#20 January 31,2020

20.  January 31, 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.  I wanted to let everyone know that tomorrow when your Shopper comes in your mailbox, please be sure to open it up and look for the Tiger Tribune, the community wide newsletter of the District.

Ironically, someone else just brought in what is labeled the first community newsletter of the SDBRF.  This newsletter is dated April of 1977, and Dr. Gavin Strand was the Superintendent that was sharing his views and perspectives from the cover.  It was really interesting to look through!


If you ask people that work in education they will say that they are CONSTANTLY being asked to adapt to change, yet when we look at the topics that are covered in the Black River Falls Newsletter from 1977 I was amused by the number of topics that would be exactly the same today!  Here is a sampling of some of the stories;


  • District Facility Needs - the article included ten different options that they were seeking public input into.  In 1977, each one of the options included “vacate Third Street School”. When I first read that I was shocked that the school had stayed open until 2016 - but then I realized that the Third Street School they were referencing was actually the Union Place Building that is now apartments.

  • Parent Advisory Group Meets in Hixton - this article talked about how important it was for parents to feel that they have a voice in the decision making at the school.  Parents reported feeling more connected to the school and their child’s learning because they were welcome to come and ask questions.

  • Parent Volunteer Program Off to a Good Start - The repeated mention of the important role of parents and the impact on their child being successful is absolutely an article that is as relevant today as ever!

  • Outdoor Education Center Will Open This Spring:  This is a great article about the late Reg Rensik who was originally hired to develop our Outdoor Education Center!  This program that started in 1977 is still alive and well! The District maintains a school forest that is used by all grades across the District, each of the four seasons of the year, and for many different purposes.  They called this an “outdoor classroom” back when they were creating it, they were WAY ahead of their time!

  • There was also an article that highlighted the efforts of the Ho-Chunk Nation, then called the Winnebago, to maintain their native language.  Ironically, the District is currently part of a grant consortium that is called the American Indian Language Revitalization Grant.


The point of this spotlight is to emphasize that even though people think the world is so terribly different than when they grew up, there are so many signs that we are not too far off.  It also highlights that all of the things that we knew were good for education, have stood the test of time. Some forty years later, we recognize that partnering with parents is still the greatest way to guarantee their childs’ success.  We know kids need to be aware of the world around them and that engaging them in real life work is ALWAYS a benefit. This community has a long and rich history of quality and innovative education. I’m so proud to be the caretaker of this work in Black River Falls for the time being.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve our community in this way!


Today the parent feedback that I will be sharing is about a third grade teacher at Red Creek.  This parent says “Mrs. Dutton deserves extra recognition for challenging my son to do better while still making school fun.”  Now we all know that a teachers’ job is not to entertain the students, however, it is so much easier to engage the students in the hard academic work when they feel cared for by their teacher, and the teacher presents things in a challenging and relevant way so that the students can easily jump right in and enjoy the journey!  Great work Mrs. Dutton!

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


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