Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Karyn Finn Offers Reflection of Service; Departs for Move to Missouri

It’s time for me to leave Hudson and move to Missouri to join my husband, but it’s really not about me. The School Board is a team and as we all know there is no “I” in team. As I reflect on my term of service from being elected in the Fall of 2011 until today, I am just amazed at the positive changes in the community that I have come to call my home for the past 19 years. Not all of the changes were easy and some were downright difficult but with collaboration and thoughtful discussion we found common ground.   

Great schools don’t just happen, they are the product of an engaged community that shares responsibility for a positive culture along with financial (property tax) support. Although our financial outlook is stable now, it wasn’t always that way.  In fact, that is just what brought me to the school board meetings of 2010 -2011.  Hudson Schools were facing a financial crisis that had decimated our rainy day funds and neither property taxes or state funding were going to fix it.  I ran for school board because I knew that the local school was not only important to our community’s sustainability but also to the youth and families that rely on a solid education for their future.  We as a community owe it to our kids and their future to get engaged and stay engaged so that we are aware of the utilization of our taxes and can support our teachers and staff to provide positive educational outcomes for all of our youth.

We start each meeting with “We create effective learning environments that result in success for all students”.  These are very powerful words as a school board we act together to create effective policies and practices that allow the staff to fulfill their mission to educate all of our children.  I have been proud to be part of the many positive changes that have taken years of planning like paving the High School parking, paving the Middle school parking, providing handicap access to the competition gym are some of the major visual changes. In addition in the past seven years we added Pirate term, PLC & TLC along with weekly Wednesday early outs for professional development. I have had the great honor and privilege to hand out diplomas to my own children, swelling with pride at their accomplishments due in major part to the commitment and dedication of our wonderful teachers.  

Message for Community:
Get engaged, find out what’s going on in your school and community.  Stay engaged by attending meetings and events, read the board minutes in the Hudson Herald, run for School Board, but most importantly - Share your voice. You are as important a part of the school as the children, teachers and staff. Bring your ideas, collaborate, look forward to what will be expected from graduates in future jobs. Volunteer your time, before school, during or after school, at events and activities. Remember Great Schools don’t just happen!! They need a community of engaged citizens collaborating together. I am proud to have been part of the #piratepride family.

Thank you Hudson for your support and wonderful memories.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It's Not as Easy as it Looks

Junior high teachers collaborating on a personalized
professional development project during a recent
student early dismissal.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to sit in on a grade level meeting in second grade. These weekly meetings between the building principal, teacher leaders, and teachers serve multiple purposes. Most importantly they open a dialogue among instructional experts to discuss what is going on in the classroom and how best to meet the needs of learners. It was during this meeting I was once again reminded how incredibly complex, difficult, and challenging the work is of our educators. While observing this meeting teachers were discussing their upcoming unit plans and how they aligned to the Iowa Core. They provided a detailed timeline of instruction, including the identification of specific instructional strategies that were going to be used during this instruction. Strategies by the way, that had recently been presented in professional development.

When pressed by the principal about what 'proof' there would be to demonstrate successful mastery of the content, the teachers shared the formative assessments that would be used to measure student growth. For those not demonstrating adequate growth, their plan and timeline provides remediation-for groups of students exceeding expectations and those needing additional instruction. Then, these teachers were able to tie the instruction they are delivering back to the specific content standard that is being addressed; be it instruction designed to introduce a concept, develop a concept, or attain grade level mastery.

Now I am used to seeing this kind of stuff everyday from our teachers here at Hudson. But I have to tell you: this was impressive. It was another awesome reminder of the complex work that is going on in our schools, and the high level of skill and training it takes for our teachers to do it successfully. I know what many of you are thinking: this is the second grade team and they are rock stars anyway. I'll concede that point, but the fact is this isn't an anomaly. Keeping in mind that I wasn't invited to this meeting and just 'popped in' randomly, I asked Mr. Schlatter; are all the grade level meetings like this? His answer: Yes. 

The picture you may have in your mind of what teaching looks like, or even what is sometimes portrayed on television is woefully simplistic. The truth is, teachers are very highly skilled professionals that put in a ton of work that is largely unseen. What we see in our classrooms when our instructors deliver polished instruction on a daily basis is but a fraction of what it looks like to be a teacher. We are lucky in Hudson to have very good ones.