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Institute for Learning Partnership

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Area's need for Phuture Phoenix continues

Editorial: Area’s need for Phuture Phoenix continues

Taken from the Green Bay Press Gazette:

// The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Phuture Phoenix program is welcoming its largest-ever class of fifth-graders to campus this week, marking yet another milestone for this impressive initiative.

Co-founded in 2003 by Cyndie Shepard, wife of former UWGB Chancellor Bruce Shepard, the effort to raise college aspirations for our area’s young people has evolved from a beneficial but limited partnership to a large-scale community program. Three other college campuses — Western Washington University, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and, most recently, Silver Lake College in Manitowoc — have launched their own programs modeled after this phenomenal initiative.

Phuture Phoenix Day activities that began Tuesday and continue Thursday will have drawn an estimated 1,400 students from 13 Green Bay School District elementary schools and nine other area school districts. More than 250 UWGB students will have served as tour guides and in other roles to assist the fifth-graders, who come from low-income schools, and more than 90 UWGB faculty members will have opened their classrooms to students during the campus visit, Phuture Phoenix Director Kim Desotell said Monday.

This week’s activities are the most visible part of what the award-winning Phuture Phoenix program does to raise college aspirations for these students, many of whom would be the first in their families to attend college. Ongoing mentor relationships and tutoring offer the chance for UWGB students to further connect with the children involved in the program and build lasting relationships.

We are impressed with the way Phuture Phoenix has evolved, continuing its steadfast focus on helping our area’s young people — many of whom have never before set foot on a college campus — envision their future as students of higher learning. The program could have become less of a priority after Cyndie Shepard’s departure in 2008 — she’s since begun one of its spinoffs at Western Washington, where Bruce Shepard is president — but its champions at UWGB and throughout greater Green Bay ensured it remained strong and vibrant.

The first fifth-grade Phuture Phoenix class graduated high school in June, and more than 10,000 fifth-graders have been involved with the program to date. Also during the last school year, Green Bay’s Jefferson Elementary School — where 90 percent of students are economically disadvantaged — started a school-wide program in conjunction with Phuture Phoenix, aiming to reach kids even earlier than fifth grade.

Convincing youth to pursue higher education, whether at UWGB or elsewhere, is more important than ever as Wisconsin is at an economic crossroads and has a percentage of baccalaureate degree holders that lags behind neighboring states. Just more than a quarter of state residents ages 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, about the same percentage of degree-holders we have in Brown County. That compares with about 31 percent in neighboring Minnesota and 27 percent nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

We applaud the success of this program and encourage its leaders to continue to think big about helping the children Phuture Phoenix serves. It truly is a model for the kind of collaboration and innovation our community needs to help foster a brighter tomorrow for us all.


Editorial: Building our future starts with children

Article from the Green Bay Press Gazette-September 22, 2010

Collaboration and innovation are among the qualities that make greater Green Bay deserving of its most recent honor as one of the country’s 100 best communities for young people.

This is the third time in as many tries the Green Bay area has received the designation from America’s Promise Alliance, a national nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. Officials on Tuesday announced our area’s inclusion on the 2010 list, a designation greater Green Bay also sought and achieved in 2005 and 2008.

Our area’s extensive application shows numerous reasons this community is deserving of the “100 best” honor. It outlines a variety of innovative programs and initiatives for children from birth on up, showcasing the depth and breadth of our commitment to the children of Northeastern Wisconsin.

“Through its innovative and far-reaching programs, Greater Green Bay is taking bold and effective steps to help their young people graduate and lead healthy, productive lives,” Marguerite W. Kondracke, America’s Promise Alliance president and CEO, said. “Greater Green Bay serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their city and children, and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”

Green Bay was recognized for collaborative efforts such as Partners in Education, an initiative of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce that pairs business and educational partners throughout 10 area school districts. Such cooperative endeavors are part of what makes the Green Bay area a great place for kids, said Nancy Schopf, vice president of education and leadership for the chamber.

Initiatives such as the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Phuture Phoenix college readiness program also exemplify the kind of collaborative spirit that makes Green Bay shine. Phuture Phoenix will serve some 1,400 students from low-income schools in area districts this fall, thanks to the help of more than 250 UWGB students who serve as mentors, tour guides and in other roles, said program director Kim Desotell.

These are just two of the numerous educational, private and community-based programs and services that make our community great. Each is worthy and deserving of recognition.

This designation is a meaningful honor for our area, and we are heartened to know those who work on behalf of children will continue their steadfast efforts moving forward. The Green Bay Press-Gazette is contributing to this critical community focus, partnering with business, education and other sectors throughout our community for an effort we’re calling “Greater Green Bay: Where Kids Count.” This initiative seeks to raise the healthiest kids in America through a forward-thinking approach to the childhood obesity epidemic.

The “100 best” designation means something to all of us, whether or not we have children of our own. A vibrant, family-friendly community is good for attracting and retaining businesses and talented employees, and for overall quality of life.

Today’s kids are tomorrow’s work force, and it behooves us all to ensure they have a solid start

Eleven educators receive professional development certification from UW-Green Bay

Eleven educators receive professional development certification from UW-Green Bay

                GREEN BAY ­– Eleven area educators from four school districts have been awarded Professional Development Certificates by the Institute for Learning Partnership at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

                At an award ceremony held Sept. 21 in the University Union, Derryl Block, interim dean of the College of Professional and Graduate Studies, congratulated recipients and told them and their guests that completion of the PDC program marks an individual milestone in an educational journey that will benefit students and other educators, too.

                “The PDC was the proper path,” Block said acknowledging the sacrifice of time and effort that was required to complete the rigorous program. “All of you will apply what you’ve learned to encourage learning.”

                The PDC is a unique, self-paced, and individualized professional development program. The focus of the experience is based on student learning as well as professional growth for educators. The Department of Public Instruction recognizes the PDC for five-year re-licensure of educators in Wisconsin.

From left to right: Deborah Bria, Christina Gingle, Amy Olson-Guillen, Kelly Rowe, Mark Romatowski, Meghan Damsheuser, Barbara Staude, James Kampa and James Haese. Missing from photo: Scott Jansky and Joelle Bomski


The eleven educators recognized for PDC completion are:

                Joelle Bomski – special education teacher, Preble High School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                Deborah Bria – first-grade teacher, Fort Howard Elementary School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                Barbara Staude – elementary general music teacher, Madison and Stangel Elementary Schools, Manitowoc Public School District

                Kelly Rowe – attendance intervention specialist, school social worker, Preble High School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                Meghan Damsheuser, eighth-grade history and communications teacher, De Pere Middle School, Unified School District of De Pere

                Christina Gingle, school social worker, Preble High School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                Mark Romatowski, ninth-grade American History teacher, Washington Junior High School, Manitowoc Public School District

                Amy Olson Guillen, bilingual school psychologist, Preble High School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                James Haese, K-5 ESL teacher, Anne Sullivan Elementary School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                Scott Jansky, physical education teacher, Two Rivers High School, Two Rivers Public School District

                James R. Kampa, school counselor, West High School, Green Bay Area Public School District

                The Institute for Learning Partnership was founded in 1997-98 to focus on educational excellence with special attention to the PK-16 learner. The Institute brings together the resources of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and northeast Wisconsin’s school districts, businesses and community leadership.

                It was the first PDC to be endorsed by the Professional Development Academy of the Wisconsin Education Association. Eight northeast Wisconsin school districts currently offer recognition and compensation for the PDC. These districts are De Pere, Sheboygan, Pulaski, Green Bay, Manitowoc, Two Rivers, West De Pere and Kiel. With the completion of this newest class of PDC recipients, there are now more than 230 Accomplished Educators in these eight districts.

A Conversation with Tom and Cathy Harden


University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden and his wife Cathy share a passion for education that goes beyond profession. In this interview they share their observations and vision for education in Northeastern Wisconsin. View an online biography of Chancellor Harden at

Q: You’ve been at UW-Green Bay for more than a year. What are some of your observations about education?

Chancellor Harden: Our impression was that the educational systems were very good. We’ve found that to be true. Historically there is a great amount of support for education among the citizens here, and that is what it takes to have a great school system and provide real opportunities for the students. Having said that, I think we can anticipate some challenges and position ourselves to address them.  As in higher education, there is a challenge among area schools to have adequate resources to do the job that needs to be done in educating children.

Q: What is your relationship with local schools?


Chancellor Harden: I’m active, along with the presidents from St. Norbert College and NWTC, in Partners in Education. This is an opportunity to work with superintendents on a monthly basis and that is a great asset to sit down and have a discussion to really look at what the PK-12 needs are and what we can do to assist them in solving student needs.

Q: What can the Institute and the University do in partnership to help narrow the achievement gap?

Chancellor Harden: I think we need to understand how we are defining the achievement gap, and to understand why it is widening. The University could be very helpful in defining what the problem is. Once defined, we could address the issues. I think we have a faculty here that is very attuned to the issues. We have an education program that has done excellent work to become more integrated into the schools, with the intent of improving PK-12 education. We have great teachers and great leadership locally. I think working cooperatively with them can yield some positive outcomes, not just in research, but also in practice. I would like to encourage our education people to be more and more active in the classroom. The more active we are, the more we have the opportunity to help, and the more we can learn, as well, and consequently do a good job of preparing prospective teachers.

Q: Northeastern Wisconsin is becoming more ethnically and economically diverse. What leadership can the University provide to ensure that the community successfully adjusts to the challenges diversity brings?

Chancellor Harden: As a university we have a responsibility to put into practice methods and policies that enable us as an institution to become more diverse and deal with student diversity better. And we have an obligation to make an earnest effort and a successful effort to attract more diversity among faculty and staff. I think it is very important we continue to encourage the discussion of this question.

Q: Is your own Midwestern and working class background an asset for leadership within the community?

Cathy Harden: Yes, and we have enjoyed getting to know the people and organizations of this community.

Chancellor Harden: In addition to our Midwestern roots, we bring a perspective that might be helpful, in that we have lived and worked in an area (south of Atlanta) that experienced a tremendous demographic change in a decade. While we were at Clayton State, the University went from about 30 percent to 72 percent minority. There was a similar shift in the population of the area, but not quite so drastic. We were able to witness the richness that was achieved at the University. Part of that was we expanded the curriculum, but we have to attribute a great part of that improvement to the impact of greater diversity in the classrooms and on the campus and it was really a wonderful place. Consequently the University became the shining star of the region.

Cathy Harden: It is especially a great benefit for students. It is amazing that you could see students from all different backgrounds get to know one another and learn more about other cultures and other families. You could just see how they came together.

Chancellor Harden: Green Bay is not the Deep South. So the number of African-American students we can attract will be on a smaller scale. But we have diversity in a great number of groups. The African-American student demographic is not well represented. Approximately 50 African-American students in a population of 6,500 students is very small. But our diversity in general has really increased over the years to where we are approximately 8-9 percent. As a University we have to do all we can to make sure all students can integrate into the mainstream of higher education.

Q: What can this University do to help teachers be at their best in light of the difficult economic issues?


Chancellor Harden:  The best thing we can do is ensure that our students, including our students in our education programs, get a great education here. Because the ability to change, to adapt, the ability to transfer knowledge from one methodology to another, or from one field to another, lies heavily on the ability to know enough and accept enough to change. So the thing we can do best is to help our students acquire a world-class education. I don’t just mean training in educational methodology, but I’m talking about a breadth of education that creates richness in a person’s life that allows them to have an open-mindedness and to approach problems in ways that those who are not broadly educated might not have the tools to do so.

Cathy Harden: It is not just educating prospective teachers, but also future parents who are going to have their children in the schools. They need to understand the importance of an education, be supportive of the institution, be involved, and be lifelong learners themselves and model that for their children.

Chancellor Harden:  Absolutely.  Where the schools are the best is where the parents are involved, where they care about the lives of their children and the education they are receiving, and where they are willing to work with the teachers to make sure that things are right in the schools.

You’re both former teachers. Do you ever find yourself yearning to be back in the classroom?

Chancellor Harden:  I would say we are both still educators. I taught junior high and high school and Cathy taught, too. Occasionally now I think about what it might be like to teach in middle school or high school. I think it would be different. I feel like I have the opportunity to teach on a daily basis in what I’m doing. Although it’s not in front of a class most of the time, I frequently have the opportunity to be in groups to spread a message about something I think needs to be understood. So some of the skills I used in the classroom a few years back, I still use. It’s a different audience, different topic, but it’s not that different. There are parts of getting in front of class and teaching and working with individual students more regularly than I do now, that is appealing. On the other hand I really like what I’m doing now, too. I think that there is value in leadership and leadership in higher education is a worthy endeavor. I don’t think I’ve gotten out of education because I’m not teaching in the classroom.

Cathy Harden: Education of children has always been dear to my heart. I used to teach first grade, until our children were born. I felt I could serve them best by raising them well. When they went to school I went back to graduate school and determined that when I went back into the classroom I wanted to know more so that I could help students who were having difficulty. I went to graduate school and studied school psychology. I went back into the workforce and was a school psychologist and really enjoyed that because I felt like I was making a difference. When I first left the classroom I must say that in the fall in the stores when Elmer’s Glue and scissors and tape would come out, you would have that little heart tug and I would miss my kids in the classroom. But as you change jobs, or levels of jobs, you can help more students in different ways. As a school psychologist you’re helping families and teachers deal with students, and if you make a positive change in the classroom then that may affect their teaching for years to come; or if you work with parenting and parenting classes, it may make a significant difference in their children.

Chancellor Harden: It has worked out really well in our lives that we’ve been able to work in higher education and K-12 education. I say “we” because Cathy works many unpaid hours for this University. A lot of it is in support of my particular role. She’s a very busy person.

Cathy Harden: I’ve just recently joined the board of the Neville Public Museum and I’m really looking forward to being involved with that. I feel that’s an area in the community that serves to preserve the history that goes right along with knowledge and learning and is especially important as the area diversifies for people who come to the area to understand the history and what made this area so strong. I’m really looking forward to the education component of the Neville. There are many, many opportunities for students. And the Learning In Retirement group holds many of their classes at the Neville Museum.

Q: So you’re lifelong educators and lifelong learners?

Chancellor Harden:  I don’t think you sit still. You either go forward and learn more, or you don’t, and you go backwards. You strengthen the interests you already have and develop new interests. And there are just dozens and dozens of ways to do that. Lifelong learning is not a new type of thing but we all recognize the need to grow. For me, that is one of the reasons that I agreed to leave where I was and come here. It was the challenge to do it again, in a different setting, different environment, different issues, and some different problems. The challenge to grow and learn different things, to some may not seem like lifelong learning, but it really is to me. This is a small community in many ways, but there are a lot of opportunities that a person can participate in, and continue to learn. This is an exciting region with a lot of vitality, and a person who wants to learn has many opportunities.

Institute for Learning Partnership’s fall conference examines families and schools

GREEN BAY – Fostering a bond between schools and families will be a focus of the 12th annual Institute for Learning Partnership’s Fall Conference, Oct. 7-8 at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Gwendolyn Webb-Johnson, a nationally recognized expert on culturally responsive instructional leadership, community partnerships and multicultural education will be the keynote speaker for the conference, which will be held in the Phoenix Room of the University Union, 2420 Nicolet Drive.

The conference will open at 5:30 p.m. with a showcase by educators who will display their classroom research. All events, including the keynote speech, are free and open to the public.

“I think it’s important to emphasize that these presentations are not just for educators,” said Institute Director Richard Schaal. “The keynote topic for the conference is Connecting Schools and Families: Culturally Responsive Parent and Family Involvement. That is a subject that is important to the entire community.”

An associate professor in education administration and human development at Texas A&M University, Webb-Johnson has been a professional educator for nearly four decades and is a frequent consultant to schools across the country. She was the keynote speaker at the 2009 Wisconsin Promise Conference.

“A Family Re-union: Culturally Responsive Engagement” will be the topic of Webb-Johnson’s keynote speech, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7. She will share research-supported strategies to engage families as true partners in children’s education.

At 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, Webb-Johnson will open a workshop for educators, students and others with a presentation on “Building Community: A Journey of Purposeful Family Engagement.” She will share methods for effectively involving families in the education of their children.

At 9:45 a.m. there will be several breakout sessions that participants are welcome to attend. Among the sessions:

Race-ethnicity – Gwendolyn Webb-Johnson facilitator

Instructional leadership – Joanne Metzler, Jefferson-Elementary School, Manitowoc, facilitator

Community and business partnerships – Jennifer Grenke, CESA 8 parent educator, facilitator

Following a lunch break Webb-Johnson and Carl Hasan will lead a parent panel who will share their own challenges and successes in working with their children. Parents from urban and rural communities will discuss how schools, communities and non-profit agencies can better support parents and children.

For more information about the conference contact ILP Associate Director Juliet Cole at (920) 465-5094; or at

Self-improvement meant student improvement says Debbie Burke


SHEBOYGAN – Debbie Burke is convinced that obtaining her Professional Development Certification (PDC) was the right move for so many good reasons – first and foremost, her special education students.

Not only have their fluency skills improved, her passion toward learning has been re-ignited, and she is certain that it has made her a better, more creative teacher.

“I love working with all the students and enjoy the challenge,” said Burke, who is a special education teacher at James Madison Elementary School in the Sheboygan Area School District, working in the Kidship program for children with Emotional Behavioral Disabilities. “Traditional education has failed these children, so I enjoy being creative in trying to reach and teach them on a social, behavioral and academic level.”


The PDC is an individualized, self-paced program of professional development that is offered by the Institute for Learning Partnership at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Like many school districts, the Sheboygan schools offer a salary incentive for educators who complete the PDC program. It took Burke about 15 months to complete her PDC, and she stepped-up three lanes on the district salary scale.

A major component of the PDC is an action research project that is developed by the educator and peer reviewed by a panel of master educators.

“The focus of my PDC was to find a framework that would allow me to teach language arts to multi-grades and increase differentiation of instruction,” she said. “After researching, observations, and interviews I decided on the “Four Blocks” framework that consists of guided reading, working with words, self-selected reading and writing.”

The early results of Burke’s action research project are quite promising. Each of her special needs students improved their fluency scores and became more involved in their learning.

“Through my PDC process I expanded my instructional strategies, increased differentiation, and definitely got students more involved in their own learning,” she said. “The results being happy, motivated, productive students and teacher.”

And it’s a lesson that has stuck, even after the coursework was completed.

“The PDC has taught me the value of consultation with colleagues,” she said. “I have learned so much from my associates throughout the PDC process through mentoring, team teaching, consulting, sharing ideas, plans and outcomes.”

It also made Burke reflect upon her teaching methods and strategies. “It made me stop and reflect on my strengths and weaknesses. I had to ask myself ‘how do I get kids and parents more involved?’

“I began researching best practices, reading everything I could get my hands on concerning reading, frameworks, themes, behaviors, and self-monitoring,” she said. “And I came out of this (PDC) more organized, purposeful and focused.

She jokes that the PDC challenged her to address a particular weakness – technology.

“Through working with my computer mentor and taking numerous technology classes I began to feel more confident,” she said. “Students loved working on the computer and were making good use of their time. The PDC has helped me broaden my horizons, although I know I have a long way to go. The difference being, I am no longer afraid to attempt new avenues on the computer.”

And as her confidence has grown, she’s begun to look at other courses that will make her a more creative teacher.

Burke recently completed a class in “Classroom Management Strategies That Teach Responsibility” and is working on other classes on “Yoga for Instructors” and “Why Gender Matters.”

“In summary, the PDC process has been a catalyst in stimulating and renewing my thirst for knowledge as well as an incentive to increase my instructional practice and ensure success of my students,” she said. “The PDC has been a challenging journey, but definitely worth taking.”

Buddy Program helps raise Two Rivers’ student math, reading scores

TWO RIVERS – When L.B. Clarke Middle School Counselor Brian Schley created the Buddy Program at Clarke Middle School his motivation was “purposeful research” for a professional degree.

He’s got the certification – known as a Professional Development Certificate (PDC) – and the results have proven so successful helping students raise their math and reading scores that he wouldn’t dream of ending the buddy plan.

“When you find something that works, that helps students, it’s pretty hard not to continue,” Schley said in late

August as he prepared for the upcoming semester.

In a nutshell the buddy program works like this: teachers identify 5th and 6th graders who could benefit from some mentor tutoring by 7th and 8th graders. Held before school twice a week, it’s voluntary on the part of all students and enjoys parental permission.

The research project was a component of the PDC program, which is an individualized, self-paced program of professional development that is offered by the Institute for Learning Partnership at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and recognized by the Department of Public Instruction for re-licensure.

 Two Rivers, like many school districts, offers a financial incentive to educators who complete the PDC program. A major component of the PDC is an action research project that is developed by the educator and peer reviewed by a panel of master educators.

Schley, who received his bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College and master’s degree in counseling from UW-Oshkosh, has been at Clarke Middle School for four years. His wife Tiffani is a counselor in the Manitowoc schools, who is in the process of earning her PDC certification.

“The first time I went before a PDC Quality Review Board I felt like a steak on the burner. But from that experience I learned so much,” he said. “The PDC really begs the questions: What are you doing and is it effective?”

As his Buddy Program project advanced, Schley worked with teachers to review test scores to find out whether students were benefiting from student mentoring. As the data rolled in, the answer was an unequivocal ‘yes.’

The concept is that the 7th and 8th graders work with their younger schoolmates to build basic skills. It requires training mentors on how they can help build those skills. It also requires some skilled paring of students and role models.

Fifth and sixth grade students who participated in the Buddy Program showed improvement in math and reading scores. And when asked to complete a self-assessment survey, students who were in the Buddy Program reported an improvement in behavior, attitude and self-esteem.

There are other encouraging outcomes from the Buddy Program – fifth and sixth graders benefit from building a positive relationship with older students. It’s had to understate the importance of self-esteem, especially in the middle school years.

“As counselors we focus on three domains – careers, personal-social skills, and academic development,” Schley explained. “I think we do the first two well, but academic development is one area that I think we could stand to do some work on. I think the Buddy Program with its focus on building skills is doing some of that.”