Welcome Back!

Dear Parents/Community,

I hope all of our families have had a great summer, but you’re now looking forward to a great school year 😉  I had the pleasure of spending time with my kids and grandkids and now I need a vacation. My three grandsons are age 8 years, 6 years and 10 months.  When I wasn’t on the floor crawling around with my 10 month old, I was running, swimming, hiking, biking, bowling, golfing, playing baseball, reading, computing, and watching cartoons with my 6 and 8 year old.  I was basically their best friend from morning to evening. Needless to say, it was a very sad moment to say goodbye as they traveled back to their homes in Alaska.

And . . . . I am still recovering from trying to keep up with their energy and enthusiasm for activity and learning.

I am really looking forward to the 18-19 school year!!  We have made some very good hires this past Spring and Summer, and have a team that is anxious to help us continue our efforts to innovate and grow. However,  I must warn ahead, we have two very big changes taking place right now. We are currently in the process of transferring all of our Schoolmaster data to our new Student Information Management System (SIMS), Powerschool, and at the same time switching our grading system to TeachEase.  Powerschool will be ready and working sometime during our August inservice week (fingers crossed). Powerschool is a SIMS that is much more robust and more user friendly than our old SIMS – Schoolmaster. We will help parents adapt to the implementation process and will provide you with the necessary information to access the parent portal.  Once it is set up, I believe you will be pleased with the change.

Our staff will be working together in a professional learning community (PLC) that is focused on the book,  “Innovator’s Mindset”. To describe the content of the book in one sentence: “The Innovator’s Mindset is the how to guide on moving from an industrial (traditional) to an innovating model of schooling.”  We know that kids walk into schools full of wonder and questions and we strive to keep this type of enthusiasm for learning at every grade level. Our discussions will focus on what we can do as educators to respond to students’ natural curiosity to help further their own exploration and shape the way they learn today and in the future.   I strongly believe the discussions we have tied to reflecting on the Innovator and Growth Mindset will put us on the same page when we discuss the vision and purpose of our practice as educators. I would recommend that you as a parent or community member take a look at this website: InnovatorsMindset.  If you would like a copy of the book, we would be happy to check one out for you from our Multi-Media center.

The admin team met last week and we are working hard to put clear systems in place that will allow us to work more often in the zone of school improvement rather than the urgency/emergency zone.  Our new “Innovative” Business Manager (Adrienne) comes to us with a ton of good ideas for policies/procedures that will make a huge difference in the efficiencies for payroll and accounting. As you know, we no longer contract business manager services with LESD – it’s all up to Adrienne now 😉  Our new K-12 Assistant/Principal, Travis, has already dug in and started meeting with staff, students and parents – he too comes with a wealth of innovative improvements for efficiencies in attendance, classroom management and developing relationships with students. Although, Pete Lemay is not new, he does have additional responsibilities as the K-12 Athletic Director and Community Schools Director.  Pete, has jumped in with both feet and is realizing this position was needed some time ago. He has developed and will be sharing the new Activities Handbook with the staff upon their return. We have hired some additional support staff and of course two new teachers, Ms. Bobby Greene at 4th grade and Mr. Chris Moon HS/MS who will add additional support to the innovative and productive changes MSD continues to implement.

TEACH NorthWest continues to grow, over 300 students now. TNW’s offices are now located on the LCC campus and TNW is now officially a “virtual charter school”.  Phil Johnson (Director) and his support staff have been working through the summer enrolling new students, checking on existing students and moving into their new place.  We will have a very strong partnership with LCC next year! Both Phil and I have had several meetings with the LCC administration and they are excited about opening their doors to create more opportunities for our students.

We have been updating our website through the summer as much as possible and will put additional updates in full gear as soon as our staff returns.  All upcoming events and activities are posted. Please use the website to find information. If you can’t find it, let us know and we will make sure the information is added.  As you know the registration forms are now online and our activity registration forms for Winter activities will also be online in the next few weeks (sorry we didn’t have it for Fall ;(  With the addition of Powerschool (PS), as soon as you register online the information/data is automatically inputted.

In closing, please know I am working, but I’m not always in my office.  If you need me or need to set up a meeting with me please call my cell phone at  907 942 3171. We are excited for the upcoming school year and can’t wait to see your children – always fun to see the growth that has taken place in just a few months.


Bill Watkins
Marcola School District