Hartford school board retreat addresses safety
By Jon Bisnett The Hartford Board of Education met for the annual spring retreat on March 8. Coming together in a less formal chance for the board to share ideas and brainstorm the course of the District, in light of recent national media attention was school safety.
STUDENT ARTISTS OF ALL SIZES… packed the Hartford Middle School gym on March 6 with more than 900 pieces of framed artwork for the 2nd annual Student Art Show fund-raiser. Sophomore Yair Delgado (left) and Kindergartener Trinidad Amezcua (right) show off their entries for the event which raised over $1,000 to fund art supplies. Elementary Art Teacher Julie Jacobusse and Middle/High School Teacher Sandra Hahn collaborated on the production of the well-attended show. The following students received awards for their artwork. Receiving the High School Superintendent’s Choice Awards are: High School – Miguel Jose for “Aztec Woman”; 6th grade – Samuel Pacheco-Mejia for “Robotic Lizard’s Adventure”; 7th Grade – Guimell Hernandez for “Flower Power”; and 8th grade – Gillian Kuehnle for “Seaside.” Receiving the Principal’s Choice Awards are: High School – David Dimas for “Butterfly”; 6th grade – Leah Fish for “Crazy Imagination”; 7th grade – Sinai Ordonez for “Illuminated Letter”; and 8th grade – Alexa Thompson for “Pencil Shavings.” (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)
Curriculum District Curriculum Director Brad Geesaman led off with a presentation updating the board on several areas of curriculum development including the ongoing process of the gradual implementation of the new Illuminate software package. With focus on student data and assessments the software gives teachers a comprehensive tool to build and administer formative assessments, capture and analyze multiple sources of data to then direct students with instruction needed to support specific, targeted standards. While a curriculum discussion is less topical as school safety concerns, the consensus of the board was to remind itself and the community it serves that the prime directive that remains the District’s core value is to provide a quality education in line with the District motto of “Every Student Matters, Every Moment Counts.” Superintendent Hubbard added in a post meeting interview, “We have to find a balance that works for us and our students. We can go out and try to develop the safest facility in the nation, but if we fail to properly educate our students and leave them unprepared for life after high school we would have ultimately missed the mark. If we as educators didn’t have the obligation to gather these kids at school each day to learn, we wouldn’t have anyone to keep safe in the first place. It is all about balance in both budget and day-to-day operations.” School safety District Safety Director Dave Janicki’s presentation left no doubt that the District is very well-prepared and has been vetted by Van Buren ISD Safety Director Gary Brown as “miles ahead of many surrounding districts.” Hartford already exceeds the state mandate by conducting: five fire drills, two tornado drills, four lock-down and one evacuation drills. Drills coordinate with the Van Buren County Sheriff, State, Pokagon and Hartford Police departments and Hartford Fire Department. The District has trained emergency bus drivers and action teams at all buildings trained in lifesaving CPR, automated external defibrillator use, and EpiPens; with additional training on the horizon for the use of Narcan, an opioid overdose antidote. What is next? While all agreed the District is well prepared, the obvious question remained as to what more should be done? At this point the board is keeping all options on the table. Liaison officers, expanded partnership with the Pokagon Tribal Police, expanded presence of the Hartford Police reserve officers, volunteer veterans, arming teachers and/or administrators, reduction of entrance locations, increased electronic surveillance and more are on the list of possibilities. “The number one goal is to keep our students and staff safe… Learning cannot take place if people are worried about their safety.” said Janicki with full agreement from the board. Board President Ben Chambers to gather input with the following action: A community survey will go out in the next two weeks; Board will review results and take their cue for priorities; additional communication will continue to promote and educate the community as to HPS school safety efforts; a community forum will present survey results and provide for feedback. President Chambers spoke as to the pros and cons of social media as of late: “Social media can be a very powerful and effective tool for school communications, but we find ourselves forced to continually remind our parents and students that just because you see a police officer or police cruiser at our buildings, this does not mean trouble. The District works well with our local police and they always are willing to support the schools however they can. It is a disservice to all if a parent or concerned citizen immediately assumes trouble and jumps to social media if they see a police cruiser at one of our buildings; it only serves to create panic and things are typically blown way out of proportion. We routinely ask officers to assist in the buildings and the simple fact of them being present is great for our students and staff, it does not mean someone is in trouble or we have a disaster on our hands. In all likelihood an increased presence may well be forthcoming as general practice. The school has policies on how, when, and what information will be shared in case of these events, and it is always used consistently. We ask for the communities help with exercising restraint with the social media issue.” The meeting concluded with a special thanks to the entire district for keeping safety in the forefront and very specific note of gratitude to Dave Janicki and Andy Hubbard for their passion for school safety and their dedication for making our schools safe. The board meets next on March 22 for the monthly business session.
SUBSTITUTE DRIVER? Long-time physical education teacher Doug Parin is just one of a dozen Hartford Public School District teachers cross-trained as an emergency bus driver as just one component of the overall school safety plan. District Safety Director Dave Janicki commented, “In a true emergency that warrants full evacuation, we might find ourselves in a position where our regular bus drivers are either unavailable or delayed in arrival. We’ve taken the proactive step to put specially trained teachers behind the wheel in a specific situation where time is of the essence to best protect our staff and students by getting them safely off campus as quickly and efficiently as possible.” (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)
Orthopedic surgeon to discuss joint replacement options
Community members are invited to join orthopedic surgeon, Daniel Sohn, MD, for a free educational seminar on state-of-the-art joint replacements. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, March 20, at Caretel Inns of Lakeland, located at 3905 Lorraine Path in St Joseph. Light refreshments will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a one-hour presentation from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. During the seminar, Dr. Sohn will discuss new, less-invasive surgical technique to treat worn out hip and knee joints and how the latest advances in orthopedics are providing higher quality outcomes. Preregistration is encouraged; walk-ins are welcome. For more information, or to register, call (269) 927-5361 or visit www.lakelandhealth.org/ totaljoint. Learn more about Dr. Sohn’s expertise and training and watch an online video interview by visiting www.lakelandhealth.org/ortho.