#21 February 6, 2020

21. February 6, 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’d like to talk about two large annual events that happen within the District; the first is our Child Development Days, and the second is our Business Partners Luncheon.

The purpose of Child Development Days is to provide an opportunity for families, that have children between the ages of birth to kindergarten, to have what you could call “one stop shopping” to interact with speech and language therapists, school psychologists, early childhood teachers, special education teachers, the District’s occupational therapist as well as other community resources that are available to our youngest children.  The event is meant to let parents know what resources the community can provide as well as allow them to ask any questions about the development skills of their child. Parents are absolutely the experts on their children, however, we try to bring many early childhood experts in so that they can work with the child and family to determine if there are any developmental delays that need to be addressed, or whether all of the milestones are being met!  There is so much research that supports the idea that many developmental challenges can be overcome with early intervention. That is definitely our goal!  

Over the years we have tried several different formats for our Child Development Days, always with the goal to identify those children in our community that need early intervention and with the hope that through that quality intervention, they will not need services later in life.  We had a huge crowd of families and got to meet some of our next generation of students! We made some great community connections for kids that are going to benefit from those services.

The next topic I wanted to talk about is the Business Partners Luncheon that was held yesterday, Thursday, February 6, at the District Office.  Over forty community businesses signed up to join us for some great conversation! Both Brad Chown, City Administrator, and Ray Ransom, County Board Chairman, gave the group some big picture updates from their slice of the community.  Both talked about economic growth and the new businesses that are successfully taking hold in our community. They talked about much needed facility updates and that they are still searching for solutions for the challenges we are facing as a county and city.  The most significant challenges identified were the lack of affordable, young professional housing, child care, and how significantly both of those issues impact the available workforce for the great jobs that are available in our region. Several businesses were able to share that they have had employees resign because they couldn’t find childcare.  Others share that employees may take a job in BRF, but then move to another community to live and raise their families due to the significant housing gap that exists. Marianne Torkelson has been heading up a Community Day Care Task Force and she shared some updates on a potential daycare co-op that they are exploring. They will need business support to make it happen, however, it is something that would benefit ALL employers in our community.

You may wonder why the District hosts this event when it is primarily economic, business, and community driven.  That is because we want all of our students to recognize that our small community provides so many diverse opportunities for careers and families!  We want our best and brightest to spread their wings for a bit after graduation, but then we want them to come back and invest in this great community.  We know we have the next generation of the local workforce inside our walls and we want businesses to know that we value their input and want to provide as many opportunities to partner with our kids throughout their school career.  Again, we want our students to want to give back to our community during their time at school, and after graduation. The partnerships that have forged are definitely a WIN-WIN arrangement!

Each week I end by sharing some positive feedback that we receive.  This week I’m going to highlight Ryan Johnson, who works with our work co-op students at the high school.  Three short years ago we had under 15 students participating in either youth apprenticeships or work co-op experiences.  During the 2019-2020 school year we will have over 70 student placements. Ryan has done an exceptional job partnering with businesses and supporting them in coaching our students to be able to thrive in these positions.  EXCELLENT work, Ryan!

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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