News from the Superintendent – August 2018

“Staff, Students and Community Dedicated to Excellence”

Message from the Superintendent

Preparing for another successful year

Dear Community, Staff and Students,

As we prepare to open school for the 2018-19 school year, we have some important information to share with our staff and families. We ended the 2017-18 school year on a positive note – First and foremost our Graduation rate and Freshman on Track rate was over 90%. Of course we are always shooting for 100% graduation rate and we have put numerous programs and systems in place to move us from a once dismal 54% graduation rate to an almost 100% rate. Our new Career Tech Programs of Study, the numerous partnerships with industry, more course choices (virtual, hybrid and brick and mortar courses), proficiency based instruction and assessment, and a focus on implementing strategies to help teachers build positive relationships with all students has had a positive impact on graduation rates. In the 2018-19 school year, we will continue to focus on the vision, “All students learning well, without the loss of enthusiasm for learning, in a system where learning is the constant and time is the variable.”

Behind the Scenes, It’s been a very busy Summer.

Teaching and Admin staff may not be present in the school buildings during the summer months, but I can assure you they are working hard to prepare for a successful and innovative school year. Below is a list of summer accomplishments:

  1. MSD maintenance team does a thorough cleaning of all spaces in both schools. In addition, they move teacher classrooms, do minor and major repairs, and stay on top of landscaping tasks.
  2. MSD agrees to purchase a 13.2 acre farm to expand our CTE programs of study, expand our FFA program and implement a Farm to School Program.
  3. MSD prepares for another system accreditation with new standards and data criteria – requires additional training.
  4. MSD hires a new Assistant Principal, Business Manager, AD/Community Schools Coordinator, 2 new teachers, and 2 new support staff.
  5. New Gym floor gets another coat of oil – soon the gym will be painted.
  6. MSD reviews and revises all handbooks to align to our philosophy and state statutes.
  7. FFA program stays busy all summer representing the Marcola Community with pride and honor. Mohawk FFA chapter walked away with most of the prizes at the County Fair.
  8. TEACH North West (TNW) charter school moves their offices to Lane Community College (LCC) due to expansion way beyond our expectations. TNW is now operating as Charter School and an Alternative Program with MSD as the authorizing school district.
  9. MSD is changing their Student Information System (SIS) from Schoolmaster/Tyler to Powerschool. We are currently in the middle of transferring data from our old student information management system to our new student information management system. This is a 5-8 week process.
  10. MSD is in the setup process of implementing an electronic time clock and absence management system through Frontline Education.
  11. MSD is updating our reimbursement policy and adding ACH payments for travel and supply reimbursements. .
  12. All MSD employees have received a book – “The Innovator’s Mindset – Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture of Creativity.” by George Couros. We will all engage in a thorough book study as we continue to put systems in place that allow all staff and students to innovate and be creative.
  13. All teachers are reorganizing their Learning Targets through the summer and putting the learning target language into language that students can comprehend. The learning targets are an important part of the grading system and will need to be placed into our new grading system – Teachease.
  14. Our office staff (including our new business manager) have spent hours and hours trying to complete end of year State Education reports – this is ongoing.

I always hear the statement, “Educators have it easy, they get their summers off”. Please know, in the summer you do not have to be physically present in a brick and mortar school building to be working. We have all had numerous virtual meetings this summer and all meetings end up with tasks assigned to all meeting participants 😉 Yes, we are busy all year long – just a different kind of busy in the summer.

Upcoming Events:

August 8th: Fall Activities Registration MS and HS, 4:00 – 6:00 in the HIgh School STEM room
August 13th: School Board Meeting, 6:00 pm in the High School STEM room
August 15th: MSD Admin Team Meeting, 9:00 – 3:00 in the STEM room
August 22nd: MSD Registration, 7:00 am – 6:00 pm (Multi Media Center)
August 27th – 30th: Teacher Inservice
September 3rd – Labor Day
September 4th – Teacher Work Day
September 5th – First day of school for students
September 14th – Teacher In-service
September 28th – Teacher In-service

Quotes from “The Innovator’s Mindset” – Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity.

(To keep our community informed of our year long book study and implementation of the Innovator’s Mindset, I will continue to send you quotes and examples of what MSD is doing to empower learning, unleash talent and lead a culture of creativity)

  1. “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Albert Einstein
  2. “Change is an opportunity to do something Amazing.” Innovator’s Mindset
  3. “Look at our education system; as students, we have no say on what we learn or how we learn it, yet we’re expected to absorb it all, take it all in, and be able to run the world some-day. We’re expected to raise our hands to use the restroom, then three months later be ready to go to college or have a full time job, support ourselves, and live on our own. It’s not logical.” 17 year old Kate Simonds during her 2015 TEDx Talk
  4. “If Students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them” Innovator’s Mindset
  5. “Innovation is not reserved for the few; It is something we will all need to embrace if we are to move forward” Innovator’s Mindset
  6. “Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” Seth Godin.
  7. “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” William Pollard
  8. “When forward-thinking schools encourage today’s learners to become creators and leaders, I believe they, in turn, will create a better world.” Innovator’s Mindset
  9. “The question that must be asked everyday is, What is best for this Learner?” Innovator’s Mindset
  10. “When we think differently about the things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities.” Innovator’s Mindset

Please know my job as a leader of Marcola School District is to put systems in place that support a Growth Mindset and eliminate the Fixed Mindset that prevents students and teachers do their best work. It is my job to help both staff and students unleash their talents in a culture of creativity through innovation. Everyone has strengths – we need to focus on the strengths.

In closing, I look forward to the opportunity to work with our students, staff and families to create engaging learning environments for everyone. I am still in and out of the office, working virtually from a variety of places. If you need to contact me please send me an email:

Bill Watkins
Marcola School District