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Institute for Learning Partnership

Education remains a priority for Wisconsin, says Dean Mattison

Dean Sue Joseph Mattison offers observastions on education and the Institute.

In mid-summer, Sue Joseph Mattison, an academic administrator with experience in health and education, assumed her post as UW-Green Bay Dean of the College of Professional Studies. Mattison, who has a distinguished record as a scholar and academic leader, oversees academic offerings and community services in the areas of teacher education, business administration, nursing and social work, majors that account for about one-third of UW-Green Bay’s 6,600 students. Additionally, her position entails leadership in developing community partnerships with professional organizations in those fields. Here’s Mattison’s initial thoughts about education in Northeastern Wisconsin:

Q. What is your impression of education in this region?

Wisconsin is known for its strong support of education at all levels. It’s been a challenging time for educators, and certainly more resources are needed to support education, but I’m overwhelmed by the professionalism of educators in Green Bay and the Northeastern Wisconsin region, and how they work to maintain a quality curriculum for their students.  I believe education is still a top priority for residents of the state.  

 

Q. What are your thoughts about the Institute for Learning Partnership and professional development for educators?

I see how every Institute staff member is extremely focused and committed to serving the needs of students and educators in the northeast Wisconsin region, by supporting educators working to solve challenging issues within their own schools and districts.  Learning about the outstanding projects completed by in-service educators/graduates of the Professional Development Certificate, as well as relevant continuing educational opportunities with the ILP Fall Conference, shows the critical importance of the work done by Institute staff.  In addition, the overwhelming success of the Phuture Phoenix program is resulting in expanded educational attainment for students in Green Bay and surrounding communities.  I had a great time mingling with the Phuture Phoenix fifth graders, and got caught up in the excitement during their field trip day on the UW-Green Bay campus this fall.  In all aspects of their work, I have been extremely impressed by the ILP staff members.

 

Q. Could you share some of your thoughts about preparing future teachers at a time when there are so many challenges confronting the education profession?

I understand the enormous challenges faced by educators, but even so – I can think of no better profession than to be an educator.  My daughter just started college this fall, and is majoring in music education.  She said she wants to be able to instill the love of music in high school kids, just as that love of music was brought into her own life.  That is exactly the kind of educators we want to prepare – those who would do the job for the love of inspiring others.  And yet there is no doubt in my mind that we must hold greater esteem for the importance of those who choose to be educators, and the many challenges they face.  I saw a very illuminating cartoon about the use of standardized testing as a way to measure teacher performance – an elephant, monkey, turtle, and other animals were standing in front of the teacher’s desk, and the teacher said, “Okay, now for our final exam, go climb that tree.”  The sad part is the teacher will face severe consequences when the elephant and turtle can’t climb the tree. 

Q. Do you worry the political and economic climate will discourage some students from becoming educators and drive others from their chosen profession?

I do worry about the effect of the current political and economic climate.  However, the people of Wisconsin have a lot of common sense, and still recognize the importance of their political and economic support of teachers – the economic, social, business, political, public health, and cultural future of our state depends on an educated population.  We will think of new ways to work together and keep moving forward. 

Q. Could you share some of your ideas on how the Institute could better serve the needs of the region?

To address changes in legislation and teacher professional development compensation, the Institute staff is meeting with area school district administrators and educators to develop innovative professional development opportunities.  The population of Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin is rapidly becoming more diverse, which brings many interesting educational opportunities. Education faculty, ILP staff, and I have been meeting with community leaders to begin to address the needs of diverse learners through innovative curriculum for pre-service and in-service teachers.  I am very proud of the entire Institute staff, how committed they are to serving the needs of educators and schools in the region, and their creative vision to move the Institute forward in the face of multiple challenges – truly an amazing group of individuals.

 

Grant workshops scheduled Jan. 25,26

Elementary students use iPads to improve skills

 The Institute for Learning Partnership annually awards educators in CESA 7 and 8 thousands of dollars in grants which can help improve teaching and close the achievement gap.

In these times of budget belt-tightening, we know that a grant is especially valuable. So we’ll help educators navigate the requirements of grant application.

 The Institute’s Action Research Grant Writing Workshops will be offered from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, January 25, 2012, in the 1965 Room, University Union, UW-Green Bay and from 3:30 -6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 26 in the CESA 8 Office, Gillett. Registration is required. Call 920-465-5555, or fax 920-465-5070.

What sorts of projects win grant approval?

 This year students at Robinson Elementary School, Laona, are on the edge of the digital revolution. A $7,500 grant from the Institute, allowed teachers Cara Shepherd and Sheryl Hendricks to purchase iPads for differentiated instruction.

 Robinson is one of six schools in CESA 7 and CESA 8 that received about $35,000 in Institute grants to improve teaching and learning and close the achievement gap. The Institute has awarded $745,000 to school districts since its inception in 1998. Other 2011-12 awards and the project directors and project titles are:

— Anne Sullivan Elementary School, Green Bay, Mai Lee Thor and James R. Haese: Hmong Bilingual Literacy Program, $3,600.

— Wequiock Elementary School, Green Bay, Shirley Paulson: AVID Eighth Grade Writing Project, $6,728.

 — Bowler Elementary Schools, Bowler, Melody Krueger: Improving Reading Skills Through Guided Reading, $3,591.

— Bowler Elementary School, Bowler, Judith Munsey: Improving Classroom Practice Through Differentiation, $7,481.

Oconto Middle School, Oconto, Jenny Holmgren: Engaging Generation iBORED and Disadvantaged Students, $6,090.

 So how do educators apply? Application forms and guidelines for the Institute‘s Teaching and Learning Grants are available online at: www.uwgb.edu/learnpart. Grant proposals are due in the Institute’s office in Wood Hall 410, by 4:30 p.m., March 8, 2012.

By embracing diversity, Schultz is becoming a better teacher

 

Alison Schultz with her research project at the annual ILP Fall Conference

The professional challenge for first-grade teacher and 2011 UW-Green Bay master’s degree graduate Alison Schultz isn’t unique. In fact, a growing number of educators work each day to improve learning by being culturally responsive to the needs of their students and families. In Schultz’s case, many of the families that attend Green Bay’s Nicolet Elementary School moved to Green Bay from Mexico.

 However, when considering her project for her Master’s Degree in Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning at UW-Green Bay, Schultz saw the value in getting to know her students and their families at a deeper level.  Part of her research included a project,  “Portraits of Mexican Immigrants,’” in which she interviewed four families from the Nicolet School community. Schultz said her goal was to better understand her students’ families, their lives in Mexico, their journey to the United States and their adjustment to daily life in the U.S.

 A number of common themes emerged among the interviewees:

— a dangerous journey to the United States with coyotes (those who smuggle people into the U.S. for cash)

—little or inconsistent education in Mexico

—employment in the service industry in Green Bay: meat-packing, roofing, mechanics, etc.

—language barrier with children often having to translate for parents

—hopes for a college education for their children

—learn English but preserve the Spanish language

—great appreciation of teachers/school

—loss of traditions from homeland (Day of the Dead, etc.) and gaining assimilation to U.S. customs

—concern about driver’s license expiration (can’t be renewed without proof of citizenship)

—striving to gain U.S. citizenship

 The project helped Schultz understand how educators can help these families in transition. She encourages those with multicultural classrooms to consider cultural nights and incorporate various multicultural material and language into the classroom, while providing a school atmosphere rich in both languages. To reach the families of her students, she suggests providing homework (with answer keys), family letters and other correspondence, if possible, in the native language; working with school administration to provide English classes for parents after school; provide for translators and provide multiple bilingual programs (one way, two way transitional and bridging).