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April/May 2016

School District of Whitefish Bay News


Welcome to the April/May E-Newsletter


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My name is John Thomsen, and it is a pleasure to serve as the District Administrator for the School District of Whitefish Bay.   

In this  e-newsletter we will be sharing GREAT news about our teachers recognized by the Kohl Fellowship Teacher Award as well as information on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in The Bay.

We hope you have a GREAT spring  and on behalf of our students and team members thank you for your ongoing support.


Thank You

Dr. John W. Thomsen
District Administrator

Link to website

Whitefish Bay Educators Honored with the Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Award

The Kohl Teacher Fellowship program recognizes and supports teaching excellence and innovation in the State of Wisconsin. The goal is to support teachers in the pursuit of their unrealized goals for their classrooms or professional development.

Beginning in 2015 the Foundation increased its Fellowship awards to 100 Wisconsin teachers to $3,000, and each Kohl Fellowship recipient's school will receive a matching $3,000 grant. Recipients' professional accomplishments were celebrated at a recognition luncheon in the spring.

Kohl Winners 4-2016
Whitefish Bay Recipients pictured with Herb Kohl (left to right)
Jessica Leahy-- Middle School
Nora Fitzpatrick -- Richards
Sam Cruz -- Cumberland

Congratulations teachers - we are proud of you!!!!  For more information on the Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Program - HERE

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports     

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a systemic approach to proactive, school-wide behavior based on a Response to Intervention (RtI) model.

PBIS applies evidence-based programs, practices and strategies for all students to increase academic performance, improve safety, decrease problem behavior, and establish a positive school culture.

Schools implementing PBIS build on existing strengths, complementing and organizing current programming and strategies. For More information on PBIS click HERE.  

How does this look in Whitefish Bay?

The Whitefish Bay Schools formally began our PBIS journey over the last two years through enhancing existing strategies/practices to align with the District RtI framework.  The District is committed to the research based, system approach to enhance the learning and social experiences of all students, staff, and families.  An informal tour of our classrooms and interactions between students and staff demonstrate PBIS strategies in action.

Full implementation of a successful PBIS framework can take several years. Schools that faithfully studied, planned, implemented, and continue to modify a PBIS framework, observe many positive results contributing to the success of all students.

Here are a few great PBIS outcomes in our schools: 

Richards Elementary –  
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An eleven-member Richards Way team 
includes representation from each grade level and department. 

The continuous review of data is a key part of PBIS and we are proud to see a 12% reduction in the number of minor behavior referrals during the September-March time frame when comparing the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. We believe in the power of consistent expectations and a school culture that actively celebrates the positive!! 

Cumberland Elementary - Cumberland continues to see positive impacts from PBIS efforts. Students and school adults have common language and expectations of what being safe, respectful and responsible looks like throughout school environments. When these expectations are used as reference points, students are able to examine their own behavior relative to our expectations. When students do not meet the expectations, we are increasingly observing children’s ability to articulate exactly what they need to do differently to act in concert with these beliefs. 

Weekly acknowledgement drawings continue from the PBIS tickets awarded that week. Students have been particularly excited to choose sitting at the cafeteria table of their choice, selecting work time music for their class, and an extra recess for the class. Many students sport Cumberland Pride bracelets and pencils.

Through our data system, we can analyze our PBIS data in multiple ways. We know, for example, that more than one-third of our PBIS redirections are with our younger students and the fewest by fifth graders. We celebrate that in 6 of the last 7 months, the average number of offenses per day was fewer than 2!

In a school of 721 students, this is a remarkably low number. It is a tribute to the power of explicit expectations, persistent teaching, and celebrating successful and positive behaviors.

CU- pledge of allegiance during PBIS 9-2015 Cumberland Students saying the Pledge of Allegiance during PBIS.

Whitefish Bay Middle School –  The middle school Lion PRIDE Program has resulted in several positive outcomes: Staff have positively recognized students 1403 times this year by giving PRIDE tickets when positive behavior is displayed.  Parents/Guardians have received 755 emails from staff members stating that their child has demonstrated positive behavior.  338 students have had their names drawn as part of our weekly Lion PRIDE ticket drawing. 
MS Science roller coasters 2-2016 2
These students received recognition for their positive behavior in the form of Starbucks, Bruegger's or Dunkin Donuts gift cards, Marcus and Fox Bay movie passes, lunch fast passes and more.            
Some students enjoyed a bottomless cup of hot chocolate before winter break and had the opportunity to watch NCAA March Madness during lunch and recess in recognition of having no major or minor discipline referrals.

Whitefish Bay High School - Following the fall sports season, high school staff engaged students in a purposeful lesson and held conversations with students about positive sportsmanship. Highlights of this lesson included the importance of cheering for our Blue Dukes rather than engaging in personal chants about individual opposing athletes.

Students were also asked to ponder the message shouting "Dukes" over "brave" at the conclusion of the National Anthem could send.  After thoughtful discussion, many students realized that, without intending to do so, they might be insulting those who have served in our military. As a result of this lesson and ongoing conversation among staff and students, positive sportsmanship during the winter sports season has been noticeably improved.

It is really important that all remember that our venues of extra-curricular competition and performance are direct extensions of our classrooms and fan/audience behavior should be positive and respectful at all times. Humble in victory , gracious in defeat....

HS retreat 6 11-2015
High School Retreat

You may find these guiding beliefs about schools and PBIS interesting.
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Next time you speak with your child, their teacher(s), school's principal or assistant principal ask them how PBIS is going?

What do you think?

This e-newsletter is one of several ways the district works toward comprehensive  communications with the community. 

We would love your feedback!  Please email us to tell us what you think about this issue.

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Attention Alumni!

Do you have good news to share with the School District.  We would love to hear from you.  
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Tel: (414) 963-3901
Fax: (414) 963-3959

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School District of Whitefish Bay
1200 E. Fairmount Avenue
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin 53217

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