#17 January 10, 2020

17.  January 10, 2020

Hello Black River Falls community!  This is Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the SDBRF, and I’m here to share this weeks’ Spotlight on Schools.  This week I wanted to talk with you a little bit about distributed leadership and a concept that you’ve heard me talk about quite a few times, the fact that our schools exist to serve the community that supports it.


If there was one “right way” to organize a school and to ensure all kids graduated with the same set of high functioning skills, every school across the globe would do it.  The fact of the matter is that while the outside of a school building may look very similar, the programming and relationships within are often very different. There is always a new idea out there, making promises of dramatic improvement and higher achievement for our students.  We know that we have a budget that we need to work within and that our staff cannot continue to add more and more responsibilities to their loads if we are to do anything well. So we find ourselves continuously evaluating what are the best next steps for us, and not what is the shiniest new toy.  


These are big decisions to make, and often times decisions that we make have an impact outside the walls of our schools in addition to whichever building we are talking about.  Examples of this would be our bell schedule, the school calendar, the length of the school day, resources that are used, what sports/activities we support, how many students is the right number in a class, and how our budget dollars are allocated.  The list truly could go on and on! There are some of these decisions that are made at the Board of Education level, some administratively, some we try to engage staff in to provide input and feedback, and still others we invite the greater community get involved in.  This is a model that honors shared leadership, it would be faster for one person to simply make all decisions, however, if we only relied on one person’s decision making and creativity, we would miss out on SO many great ideas and our schools would not be nearly as able to meet the diverse needs in front of us!  


We sometimes reach out to parents and the greater community to provide input, sometimes we get a fantastic turnout and feedback, and sometimes we get little to none.  One of our strategic plan pillars talks about making our community proud to be a part of the School District of Black River Falls, which is a top priority and one that we sometimes struggle with.  I wanted to highlight the many ways that you can choose to get involved and be informed!

  • Monthly Board Meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at  6:00 p.m. at the District Office

  • All seven elected officials are open to gathering feedback from community members.

  • I believe very strongly in the gift of feedback, so please know that I am always open to hearing your thoughts about things you hear that you are unsure of, questions you have, or decisions that you’d like to better understand.  Please feel welcome to reach out at any time!

  • When we invite you to provide input or attend meetings to get more information, know that we genuinely mean it!

  • These radio spots give you information about some of our current happenings, the Tiger Tribune that comes out a couple times of the year, our social media accounts share a lot of information, and each building principal is happy to answer any questions you may have.


In short, we want you to be proud to be a part of the School District of Black River Falls and we welcome your input and feedback whenever it feels appropriate for you!


I’d like to again end my message by sharing some positive feedback that we received from a parent from Forrest Street Early Learning Center.  This parent wanted to highlight the work of Ms. Melanie Cassidy, who teaches in our 4K program and Ms. Tina Iverson. “Ms. Melanie and Ms. Tina show my son how much they care about him and always welcome him in. They work hard to include all kids and make everyone feel welcome and cared for.”  The transition to school can be a difficult one, so it’s great to get this type of feedback from the parents of our youngest kids!  We are so appreciative of the work that these fine ladies do!

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District.  Thank you for all you do to support our students and the work that we do. Let’s show our Tiger Pride in all that we do!


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