Cassopolis schools starts new year Sept. 5Published 10:38pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Cassopolis students will don backpacks and school gear once again Sept. 5 as the start of the 2012-2013 academic year gets under way.
With the start of new classes, Supt. Tracy Hertsel detailed a few changes that parents and students can expect to see. One noticeable change has been made the district’s school website, which Hertsel said received a complete overhaul.
“We’ve made it more user-friendly and interactive,” Hertsel. “We’ve tried to update the site and make it more current so visitors can keep up with what we’re doing.”
Some alterations include pictures of administrators and school board members, a new design and an interactive calendar. Hertsel said the calendar will allow changes to scheduled games and other school activities.
Another change the district will implement is a technology-based approach to the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) testing.
“Before, we would have eight to 10 teachers administer the test,” Hertsel said. “We’ve moved that to an online version now, which will streamline the process.”
Hertsel said the approach is more tablet-technology driven and will allow for accurate and precise testing procedures.
Parents will also be notified of school-based alerts by a new company this year, as the district moved from the Honeywell Instant Alert System to School Messenger.
“We will still be able to let parents know information in a timely manner, such as school closings,” Hertsel said. “We’ll be capable of sending alerts through text, email or by phone.”
Cassopolis schools will hold open houses at Sam Adams Elementary School and Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Selected for teacher evaluation program
Cassopolis Public Schools has been selected as one of 14 school districts in the state to pilot a new teacher evaluation program.
The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness (MCEE) launched a pilot study of educator evaluation tools for the 2012-2013 school year, created by Silver Strong and Associates. The study is expected to provide recommendations to the MCEE for how to implement fair, reliable and effective educator.
The study will utilize four observation tools among the 14 chosen districts: five dimensions of teaching and learning; Charlotte Danielson’s framework for teaching; Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model; and the Thoughtful Classroom. Cassopolis schools will use the Thoughtful Classroom tool, which new Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School Principal Bob Sieko said is the best of the four.
“It’s the most teacher-friendly,” Sieko said Tuesday.
“It was created by teachers in Durand, and I think there was a pretty good response to it.”
Sieko led teachers through the pilot program during the district’s first in-service day. Teachers received a packet outlining the framework of the tool, which Sieko said falls in line with his basic goals for the academic year.
“Teaching and learning are the only things we can focus on,” Sieko said. “If we can give the students a top-notch education, we can put Cassopolis out there.”
Sieko, who came from his curriculum director position in Michigan City, said this pilot program is a huge step in the right direction for the schools.
“We want to help improve the skills our teachers already have,” Sieko said. “We want to enhance learning …. we’re not replacing anything, just enhancing it.”
Teachers gave immediate feedback on the pilot program and reactions were positive, Sieko said.
“I had one teacher look through the framework and say, ‘This is something I can use right away … the first day,’” Sieko said.
First day of school for Cassopolis Public Schools: Wednesday, Sept. 5
Sam Adams Elementary School
Start: 7:45 a.m.
Dismissal: 3:05 p.m.
Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School
Start: 7:35 a.m.
Dismissal: 2:50 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 4
— Adult education registration, 9 a.m.
— School open houses, 6 to 7:30 p.m.