on  1) Commitment, 2) Refection and 3) Prescription (see table). Muhammad's presentation provided additional clarity for many of the details that are currently in place in our District.

Muhammad said that it is a hard fact that "You can't hold people accountable for what hasn't been made clear and explicit. To this end he said change in a healthy culture requires Transformational Leaders. He asked our staff and participants to identify ten leadership qualities that are essential for good leaders?

After identifying and reviewing the ten qualities he suggested that these are also the qualities that should be expected of teachers and staff alike, adding that no person can meet all of the identified expectations, but all people can be transformational leaders and collectively provide the stated qualities. He said that "instead of looking out the window at others, the transformational leader must look in the mirror."

Muhammad went on to identify Transformational Leader Essentials:
  • Model integrity and fairness
  • Set clear goals
  • High expectations
  • Encourage others
  • Provide support and recognition
  • Stir people's emotion
  • Encourage people to look beyond their self-interest
  • Inspire people to reach for the improbable: Bass (1985).
Muhammad quoted a number of authors and research that aligns with transformational leadership by adding to the list above saying that in Jim Collins' book Good to Great (2001), also contributes to the essentials of transformational leadership in that transformational leaders should seek and confront the "brutal facts." In point of case, he said that "Crucial Conversations" are needed when stakes are high, but often avoided because of strong emotions and opposing opinions (2011; Patterson, et.al, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High). Muhammad encouraged us to run toward our challenges and not away from them.

He suggested that healthy school cultures should limit "Adult Drama;" saying "Adult Drama" should be avoided as it results in dysfunctional social interactions between adult professionals within a school environment and interfere with the proper implementation of important policies, practices, and procedures that support the proper education of students.

Muhammad then referenced his book Transforming School Culture (2009) that outlines his study of 34 schools and their culture. From his research he was able to categorize the teaching culture into four types of professionals.
  1. Tweeners
  2. Believers
  3. Survivors
  4. Fundamentalist
Through the examination of each type's characteristics, Muhammad provided our staff the opportunity to look in the mirror to see which category might align with their beliefs and actions.

His concern was that "Fundamentalist" pose the biggest and critical challenge for schools to create a healthy culture, and that education is too critical to our society for leaders to allow a group of individuals who refuse to embrace substantive change to hijack it. His book says the "Fundamentalist might not have malicious intent, but their actions threaten to stunt the growth of the schools that serve our most needy students" (2009, p. 97).


 The implications of the training aligned with Muhammad's study of school culture in his book Transforming School Culture, in so much as, the schools studied that were able to create and maintain a healthy school culture were also able to eliminate the human distractions and focus on a collective purpose (p. 119).

Colstrip Public Schools has a Core Purpose. Perhaps it may serve as a systematic and school wide focus on learning for  collaboration needed to maintain a healthy school culture. A Core Purpose is vital to a healthy school culture (p. 121).   


Core Purpose of the Colstrip School District is to effectively focus on learning and growth for all students in a safe, healthy, caring and collaborative environment that ensures each student achieves intellectual and personal excellence and is well prepared for college and career pathways.

In review of the day's activities and information shared, our District is extremely thankful for Dr Muhammad and the time he spent with our educators. He was able to cover so much information in a short amount of time. Point of fact, the information included in this post represents a fraction of the that of which was covered in Dr. Muhammad's presentation. With that said, I was very proud of our staff and their participation and focus during this training. A number of compliments were shared and even though I have had the privilege of listening to Dr. Muhammad in other national venues, I was even more impressed with his direct impact on our staff.

Thank you Anthony Muhammad, PhD, for "Making Dust" with our educators here in Rosebud County. Our professional development was superb.




GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Parent & Community Breakfast Invitation

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Colstrip Public Schools would like to bring our community closer together and invite the entire community to breakfast on the first Thursday of every month during the school year. There is no charge for this breakfast. The School District is creating this opportunity to share a cup of coffee and some biscuits and gravy with the parents and community while bringing everyone up to date with the latest news and calendar events going on here in your schools.

We will have an awesome presentation for you to watch while you eat.  In addition, there will be a round table talk from each of the building administrators.

Breakfast is served at 7:00 AM until 8:30 AM in the Colstrip High School Cafeteria. Don't miss this unique communication opportunity over breakfast.

The first Parent and Community Breakfast will be this Thursday, September 6, 2018.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and other relatives as well as students alike are welcome. 

Whether you are just getting off shift from work or getting ready to go to work, the District invites you to join us. Everyone, and that means everyone, is invited. Just park in the lower parking lot at the high school and come on in the front doors to the cafeteria. We will be anxiously awaiting you!

See you Thursday between 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM.

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL 2018-2019

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski


Couple of seniors kicking things off!
Ready or not, school is about to begin. Welcome back students for a great school year! I am anxious to meet the students and see how everyone has grown over the summer. I have had the opportunity to see our athletes during their Fall Sport practices. Everyone looks a lot bigger, stronger and faster than a year a go. 

Classes at Colstrip Public Schools begin tomorrow, August 23, 2018. Just as a reminder, on Thursdays school is dismissed early for staff development so tomorrow is a partial day of school and will start and dismiss at the following times:

Pine Butte Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 2:30 PM
Frank Brattin Middle School: 8:15 AM - 2:45 PM
Colstrip High School: 8:05 AM - 2:35 PM

The buses will run on their regular schedules. 

The X-Country Team getting things started.
Friday, August 24, 2018 is the second day of school, but the first full day with the following schedule for start and dismissal:

Pine Butte Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 3:30 PM
Frank Brattin Middle School: 8:15 AM - 3:45 PM
Colstrip High School: 8:05 AM - 3:35 PM


I hope everyone is ready to "Make Dust" and have the best year ever! 
Welcome back! Let's get out in front and stay there!



GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"















Monday, July 23, 2018

Our County Fair

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

On Friday afternoon (July 20), I was able to get away from the office and take a trip to Forsyth and proudly examine Colstrip student art exhibits as well as watch the Sheep Show at the Rosebud County Fair. As a former 4-H livestock exhibitor, college livestock judge, as well as a parent whose kids exhibited lambs, sheep and hogs at local, state and national shows, it was a pleasure going to our own County Fair and seeing a few familiar faces and names along side their exhibits.

Colstrip Elementary Artwork
I know my kids, like most kids, always enjoyed the carnival rides as well as the other spectacular events at the fair, but my wife Debra and I have alway taken special pleasure in seeing the fruit of students's work.

Watching my wife beam with pride as she looked over her students' 3rd Grade artwork was special. Then seeing a few of our students show their livestock brought back memories of hard work, dedication and perseverance that is needed in order to show these animals. Being in 4-H and FFA teaches students so much about leadership and life. I wish every student would take advantage of the opportunities provided by these organization.

It is with a special emphasis that I want to say to our Colstrip students that showed or had exhibits at the fair: "WAY TO MAKE DUST!" Your work is recognized and appreciated by many.  In addition, on behalf of so many, thank you for making your community, parents, school and this superintendent proud.

Now, for a little trivia, let me take this opportunity to say: I couldn't be more proud our Colstrip kids than Able Frank was of his prize boar or Melissa of her blue ribbon mincemeat (name that Hammerstein and Rogers Production).






GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"





Friday, July 20, 2018

Major Maintenance and Summer Construction Projects Underway

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Teaching students to be good stewards of what is entrusted to them is an educational value that we want students to learn. Setting a good example is essential; therefore, taking care of our school is paramount. Every summer the District works on major maintenance issues that cannot be addressed throughout the year when school is in session. This year's summer projects have been especially difficult to complete because of the early summer rain as contractors have a number of projects they are trying to complete in fair weather. Because of bad weather, contracted schedules get changed. This happens regardless to whether the projects are indoor or outdoor projects. As we move closer to this school year, we are completing projects that should have been completed at the end of June and mid July. Never-the-less, we are anticipating completing all scheduled projects and having our buildings ready for the new school year.

Here are a few of the major projects we have or are addressing before school starts:
  • CHS: identified pavement replacement in both the upper and lower parking lots (complete)
  • CHS: interior rooms LED lighting to replace the current florescent lighting (complete)
  • CHS: LED lighting in the parking lots to replace the current lighting (complete)
  • CHS: tree removal (complete)
  • CHS: addition of a Frequency Operated Button reader on door #17 (scheduled August 1)
  • CHS: sprinkler repairs on both the practice and football fields (in progress)
  • CHS: repaint identified classrooms (in progress)
  • CHS: repair leak in pool (complete)
  • CHS: remove and replace locker room carpet with epoxy based seamless flooring (scheduled July 26)
  • CHS: refinish the gym floor (complete)
  • CHS: mezzanine door replacement (scheduled early August)
  • CHS: complete the heat pump modification and fluid coolers on the roof (in progress)
  • CHS: repair airlock breezeway from door #17 (scheduled early August)
  • CHS: weed removal and spraying (in progress)
  • Bus Barn: erosion repair on hillside (complete)
  • Bus Barn: painting of lines and entrance bumpers (complete)
  • FBMS: exterior door repairs (complete)
  • FBMS: irrigation retrofit (complete)
  • FBMS: landscape of driveway median (scheduled)  
  • FBMS: refinish the gym floor (complete)
  • FBMS: replace and number interior doors (scheduled)
  • FBMS: weed removal and spraying (in progress)
  • PBES: carpet replacement in Rooms #1, #2, #3, #5,  and #14 (complete)
  • PBES: carpet replacement in hallways (scheduled August 6)
  • PBES: sprinkler repair (complete)
  • PBES: repaint main hallway (in progress)
  • PBES: replace the removable hanging wall in the gym/cafeteria (scheduled July 23)
  • PBES: repair of pot holes in drive (scheduled early August)
  • PBES: replace failing Smartboards with with interactive whiteboard technology (in progress)
  • PBES: weed removal and spraying (in progress)
As you can see this is quite a list in addition to normal maintenance and custodial work that is being done to get our buildings ready for the 2018-2019 school year. The District is diligent in preparing for our students return to school and we certainly ask for everyone's understanding and patience as we work to make our great schools even better.

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Friday, June 29, 2018

Searching for "GREAT" Teachers!

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Many schools across the country are having difficulty hiring teachers. It is no different here at Colstrip Public Schools. Teacher shortages are a reality.

The table at right indicates that schools throughout the country are grappling with teacher shortage. This graph indicates the subjects most effected across the nation.

Currently the Colstrip Public School District is searching for several positions for the 2018-2019 School Year. The District advertises these positions at both the state and national levels in hopes to gain the interest of teaching candidates that will do a great job. As superintendent, I send out individual emails to educational graduates soliciting their interest to come to Colstrip. Below are flyers I am posting on our District Facebook and my Twitter accounts to help get the word out.  Please feel free to share them in your social media.


Finding the best educators to serve the youth of Colstrip has become a focus. Very seldom do schools get a plethora of applicants for an opening. According to CNN's Caitlin Ostroff, she shared a study done by UCLA that found that college freshmen's interest in teaching as a career has steadily declined since 2006. In fact, nationwide teacher education enrollments have dropped 35% since 2009.  In addition, teachers leaving the profession have increased by 8% with two-thirds quitting before retirement according to the Learning Policy Institute. The bottom line is that fewer folks want to become teachers with a high percentage of teachers leaving the profession.

Hiring teachers and retaining teachers in remote communities is a challenge. There are so many variables to consider. Cost of living, quality of housing, access to shopping and eating amenities, health care and health insurance are just a few of the things that every potential employee considers before signing a contract. I also want to mention the biggest variable that comes into play is also the most difficult for remote educational communities to compete with: a candidates desire to work close to the home where their extended family reside. It is an employee's market in very demanding times when it comes to educational accountability. 

Districts have to be more strategic in the hiring process by doing some of the following: build relationships with surrounding teacher-college programs; grow your own teachers by generating student interest; get to the candidates first (before the competition); find new ways to solicit interest from teacher candidates; or provide more money, amenities and fringe benefits with fewer funds to do so. Searching for "GREAT" teachers is more difficult than ever. 


GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"















Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Middle School Principal Interviews To Take Place

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

On May 18, 2018 the District posted a Middle School Principal position on the OPI, Handshake and the District website. The position was vacated by the resignation of Pax Haslem that was accepted on May 16, 2018.


The District has three candidates that have submitted applications.  We will interview on May 29, 2018. Due to the late resignation and time-line, we are working very quickly. At this juncture in the hiring process for principals, time is of the essence.


Here is the schedule:


DATE
CANDIDATE
INTERVIEW TIMES
BUILDING TOUR
MEET & GREET
May 29, 2018
Nicole Hanson
9:45 AM - 10:45 AM
11:00 AM - 11:30 AM
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM
May 29, 2018
Darlene Hartman-Hallam
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
12:15 PM - 12:45 PM
12:45 PM - 1:15 PM
May 29, 2018
Ken Larson
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
2:15 PM - 2:45 PM
2:45 PM - 3:15 PM

The “Interviews” will be conducted by the administrative cabinet in the Central Board Room. The interviews will be posted and are held in public, but this process restricts public interaction during the interviews  in order to maintain EEOC compliances. For this reason, if staff or community members would like to informally meet the candidates, we have scheduled an opportunity “Meet & Greet” in the Middle School Conference Room. Tashel Brunmeier will host the “Meet & Greet” and see that the candidates are available at the scheduled times.


Building Tours”  will be hosted by middle school students selected by Pax Haslem.


After all interviews, the interview committee will meet and provide a recommendation; as superintendent, I will contact the selected candidate for acceptance. Once the candidate has accepted the recommendation, it will be presented to the Board for consideration at the June 5, 2018 Special Board Meeting starting at 6:00 PM in the Central Board Room.

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Unofficial School Election Results

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

I am happy to announce that unofficial election results indicate that both the Elementary Levy and the High School Levy passed. 

Elementary Levy PASSED 285 to 203
High School Levy PASSED 274 to 215

Two new trustees were also elected to serve on the Colstrip School Board: Brent Burton and John O'Toole. Congratulations to both candidates. 

I would also like to thank all of the candidates that ran for a trustee position. Their efforts and interests in serving the students and community of Colstrip is certainly appreciated and noteworthy. Well done! Way to make dust!

Trustee Election:Brent Burton - 315
John O'Toole - 174
Shaunna Borge - 149
Bryan Wier - 143
Steve Craig - 101
Steven Williams - 51

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Understanding Emergency Closure Make-Up Days

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Sometimes things seem more complicated than they should be. This is the case with emergency school closures or "snow-days" as in this case.  This past winter (I am using the word "past" hoping we don't have any more weather related closures), we dismissed school on the following days due to extreme weather conditions:
  • January 10 - Early Dismissal
  • January 15 - Full Day
  • February 5 - Full Day
  • February 8 - Early Dismissal
  • February 9 - Full Day
  • February 20 - Late Start
According to Montana school law, these days represent aggregate hours of instruction and need to be made up by the District as each school is required to meet a minimum of aggregate hours of instruction (see MCA 20-9-806).

Without going into the aggregate hour details, our schools will make up some of the aggregate hours without a vote by the Board of Trustees in the following manner:
  • The District built in a snow day on April 27, 2018, Students and staff will be required to come to school on April 27, 2018.
The District must make up additional hours and is recommending on doing so at the end of the school year, pending Board approval. This will require a majority vote by the Board of Trustees. Here lies the proposal that will be brought before the Board at its regular May meeting:
  •  WHEREAS: These hours will be made up by changing May 24, 2018 from a part day to a full day and at the end of the year by moving the last day of school from May 30, 2018 to May 31, 2018. Students will come a full day on May 30, 2018 and there will be an early release on May 31, 2018 (PBES 12:15 PM, FBMS 12:30 PM, CHS 12:20 PM).
I offer this information for transparency and planning.The District is required to make up aggregate hours missed and the Board must approve changes to the school calendar. At this time, these are the recommendations of the administration to meet those required hours. By sharing this information, before the fact, it should help everyone understand the process and plan for the proposed changes.

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Transforming School Culture

Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

On behalf of Colstrip Public Schools, I am pleased to announce that we have secured Anthony Muhammad PhD for the District-wide Pupil Instructional Related Day (PIR) on September 24, 2018.  Dr. Muhammad will join us from 8:00 AM until 2:45 PM in the High School Commons for this professional development. If you are unfamiliar with Anthony Muhammad's work here is a quick biography:
Anthony Muhammad is one of the most sought after educational consultants in North America. He currently serves as the CEO of New Frontier 21 Consulting, a company dedicated to providing cutting-edge professional development to schools all over the world. He served as a practitioner for nearly twenty years. Dr. Muhammad served as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. His tenure as a practitioner has earned him several awards as both a teacher and a principal.
Dr. Muhammad is recognized as one of the field’s leading experts in the areas of school culture and organizational climate. His work has allowed him to work with schools in all 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian provinces, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Dr. Muhammad is a best-selling author. He is the author of the books The Will to Lead and the Skill to Teach; Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011); Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division (2009); and a contributing author to the book The Collaborative Administrator: Working Together as a Professional Learning Community (2008). He has published 26 articles in education journals and publications in seven different countries.
Teamed with Solution Tree, Dr. Muhammad has presented several times to our administration at Professional Learning Community Institutes.  His latest book is in its second edition Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division. To find out more, here are a few links to help: 
We are excited about this opportunity and hope that his presentation will help us "create schools that provide adequate guidance and support for all students and that schools aspire to become transformational institutions that make the community a better place to live in and our world a better place" (2018, Transforming School Culture; Muhammad, A., p. 156).

The Core Purpose of Colstrip Public Schools is to effectively focus on learning and growth for all students in a safe, healthy, caring and collaborative environment that ensures each student achieves intellectual and personal excellence, and is well prepared for college and career pathways. 

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Emergency Lock-down Drill

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Tomorrow, Friday, April 13, 2018 our schools will undergo emergency lock-down drills. The drill will take place at each building and will be happening at different times throughout the day. This is NOT an active shooter drill. It is only a lock-down drill. Students and staff will be asked to respond to a lock-down alarm. The District believes that practicing emergency drills will best prepare our students and staff in the case of an actual emergency.

Upon completion of each drill the administration team gathers to provide evidence of our efficiency of lock-down procedures. We log this data as it is our goal to improve each time we drill. Furthermore, we are trying to drill at different times during the day to enhance our student and staff's understanding of each drill at it applies to different situations.

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Trustees Select Calendar for 2018-2019

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

The Cosltrip School Board of Trustees unanimously selected the 2018-2019 School Calendar as presented by the District Calendar Committee at the regularly scheduled March meeting. 

There were three calendars surveyed with 112 responses submitted: 
Responses were collected through the following: Superintendent Blog, email, District Website and social media. All three calendars were presented to the Board. After a lengthy discussion and questions, the Trustees selected the "Black" or "Base" Calendar for the 2018-2019 School Year.   The "Black" Calendar received the popular vote with 37.5 % of the votes. 



The 2018-2019 Board Approved Calendar (See Graphic Below): This Calendar is the same basic calendar that is utilized this school year. The Calendar length is 177 student contact days. School begins on Aug 23 and ends on May 29. It has (1) Snow Day; (8) Winter Break Days; (3) Spring/Easter Break Days. It has (139) Full Days; (37) Part Days; and (1) Half Days. There are (185) Professional Days and (8) PIR Days (Pupil Instructional Related Days).


DEFINITIONS:


Full Day: (WHITE COLORED DAYS) This is a regular day of school.Typical days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday during the following times:
Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 3:30 PM
Middle School: 8:15 AM - 3:45 PM
High School: 8:05 AM - 3:35 PM

Partial Days: (GREEN COLORED DAYS) School is dismissed early. These days are scheduled on Thursdays. Staff will remain in school and continue with their professional responsibilities meeting with parents, school improvement teams, data collection and planning and preparation. These days will also be used for delivery professional development to the staff. These days will focus on school improvement through communication and collaboration efforts. Partial day times:
Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 2:30 PM
Middle School: 8:15 AM - 2:45 PM
High School: 8:05 AM - 2:35 PM

Half Days: (PURPLE COLORED DAYS) Half-days often occur right before holiday breaks. Half-day times:
Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Middle School: 8:15 AM - 12:30 PM
High School: 8:05 AM - 12:20 PM

Student Days: Days students will be in attendance at school.

Staff Days: Days scheduled for the professional staff.

PIR Days: (ORANGE COLORED DAYS) Pupil Instruction Related (PIR) or professional development/training days. No school is scheduled for students.

Vacation or Holidays: (YELLOW COLORED DAYS) Days recognized as holidays or breaks. There is NO SCHOOL on these days.


GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"