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Cal's Comments


Cal’s Comments

( A monthly comment by West Valley School Supt. Cal Ketchum)



September 18, 2017


Welcome Back- To say we have had an interesting start to the school year would be HUGE understatement! While the year has started off great with the kids and staff, we have had our share of issues to deal with, starting with the all the smoke from the fires spreading across Montana. We are keeping a constant eye on the air quality and we never send kids out when the AQ is in the unhealthy level. We are firm believers in getting kids outside whenever possible, and as you can see by the change in weather, winter is right around the corner. From 85 degrees last week, to the possibility of snow this week, that’s how fast the weather can change in the great state of Montana. One day you’re wearing flip flops and shorts, the next you're in boots and snowpants! Please make sure your kids are prepared for the ever changing conditions, as we will send kids out for recess whenever possible.


We have also had a difficult start by needing to cancel 3 days of school for safety reasons. We care for and love your kids; their safety is of the utmost importance to us when we decide to close schools. After meeting with area superintendents and local law enforcement officials on Thursday, September 14, we all felt it was necessary to close schools on Friday, September 15, if the suspect was not apprehended by 6:00 pm Thursday evening. These are the most difficult decisions to make as a superintendent, and are not taken lightly. Safety of the kids is paramount when making these decisions and as a group we didn’t feel it was safe to send kids to school until more information was gathered. The shooting at Freeman School District in Washington made everyone much more aware of,  and sensitive to, the threats being made to the Flathead Valley schools. Safety is always on the forefront of our thoughts during every school day. We are doing everything we can to make West Valley School as safe as possible for the kids, staff and community and being proactive is always better than reactive. However, Freeman SD had just had a lockdown drill the day before the shooting and they still experienced this horrible tragedy. Please be assured that every precaution will be considered before we make the decision to close schools. While I personally hate to let one person dictate whether we go to school or not, I would HATE even more to have to deal with the tragedy that is taking place at the Freeman SD.


Run/Lock/Fight Training- The entire staff at WV had an awesome training the day before school started called Run/Lock/Fight. The training not only gave us the theoretical practices of what we should do in case of an armed intruder, we also went through some actual armed intruder scenarios. Believe me when I tell you they are as close to real as you can get and I have the bruises to show for it!  Hands down, it was one of the best, most practical trainings I've had in my 26 years in education. Many of the staff members have commented on how much they learned and enjoyed the training. Trained local law enforcement officers do a great job presenting the material and demonstrating the hands on activities. Many schools in the Flathead Valley have taken advantage of this no cost training and all have said how helpful it was. My hope is that it is the best training we never have to use!


Late Start Fridays- We will be starting our late start Fridays on September 22nd. Buses will run a half hour late on Fridays when school is in session. Please check the school calendar, the days in blue are late starts. The school will be open at 8:00 a.m,  the same as every school day. If you need to drop your child off early, we encourage you to have your kids ride the bus, if that is the norm for them. If dropping your kids off, please try to do so as close to the 8:50 start time as possible. This time will be used for our Professional Learning Community, or PLC’s, for teachers. During this time teachers will be analyzing data and researching ways to best help every learner at WV. This time is very valuable for the academic, social and emotional growth of the students at WV. Thanks for making accommodations in your schedule on Fridays so teachers can have the time to help WV go from a good school to a great one!


Ignite Nation- Last spring we had several of our students and staff take an in depth survey with an organization called Ignite Nation. The survey was not your typical check off the boxes survey. Instead, it was anecdotal and we received great feedback to help West Valley School go from good to great. Our staff will be working with Ashoke Menon, the co-founder of Ignite Nation, which is an organization that helps school build positive, sustainable school culture. You will be hearing the mantra, “good isn’t good enough” from our staff and students as we take this journey into everyone at West Valley School doing their best work. I know West Valley has always had the reputation of being a good school, now we want to take it to the next level and become a world class school. This process of culture change will take some time, as most worthwhile things do, but we all must do our part to help us grow as a community of learners. I will be keeping you updated on this process as we continue to work with the Ignite Nation throughout this year.


AdvancEd- We have been looking at the AdvancEd program for the past couple of years and we have officially begun the process of working to gain accreditation through them. We have a committee that will meet every two weeks to keep track of the data we need to obtain in order to become accredited through AdvancEd. This will entail a great deal of work on our part, but it will be extremely beneficial for helping to create a sustainable system of academics, as well as, looking at the social and emotional growth of our students. We will be asking parents, staff and students to take a survey to help us gather data to identify areas we excel in and opportunities for growth as a learning community. The survey will be available for you take on our school website and we encourage all parents to take a few minutes to take the survey. The more who take it, the better the data will be for us to look at setting goals for improvement. Thanks in advance for helping us with this endeavor, we appreciate all the community support we receive from our parents!


New Sign- As most of you know, we have installed our new electronic reader board at WV. What a great addition to the school this has been. Being able to get the information out to the community via the sign has been well received. I want to thank the entire PTO group that helped raise half of the funds needed to purchase the sign. We appreciate all of their time and effort to help make this project a reality!



February and March 2017


  • Front Door Security and Fire Alarm:

We have contracted with Kenco, the same company who installed our camera system, to install a new front door security system as well as update our fire alarm system. We received $3,000.00 from Roundup for safety to help pay for the cost of this system. The doors will work on a card/fob system and are directly linked to the alarm system for the school. Staff and community using the building will be able to swipe a card which will open the front door and disarm the security system while in the building. This is a much better process then what we currently have and increases the security to the building immensely. There is a also a second entry point that will have a card reader, that is where you enter the middle school part of the school. This was done to help section off the building when people are using our main gyn and not the rest of the school. We were also able to update our fire alarm system, which was greatly overdue. The system will be operational before the end of the school year, I will keep you informed as to when we switch to the card reader system.


  • AdvancEd Update:

Daniel Sybrant from AdvancEd was at our school in February to interview a number of staff members and school board members. The purpose of the visit was to see if the school is ready to begin the advancEd program. I am pleased to announce he gave us the seal of approval and we will be starting the process of becoming accredited through the AdvancEd system. There will be more information on this in the near future and we will have up to two years to work on the areas we identify as needing improvement based on the results of surveys we will be administering. The process is intended to help make West Valley a top notch school in every area possible. I was able to sit on an external review team for Shodair Hospital and School and I was able to learn a great deal about the process. This will take a great deal of work, but in the end we will be accredited and have a system in place that will be efficient for years to come. I will keep you informed as to the process and post information on the progress being made.


  • Math Curriculum:

The administration team along with several staff members have been busy attending math curriculum meetings and going through samples of potential math curriculums for West Valley. After much deliberation and using some of the sample products, we have made our decision for the math curriculum we will be using. We chose the Go Math curriculum, part of the Houghton/Mifflin/Harcourt company. It will encompass the entire K-8 curriculum, which will be beneficial for students and staff. This will provide consistency in how students receive math instruction and the language teachers will use will be the same as students advance grade levels. The teachers will receive training before the school year starts, all K-5 teachers and the middle school math teachers too. We have worked hard to make sure we are delivering a sound core curriculum at West Valley and math is just the latest in a three year process to make sure we are covered in reading, writing and math.


  • Legislative Update:

As most of you know we are in a legislative year. One of the major bills being proposed is HB 307. This bill would allow schools to run a permissive levy for deferred maintenance issues, as well as technology infrastructure. The bill allows districts to levy $15,000.00 up front and an additional $100.00 per student on your ANB. For West Valley, that would mean we could run a levy for $75,000.00 per year for deferred maintenance issues and upgrading our technology infrastructure. This would be a minimal cost to taxpayers and we would be able to better utilize the general funds we receive. The money can not be used for new construction, but would help districts keep up on the maintenance issues that often times are let go and are not funded. I will keep you updated on the progress of this bill as well as others as the legislative session comes to a close.


  • 2017-18 School Calendar:(Late start on Friday’s)

The calendar committee has been working hard to come up with a calendar proposal for next year. One of the changes on next years calendar will be a late start on most Fridays during the school year. Teachers will use this time to work on collaboration within their grade levels to enhance the education for the students and give teachers time to plan lessons and discuss student issues. This is commonly referred to as PLC’s(Professional Learning Communities) and is used across the country as a way for teachers to grow in their profession. School will start at 8:50 on Friday’s throughout the school year, except for a few designated Friday’s toward the end of the school year. Buses will run later on those days and students who are dropped off, will need to arrive at school closer to 8:50, instead of the normal 8:20 starting time. We will have staff members who will be able to watch early arriving students, but would prefer students coming on the buses, or being dropped off as close to 8:50 as possible. All other school days will be on a normal bell schedule. The calendar for next year will hopefully be approved at the April board meeting. We will continue to keep you updated on the late start Friday schedule, as well as other calendar updates.


  • Science Fair:

The Science Fair was another huge success! Ms. Dover and Mrs. Bodman did a great job preparing the students for the big day. Parents and students play an active role in this project too and kudos to everyone involved in the process! As usual, we had several students qualify for the state science fair and we will be getting back to you on the results when we get the information back from the state. Overall, excellent job by everyone involved!


  • Spring Concert:

A BIG shout out to Mrs. VanHelden and the students who participated in the spring choir and band concert! There was a tremendous amount of work put in by students and staff to make this happen and it turned out great. You can really see the growth in the students from their winter concert to now. Good job to everyone involved, you all went above and beyond to present a concert that was enjoyed byg many!


  • Electronic Reader Board:

We have had two companies give bids for a 2 sided electronic reader board. The PTO has done a great job raising close to $12,000.00 towards the purchase of the board. The lowest bid has come in just under $27,000.00 for the two sided board and that includes installation. Between the PTO donation and some existing funds we have, it looks like we will be able to put the sign up some time over the summer. This will be a full color sign, that will give us the capability to put pictures up and also other graphics. It will also include a large back lit logo sign of the school. Thanks to everyone who has helped make this sign happen, it will be a great addition to the school. Special thanks to the PTO for all of their work to earn money for this project!


  • Cross Country:

Coaches Smith and Ells are off and running(pun intended) on another cross country season. According to Coach Smith we have about 70 students participating in cross country this year. He has also mentioned how well these kids have done listening to instructions and working hard during the practices. There will be 4 meets at West Valley this year, as well as, two others at different locations. The big race for the year, will be at Rebecca Farms, which will be an excellent location for the larger number of teams participating. Thanks to Coaches Smith and Ells for all they do to make this happen every year! Best of luck on the season!


  • Run/Fight/Hide Training:

We are fortunate to be able to have the Run/Fight/Hide training next year at West Valley. The entire WV staff will go through a day long training with a group of well trained law enforcement officers on how to best handle school emergency situations. The training will take place Wednesday, August 30, 2017, which is the day before school starts. Many schools in the area have gone through the training already and have said it is one of the best trainings they have ever gone through. We are always looking for ways to make school as safe for students and staff as possible and this is one training that will certainly help with that.


  • Montana Association of School Superintendents (MASS) President Elect:

The MASS organization held their election for the president elect position for the 2017-18 school year and I was elected for that position starting the 2017-18 school year. It is a 3 year commitment, with the first year being president elect, the second president and the third as past president. It is an honor to be elected to this position, which is voted on by the 150 superintendents in the state. I am excited to serve the SAM and MASS organizations in this capacity for the next several years. It will give me the opportunity to grow as a professional and also be involved with the MASS and SAM-School Administrators of Montana boards. I will be attending several meetings as well as national conferences throughout this time, starting with an AASA conference this May. I am excited for this opportunity and will do everything I can to represent my fellow superintendents well for the next three years.



January 2017 News


Donations to West Valley School: We were very fortunate this past month to receive two donations from Kalispell businesses. In December, we received a check from Kalispell Toyota for over $600.00. The dealership had a promotion in the month of November during which they donated a specific dollar amount for each car they sold to area schools. Many area schools benefited from this. We’d like to extend a BIG thank you to Kalispell Toyota for helping support local schools in the area. The second donation was from City Service Gas and Exxon/Mobil for the 2016 Educational Alliance Award. We received a $500.00 check from them, so another BIG thank you to them for helping to support West Valley School!


AdvancEd Update: I have been in contact with Daniel Sybrant, the local representative for AdvancEd. He will be at our school on Friday, May 24, to begin the process of accreditation and school wide growth in several different areas. He will spend the day speaking with several different groups. In the morning, he will visit with me for about 45 minutes. Following that, he will visit with the rest of the admin team for about 45 minutes. Next, he will visit with a cross section of teachers from the building, again for about 45 minutes. During lunch, he will meet with two board members so it does not constitute a quorum. He will then do an exit interview with me and we will discuss the future plans for West Valley. We will go over the areas we’re doing well in and look at working on the areas where growth is needed to meet accreditation. While receiving accreditation is important, it is more important that we also grow as a school from this program in order to provide our students a quality 21st Century Education.


I have already submitted a preliminary report to AdvancEd, stating areas where we are strong and areas needing to be worked on for growth. Daniel will review the report, as well as, compile the information he gathers during his day in the district. The ultimate goal of the plan will be to make West Valley School an even better version of itself. There are so many exceptional things about WV but, as with everything, there is always room for improvement. I look forward to working through this process and making WV an even better school than it already is. This will take a total team effort of staff, students and community to ensure the success of this endeavor. I will keep you updated as we move through the accreditation process.


Curriculum: One area we have been steadily growing in but will need to continue to work on is our curriculum. We have spent the last two years implementing Lucy Calkins writing and Reading Wonders. The teachers have gone through extensive training in both of these programs. Neilia Solberg has been contracted to work with the teachers and has done a terrific job giving teachers practical strategies they can implement in their classrooms right away. We have already seen a positive impact on students’ scores in reading and the staff has commented on the training they’ve received from Neilia as some of the best professional development they’ve had.


The next step will be to purchase curriculum materials for math K-6. We have been able to join the Kalispell School district in looking at some curriculum materials from various companies. Several teachers have been part of this process along with the building principals. We will be making a decision on math materials in the near future and purchasing them for the 2017-18 school year. The teachers will be trained on the new materials, which is critical when implementing new curriculum.


Technology Update: Mark Wilson, our I.T. specialist for West Valley, has been busy researching technology for the possibility of moving toward 1 to 1 devices for all students. We would start the 1:1 with our 7th and 8th grade students and then work down from there. He has been researching the possibility of leasing vs. buying chromebooks and the benefits of one over the other. Technology is ever changing and often we wait to purchase, mainly because of cost or waiting for the next big thing to hit the market. Going 1:1 devices for students is not cutting edge as there have been schools doing this for almost 10 years now. While technology will never take the place of a teacher, it does have it’s place in the classroom and we have done a good job of keeping up with technology. Now it is time to take it to the next level. Of course, technology is only as good as the people using it, so we will make sure to include professional development when implementing the new technology.


Calendar for 2017-18 School Year:

Several school districts around the area have met to discuss the 2017-18 school calendar. Kalispell has already set their calendar for next year, as has Whitefish. We don’t have to follow KSD exactly, but we do make sure our days off are as close to theirs as possible since we are a feeder school into the KSD. The administrative team at WV will be meeting with a calendar committee comprised of several staff members to go over the criteria for next years calendar. They will put together their version of the calendar and then we will meet to finalize what will be sent to the school board for their stamp of approval. We hope to have this done by the April board meeting.


Polar Penguin Plunge:

By the time you read this, 6 of us from WV will have completed the PP. I was one of the lucky ones who got to participate in this event. Not sure if lucky is the right word! We each had to raise $125.00 to participate and all the proceeds go to help fund the Special Olympics. What a great cause and worth freezing our tushies off for. I can honestly say this was the coldest I have ever been! Thanks to Mark Wilson, Brent Benkelman, Sarah Matdies, Molly Roe and her husband, Tina Blair for raising the funds and jumping in the frigid waters. A special thanks to Molly and Sarah for getting this organised at WV! Great job by all! The team raised over $2,000.00. Thank you to all who contributed financially to this great cause.


Science Fair:

Mrs. Dover and Mrs. Bodman have begun the process of getting the 5-8 grade students ready for the Science Fair. This is a great event for the students and totally immerses them in their learning across content as it incorporates not only science but writing too. The SF is coming up in March and I know there is still a need for judges. If you are interested in helping with the event at WV, please contact Mrs. Dover or Mrs. Bodman. WV has won the award for best small middle school at the state level the past several years which is a testimony to our great staff, students and parents who all help to make this a fun and educational opportunity. We have even had one of our students compete at the national level.


Roundup For Safety Grant:

I have applied for the Roundup for Safety Grant through the Flathead Electric Co-Op. I will be presenting to the FEC Board on February 9th in hopes of getting funds to help cover the cost for a new electronic card reader for our front doors that will be tied to our security and fire systems. This would be a terrific safety feature that would enable us to safely let patrons utilize our building even when staff is not present. Currently, the systems we have do not communicate to each other. This would enable patrons to use our building and still be able to disable and enable the alarm system. Our building gets used a tremendous amount, which is great, but it's also hard to monitor the building with our current technology. I will keep you informed as to whether or not we receive the grant.


Basketball Season:

It’s hard to believe that girl’s basketball season is rapidly coming to an end. Not only has the season flown by, but the school year is half over already. The girls have had a great season and I want to thank the coaches, players and fans for another great season! I get the opportunity to referee many of these games, as well as, games throughout the Flathead and I can honestly say we have some of the best kids, coaches and fans in the area! Keep up the good work and good luck on the rest of your season!




December 2016



  • Happy Holidays! I can't believe it’s Christmas Break already! I know I am getting older, but seriously where did December go? In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember to relax and enjoy all of the wonders of the holiday season! Whether it’s with family and friends or just hanging out with your kids, remember the reason for the season!


  • We have had terrific feedback in regards to the training many of our teachers have received from Neilia Solberg. Neilia has been to West Valley several times this year and has given great trainings on practical things teachers can take back to their classrooms and use right away for reading and writing strategies. She will be back later in January and towards the end of the year too, for some additional training. Her training has been one of the best professional development we have had to help teachers grow in their knowledge of reading and writing strategies.


  • AdvancEd- We have completed the initial diagnostic for the AdvancEd program we will be starting after the Christmas Break. This will take a total team effort, with students, staff and parents involved in the future direction of the West Valley School in regards to academics, school culture, facilities, etc. A review team will be visiting our school later this year and we will be taking a survey to identify our strengths and areas for growth for our school. This will help us determine the strengths and areas for growth we need to work on as a school community. The goal is to make West Valley the best school it can be for students regarding academics, social and emotional growth. We will then have two years to work on the things we identify as areas of growth and AdvancEd will send a group of 5 to do an internal review to see if we meet accreditation standards. This will take a great deal of work, but it will be worth it in the end, as we will have a great plan for future growth.


  • Camera Update- The surveillance cameras are up and running, but without audio. The Kenco team will be here over Christmas break to put the finishing touches on the system. The cameras have been added for the safety, health and welfare of everyone who uses or works in the building.


  • Christmas Concerts- A huge shout out to Mrs. VanHelden and Mrs. Hartle for their tremendous work putting on all of the school concerts. The kids sang beautiful Christmas songs and the band did a great job too! The concerts were very festive and definitely got the holiday season off to a great start! Both ladies worked extremely hard and the kids did a great job singing and playing their hearts out. Thanks to all the staff who help with the practice and changing schedules to help make these concerts happen. Good job ladies and enjoy a well deserved Christmas Break!


  • PTO- Thank you to the PTO for putting on a great craft fair at West Valley. This was a huge undertaking and it went off great! The feedback from the fair was great and people appreciated the variety of activities for all ages. Kudos to all who made this event happen. Thank you to all the folks who participate in the PTO!


  • Personnel moves- We have had some recent personnel addition and subtractions in the past few months. Zeb Dobis resigned as the part time kitchen helper in order to pursue some outside interests. We were able to find a great placement, Kathleen Woodward, who has been with us about a month and has fit right into the WV family. As most of you know we had a real tragedy happen to one of our staff members. Lindsay DePuydt, who was our first year kindergarten teacher lost both of her parents in a car accident the end of October. As to be expected this was a very traumatic experience for her and she after much thought has decided to resign her position at WV. Lily Carlson has been subbing for her for the past month and half and has done a terrific job. We can’t thank her enough for the flexibility she has shown and the great work she has done for those kindergartners. Sara Hall will be taking over the class after the Christmas break through the rest of the school year. She will be finishing up a long term sub position for Mrs. Banek, who will be returning after the Christmas break. Mrs. Belanger will be having her second child toward the end of January and we have hired Mary Cunningham to sub for her through April. Mary has just finished her student teaching in Kalispell and will do a great job with the third graders until Mrs. Belanger’s return in May. We also have a new full time counselor working with our middle school students. Mrs. Brinton will be with us for the remainder of the school year, filling in for Mrs. Thurman, who is on a years leave of absence. Mrs. Brinton has been a great addition to the staff and we are glad to have her here working with our MS students. We have also added a new paraprofessional to the staff. Mary Noble is working as a one on one aide with one of our second grade students. She has been a nice addition to the WV team! Lastly, Mr. Anthony received a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year. He will be heading to Germany to be with his wife and twin daughters. We were fortunate to be able to hire Taylor Kammerzell for the remainder of the school year to fill in for Doug. Taylor is just finishing her student teaching with us ands will do a great job filling in for Mr. Anthony this year. The only thing constant is change and we hope these are the only personnel changes for the rest of the school year.


  • McKinstry- The school board has met with the representatives from McKinstry after they had done a preliminary audit of the infrastructure of the school building. After the meetings the board has decided to put any kind of improvements on hold, as it was an additional expense to find out the exact cost savings for each area of need. We will continue to look for ways to improve our heating, lighting and electrical use in the building, with goal to make WV school as efficient as possible. We will be having a light audit done in the older part of the building to see if we are eligible for savings with our lights and switches.


  • Boys basketball season a success- Thanks to all the coaches, students , players, parents who helped make the boys basketball season a success. I have the privilege of refereeing many of the games at WV and it can honestly say we have some of the best sportsmanship in the Valley. Our kids play hard and show great sportsmanship, that is a direct reflection of good coaching. A special thanks to our first year A.D. Mr. Pollard for a great season! Thanks for all each of you do to  make sports a fun, learning experience for the kids!


I wish you all the Merriest Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! Enjoy your break and we’ll see you next year!

Cal


Christmas Quote:


   One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly. ~Andy Rooney


November 2016


  • We have continued with teacher training for our new reading and writing programs. Neilia Solberg has been working with our K-8 teachers to help them better utilize their teaching skills with the new curriculum. She is considered an expert in the reading and writing field and we are fortunate to be able use her for professional development for our teachers. The teachers have learned a great deal of strategies from her and have already put these strategies into practice in their classrooms. We will have several more training days this year with Neilia and she will also come and observe teachers in their classroom. Students benefit from this training as well, by having teachers who are better prepared to teach reading and writing in their classrooms.

  • AdvancEd Update- I was able to attend the AdvancEd conference last month in Bozeman and learned a great deal more about the process we would need to go through to become accredited through them. Part of the new ESSA plan(Every Student Succeeds Act) which takes the place of NCLB, is to have accountability for the school in several different areas. AdvancEd provides you with information that can help schools work on areas where growth is needed. We have started the application process with them and will be taking a survey to find areas where we are strong and areas where growth is needed. Parents, students and faculty will participate in the survey and the results will be shared with us and then the process of creating a plan for growth takes place. We are excited to get this process started and will take at least 2 years to complete with a final external review to be done by a group of educators trained in school accreditation coming to WV. That group will evaluate the school and look for areas of growth from the plans created. Once accredited, which is not automatic, the accreditation lasts for 5 years. The group will be observing classrooms, talking with board members, parents and staff to find out how they feel the school district is doing overall. More information for this will be coming to you in the near future.

  • Conferences- As most of you who have attended conferences at WV before can tell, we did them a little different this year. Instead of having the 2 half days and then conferences at night, we did the 4-7 on Wednesday and Thursday nights and then full day conferences on Thursday. We feel the conference schedule worked out well this year and will look to continue the same format in the future. Having the full day of conferences without kids at school helps the teachers focus on the conferences, which we feel is very important. By working the two nights, the teachers and kids then have the Friday off, which gives them time to unwind and gives the kids a needed break after the 1st quarter. We also had a very good turnout this year, with nearly 100% turnout for elementary and 75% for the middle school, which is great! Thanks for being an active participant in your child’s education!

  • Camera Surveillance Update- I will be meeting with Kenco, the company we purchased the cameras from, on Thursday, Nov. 17. They will walk through the training with us, showing us the various applications for the system. The system will then be fully operational. Some of the cameras have audio as well as video capability, stickers will be placed on entrances to the school letting people know that video/audio is on 24 hours a day. We have had a couple of break-ins at the school recently, mostly in the shop area and vehicles, but had the cameras been operational we would have been able to identify the people. The main purpose of the cameras is for the safety, security, health and well being of all who use the West Valley School

  • Mrs. Blair, Mr. Wilson and I had the opportunity to visit St Regis School this month. They are doing an interesting 1-1 individualized learning program called, Summit, with their 6-12 grade students. The program allows students to work at their own pace and also has several project based assignments too. The program is completely free including the training. We don’t feel at this time that it fits what we are doing at WV, but there may be parts of the program that could be beneficial to our students. We will continue to look at this and other 1-1 computer based programs for our school. We know that technology does not solve all curriculum issues, but it is a good tool and one we need to fully utilize for the future. Currently we are exploring several math and reading programs, that could be done on computers. This would ease the cost of purchasing expensive text book, which are outdated as soon as you purchase them. There is still more work to do, but by as early as next year we may have 1-1 devices for our middle school students. More to come on this in the future.

  • Thank you to the PTO for providing the staff with food for the conference days. It was delicious and much appreciated! The PTO is also having a huge craft fair at West Valley on Saturday, November 19. The fair runs from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, with over forty booths, food and games for kids. This is a great way to get some of your Christmas shopping done early and help support the school. Thanks to the PTO for all they do to help make West Valley a great school!



October 2016


  • Teacher Training-We have had some great training for our MS Language Arts teachers, as well as most of our elementary teachers in September. Neilia Solberg was hired to do writing and reading training with our certified staff. She went over strategies for Lucy Calkins writing as well as our new Reading Wonders program. The teachers found this to be very useful and practical training that they could take back and use in their classroom right away. We will have Neilia back later this month and again after the Christmas Break to continue trainings with our staff in reading and writing strategies.

  • ELEOT Observation Tool- Mrs. Blair, Mr Benkelman and Mr. Ketchum have gone through the training to become certified ELEOT observation tool users. The ELEOT observation tool is used to observe student participation in class. There are 7 indicators that will be observed during classroom visits: equitable learning, high expectations, supportive learning environment, active learning, progress monitoring, well managed rooms and digital learning. The data will be analyzed and can be broken down by school, grade level, subject, instructor to identify areas of need for each area. The tool is used to see the classroom through the eyes of the learner. Data will be compared anonymously with other schools who use this tool. This will give WV a good idea as to where we need to focus our professional development in the future. This tool is used for classroom observation and will not be used for teacher evaluation.

  • AdvancEd- Last year we had Daniel Sybrant come to WV and present the AdvancEd accreditation tool to some of the staff. I recently attended an AdvancEd conference in Bozeman and will be discussing the possibility of going through AdvancEd for school accreditation. Here is a breakdown of what AdvancEd provides: Survey to parents, staff and students in the following areas: direction of school, Healthy culture, high expectation, Impact of instruction, resource management, efficacy of engagement and implementation capacity. The results get examined and then plans are made for growth in areas that are low. This is not a strategic plan, it is a tool to look at growth areas for the school and ways to help with the growth. There will be a team sent to the school to analyze the results of the school quality factors survey and a plan in place to help WV achieve the goals we set for growth. There is a 2-3 year process where we work on the specific areas for growth. AdvancEd then sends in an external review team to interview personnel at the school and look through the plans for growth. This is a continual process for school improvement and gives the school district a plan for continued growth.

  • Meetings with Union Presidents- The admin. team will be meeting with the WVTA presidents the week before each school board meeting. The admin. team will be discussing direction of the school district, plans for professional development, upcoming negotiations and curriculum needs for the future. This is also a time for your voice to be heard through your union reps. The purpose of the meetings is to keep an open line of communication between the union and the school district.

  • Camera Update- There have been a few delays with the installation of the surveillance cameras. Kenco will be working on installing the remaining cameras over MEA days. I will keep you informed as to when the cameras are fully operational and a map will be provided as to the locations of each camera and whether or not they have have audio capability.

  • Conference Room- The conference room is just about complete. The conference room is located by the K-4 cafeteria, Claudia Anderson's old classroom. This room will be used for school board meetings, trainings, IAT and IEP meetings, etc. There will be a signup sheet for staff who would like to use the room for specific meetings.

  • STAR Testing- Thanks to Tonya, Mark, Tina, Brent and all the staff who helped get the students through the first round of STAR testing. We will be assessing the data and working on students getting interventions in both math and reading.

  • Facilities Update- I know that many of you whose classrooms have the new windows are having trouble keeping the insects out. Phil is working on making a screen for the windows and has contacted a company who hopefully will be able to make screens for all the windows. Foyer furniture has arrived! As many if not all of you have seen, we have furniture in the foyer area. We will continue to look for ways to enhance that area of the school, as well as other areas needing improvement throughout the school.

  • Infinite Campus- The new student information system seems to be working well. As with any new system it will take some time to get all the bugs worked out. We are in the process of making sure parents have access to the system, so they can access their student's records. In the future we will not be sending home mid-term reports, except for students who are receiving a D or F in their classes. Those students will have a progress report sent to their house. I want to thank all of you for making the switch to IC as seamless as possible. We will continue to have mini trainings with Mark in the near future and if you are having issues please make sure to use the Campus Community for assistance.

  • McKinstry- McKinstry is a company who comes in and assess the physical shape of your building. They look at building efficiency, such as heat loss, electrical useage, lighting, etc… They will be doing an analysis of our electrical bills over the past 3-5 years to see if there are any ways we can save money. They do not charge for the initial evaluation of the school and will come up with a dollar amount of cost savings for improvements. They also help find ways to fund projects that will help with building efficiency. This is just in the beginning stages, I will keep you informed as the information is received.

  • Personnel- Leslie Windauer has taken on the full time counselling position at WV, with the resignation of Carrie Burnham on Sept. 30. Leslie will be doing some of the MS assignments, such as the MS guidance class and lunch tutoring. She will also continue to work with the primary aged children who are on her caseload. We have opened up a half-time position and hope to have that person in place by the end of October. Zeb Dobis has put in his resignation as the halftime kitchen aide. We wish Zeb well in his future endeavors! There is a half-time position open for kitchen helper, it closes on Friday, October 14.

  • Thanks for a great start to the school year!

Here’s a couple of quotes for the new school year!