Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 15, 2018

Experienced teacher joins Highland staff

Aug 24, 2017

The school year is off and running.

During my first couple of months on the job, we have made some staff and curriculum additions. I intend on highlighting some of these changes for this year.

One of the first things that I did when I was hired as the interim superintendent was to have a goal setting session with the Board of Education, where we tried to determine the priorities for the district.

One of the things that came through loud and clear was to look at educational opportunities for the district. On the top of that list was an Agriculture Education program.

I knew of a retired instructor who lived in the area and reached out to him to see about his potential interest in working. He was excited to return to the classroom. Highland is rolling out their own Agriculture Education program this year along with starting a new FFA Chapter under the direction of Duane Van Winkle.

We are continuing to work with the Lone Tree program while we make this transition. Upper-classmen have the option of continuing with the Lone Tree program or participating in the new program at Highland.

The underclassmen coming in new to the program will be the backbone of the new program at Highland. We are also starting a new work experience program. I have the MOC certification that allows us to place students on the job. Students would participate in paid work experience while also receiving a high school credit. We are hoping to get between 6 to 10 seniors started this year in this program. Riverside Casino and Resort is interested in participating, especially in the food service area.

Speaking of food service, we are starting a new Culinary Arts program. We have hired a young man who is working on his Family and Consumer Science certification. We are looking at transitioning the traditional Home Economics curriculum into a more career- orientated focus in the Culinary Arts. Once again, the partnership with the casino will be an important asset to this program. While this will not happen this year, the goal is to reach the point where the district would operate a Tea Room that would serve the public on a limited basis. Another area where we hope to implement a new curriculum is with a new Aero Space Technology program. In my other life, I do some consulting for a group out of Atlanta, Georgia called “High Schools That Work.” They have developed ten advanced career curriculum areas of which Aero Space Technology is one of them. Because of my connections, they were looking for a district in Iowa who would like to be the pilot for the state. There are still a few hoops to jump through, but I am confident that this new program could be in place for the Fall of 2018, which is very exciting.

Another goal the board had was to connect with the communities and stakeholders in the district. We have planned a few strategies to accomplish this. During Homecoming week, we will be planning a marching band performance in both the towns of Ainsworth and Riverside. The planning process is just beginning and details are not yet available, but look for community celebrations to share in the school’s homecoming week activities. We have also reached out to the Riverside Senior Village to provide monthly programming for the residents there. This will include informational meetings, performances and presentations. It is our chance to give back to the residents of the communities. I have also asked the staff to reach out to businesses and members of the communities to be a part of the classrooms. We have a variety of occupations and expertise in the communities that we need to reach out and invite in the classrooms as speakers or members of panels. We also hope that our staff take advantage of local business and industry as a part of classroom field trips and visits.

For more information or suggestions on any of these items, please contact me at mjorgensen@highland.k12.ia.us . I will be glad to share as details become more available. We appreciate the opportunity the local media has provided the district to get the good news out about the exciting things happening at Highland CSD.


Dr. Jorgenson is Superintendent at the Highland School District.

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