Under the Umbrella, Volume 1, Issue 8


Under the Umbrella

Volume 1, Issue 8

March 2019


School Redesign

School Safety

School Assessments

Best Hiring Practices

Upcoming Events

CONTENTS Volume 1, Issue 8

2 Upcoming USA-Kansas Conference, G.A. Buie


3 The Business of Best Practices in K-12 Hiring, Eric Hansen

4 When Hiring Teachers, District Leaders Prioritize ‘Cultural Fit.’

That Can Be a Problem, Madeline Will

4 Why Should Leaders Start Being Coached?, Peter DeWitt

6-7 Principals and AP’s: You’re Rich Already Without Mega

Billions, Mark Wilson

8 Using Resumes to Set Your Interviews, Jerry Henn

10-11 What’s the Blueprint?, Joe Sample

11-13 4 Steps Every School Leader Needs to Take This Year, Dr. Bill


14 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year Nomination Packet

Available, KSDE

14 Whitney Morgan Named 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year,

KSN News


16-17 You Are On the Way in 2019 Toward Your Goal, Dr. John


17 Redesign From Kingman-Norwich Schools, Bob Diepenbrock

18-20 It Is a ‘Perfect Storm’, Dan Whisler


22 More of the Same a Year After the Parkland Shooting, Doug



24 A Better Way to Assess Oral Reading Fluency eBook, Kristie


25 Upcoming Events




2018-2019 USA-Kansas

Board of Directors

Sean Cochran—President, KASEA

Ryan Jilka—President Elect, KAMSA

Pete Bastian—Past-President, KAESP

Mike Berblinger—Director, KSSA

Cory Gibson—Director, KSSA

Eric Hensen—Director, KASBO

Volora Hanzlicek—Director, KASCD

Ron Barry—Director, KASSP

Justin Henry—Director, KSSA

Christie Meyer—Director, KASCD

Bert Moore—Director, KASEA

Suzan Patton—Director, KSSA

Dennis Peerenboom—Director, KASPA

Jake Potter—Director, KanSPRA

P.J. Reilly—Director, KCCTEA

Donna Schmidt—Director, KASSP

Glen Suppes—Director, KSSA

Patrick Schroeder—Director, KAESP

Donna Zerr—Director, KASSP

G.A. Buie—Executive Director

Jerry Henn—Assistant Executive Director


G.A. Buie, Executive Director, USA-Kansas

As the familiar melody states,

“Oh the weather outside is

frightful and the snow is so

delightful.” Well, it might be

delightful in December and

January, but as we move into

March many of you may think

it’s just frustrating. So, let’s move forward and

think about warmer weather and happier days.

Your 2019 USA-Kansas Annual Conference is just

around the corner and we believe we have

planned relevant learning opportunities mixed

with just the right touch of relaxation. Beginning

May 29, Alan November will start us off as he

discusses instructional technology. This will be

followed by a vendor session with over 90

companies in attendance, heavy hors d’oeuvres,

drinks, and a chance to win a TV, Royals tickets (in

the All-Star Suite), gift cards, and a host of other

prizes all located at the USA-Kansas Got APP

booth. And, of course, golf will tee off around 7:30


On May 30, we have scheduled over 60 breakout

sessions to run throughout the day. Our board

feels they have found multiple learning

opportunities for any administrator. We will be

introducing our new Innovative Classroom

Learning space located between the upper lobby

of the Hyatt and the Century II. We plan to finish

Thursday at the conference with our annual

President’s Reception hosted by Jostens, and later

in the evening we are excited to host Lifetouch’s

reception featuring Fun Pianos! Dueling Pianos


Show. A full list of breakouts will be located on our

website soon.

As we close out May on the 31st and finish the

2019 conference, we are excited to host

Commissioner Randy Watson and Kansas City’s

own stress reliever and humorist Mr. Kent Rader.

Kent shares how he survived five years as a public

accountant and 12 years as a hospital C.F.O. and

C.E.O. Kent carries the title as the “Worlds

Cleanest Comedian.” He has been featured on

NPR, Sirius Satellite radio, and is a winner of the

Branson Comedy Festival. Okay, where else in

Kansas can you find top notch professional

development, relationship building opportunities,

great food and stress relief, and never have to

leave the hotel? The USA-Kansas – Uniting

Leadership Conference!

Please consider joining your peers in Wichita May


Click Here for Conference Info!




Eric Hansen, Business Director for Bonner Springs/Edwardsville USD 204, USA-Kansas Board of


Each year, School

Administrators and Human

Resources staff wade through a

web of applicant tracking and

hiring processes that can, at

times, seem cumbersome;

especially in cases where

recruitment and onboarding teams are working with

minimal staff and tight budgets. Effectively blending

strategy and technology into your district’s hiring

plan can help you and your teams identify the best

candidates for your district while at the same time,

reducing administrative burden.


Review your district’s workflow regularly. This will

ensure your applicants and internal stakeholders are

receiving notifications and updates as milestones

occur periodically throughout the hiring process.

Keep in mind, this segment of the process can also

serve as a candidate’s first experience with your

district. A dysfunctional and fragmented workflow

can lead to poor first impressions which can

eventually reduce interest on the part of potential

prospects. Analyze the effectiveness of your hiring

software. At a minimum, your HR Director should be

able to determine how customizable your system is

and whether or not you are being forced to

compromise best practices due to incompatible



It is no secret that as a district’s hiring process drags

into the summer months, a pool of less qualified

applicants will materialize while more qualified

candidates accept job offers elsewhere. A poorly

designed hiring process can also lead to desperately

trying to fill positions at the last minute. These

ingredients will undoubtedly leave your district with a

subpar staff which can dovetail into lower

achievement, high turnover, and poor morale.

Unless you are offering contracts by the end of the

school year, there's a good chance you are losing out

on some of your better candidates.


Keep in mind that the onboarding process presents

new employees with another “first impression” of

you and your district. Redundant paperwork,

processing delays, and a lack of clear and timely

communication can set the stage for frustration

before your new teachers step foot into their

classrooms. Where do teachers have to go to fill out

their paperwork? How much paperwork is there?

Are there any unnecessary steps in the process?

When reviewing your hiring process, don’t neglect

the final stage – the transition from “candidate” to

“team member”.

The most effective

hiring and



programs should

offer a smooth

transition from

“applicant record” to “employee record”. This will

minimize redundant steps and save HR staff hours of

manual data entry while at the same time, facilitating

a positive experience for new hires. Hiring and

retaining quality staff for your schools can be time

consuming and expensive, but the long-term savings

of an effective and efficient hiring process can be

significant for district leaders.








Peter DeWitt, Education Week

Madeline Will, Education Week

When hiring teachers,

district leaders

prioritize "cultural fit"

above all else,

including training and

experience. But most

are unable to measure what exactly that means.

That's according to a new study from the Frontline

Research and Learning Institute, which asked 594

school and district hiring managers from across the

United States to describe their hiring preferences.

Slightly more than half of the respondents were

involved in recruiting and hiring decisions at the

school level (like principals) and the rest served at

the district level, mostly in human resources. Most

of the respondents were from urban and suburban

school districts. (The institute is a division of

Frontline Education, which is a K-12 software


Researchers from the institute have previously

found that district hiring managers prefer candidates

who are recommended to them via word of mouth,

even though the majority of candidates come from

sources like commercial job boards. The researchers

were concerned that this could hinder teacher

diversity and increase teacher turnover, if the

personal connection is prioritized over fit.

Click Here to view full story.


Many leaders agree that coaching is an important way

to grow.

Let's rewrite that…

Many leaders believe instructional coaching is a great

way for their teachers to grow. They understand how

instructional coaches will work on a co-constructed

goal with teachers, and can easily see how the

relationship is beneficial because those leaders often

see the impact of instructional coaching when they

walk into classrooms to do their "learning walks,"

"walk throughs," or..."rigor walks."

What's interesting, is that when the coaching

relationship is offered up to leaders, their openness to

working with a coach isn't always immediately

evident. And it's often for the same reasons that

teachers aren't always open to being coached. Some

of those reasons may be:

• Insecurity sets in. They suddenly become insecure

that they're doing something wrong or are no

longer good enough for the position

• They don't want others to know they are being

coached because of the perception that may

create...are they now seen as a bad leader?

• They don't have time to be coached. They have

much more important things to do.

• What could the coach offer them, that they as the

leader, don't already know?

Click Here to view full story.



Mark Wilson, The Principal Matters!

Our ice-breaker question for professional learning

over the past week has been a fun one: If you win the

$1.6 Billion lottery prize, what will you do?

Some of my favorite answers heard across my travels

include: Start an early-childhood program for our

county; give a check for $15,000 to all of the teachers

at my school; buy a villa in Italy; get my hair dyed; go

off the grid.

Have you had fun thinking about what you might do

with nearly-unlimited financial resources? A story

about this topic on the radio captured my

attention. According to the psychologist who was

being interviewed, most of the people who were

buying tickets knew they were extremely unlikely to

win (same odds as being struck by lightning WHILE

being attacked by a bear); nevertheless, millions of

people purchased tickets, in great part for the

experience of exploring limitless possibilities.

The endorphins that are released as we think about

such things are feelings that we enjoy and are, for

most people, worth the two dollars to enter.

The radio story concluded with the idea that

mammoth jackpots (I think I'd be happy with the base

amount?) serve a positive effect by creating positive,

happy feelings as a result of our dive into our dreams,

hopes, and wishes if money were not a


Here's the thing you should consider as a school

leader: you don't HAVE to win (or even play) the


Lottery to have the euphoria of amazing possibilities;

they are around you every day!

Two dollars is a cheap

price to pay for the

chance to think about

"what if...?" But, you're

a school leader: you

don't need a ticket to


surrounds you... if

you let it.

explore infinite possibilities. Awesomeness

surrounds you... if you let it.

One of the greatest

parts of your job as

school leader is the

freedom to

imagine. You can

ask "what if" to

things you see

every day. What if you complimented that student

on her work? What if you give the feedback your

teacher needs to make the changes he needs to

make to reach his students? What if you lead a

team of students and teachers in strategizing how

to get more students involved in school activities?

As powerful as it is for you to explore possibilities,

it's even greater still for you to lead a school whose

culture is about 'what if?' In that culture, a teacher

asks, "what if we do more to meet the needs of this

group of students who are struggling?" Another

teacher asks, "what if we connect virtually with a

school on another continent?" A student asks,

"what if we had a skateboard club?"

There are amazing ideas in the heads of students,

teachers, staff, and parents at every school.

Unfortunately, all schools don't have the same

attitude towards possibilities. Schools are too often

seen as places where the answer is usually

'no.' Schools where possibilities are highly valued

are places of inspiration where ideas come from all

directions and students grow accustomed to

dreaming, imagining, and thinking creatively. And

then, they take those attitudes and skills with them

with they leave, where they are as valuable as nearly

anything else they take with them from their

schooling days.

Schools that are too busy to dream, too busy to

think about 'what if', too busy to create and imagine

are schools that are skipping an important part of

the learning experience. It's the possibilities that

fuel the passion for learning and lead to better ways,

better days, and better school experiences.

Don't squander the opportunities you have every

day as someone privileged enough to lead a

school. Challenge others to do their best; encourage

students to stretch their learning, to compete at the

highest levels in their areas of passion. Push your

best teachers in the building to be the best teachers

in the county, the state, and the world. Raise their

gaze and let them amaze. Show others what

greatness lies inside them.

Remember before they drew the winning

numbers? You had a ticket and despite the odds, for

a moment, you dared to dream like anything might

be possible. With that same spirit, look at your

school, your teachers, your students. Look at

yourself. See the endless possibilities in you and

around you and get busy making those ideas come




Using a Team Approach to Enhance Your

Hiring Process

Submitted by Jake Potter, Director of Public Relations,

Leavenworth USD 453

Even before a candidate has submitted an application for

an employment vacancy, they are likely searching the

internet for news stories, visiting your web site, reaching

out to current staff members, and collecting as much

information as possible to determine whether or not your

district is a right fit for them.

It is important to have relevant information to your hiring

process, quick and easy to find, available on a variety of

messaging platforms. You might consider dedicating a

standalone ‘tab’ to Human Resources that is searchable

from the main page of your organization’s web presence.

This page can be updated to reflect current openings,

starting salary and benefits, upcoming recruiting dates,

and frequently asked questions. For districts that also

maintain a robust social media presence, “Now Hiring” job

postings can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

to help widen your search for qualified applicants.

Efforts to retain and celebrate your current staff can also

have an indirect, yet positive, effect on increasing the

number and quality of your future candidates. Providing a

welcoming and supportive environment to your newest

team members will leave them with a good first

impression that they are likely to share within their own

personal networks.

Recognizing your veteran staff as they experience personal

and career milestones and hosting special events (e.g.

teacher of the year recognition, years of service awards,

retirement banquet, beginning and end-of-year lunches,

picnics, and BBQ’s, etc.), is a continuous effort to let

employees know they are valued throughout the school

year. Individually, these may seem like small acts of

thoughtfulness. However, the better your staff feels about

continuing to work for your district, the more likely they

are to speak favorably if/when asked.

In summary, don’t discount how critical of a role your

entire organization can play when helping your district to

identify, recruit, and employ future staff members. Hiring

great candidates is a total team and school community




Jerry Henn, Assistant Executive Director, USA-Kansas

This issue of Under the Umbrella

is to be focused on best hiring

practices. I have chosen to look

at one small area of the hiring

practice, resumes. What should

you look for when trying to

choose the best candidates to

interview? This is a very important part of the hiring

process to get the best possible candidates to


1. Is the resume clean? By clean, I mean is

everything in order. Neat lines, spacings, same

font and size throughout the document.

2. Is it easy to read? Some resumes are difficult to

read because of the font used, or terminology is

not consistent with educational jargon.

3. Is education in chronological order? If dates are

not in order or there is a break in service, this

might be a red flag.

When I became an administrator, we would have 40

to 50 resumes to look at for most openings in

secondary. At the elementary level, they could have

100+ just for one job. It was a very time-consuming

chore to look at all the resumes just to pick 4 to 5

candidates to interview. Now there are much fewer

candidates for each position. In some cases, there is

not even one resume submitted.

4. Experiences they have listed. Since I believe

relationships are a major key to having a

successful classroom, I want to know what they

have been doing towards building relationships

within the classroom. If the candidate did not

list anything about relationships with students, I

did not interview them (If I had other

candidates, there were always exceptions).

So, what to look at? Everyone will have their own

style of going through the process, but there are a

few things that stand out for each resume.


It is amazing when you look for just a few major

items how quickly you can narrow the field down to

get the right people to interview. What is your

style? Everyone is different and you will look for

different things. Good luck in finding the perfect

candidate for your position(s).


Joe Sample, Superintendent, Marais Des Cygnes Valley USD 456

Contained in

countless mission

and vision

documents for

school districts in


superintendents are being asked by their boards to

"recruit, hire and retain high-quality teachers." Now,

the question becomes, what does this really mean?

As administrators, we know what the outcome is,

districts get teachers into the classroom that can

effectively engage, instruct, and enhance the

education of their students. However, how to

districts really perform this task? What are the

insights administrators possess that really allow them

to effectively recruit, hire, and retain?

To answer this question, I enlisted the help of a

number of superintendents across Kansas. To

guarantee a wide variety of perspectives, I needed to

include the feedback of large school districts and

small school districts, as the level of pay between

those types of districts can vary widely. I also wanted

to ensure that I was getting the perspective of our

different geographic regions in Kansas, as recruiting

and retaining in Finney County is going to be different

than in Douglas County. Therefore, I chose three

large school districts (Haysville, Gardner-Edgerton,

and Pittsburg) and three small school districts

(Lacrosse, Solomon, Ness City) to speak to about this


After identifying the school districts I wanted to

survey, I informally put together a quick three

question list. My three questions were: “What is your


school district's best strategy in recruiting

teachers?” “What do you see as the biggest

persuading reason prospective teachers decide to

commit to teaching in your school district?” “Once

having attracted high-quality teachers to your

school district, what approach do you take to

ensure long-term employment?”

What I found intrigued me. In reading through the

responses I received, I immediately found that no

matter the location of the school district or the size

of the school district, we all seem to employ similar

tactics in ensuring we recruit, hire, and retain

teachers. Answer after answer it became inherently

clear that there seems to be a formula all

superintendents utilize to make their teaching staff

the best that it can be.

First, school districts seem to rely heavily on

familiarity or knowledge of their district through

either previous experience of their prospective

teachers or word of mouth from their current staff.

Jody Marshall, USD 231 Gardner-Edgerton, cited

“having pre-service teachers in our district” as their

best strategy, reflecting that a large number of their

current staff come from teachers who have spent

time during their collegiate experience in the

district’s buildings. Bill Keeley, USD 395 Lacrosse,

stated that his biggest recruiting tool is “my own

teachers calling their friends and relatives.” In

either instance, experience or close knowledge of a

school district proves to be the biggest asset in

recruiting teachers to their district.

Second, it does not

seem to matter the size

or location of district,


administrators provided

feedback that teachers

commit to their district due to their location and

culture. Richard Proffitt, USD 250 Pittsburg, reflected

that their staff appreciates the community they are

living in, with their “proximity to the university” being

a nice tool that keeps candidates local. Derek

Reinhardt, USD 303 Ness City, commented that

teachers “see what we are trying to do here, they see

the culture they will get to work and live in, and they

want to be in Western Kansas.” This feedback shows

districts greatly rely upon seeking out those quality

candidates in their local area who want to be there

and getting them in the classroom.



between teachers

and their school


consistently seem

to drive the longterm

viability of staff members. John Burke, USD 261

Haysville, relayed that through their mentoring

program for new teachers, the foundation for their

work is relationships, “we make a special effort to

make all teachers and employees feel appreciated in

ways that are meaningful to them.” Justin Coup, USD

393 Solomon, stated that he believes that through

the usage of recognition programs, relationships are

strengthened, “let them know you appreciate them.”

Administrators seem to be finding that if a bond is

developed, the chances of making that staff member

a long time pillar within the district increases


It was very insightful gathering this information as I

believe it strengthens what superintendents already

know through the course of their work. If boards of

education ask their superintendents to “recruit,

hire, and retain” high quality teachers, the best

chance they have is to look within their own

buildings or connections, identify the skilled

teachers who want to be there, and develop a

relationship of support and appreciation. Although

that is still a tall order considering the pool of

teachers available, there certainly seems to be a

consistent blueprint for administrators to follow.




Dr. Bill Ziegler

A new year brings a rebirth, a time to start new and

to challenge ourselves to stretch and grow. As a

school leader, I work to use this time to challenge

myself to discover and learn new things. Plus,

school leadership is not meant to lead alone; this is

why I make sure I take time to connect with my

professional learning network. We must be leaders

who are fiercely committed to learning and

growing; we need to keep moving forward, one

step at a time. We must be willing to take the

necessary steps forward to challenge ourselves and

to model what we want to see in students and



Check out these four steps to move forward as a


1. Discover

Kids embody the spirit of curiosity and discovery like

none other. We can learn alot from the curious nature

of kids as we work to lead our schools in times of

change and flux. Be sure to work your curiosity and

discovery muscles as a leader. That’s right, I called

them muscles because being curious and having a

spirit of discovery takes effort, energy, and endurance.

We can stretch these muscles by learning something


Nothing helps us to

break out of the status

quo like learning

something new. When

we are brave enough

to learn a new skill,

knowledge, practice, or

wisdom, we open

ourselves up to growing and developing. I recently

attended a workshop on how to use Garageband, an

Apple app to design music for student podcasting and

learning. This Apple session stretched me as a learner

and challenged me to use learning muscles I haven’t

used in a long time. I challenge you to attend a Corwin

Institute to learn something new and to learn practical

and research based strategies you can immediately

implement in your school. Click Here to enroll in a

Corwin Institute.

2. Connect

We can’t do this work alone; we need to be

intentional in building a connection and network with

other school leaders. By doing this, we are

encouraged, empowered, and equipped to take on

the plethora of challenges that regularly come our

way. Plus, we are inspired to move beyond our own


When we are brave

enough to learn a new

skill, knowledge, practice,

or wisdom, we open

ourselves up to growing

and developing.

understanding and learn new things from others. An

ancient proverb says, “Though one may be

overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of

three strands is not quickly broken.” This proverb

reminds us to stick together; we are stronger

together. School leadership is not meant to lead

alone; be sure to get connected with a professional

learning network that can elevate your leadership

and empower you to be the leader your students

and staff need. I have a very strong network of

school leaders whom I connect with regularly to

work through problems, come up with solutions,

brainstorm ideas, and dream about possibilities.

Without this network, I would be a weaker school

leader who struggles to move beyond my own lens

of leadership. My professional learning network has

empowered me to connect and grow as a leader.

3. Grow

Everytime I think of growing, I’m reminded of my

wife, kids, and I planting our garden in our backyard.

Our family works throughout the year to grow our

small patch of crops that we can or freeze to keep

throughout the winter months. This gardening

requires constant attention and work; we must be

intentional in growing vegetables or the garden

becomes overgrown by weeds and overtaken by


Much like a garden, our leadership requires

nurturing and fertile soil. We need to prepare our

minds and hearts to learn and grow. By doing this,

we are intentional in our focus to read, listen, watch,

and develop new skills. Just like the need to weekly

get out and garden, we must regularly work to learn

and grow. Develop a reading list at the start of the

month, follow and listen to podcasts for school

leaders, or visit other schools to see how they are

innovating and learning.

Click Here to check out these Corwin new releases in

Administration and Leadership. Select a book to

work through as a leadership team or professional

learning network. By doing this, you grown and learn

through collaboration and networking.

Here are five powerful podcast for school leaders.

Subscribe to these podcasts and watch your

leadership grow through these practitioners sharing

insights and strategies for school leadership.

Lead the Way, a Podcast for School Leaders

Transformative Principal

Better Leaders, Better Schools

Principal Center Radio

Principal Matters

85 - A Veteran Educator’s

Favorite Number!

Most KPERS 1 educators know about the

rule of 85 points (Age + years of service =

85 points)

4. Go

Go share what you learned and lead others by

inspiring them to be relentless advocates for kids. By

doing this, your leadership grows exponentially and

you expand your influence. The Go step is a big one to

take because I am going to encourage you to go and

share what you know, what you are learning, and how

you are growing. By going, I want you to begin to

share your work with other school leaders. This can be

done by starting to blog, posting consistently on social

media, beginning a podcast, or simply working to

mentor other leaders in your school district. However

you do it, you need to do it. School leadership needs

your input and insights. When you share, you

empower others to grow and develop as

leaders. Consider writing a book for Corwin or

contributing to Corwin Connect. Feel free to reach out

to me, I’d be happy to walk through how to get

started. To connect, email me

at drbillziegler@gmail.com, @drbillziegler on Twitter,

or visit my website at www.chaselearning.org

I recently read a quote that made me chuckle: “If I

worked out as much as I talk about it, I’d be the Rock.”

The same is true for school leadership; it’s time to

stop talking about getting to it and start doing it. Take

85 points is the earliest a KPERS 1

employee can retire with the full


What if 85 points seems too far away?

Did you get in education later in life? Stay

at home with children?

Did you know that (Age 62 + 10 years) and

(Age 65 + any years) also gets the full


If you have additional questions, please

visit our website below.


Securities offered through Securities America, Inc.,

member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through

Securities America Advisors, Inc. Ameritime, LLC and

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one step at a time, but begin to take steps now

toward growing and developing as a school leader.








The Kansas State Department of

Education (KSDE) is accepting

nominations for the 2020 Kansas

Teacher of the Year. Every

school district is encouraged to

nominate one exemplary

elementary classroom teacher

and one exemplary secondary

classroom teacher for this

prestigious award.

Not only does participating in this program

demonstrate that your district values exceptional

teaching, you will be providing critical professional

development opportunities for your nominees.

Participants tell us year after year that this program is

life-changing and has made them better teachers.

The 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year nomination

packet is available on the KSDE website at https://



While district nominees may begin work on the

application now, all nominations must be submitted

using KSDE’s Kansas Teacher of the Year online

application program, which will open April 1, 2019,

and close May 3, 2019.

For more information about this program, please

contact the KSDE by email to sbukovatz@ksde.org or

phone at (785) 296-2551.


Whitney Morgan, an English language arts and

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

teacher at Wyandotte High School, Kansas City,

Kansas, Unified School District 500, was named the

2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year on Saturday, Nov.

17, during a special ceremony in Wichita. She was

selected from a field of eight finalists, and more

than 100 total nominees.

Morgan began her career as an English and ESOL

teacher at Wyandotte High School in 2013. She

received her bachelor’s degree in secondary

education with a minor in nonprofit leadership in

2012 from Kansas State University. She currently is

working on obtaining her master’s degree in English

from the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English in

Middlebury, Vermont.

Morgan is involved in several leadership roles and

professional organizations, and she is a Stanford

Graduate School of Education Hollyhock Fellow.

Be sure to catch Whitney at the 2019 USA-Kansas

Conference in Wichita!

*Source: https://www.ksn.com/news/kansas/wyandotte-teacherwhitney-morgan-named-kansas-teacher-of-the-year/1605302289



Dr. John Vandewalle, CEO Lumen Touch, johnv@lumentouch.com

Navigating the complex education environment is like

moving through space when every moment becomes

a challenge and someone’s future is in your hands.

It is that time of the year when you are embroiled in

planning, RFP’s, new contracts, reading about

teachers strikes, dousing the everyday fires,

representing your constituents, fighting for more

resources, presenting to Boards and on and on. We

are asking you to create UNUSUAL CLARITY when

you feel like you are driving through storms or just

trying to keep your head above water.

We are changing our practice and taking on a new


Some of the challenges you may be pondering are

fairly generic to most schools and the only way to

make a change is to address the system. Most of

our encounters with schools indicate efforts to

tinker rather than to change. Most of the tinkering

is occurring in the class room and the fix is around

the teacher and the curriculum with the hope the

magic wand of technology will shine the stars and

brighten the moon.

If you do not

have a clear

picture of

where you

want to be,

then continue

working on it and create your goals.

You may want to conduct an organization selfassessment

to see how your profile stacks up to a

model of excellence. As shown here, this school

district assessed itself as being a fairly low performer

on all parameters and at first were amazed and

perturbed by their mediocrity.

As the agents of change and the leadership of

education, for students of the Kansas education

system, we have to bring about change that is

magnanimous yet uncomfortable.

This magnanimous

journey has been

embarked on by Dr.

Kelly Arnberger and his

co-driver Leighton Rudd

from Dighton School

District. They have

embraced the challenge

and are impatiently

making some big moves

that will exemplify the


This was the catalyst for them to say no more! “We

have a responsibility to give our students the best.


We took some time off their road time to find out

their WHY and their WHAT so far.

Why have you embraced this opportunity to be a

Gemini District and lead the way in Kansas? We felt

we had a calling and the opportunity to match students’

opportunities to the realities of the world. We had to

change course and create a new reality.

What are the road blocks you have encountered so far?

The old model is comfortable.

Do you have a clear picture of your destination? Yes and

no. We feel like we are building the plane while we are

flying it. We realize there is no instant pudding and this

a journey of endurement.

What are you doing to overcome the road blocks and

keep the momentum? Engaging anyone that will listen,

assist us and celebrate success. We feel we cannot do

this alone and we are constantly leveraging resources

to join us on the journey.

Do you have a message for others undertaking this

journey? Oh yes! There is no perfect time for change. If

you see the opportunity jump on it. Get messy, get

uncomfortable and reach out for expertise to fly the

plane with you.



Bob Diepenbrock, Superintendent, Kingman-

Norwich USD 331

USD 331 Kingman-Norwich has been

working hard to provide appropriate

and engaging educational

opportunities for their students for

several years. Providing 1:1

Chromebooks from 3rd through 12th

grade schools, digital curricular

resources and always looking for ways to differentiate

and personalize learning made it easy to decide to apply

to become a Redesign School. Not only were

administrators excited to seek the opportunity to go

further for our students, but our dedicated teachers

were anxious to innovate, share with each other and

get assistance from other school districts and state


Being selected as Gemini I Schools initially created

some challenges of what to do and in getting started.

KSDE provided webinars, but getting subs for teachers

and not being interrupted while at the school put the

planning behind. A decision was made to change to a

5-6 intermediate grade configuration and semidepartmentalize.

There was concern for the

curriculum and for a digital platform that would make

it easier to personalize learning. KSDE brought the

Summit Learning Platform to Kansas and it seemed to

be what we needed. Therefore, after only the first

year of planning, 5th and 6th grade teachers for both

Kingman and Norwich and administrators went to the

summer Summit training held in Kansas City.

We have been largely successful using the Summit

platform as there was careful planning to choose

teacher volunteers who would work hard to make the

new approach work. The teachers report they have

never worked harder in their careers, yet also found

the work very satisfying mostly because of student

successes. Furthermore, they feel most students are

excited about their learning and setting goals. It’s not

unusual to hear students talking about their progress

during recess or PE class. There certainly were some

issues when starting the Summit platform including

learning the curriculum, starting the mentoring, and

understanding all the tools to help personalize the

learning and provide immense data. The results, too,

have been excited for two major reasons; 1) students

showed great gains on MAP testing and 2) all students

are learning and making progress with the support

they need.

Once again, the teachers are the most important

ingredient. Luckily, we have superstars who have

made the implementation successful and that is the

KEY! The district’s current plan is to expand the

Summit Platform to 7th and 8th grades next year and

to 9th and 10th grades the following year. 17


Dan Whisler, Educator in Residence, Trane

• An aging workforce that is retiring at increasing


• Aging buildings and a deferred maintenance

backlog waiting to be addressed.

• Aging energy grid and strategic focus on energy


• Rapidly advancing technology and a skills gap in

the workforce.

• Limited local availability to industry-recognized

training facilities.

• New goals and expectations for schools to work


• School budgets have been stretched thin.

Yes, the challenges are real and all involved certainly

acknowledge these realities.

schools with the responsibility of providing “a more

student-focused system that provides support and

resources for individual success.” The how is

provided in the second part of this vision where it

clearly states, this “will require everyone to work

together to make it a reality. Together, Kansans

Can.” (https://www.ksde.org/Agency/Fiscal-and-



So what does all of this have to do with Career &

Technical Education, the Energy Pathway and all of

the other pathways, too? Everything! The pieces of

the puzzle are all there. It is now up to all of us, in

both public and private sectors, to work together to

bring these pieces together to turn this vision to

reality for our students.

If I could emphasize just one thing right now, it would

be this – there is hope as the team of partners is

growing and ready to address the needs. With a

perspective gained from 33 years as a Kansas high

school science teacher and coach, instead of a

“perfect storm”, I see this as the “perfect

opportunity” for all involved, especially, and most

importantly, for our students. Like facing a

formidable opponent in an athletic competition, if we

focus on the challenges and problems the outlook is

bleak. By developing a well thought out game plan

and focusing on the strengths of all of the team

members, though, it was always my belief that we

had a chance to come out on top. I believe that now,


Through the Kansans CAN School Redesign Project,

the Kansas State Department of Education has tasked


Energy is the ability to do work. It is the life-blood of

our society, the key to our economy, standard of

living and our way of life. It also happens to be one

of the larger budget items in every school district.

Involving virtually every subject area in school, I

can’t imagine a better topic for STEM & Project-

Based Learning. During my last ten years in the

classroom, “Energy” was the focus of projects for

our Environmental Science classes, leading to

opportunities and learning experiences for our

students I never dreamed possible. It was just the

tip of the iceberg, though, compared to what is now

a possibility for students in schools all across

Kansas. Our signature project involved tracking the

economic costs and environmental impact of using

our school’s Chevrolet Volt. While students in most

schools don’t have an electric car to study, they do

have something even better to learn from…a

building. Not just any building, though, but THEIR


Buildings are an important component of our society

and they impact the sustainability of our world. They

have energy coursing through their veins – heating,

cooling, lighting. Buildings are responsible for 40

percent of the energy consumption in the U.S.

(Source: EIA 2016). Using energy wisely is everyone’s

responsibility—and young people can make a big

difference! That is why we created the Trane BTU

Crew curriculum – to engage students in using their

campus as a living energy lab.

An Interactive, Flexible Educational Curriculum

The BTU Crew

curriculum uses handson,

interactive learning

to help students

entering 4th-7th and

8th-12th grade and

getting ready for high

school to explore ways

to make their schools

and homes more energy efficient. The program is

designed to:

• engage students, teachers, parents and the


• create interest in various science, technology,

engineering and math (STEM) careers

• support critical thinking and analytical skills

strengthen presentation and interviewing skills

So, what is the key to providing learning experiences

that can lead to fulfilling career opportunities for our

students? Teamwork. Overcoming the challenges

creating this “perfect storm” can be done by utilizing

the power provided through Public-Private

Partnerships (P3). By working together and utilizing

the strengths of each member of the team, our

students can grow through engaging learning

experiences that guide them from career exploration

to Individualized Plans of Study.

Transitioning from the

classroom to my role

now serving as Trane’s

Educator in Residence,

it has been exciting for

me to see how all of

the developing Public-

Private Partnerships

are creating a “Career

Ready” model for

students in classrooms

all across Kansas. This isn’t just “theory” or “talk”, it

is happening right now. Currently being piloted in

several school districts, Trane's BTU

CrewTM combines two of the fastest growing

career fields (Energy & Data Analytics) in one realworld

PBL experience that can lead students from

fun career exploration to industry-recognized

certificates for high-tech, high-demand, high-wage

careers. It is quickly catching the attention and

interest of students, as experienced at Beloit


“The students seemed to be intrigued by the data

and were excited when we started pin pointing

specific days that we used a lot of energy and then

we went back to our school calendars to see what

we did on those days. They enjoyed that the

most! The activity was definitely age appropriate

for junior high.” - Christie Fouts, Beloit MS

Technology Teacher

In February, Beloit students from grades 6-12

presented their BTU Crew projects to their Board of

Education and to a larger audience at the Kansas

CTE Conference in Manhattan. The feedback from

these presentations for the work these teachers

and students are doing has been exceptional.


“I have been so

impressed with the

BTU Crew program

and the opportunities

it has created for our

teachers and

students. It has brought Project Based Learning to

our classrooms that has Relevance, Real World

Applications, Appropriate Rigor, and allowed us to

build a Relationship with a Global Business and

Industry partner, Trane.” - Jeff Travis, USD#273


curriculum that

can engage

students and lead

to career

opportunities at

the same time.

Doing far more

than just providing a substantial energy savings, this

real-world technology turns buildings into “Living,

Learning Labs”, the foundation for the BTU Crew,

creating learning opportunities not possible using a


The “Perfect Storm” is drawing closer. The

expectations of a redesigned learning experience

are on the horizon. The workforce development

team is ready. The career opportunities are here.

Now it is time to take action.

Following these presentations, members of the

audience had the opportunity to visit with the

students to ask questions and get more details about

all they are learning through the BTU Crew program.

“The kids were amazing! I was very impressed with

their self-directedness, engagement, and

cognitive abilities. Their work and this project should

be what school looks like all day every day!”- Dr.

Steve Wyckoff, ESSDACK Leadership and School

Improvement Specialist

Download the

USA-Kansas App!

Search for USAK in the

app store or use this

QR code for fast


Instead of just paying the district utility bill each

month, imagine if that same money could be used for

an energy efficiency program AND be part of a





Doug Parisi, SafeDefend

The solution to school security is

not more of the same.

With the anniversary of the

Parkland shooting there have

been a lot of articles about the

changes over the last year. The

interesting observation is that

nothing has changed but rather a double down on

more of the same. The response to these events

usually ends with the same options being put out as

enhancements. These options portray the

impression to the public that our schools are safer

without resulting in improvements that address the

threat from an active shooter.

A recent Wall Street Journal article on the Parkland

anniversary mentioned several expenditures over the

last year. The school added fencing to several

schools. The 45-acre Marjory Stoneman Douglas

campus was fenced in at the time of the shooting.

Upgrades and additions to the security system were

purchased. The school has a robust camera system

and the shooter’s every movement is captured on

video. A recommendation was made to have more

armed personnel at all Florida schools. One district

hired combat veterans to patrol the grounds with

rifles. We forget that there was an armed officer on

the grounds that was at the scene in roughly 1

minute 45 seconds but failed to confront the shooter.

The other armed responders were given confusing

information and didn’t make entry until 11 minutes

into the incident which was long after the shooter

fled. So the solution is to continue doing what we

have been doing for years hoping for fewer


A true solution comes from looking at what has

happened in the past and figuring out what will make

a difference. Not hypothetical solutions but thwarted

attacks or attacks where the shooter was interrupted.

The 2017-2018 school year was the worst year for

the number of school shootings. Outside of the three

major shootings there were others with minimal

casualties. While the intent of the shooter appeared

to be a mass casualty incident the impact was

minimized by two things. Notification to the

buildings occupants to lockdown saved countless

lives. Actions by teachers to thwart or stop the attack

was just as impactful. If the new strategies for

security don’t improve notification or empower

teachers then your readiness for a hostile intruder or

no better off with a hardened building.

We have

had the


approach to



since the

1980s when

we started

some of the current measures. There have been

improvements to the technology for locked doors

and surveillance. These have never stopped an active

shooter, they were not effective in Parkland,

attempting to address a threat with these

improvements will have similar ineffective results.




Kristie Werner, Senior Product Marketing Manager, NWEA

message about reading – that reading faster is

reading better.

In honor of National Reading Month, we are sharing

a FREE eBook – A Better Way to Assess Oral Reading

Fluency. Learning to read is such a major milestone

for early learners and sets the foundation for all

future learning. As young kids develop reading

fluency, they typically move toward greater and

greater comprehension of what they read.

But not all kids have enough of what they need to

get to reading comprehension. Some kids have

strong phonics and word recognition skills, but fail to

comprehend. Others show solid, insightful

comprehension when you read TO them, but

struggle in comprehending what they read on their

own. So, what can teachers do?

Our eBook starts by diving into where teachers can

start – with a healthy understanding of the three key

elements of reading fluency – rate, accuracy, and

prosody. And, it’s not all about words correct per

minute (WCPM). Oral reading fluency is a key

indicator of reading proficiency, but it has some

issues as it’s currently implemented. One of these is

that there are kids who are getting the wrong


NWEA expert Cindy Jiban, PhD, shares what’s

wrong with the current reading assessment model

and how a better solution can actually return

precious instructional time to teachers. Enter MAP®

Reading Fluency, the first and only K–3 computeradaptive

oral reading fluency assessment using

speech recognition technology with automatic


The 20-minute assessment of oral reading fluency,

comprehension, and foundational reading skills is

delivered online, enabling group administration and

saving teachers hours of time. At NWEA, we’re

excited to bring this new K–3 oral reading

assessment to educators because it helps address

many early reading assessment challenges.

Download the FREE eBook A Better Way to Assess

Oral Reading Fluency today by following the link



Professional development Schedule at a Glance

USA Drive-In Event

No Cost to districts who are PLN Members,

$100 for USA members, and $200 for non-

USA members. Events run 9:00-2:00.

School Safety One Year Later-What’s

Changed? - G.A. Buie




4.9.2019—Garden City

48th Annual


May 29-31, 2019

Hyatt & Century II Convention Center

Wichita, KS

Opening Speaker

Alan November




Closing Speaker

Kent Rader

& Conference


KAESP—Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals

KAMSA—Kansas Association of Middle School Administrators

KASBO—Kansas Association of School Business Officials

KASPA—Kansas Association of School Personnel Administrators

KASCD—Kansas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development

KASEA—Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators

KASSP—Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals

KCCTEA—Kansas Council of Career and Technical Education Administrators

KanSPRA—Kansas School Public Relations Association

KSSA—Kansas School Superintendents Association

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