Fall Semester Paper for Contracted Grade--Timm Ringhofer

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Timm Ringhofer Fall Semester Paper for Contracted Grade

On Wednesday, January 5, 2000, I attended, along with eight other teachers and administrators from Falls High School, the Rivertown Curriculum Conference at the Holiday Inn in International Falls presented by Rainy River Community College.

The school district found out about this conference in early December. Each of four departments from our high school; mathematics, English, arts, and science were to send a representative to the conference to discuss various topics with area high school and college teachers and professors. The description of the conference was met with great skepticism on the part of the teachers at Falls High School. It is no secret that Rainy River Community College is dire need of finding students. Many of the teachers at Falls High School figured that this was just another ploy by Rainy River Community College to try to flex their collective muscle and get more of the students from Falls High School. Ever since the Post-Secondary Options Program has started, Falls High juniors and seniors has been a significant portion of the number of students at Rainy River Community College. The largest number come from Falls High School with a few others coming from smaller surrounding school districts. With the amount of money our school district loses with every student that goes to Rainy River Community College and the financial shortfall our school district is expecting, every student is going to count towards keeping Falls High School a good school.

When we arrived at the Holiday Inn, we found teachers from Littlefork-Big Falls, Indus, Orr, Cook, Northome, Kelliher, Lake of the Woods, and Fort Frances had also been invited to take part in the conference. It seemed a little weird that Rainy River would invite all these schools when they would not be able to get students through the post-secondary program. Maybe Rainy River was on the up-and-up about this conference. Teachers from International Falls, Indus, Northome, Lake of the Woods, and Littlefork-Big Falls attended the conference.

After donuts and coffee for the social hour of the conference, Brett Smith from Mahtomedi was the keynote speaker for the conference. Brett Smith is the Minnesota Educator of the Year for 1999. He is an elementary school music teacher for grades three through five, and I thought seemed rather young for a teacher of the year. He gave a light talk about his educational background, including his own dealings with dyslexia, and some of the things that he tries to do to be a successful teacher.

Ron Erickson, dean of students at Rainy River Community College, addressed four basic questions on shared information between the college and the area high schools. 1) Are there ways the college can align its curricular programs better so the transition is smoother for students making that journey? 2) Is there a way to share equipment and expertise between feeder high schools and RRCC? 3) Is there a way to push staff development in various areas? Are there opportunities to bring a greater amount of training to the area if all organizations contributed? 4) In terms of post-secondary education, are there other models to consider? These four questions were discussed over the next hour as the groups were divided into the four subject areas mentioned above. Some of the items discussed were: math skills for advanced nursing students, eligibility of high school students enrolled at Rainy River, difficulties of giving individual attention to 150 students if teaching at the high school versus the smaller numbers at Rainy River, and lack of experience in the real world for the high school students attending a college.

After lunch, fifteen kaleidoscope sessions were held on a variety of topics. Five of the sessions were held at one time for a period of thirty minutes. This allowed each participant to attend three different sessions. I attended sessions on student life, varsity/intramural sports, and computer information systems.

Clint Carlson facilitated the first session. Clint was director of student affairs at Rainy River as he currently is in a different position. There were only five of us in the session and the main topic of conversation were getting to know each other and how the new year had treated everyone. I really got nothing out of this session except that I met two teachers from Rainy River. I guess that should be considered as a positive.

Dave Horner, who is the athletic director at Rainy River Community College, facilitated the second session. The main topic of discussion was the recent cancellation of the mens basketball season and the reasons for the cancellation. We also discussed the possibility of starting a football program at Rainy River.

Tina Meyers presented the final session that I attended. She discussed the Cisco classes offered at Rainy River Community College. These classes are in direct competition with the exact same classes offered at Falls High School. This was one of the reasons I attended this session. The other was that Tina is in the cohort with us, and I wanted to see what she had to say. Tina mainly answered questions about what her classes were about and how this was going to help her students get jobs in the future.

Overall, I would have to say that the day was beneficial. I was a little disappointed with the day chosen. It was only the third day we had been back in school after Christmas break. Hopefully, they will do it a little later next year, but before they Rainy River goes back to school. I did get to meet some new teachers from Rainy River, Indus, and Littlefork-Big Falls. We also got to discuss some topics that really need to be talked about between teachers. However, it is very rare that teachers from different schools get to talk. This is something that there should be more of for all teachers. I am looking forward to attending the Rivertown Curriculum Conference next year.

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2000

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