November 9, 2018: American Education Week

Hello Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the School District of Black River Falls, and I’m here to share this week’s Spotlight on Schools! This week I want to highlight two things; the first is an upcoming opportunity to come and participate in a conversation about school safety, and the second is to highlight that next week is American Education Week!

Unfortunately, it is a fact of our current society that schools and communities need to have preparedness measures in place to be ready should a crisis situation arise. We have an extensive school safety plan. The drills we practice with students have progressed well beyond the fire drills you may be familiar with, and community collaboration and communication has never been more important.

In Black River Falls we’ve had a couple of incidents of threats in which we’ve taken all of the steps of our Safety Plan. Thankfully, they have been idle threats and not serious acts of violence. When we are in a situation such as this we have several priorities, however, student safety always trumps other considerations. Parent communication is extremely important in times of crisis, although there is no way that it can be immediate. Because of this, and the tall tales that are often shared as “fact” on social media, we get a frenzy of misinformation being shared and parents are in a pure state of panic.

While we have shared bits and pieces of our safety plans with parents, we haven’t hosted an open forum with local law enforcement, for people to ask questions and try to understand the thought process that goes into these decisions. We are trying to fix this! Tuesday, November 13, beginning at 6:00 pm in the Lunda Theater, we will have the BRF Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and SDBRF Administrators there to share our plan, talk about the drills our students practice, discuss our decision making model in crisis situations, talk about the safety upgrades to our buildings through the new state grants, as well as leave plenty of time for audience questions and answers. We hope that many people will come and get their questions answered. When a crisis happens is NOT the time to be learning about this information and seeking these answers.

On a completely separate note, and a positive one at that, next week the Nation celebrates American Education Week! The tagline for American Education Week is, “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.” In Black River Falls our tagline is “Inspiring Excellence” and I often pair that with the statement “that this is our goal and our responsibility”. We will have local celebrations throughout the week to recognize all of the exceptional achievements of our students and our staff.

We have such an inspiring group of professionals working in our schools that continuously challenge themselves to find new ways to make the learning engaging and relevant for our students. Whether it be our fifth graders learning how to write computer code, our middle school students going out to do their job shadows as a part of their career exploration, or our high school kids where a growing number of students are graduating high school with college credits already successfully under their belt! We are working to prepare our kids for whatever their goals are after graduation; there is no work that is more rewarding. I personally am so humbled and proud to be a part of this team of exceptional educators. If you see a district staff member next week, please take a moment to tell them Happy American Education Week!

As always, we’ll end today with a quote from a parent that also appreciates the work of our staff; this is from a Forrest Street parent, “Ms. Tina Iverson - sure seems to have an affect on my kiddo...and probably has this effect on many other kids too! Ms. Wester, because she makes the library a great place to be and my son has talked about that also! And lastly...the CUSTODIANS! I know what it's like to clean up after one kid, but many would be insane. The school looks spic & span, so thank you for caring about your jobs too!!! Self pride begins when we walk through the doors of a building, it can set the whole mood of the day! Thank you!”

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District, please let me know! Let’s show our Tiger Pride as we celebrate the profession that creates all others!
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