Leading the Way: Hudson Students Attend Leadership Conference

5 days ago, no responses

by sophomore Sophie Selenke Eleven students represented Hudson High School at the Ed Thomas Legacy Leadership Academy this fall. “It’s a great honor to be selected by teachers to help make Hudson better by being a leader,” said Sara Hansen, […]

Walking Club Begins for Hudson Faculty

1 week ago, no responses

by senior Caleb McCullough High school PE teacher Sean Leonard has started a “Pirate Walking Club” for staff. “Staying active during the winter can be difficult,” said Leonard. “It’s cold, our bodies feel sluggish, and it gets dark early.” Leonard […]

Journalism Students Travel to Texas

4 weeks ago, no responses

by senior Olivia Kolterman Twenty Hudson High School journalism students traveled to the national convention in Dallas November 15-19th. The conference, hosted by the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association, is the largest conference for high school journalists. […]

Hudson Journalism Program Wins State Award

4 weeks ago, no responses

by Sophomore Brooke Busch The  Iowa High School Press Association (IHSPA) awarded the Hudson High School journalism students with top honors. The 2016-2017 high school newspaper staff received the first ever “All Iowa News Team of the Year” award and […]

Hudson Students Take Academic Excursions

1 month ago, no responses

by senior Olivia Kolterman This year three Hudson electives plan to attend further enhance their learning by traveling outside of the state. From October 24 – October 28, 19 current Hudson Future Farmers of America students, along with Hudson Class […]

Former President Comments to High School Newspaper

1 month ago, no responses

by senior Caleb McCullough The Pirate Press newspaper staff received an email of a lifetime October 17th from former President Barack Obama. In preparation for the October issue’s feature on race relations at Hudson, seniors Hailey Elder and Abby Lashbrook […]

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Voss Blog Log

    Education in Iowa Public Schools

    Dr. Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent of Schools

    Last Friday evening our girls basketball team delivered an exciting win for our program, defeating Applington-Parkersburg in overtime. It was a lot of fun to watch the drama unfold as these girls competed for this hard fought victory! Even more exciting was the atmosphere that was created in our gym that night. We had a big crowd on hand for sure! Our student section was larger than it has been in some time, and our bleachers were packed. Besides the parents that had children playing in the game, in the band, or on the cheerleading squad; there were numerous other fans in attendance. I saw community members who haven't had a child in school for years and retired fans who were just looking for an evening of good entertainment. That Friday evening our competition gym was the place to be in Hudson. It makes sense then, that we do everything we can to encourage participation in our school events and activities. It doesn't matter to us if you are a participant or a spectator; if this is your first event, or if you have been to every single one. Please come out and enjoy the excitement!

    I believe everyone would agree that we have had a lot of cause for celebration this fall. We can start with the amazing season our girls cross country team had, capturing the state championship for the first time ever! Or how about our football team? Their outstanding run took them all the way to the UNI Dome where they ended up playing for the state title, ultimately finishing as runner up. All along the way, we had a lot of people cheering our teams to victory. Yes, it has been a very special fall. A 'theory of schooling' in education suggests that this kind of success seems to make everything else in school go a bit smoother. Now, whether or not there is any truth to that is perhaps debatable, but in our case I have a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest this is in fact true. At the same time there is research that indicates students who have a strong connection to their school do better in their classes. Students who have a lot of school pride are less likely to cause disruptions to the school day or become behavior concerns. Students who attend a school where the expectations are high are, for the most part able to rise to the occasion when it comes to their own standards of personal conduct. And there is a direct correlation between participation in co/extra curricular activities and academic achievement. 

    That is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to make sure as many of our students as possible are able to participate in these activities. Either as a member of the team, or as a spectator in the stands; we want them to be involved because everyone gets to share in the excitement that comes with winning a close game. Or the disappointment that comes when we lose that close game. It all builds up the character of our students, increases school spirit and pride in oneself. Further, the teamwork that comes with this camaraderie builds lifelong skills that transfer to the workplace. Everyone has a part to play and we don't want to let our teammates down (so you better make sure you get your homework done on time, study for the test, or make certain you don't get into any trouble). 

    At the same time, we don't want to forget the whole point of why we are even here. The most important reason we are here is for the academics. Whether we are teaching youngsters to read or do advanced trigonometry, ultimately we are preparing them for the next challenge they will face. Maybe that is high school, college, or the workforce, whatever that might look like for them. All this other stuff that goes along with it: the athletics, the drama club, the band, choir, or student council are secondary, or even tertiary characteristics of our school. But this is all part of the recipe that goes into the American public education experience, and is why we have one of the best educational systems in the world.

    Indeed, many of the athletes that are on our teams or are musicians in the band won't play beyond high school. But the lessons they learn and the memories they will create along the way will last them a lifetime. 

    Posted: December 6, 2017, 4:17 pm
    Over the last year I have shared thoughts on the need for residential development in our community. For your reference, please read my comments on October 10, 2017: 'At the Table or on the Menu'. Or if you really want to dig into the archives, check out my piece on September 29, 2016: 'Supporting Residential Development in Hudson'. The fact is, I am not alone in my support for these developments. Likewise, I would go so far as to suggest there is near universal, broad-based support among Hudson residents. At a minimum, our citizenry understands the economic impact of growth and development. The benefits to our school district have been established, and the broadening of the tax base is well known.

    However, support often deteriorates when the proposed development is set to occur in our own backyard. I understand the objection from our neighbors to the North just as much as I understood the concerns of our neighbors near Springfield Avenue. Yet surprisingly enough, in both instances these residents expressed clear support for development. At the same time, they implored our city leaders and developer to listen to their concerns and allow them an opportunity to provide input into the process in an effort to make improvements that would benefit everyone. I have found this to be a very fascinating observation over the course of the last 12-18 months. Upon further reflection, I don't believe anyone has stated they didn't want these developments. Quite the contrary: they want to make them better, for those who will be their immediate neighbors, and for the entire community. Perhaps that is an anomaly. Instead of 'not in my backyard', I believe what I have heard is, 'let's make sure we do it right'.

    In the interim, proposals have been modified and public hearings have been held. Engineers have 'engineered', and we have discussed traffic patterns on Ranchero Road. We even had a brief discussion about how the school bus stop is going to impact residents. Truth be told, this latest iteration probably makes the school bus route a bit more complicated, but I am confident we will be able to figure this out, just as we would have figured out the last design.

    That is what happened on Monday evening. The city council took action on an amended proposal that had been suggested with input of residents. Working with the developer, I believe we have reached a satisfactory resolution and enthusiastically offer my support and endorsement of this project.

    Admittedly, the process has seemed to take a bit longer than I would prefer. Certainly this has been stressful for our neighbors and our city council. But I take solace in the fact these proceedings have always been respectful. While there has been sharp disagreement with how best to proceed, I have been incredibly impressed with the conduct of everyone involved. It was through this discourse the amended plat proposal was approved by the city council on November 27 with a 5-0 vote. Is it perfect? Not at all. Is it without further modification? Probably not. Does it demonstrate a willingness to work together? Undoubtedly.

    I would like to applaud everyone who has taken the time to engage on this issue. First our Ranchero Road neighbors for your thoughtful dialogue and willingness to work together for the good of the community. A tip of the hat to our developer for your open-mindedness and ability to take the input from our residents and continually improve on your concept. And finally our city council, for your bold vision and willingness to listen to the community you were elected to represent and making the hard decisions that will position us as the destination of choice when families are searching for a place to call home.

    Finally, let's remember these residential developments are occurring in Hudson because people want to live here. Now, my narrow focus on the reason [why] is because of our outstanding school system. I continue to believe that. But, I think another reason has become apparent over the course of this discussion: a true spirit of cooperation, teamwork, and just being downright good neighbors to one another. With all we have going for us, who wouldn't want to live in Hudson?

    Posted: November 28, 2017, 10:52 pm
    I can still remember my first teaching job and how exciting it was to begin my career! It was a real whirlwind as I transitioned from being in the classroom to standing in front of the classroom. Like all young adults there were a lot of things that I needed to figure out, highest on the list of priorities was finding a place to live. As luck would have it, a college buddy landed a teaching job in the same town so we were able to get an apartment together. This was great since I wouldn't have been able to afford rent on my own. 

    Yes, the salary wasn't a lot but I was thrilled that someone was actually going to pay me to do something I loved to do! My first teaching contract: $18,100! We were paid twice a month, so my take home pay was around $572 (it's weird that I still remember that). Obviously this was not a lot by today's standards (well not a lot by yesterday's standards either), but at first it was enough to pay the rent and have a few bucks left to buy some groceries. About six months later the student loan payments began and it just wasn't enough. But I was living the dream, so I managed to make it work. 

    Those early days may very well have set me on the path where I find myself today. While it became apparent making ends meet on a teacher's salary was going to be tough, there were other things that I just wasn't ready for, even in spite of the joy I was experiencing in the classroom. I was simply handed a set of keys and told, 'first room on the left'. From that point forward, I very rarely saw the principal. My induction program was one day long and mind numbing. After that I was on my own. Fortunately I developed good relationships with a couple of veteran teachers who were able to offer advice and counsel from time to time, but the content area we were teaching was so different that at times it just didn't apply. As the year progressed experiences began to shape my view as a teacher, and at times made me wonder if I had made the right decision. For sure, I loved teaching--but the 'stuff' that sometimes came along with it was something else! Disruptive  and uncooperative students. Unsupportive and at times hostile parents. Turf wars with other teachers. Then there was the pay; which is something we'll touch more on in a future post.

    Decades late, I hope we are making the transition from student to teacher easier for this generation. For starters, our mentoring and induction program is much more robust than it ever has been before. We owe that to teacher leadership and compensation plans that have become a staple in schools all around Iowa. This has enabled us to partner our new educators with veterans who have been successful in their classrooms. This two year commitment from established teachers give rookie teachers a lifeline for all manner of encounters they may experience their first two years. We have also found these relationships forms strong bonds of collegiality between the educators. Where a veteran can help a new teacher 'learn the ropes', a new teacher can help a veteran with an emerging technology or a new teaching strategy. Over this two year period, our mentors work closely with new teachers as they navigate the beginning of their career. They are the shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong, because inevitably it will. They are there help unpack the Iowa Teaching Standards and define what makes a good artifact that demonstrates effective use and development of assessment. And they are there at the end of that two year journey when that new teacher becomes a veteran, converting their probationary license to a standard license.

    Of the 10 new teachers at Hudson this year,
    5 are brand new to the profession.
    We have also become much more deliberate about immersing our new teachers in a professional work environment. It is sometimes easy to forget these new teachers were dependent on their own parents just a few short months prior to joining our faculty. Issues of retirement, health insurance, filling out a W-4; in most cases these are things they have very little experience with. Indeed, becoming a professional educator has a much different set of responsibilities than washing dishes in the college cafeteria or working at the desk in the university library. So, instead of handing off a set of keys and pointing them down the hall, we now have embedded a five day program at the start of their career, right before the veteran faculty return to prepare them for these new experiences. Our time together is spent learning about all of these aspects of work that have become automatic for us, and what it means to be a teacher in the Hudson Community School District. They learn about our assessment systems, our student management program, our policy and philosophy on homework, how we like to communicate; and yes, even how we go about cancelling school on a snow day.

    Now that we are midway through the month of November, I am taking time to visit with each of our new teachers to see if the newness is starting to wear off. So far, I like what I am seeing and hearing. They are beginning to settle into their roles and have had great experiences with mentors, students and parents. A common theme throughout our conversation is an appreciation of all the support they are receiving from the staff.

    What wasn't surprising, but nevertheless important were comments about the heavy workload. While there was an acknowledgement that evenings would be spend correcting papers, planning lessons, and analyzing data; the amount of time spent on these tasks is surprising to the new teacher. Others shared how surprising it is that technology plays such an important role in the day to day operation of school, from communicating with teachers and parents, to delivering instruction and administering grades. These teachers also have shared that some of the best things that have happened to them this year are those moments when they see the hard work beginning to pay off, and the relationships they are developing with students and colleague.

    As discussed last week, if there is a looming teacher shortage it is important that we do what we can to attract and retain our talent. Now that we have them here, making sure they have the support and resources they need is but one part of ensuring we are able to keep them here.

    Posted: November 15, 2017, 5:20 pm