Catalyst Academy, Common Core discussed
Two separate efforts to ensure school success for all students shared the floor last week at the New London School District’s Board of Education meeting.
The governance board of Catalyst Academy presented the charter school’s contract with the district for board approval.
A parent of two children at Sugar Bush Elementary School endorsed the sometimes controversial Common Core State Standards, citing her daughter’s math skills and the need for algebra in everyday life.
John Michels, president of the board for Catalyst Academy, described the charter school as a structured environment aimed at “a lot of kids who don’t do well” in traditional classrooms. It will operate off-site — not in a current school district building.
Henry Mohn, another Catalyst board member, said the school would address the emotional needs of students who aren’t successful. Catalyst will get them out in the community and provide an ongoing opportunity for success said Mohn.
The board hopes to enroll 40 to 60 students in grades seven through 12 in Catalyst.
“We want to be ready to go in September,” Michels said.
Catalyst, he said, will “fill a need that we are not currently filling.”
District administrator Kathy Gwidt said Catalyst is “an option our kids need.”
Like Next Generation Academy, the district’s first charter school, which opened this school year in space at New London High School, Catalyst is seen as another way to encourage students in other districts to open-enroll into the New London district — and to keep district students from open-enrolling elsewhere.
Mohn mentioned that his seven children have been open-enrolled in the New London district.
“Our involvement here with staff and administrators has been phenomenal,” he said.
Board member Connie Neely asked if Catalyst students could participate in sports. Yes, Michels said, adding that they could take courses offered at other district schools as well.
Euhardy, mother of students in first grade and 4-year-old kindergarten at Sugar Bush Elementary School, gave a rousing endorsement of the Common Core standards.
Calling herself pro-Common Core, Euhardy said, “I totally believe in the system.”
She said she had attended two “math mornings” hosted by Sugar Bush principal Kristin Grable and was pleased with the new curriculum.
When her daughter said she could count to 1,690 last year, Euhardy was dubious.
“It works totally,” she said, of the math curriculum.
Euhardy used the example of comparing prices at the grocery store to illustrate why students need to learn math.
Euhardy said she had hoped to address the Tea Party people who have spoken against Common Core at past board meetings, but they were not present.
In other business:
• Student representative Madison Cooley reported that girls basketball is “going great, as always,” with the varsity posting a 5-2 record and jayvee undefeated. Cooley said the dance team had finished fourth, and show choir seventh in recent respective competitions.
• Forensics starts soon, she said, “I’m excited, of course.” Last year, Cooley was one of three New London students to qualify for national forensics competition.
• Bulldogs of Character will celebrate global week in February, according to Andy Wypiszynski, fifth and sixth grade counselor. He said February’s character trait is diversity, and the global celebration will help students understand various area cultures.
• The drama troupe representing Bulldogs of Character has asked to perform a skit at the May board meeting.
• Early graduation Jan. 24 was approved for a student who missed the application deadline. The student has taken a heavy load of advanced placement courses and worked toward early graduation since junior year, according to Gwidt. She said he had been accepted at three out-of-state universities and planned to work now to save money for college.
• Gwidt’s monthly update noted that three people are running for two school board seats in the April election. They are incumbent Kim Schroeder; John Michels and Merry Stern. Board president Keith Steckbauer is not seeking re-election because he is a candidate for a judicial seat in Waupaca County and would be barred from holding two elected offices.