By Travis Smola
Superintendent Charles Glaes and the Vicksburg school board honored retiring employees before the June board meeting.
The board recognized the services of Berta Bailey, Ric Beers, Laura Kuhlman, Peggy Makowski, Steve Miller, Pam Ruddick and Kathy Shoemaker at a small ceremony. “We appreciate the impact you’ve made on our lives and our children’s lives,” Glaes told the retirees.
“I’m always happy for the retirees and sad for the school,” board President Skip Knowles said. “You’ll always be a part of the family.”
Perhaps most notable this year is the retirement of middle school Principal Laura Kuhlman after 20 years. She shared some of the funny notes students gave her near the end of the school year. Assistant Principal Matt VanDussen, who was later approved to take over for Kuhlman as principal next year, was almost too choked up for words. He said he learned much from Kuhlman and thanked her for everything she has done.
“We deeply appreciate your service,” Knowles told Kuhlman at the end of the meeting.
“You did a great job through a troubled transition.”
The middle school was also a center for discussion as the Board approved a reduction in the number of class periods from seven to six. VanDussen and several staff members explained how surveys sent out in January showed staff supported the measure.
“The past few years we’ve gotten some feedback from our staff stating the need for more instructional time,” VanDussen said. Under the new schedule, class periods will run for 55 minutes instead of 46.
VanDussen and the staff feel the longer class period will allow them to get through more material. He said the additional class time, if added up, is a huge boost in valuable instructional time. “It’s like having a whole additional class per week,” he said. “Getting around to all the students in 46 minutes is tough.”
With the schedule change, there will also be a focus on combining teaching of reading and writing teaching. Students might be asked to read something and then write an analysis of it. “There was a lack of cohesion between the reading and writing,” VanDussen said.
The board agreed it makes more sense to implement the two curriculums together. “I think the missing piece before was thinking critically,” board member David Schriemer said. He noted his own daughter knew how to read and construct a sentence, but there was something missing.
“The missing piece was she didn’t know how to think critically and bring her own point of view to it,” Schriemer said.
In other news, the board also approved a resolution prohibiting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, at sporting events. “It’s keeping us in compliance with Michigan High School athletic rules,” Glaes said. “We had a problem at a football game last year.”
That incident took place during a band performance at halftime. Knowles noted he’d seen a drone crash before at an event. Because of incidents like that, the prohibition also addresses safety concerns. “We do not want to see something crashing into the formations,” Glaes said.