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La Harpe Community School Board Dist. 347

Teachers Sparrow and Pollock to Retire

by Jeanne Clayton - District SecretaryOn February 17, 2015, the La Harpe Board of Education held a regular meeting in the school library.

The Board held the Summer School Breakfast/Lunch exemption hearing, reviewed MAP test results, approved the consent agenda and payment of bills, and accepted the retirement letters from teachers Brenda Sparrow and Cindy Pollock for the end of school year 2015-16.

Social Studies teacher, Pat Raftis presented his webpage display of themes for each class, homework links, electives for the students, and information on the visit from Senator John Sullivan to the 8th grade class. 6th grade covers World History, 7th - U.S., and 8th - Geography. RtI is reading the historical novel, "All Quiet on the Western Front". RtI students are learning about the five major European countries and making a Facebook page of their country. One activity example was to post WWI propaganda recruiting soldiers to join the war. Raftis' Geography students plotted a map from their home to school using scale, key, and other mapping components. His World History students researched a topic, organized, and presented a short seminar with visual and lecture components. The U.S. History class, in studying the Civil War, created a video reenactment of the Lincoln Assassination.


Melissa Brink's special education class currently has 15, K-4th grade students. Brink focuses on math, spelling, reading, and writing per each student's IEP. Brink uses Envision Math, which is Common Core-based, and adds lots of work with manipulatives. During free time, Brink's students use differentiated math instruction on the classroom iPad from Front Row Ed. Students work through the program and are given a report of their progress. Brink uses Spelling City for student word games, online tests, and Dolch Sight Word lists, and My Sidewalks on Scott Foresman Reading Street for intensive reading intervention, a phonics plan, basal readers, and vocabulary. Brink uses ReadWorks for Lexileš-based reading comprehension practice and AIMSweb for reading-level stories. ReadWriteThink is used for Brink's standards-based lessons on blending, digraphs, and more. Brink involves her students in self-assessment through regular behavior interventions.


Superintendent Olson reported on IL Vision 20/20, which rallies educators "to reflect upon the current state of education in Illinois and take action to create an education system that meets the needs of all students". Dr. Olson met with a representative from the Illinois State Employee Benefits Consortium to discuss insurance options for the future. Olson will attend Alliance Leadership Summit and will meet with Senator Sullivan. Olson noted Gov. Rauner's first budget address is Feb. 18 and encouraged the Board to listen regarding his support of education. The 5Essentials Survey is available on the school website. Results of the survey will be on the school's report card next year. Olson reported the State will make General State Aid payments in June, but it is still likely we will only get two of the four transportation payments. Olson highlighted the upcoming IASB Western Division meeting in Cuba on March 11 providing a Board Candidate Briefing and information on Vision 20/20.

To view online agendas, news releases, and approved minutes, visit the School Board heading, School Board Reports link at


Additional News: P.E. Teacher, Ryan Hopper, provided a letter to the school board detailing the K-8th grade "Fitness Days" he holds each Thursday. Hopper attended the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Conference last fall, where he learned the "Fitness Dice" activity he uses with his students. During the activity, student pairs compete to do the most fitness activities. Each of 11 different fitness movements is numbered and determined by the roll of the dice. The activity is fast paced and provides a great workout for the students.


Prin. McKeown provided a report for the Board which included updates on volleyball, boys' basketball, and Scholastic Bowl. Illini West Principal Gooding along with a group of freshmen visited the 8th grade students, and 8th graders attended an evening orientation at IW. Elementary and Junior High students enjoyed their monthly positive behavior (PBIS) activities. Abby Johnson and Sammi Haney, winners of the local Spelling Bee, went on to participate in the Hancock County Spelling Bee. Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser for the American Heart Association and Valentine's Day activities were held.

McKeown provided the school board with MAP growth projection results by class. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a state-aligned computerized adaptive assessment program. Students in grades 1-8 are tested three times per year in math, reading, and language usage. Educators use the data from MAP to develop instructional strategies and to plan school improvement. AIMSweb is a complete web-based solution for universal screening, progress monitoring, and data management for Grades K-12. AIMSweb provides guidance to administrators and teachers based on accurate, continuous, and direct student assessment. MAP testing and AIMSweb winter benchmarking have been completed and Prin. McKeown has met with the teachers to complete mid-year analysis of the data. Principal McKeown is working with teachers to develop their portfolios for teacher evaluations. The February Teacher Institute topics were Student Learning Objectives and Mirrored Assessments. La Harpe teachers are well on their way to having student growth assessments identified and ready for next year's pilot year.

At the February Board Meeting, the following board members were in attendance: Pres. Cindy Wear, Nate Butler, Pam Campbell, Dustin Detherage, Mark Irish, Bobi James, and David Mershon. Supt. Ryan Olson and Board Sec. Jeanne Clayton were also in attendance. Visitors Asst. Regional Supt. Gary Eddington, K-4th grade Special Ed. teacher, Melissa Brink, and Social Studies teacher, Pat Raftis, were welcomed.