Common folk: OHS teacher Kindschi shares culture with Russian village

Photos submitted. Oregon High School teacher Lou Kindschi recently traveled to Russia, about five miles from the Ukraine border, where she toured small rural schools to exchange folk stories with residents.

Call it “Paul Bunyan diplomacy.”

Though the leaders of their two countries are not seeing eye to eye, when it comes to folklore, it turns out Russians and Americans are not too different from one another.

That’s what Oregon High School globetrotting teacher Lou Kindschi discovered during a recent cultural exchange trip to Russia.

The Russian-Ukranian border certainly has the world’s attention these days – an unpredictable hot spot in a post-Cold War Eastern Europe beginning to heat up.

Kindschi was stationed about five miles from the border, so as the conflict in nearby Crimea raged, she was meeting in schools and small homes, talking to residents about their history and sharing folk stories.

The program was offered by an organization called “American Friends of Russian Folklore,” a group dedicated to promoting American understanding of Russian folklore and traditional Russian life and culture.


Last vote for ousted trio: abstentions, no action

In its last meeting before three new members are sworn in April 28, the Oregon School Board couldn’t muster the votes needed to pass two resolutions on providing supplemental pay - partly because three outgoing members declined to vote.

The additional income would be directed to several district teachers that board members fear could be hired away by other school districts, possibly in the coming weeks.

The board met for about 45 minutes in closed session Monday night before returning to vote on a motion by Dan Krause to direct district superintendent Brian Busler to open discussions with the Oregon Education Association regarding supplemental pay, which would allow the district to pay specific teachers more than usual.

Rae Vogeler seconded the motion, but with outgoing members Courtney Odorico, Lee Christensen and Wayne Mixdorf abstaining and Jeff Ramin and Steve Zach voting against, the 2-2 vote resulted in a failed motion.


STEAM open house set for Tuesday

Submitted photo. Members (kneeling), Lindsey Chamberlain; from left: Nathan Mahr, Tim Panietz, Erik Haakenson, Anita Koehler, Al Miller, Deb Elmer, Rae Vogeler, Greg Granberg, Larry Mahr, Ryan Stace, and Bill Urban gather around Brillion’s Technology & Engineering program’s High Mileage Vehicle. This vehicle was built by Technology Engineering students with guidance from the Brillion teachers and community. support Ariens Corporation engineers and parents. They have made it possible to build a hybrid vehicle getting more than 140 miles per gallon.

In an ongoing effort to develop a stronger STEAM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)program in Oregon, teachers, community members, a school board member, school-to-work coordinator and administrator participated in a field trip March 14 to learn about Appleton High School’s Tesla program and Brillion High School’s Technology & Engineering STEAM programs.

The Tesla program follows an integrated curricular approach in the STEAM subject areas. One program focused on building remote- controlled robots, while one of Brillion’s programs focused on building high mileage vehicles.

Both schools worked cooperatively with local industry, and student enthusiasm for learning with local business and parent support was extremely high, with both of their programs increasing in student participation.


Oregon High School students win SkillsUSA awards

Oregon High School students earned top awards during the SkillsUSA Competition, held earlier this year at UW-Stout.

Trevor Caldwell earned a first place award in Electronic Technology; Wilhelm Kessenich earned second in Electronic Technology and Casey Bonno earned a third in Advertising Design.

Other OHS participants were: Mitch Condon – Cabinetmaking, Nic Romero – Technical Drafting, Elliot Moravec – Technical Drafting, Maddy Knaack – Photography, Amanda Blackwood – Photography, Jordan Schultz – Team Problem Solving, Ben Prew – Team Problem Solving, Cole Scott – Team Problem Solving and Sam Horsnell – Welding.


‘Flipping’ the script

Photos by Scott De Laruelle. Rome Corners Intermediate School math teacher Kay Kissling works on problems with, from left: Kirsten Oppliger, Angela Hessler and Sam Peterson. While at school, the students are learning material that is traditionally considered homework as part of the personalized learning program.

Moms and dads are some of the greatest people in the world. But sometimes, when it comes to assisting with homework, they’re not always the best resource.

In the “old way” of instructing students, teachers would give lessons during class, then assign homework to be completed for the next day. But then what happens when a student gets stuck and needs help parents can’t provide?

Rome Corners Intermediate School fifth-grade teaching team Celia Paczwa and Kay Kissling have solved that learning problem – and a few others – with some creative “flipping” and a little bit of  “dynamic regrouping” this year with their group of 46 students by using personalized learning techniques put in place this fall.

Personalized learning is an initiative the district started in 2011 to help all students reach their potential. It starts with the individual student in mind, and designs learning according to their own needs, motivations and capabilities.


PVE Planetarium photos

Prairie View Elementary art teacher Kelly Seidel’s students recently created an all-school project called the “PVE Planetarium.”

It’s comprised of around 430 projects that relate to the theme of space. Each grade level (kindergarten through fourth grade) created different projects that related to the theme.


OSD: Progress on teacher contracts

While both sides agree progress was made at a recent mediation session, some issues still separate the Oregon School District and the Oregon Education Association (OEA) on teacher contracts for 2013-14.

Continuing talks that started in October, district superintendent Brian Busler said Monday that after some “setbacks and challenges” in the bargaining process, a mediation session March 12 led by WERC (Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission) mediator Bill Houlihan made “great progress.” He said the sides are arranging another session, and he hopes a deal can be struck following spring break, sometime in the first week of April.

A “significant increase” in starting teacher salaries is “part of the process” for recruitment and retention purposes, Busler said.


OHS artist’s work in national competition

Submitted photo. OHS senior Jennifer Zernick’s acrylic painting of her mother, titled, “Inside Looking Out,” earned her a national art award. The piece is currently on its way to New York for more judging.

How do you thank your mom for supporting your art career?

Having her pose for a painting that wins national art honors seems like a good start for Oregon High School Senior Jennifer Zernick. The senior was recently awarded the ‘Gold Key’ Award by the National Scholastic Art Awards and the Milwaukee Art Museum for her acrylic painting, “Inside Looking Out.”

The annual state competition received more than 1,200 student entries, including Zernick’s, which received one of the highest merits and was selected for inclusion in a Scholastic Art Awards display at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The works from the regional competition have since been sent to New York for judging on the national level.

Zernick said getting the national recognition was “really exciting” and something she’ll always be proud of.

“It was fun to see my work along side some of the best high school artists from around the state,” she said.


Helping hands for ‘Hope’

Submitted photos. Schools of Hope tutors include, from left: Wendy Borden, Kathy Michalski, Tom Bradley and Suzie Reinicke.

Launched in 2008 to help students with academic achievement, Schools of Hope is continuing to change lives for the better – both for students and the volunteer tutors who help them.

Schools of Hope partners with the Urban League of Greater Madison, United Way of Dane County and the Oregon School District, which provides space for the school at Oregon Middle School. It has 30 volunteers and more than 40 students enrolled.

The program began as a pilot in 1995 in the Madison School District, and now is found in all the district’s elementary and middle schools. Originally designed to assist minority students through one-on-one tutoring and role model mentoring, it helps a wide variety of students, said tutor coordinator Zoua Vang.


School Board candidate questionnaires

With two candidates in each "area" of the Oregon School District, three incumbents and three challengers, voters will make a big statement April 1 on what they think of the current board and what they hope to see in the future. All voters in the district can vote for a candidate in each area. The Observer sent each candidate a questionnaire. Read their responses by clicking their name below:

Area IV:
Gwen Maitzen
Wayne Mixdorf

Area II:
Charles Uphoff
Courtney Odorico