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					Final Reaction

Glen Dawursk, Jr.

  May 8, 2008
        Wow. It is over…or is it? After all, when you consider that the practicum I just

completed is just the springboard to rest of my professional career, then it actually is not

over; rather, it has only just begun. And I am ready! This practicum, while exhausting

in the midst of my regular life, has been a significant benefit to me. I have learned a

great deal about all aspects of the standards set by the state. I have experienced the

“front line” of dealing with parents, students, teachers and the community. I have had to

create budgets, spend budgets and unfortunately cuts budgets mid-year. While the

number of required hours may have seemed exorbitant at first, I now see how they

barley touch the amount of time I actually invest in a year as a school principal.

        Throughout my life I have had a desire to do more than teach a subject. I have

desired to make an impact upon the life of my students beyond a textbook. Through

this practicum, I realized that a school administrator is an educational leader who

promotes the success of all students not simply through curriculum, but also through a

vision. I applied this vision for our school through especially three areas: Character

Development, Education Plan, and our School Web Site.

        I developed a school-wide yearlong character development program including

anger management, peacemaking and problem solving skills, role modeling, and

bullying and gang prevention. I even developed an extensive user friendly website

version for my board of directors, parents and teachers. The website version was

intended to be a "live" format allowing for regular updates to the plan. I used my role as

the Administrative Advisor to the Grade Chairpersons as a leadership opportunity to

collaboratively develop the program. This was a significant example of “vision” to me. I

wanted to see my students not only be academically successful, I wanted the character

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of these “at risk” inner city youth to be equally successful. Vision did not stop here. By

evaluating the data accumulated based upon our previous year’s test scores, I was able

to “vision” where we realistically wanted to be in the next year. I set smart goals and set

a course of action for my school through the district required “education plan.” Finally, I

knew that this vision required communicating with multiple publics. This became the

impetus to improve our website and make it more user friendly for students, parents,

teachers and the community at large.

        Scholarship was probably my greatest forte. I am a natural at promoting and

developing school culture and staff development. The areas I concentrated on under

standard two included: staff development, evaluation of staff, technology,

skills/strategies of teaching, and extra-curricular activities. I led teacher in-services

during our three-day orientation and assisted throughout the year in the coordination of

additional professional development in-services. The teacher in-services I led included

True Color Personality Testing, student learning modalities and brain concepts and the

school dress code and discipline polices. I also taught our staff throughout the year on

conflict management, classroom management, crisis plans, and character development.

As I perceived that charter schools usually have a difficult time maintaining staff, I

proposed a partnership with Concordia University to offer professional development

courses for master’s degree credit at our expense. The proposal was if a teacher

stayed with our school, they would receive their master’s degree 80% paid by the

school within 5 years. This would maintain a solid consistent staff and most likely after

they have established themselves, they will stay even longer.

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        In fall, I collaborated with the other assistant principal in the evaluation of existing

staff. I also developed a model and rubric for instruction observation, evaluation and

mentoring for new and old staff. I also developed an observation website which

incorporated all of these plans ( and an

update of the personnel handbook. I have found the web to be a useful tool for

communicating programs such as this to my staff. They prefer it over hard copy and the

search capability allows them to find specific policies or procedures quickly. By spring, I

had observed most of the teachers more than once and had contributed toward their

formal written evaluations.

        Technology is quickly becoming an essential element of education. We use it for

record keeping, computer based instruction, and reinforcement of concepts. When

used properly, it is an asset to any classroom. Therefore, I developed and demonstrated

my personal classroom website ( as a role-model for other

classroom sites. It includes all aspects of an informative and organized classroom

homepage. Also, I was the administrative advisor to the school technology committee

responsible for school web design and content. In this capacity, I assisted in the

development of on-line content and collaborated on the evaluation of the web design

with our IT manager and Executive Director. Together, we developed an acceptable

use policy for our school. Plus, I was the “techy administrator” who took care of all the

sound system and LCD projector needs for assemblies and presentations.

        A good administrator still loves to teach. That is my opinion, and I do! For that

reason, I understand the need to develop skills and strategies that foster effective

teaching and learning for all students. As I stated earlier, I developed and taught

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workshops to staff on teaching strategies, modalities and classroom management (in-

service during first three days). I also used these workshop presentations to orientate

new staff members who were added after the beginning of the school year.

        Having been an active high school student, I understand the need to round out a

child’s education with extra-curricular activities. In the past, excuses about our small

size, academic focus, and lack of teacher/parent support has limited outside the

classroom possibilities at our school. I disagreed and willingly assisted in the

development of extra curricular activities including student council, homecoming, prom,

and athletics, and mentored and coordinated with the new athletic director to develop

additional opportunities. This included the new athletic handbook which I helped

develop, proofread and evaluated and several student council activities including

community service events, trips, and pep rallies.

        As a steward, I have been given responsibilities to educate the children who

attend my school. This necessitates that I understand current educational research,

create a safe and secure environment, and maintain credible records. Like the robot

“Johnny 5” in the movie “Short Circuit,” I am always seeking “more input.” In order to

keep up on the latest research, I especially like to read. Such as the latest information

about “brain research” and how children, especially teenagers learn. It is simply

amazing and this better understanding of our brains can have an immense effect upon

how and when teachers teach. To keep my staff up on the latest information, I assisted

in the planning of monthly in-service workshops and I attended two professional

administrative conferences which provided me with the “fuel” I desire and the

information I needed to communicate to my staff. I attended the Wisconsin Education

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Association Student Services Program Conference December 12-14, 2007 in Lake

Geneva, WI and the Diversified Community Schools Conference at Cardinal Stritch

University in Milwaukee in April, 2008.

        Safety is a priority for a student and their family. This desire for security is even

a foundation for Maslow’s Hierarchy of basic needs. As an administrator, I have an

obligation to do all that I can to make sure the school is safe and secure. For this

reason, I researched and developed a crisis emergency plan for the school consistent

with other MPS schools our size. I updated fire and tornado drill procedures including

putting maps in all rooms of the building and trained staff on our new procedures. I then

supervised and recorded all fire (once a month), tornado and crisis code drills

throughout the school year. I also authored and edited a 125 page crisis plan handbook

and a 36 page school handbook which outlined the rules and procedures for our school.

Additionally, I was responsible for the security of the building and scheduled staff to

have "hall and door duty" before school. This included checking student’s dress code

as they entered the building and on occasion, checking coats and bags using our metal

detector. Finally, after a rash of violent disturbances last year at several local public

schools, our district required each school to develop a cell phone policy. I created our

school’s cell phone policy including levels of consequence for infringement of the policy.

Since then, several other MPS schools have requested copies.

        Accurate and consistent record keeping is mandatory in the district. Our school

went through a charter school contract renewal evaluation which took most of the year.

This included a thorough audit which I as an administrator participated in. This really

brought to light the importance of accurate record keeping. As the Dean of Students, I

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have to maintain records for DPI, the district and our school. My records include

behaviors and consequences and the sequence of conversations with teachers,

students and parents. Everything must be documented. I was responsible for

entering, maintaining, and supervising the data entry of all referrals and disciplinary

actions into our school data base. I actually created all the templates for our "on-line"

system. I supervised the entry of all consequence notes and suspension consequences

on the Milwaukee Public Schools’ district “Esis” database and trained my assistant

Dean on all procedures and processes for appropriate record-keeping. Additionally, I

evaluated several referral software programs with the intent to offer a “canned

software.” Instead, I created my own local database in MS-Access and created macros

from templates in MS-Word. I then trained teachers on this original “on-line” referral

discipline system. I connected all the data to graphics software in MS-Excel and

graphed the referrals by teacher, time of day, issue and consequence. I regularly

reported my work at the administration and faculty meetings. Plus, as Dean I was also

responsible to keep all the student records for lockers and locks and disseminate the

locks and combinations at the beginning of the school year or when new students

transferred to WCA.

        As an administrator, I need to be at the front line of collaborating with families

and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and

mobilizing community resources. This means I need to be proactive and seek to make

these partnerships real. This is done though many ways including media relations,

attention to community, and building partnerships in the area. Any school can use good

public relations, but charter schools need it even more. Around Milwaukee, the

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reputation of charter schools, especially in the MPS system, is mostly negative due to

highly publicized charter school improprieties and embezzlement of public school

resources. To combat this negative effect on our attendance, we sought to create a

media campaign that included positive statements about our school. We used a

commercial which I also starred in (I am the voice and the teacher pictured), which told

the good qualities of our school. It encouraged people to visit our website which further

brought out constructive images to the community. It included aspects of our

community involvement, our graduates attending colleges, and our emphasis on

character building. We included bus stop ads, bill boards, 100,000 fliers mailed and

delivered by hand, and several open houses for the community. We even had a free

holiday dinner -- not just for students, but for families in the neighborhood. We sought to

create a positive image about our school amidst all the turmoil brewing in the press.

Additionally, through my work as student council administration advisor, we worked with

local community service organizations and businesses to plan and execute two

community service projects and other student activities in the area. Finally, one of our

teachers was called to Iraq at the beginning of the school year. On April 14, 2008, Mr.

Dean Opicka, our social studies teacher, was killed in action in Iraq. I was in charge of

creating a community memorial ceremony at our school. The event included military

personnel from all over the city, the mayor, governor and school dignitaries were invited.

Family, friends, our students and the community at large gathered to pay their respects

to a soldier, a friend, and our teacher.

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        Our school’s partnerships extend beyond simply our school’s individualevents.

Our partnerships include the business and the educational community around us. I

mentioned the Concordia University connection earlier; however, we also discussed

having Concordia offer night classes to the community at our site. This partnership

includes inviting the community to our advisory meetings. We promoted a PAC (Parent

Advisory Committee) Meeting on October 18, 2007 to parents and the community

advertising a special presentation called “Media’s Influence on Youth.” This topic was

especially relevant with the Green Bay high school “Columbine type” conflict and the

Virginia University shooting which happened within the past year. I presented a

workshop based upon research I did for my master’s degree a few years ago. It was

promoted through our newsletter, website and community flyers. We have also began

the beginning stages of a “job shadow” program which I modeled after one at my

daughter’s school in Oconomowoc and which I participated this year as a mentor.

Through a partnership with Junior Achievement, we are looking to start this next year.

Finally, I participated as a judge in the Milwaukee Regional Science and Engineering

Fair (MRSEF), a community and business partnership program held at our school. The

event includes over 30 schools in the area and over 70 business sponsors. In addition

to me, judges came from local businesses like Rexnord Corporation and GE Medical

and prestigious local schools like UW-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee School of


        Integrity, fairness, and ethical – these are three words which clearly define an

administrator’s character. They are essential to the credibility of a school. As the Dean,

I experienced this need every day. Even within my frustration with a particular parent or

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student, I have to maintain these three words and they became the foundation to being

fair and equitable and maintaining positive relationships at a school. Having been a

youth worker and teacher for 25 years, my agenda at a school is not simply to punish a

student whose behavior is inappropriate; rather, my desire is to change them. I want to

see that “V-8” moment when they suddenly get it. They suddenly see the foolishness of

their choices and through proper discernment make positive ones. That only comes

through being “fair and equitable.” I used a consistent consequence/rewards system

based upon the MPS “Parent/Student Handbook on Rights, Responsibilities, and

Discipline” and a clear and consistent interpretation of the standards as outlined in our

school handbook.

        I do not want kids simply going home as a punishment where they will sit in their

PJ’s all day, eating junk food, and watching “Jerry,” falling gravely behind in their

homework. Instead, I want the consequence to be uncomfortable, but manageable; a

deterrent, but productive. I developed an alternative to suspensions called the

“Alternative Learning Center” as a means of keeping our students in school. The ALC is

a controlled classroom with a fulltime teacher, soft music, home work brought to the

students each hour, and most notably, cubicles for each student. The punishment is no

socialization, and it has been working. I also wrote the student handbook which

incorporated the consistent consequence/rewards system and outlined our bullying and

respect requirements. Being fair requires that I also articulately communicate the

policies and consequences clearly. I gave a 45 minute presentation to the student body

at the beginning and at semester introducing the staff and explaining policies,

procedures dress code and consequences.

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        Our community has had to deal with several teen related issues: highest teen

pregnancy rate in the nation, increased gang and teen violence, and Newsweek

Magazine's ranking of Milwaukee as the second most segregated city in America. For

this reason, I sought to meet our communities diversity by being involved in three

specific programs. First, because of concerns in the community about inappropriate role

models and a lack of positive male role models in the inner city, I presented an

original workshop for boys only called "Real Men" which talked about character and

integrity and how to act around a woman. A female staff member spoke to the girls on a

similar topic. Because of a racism issue which occurred specifically in two classrooms

during third quarter, I conducted a two period workshop on racism and respecting each

other regardless of gender, color or creed. I called the workshop "Running with the

Races." The workshop ended with a dialogue between the students. The results were

extremely positive. Finally, our school is owned by the Turkish community and I

attended several events sponsored by the Turkish communities’ unity group “Harmony

Foundation” which encourages tolerance of race and religion through dialogue and


        My last standards area is sometimes more difficult, but equally important. It is

seeing the bigger picture and how our school fits into it. It is seeing that we are an

important part of the process of educating and bringing our young people into their civic

responsibilities. This understanding, responding in, and influencing the larger political,

social, economic, legal, and cultural context includes offering a workable conflict

management system, maintaining compliance with federal, state, local and school

district laws, and having effective communication tools. I accomplished this standard by

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offering a gang awareness program for our teachers which included two workshops on

gangs led by ex-gang members. We developed a school-wide yearlong character

development program including anger management, peacemaking and problem solving

skills, role modeling, and bullying and gang prevention. As I stated previously, I used my

role as the Administrative Advisor to the Grade Chairpersons as a leadership

opportunity to collaboratively develop the program. I also created a power point for

teaching a conflict management concepts based on a national program called

“Peacemakers.” I showed this to parents, students and teachers during the past year.

Finally, I also developed a website version of my character development proposal

intended to be a "live" format allowing for regular updates to the plan. The entire

program will be evaluated at the end of the school year and tweaked to a modified

version for next school year.

        In compliance with current district, state and federal policies, I updated our

school's current crisis management procedures. As I mentioned before, this extensive

document was a necessary plan for safe and security, but also a requirement of our

charter school licensing. I also kept up-to-date on all district bulletins and attended

several district principal’s meetings, federally required IEP meetings as an

administrator, and Collaborative Support Team meetings as an administrator as is

required by the Milwaukee Public Schools.

        Communication is important in any operation or function. In a school,

communication transcends to many different publics. Strategies and activities to lead

and operate the school district to ensure that effective communication occur with the

school community. In my area of expertise, I maintained a regular communication with

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the district discipline personnel about incidents, submitted required paperwork and

forms, and consulted with the district about unsure situations. I attended multiple

expulsion hearings and four level three disciplinary hearings conducted by Romone

Cruz, the Student Services Coordinator from the Milwaukee Public Schools. I also

communicated with other MPS schools about activities on our campus, shared

resources, or issues involving mutual students predominately done through standard e-

mail, our website and our extensive school newsletter of which I regularly contributed

articles. (Example: I wrote the articles on student council, character development and

homecoming) And I proof read the newsletters regularly for errors.

        Even an “event” offers an opportunity for communication. By drawing community

to our school, we are able to make announcements, distribute fliers and simply offer an

positive image which can be more effective than a single word. I observed the process

of multi-school involvement in our regional science fair and art fair sponsored and run

by our school. This drew hundreds of people from the community. As I stated before, I

was also a judge and sound engineer at the fairs and participated with the multiple

schools in evaluating their projects. I also observed community involvement and

subsequent communication with our Christmas Dinner which was advertised free to our

community. Finally, I planned the "school start" bash where we invited our students and

their families to enjoy inflatable carnival rides and music -- all for free.

        Unlike many other students who pursue their certification while still teaching, I

actually have been a fulltime administrator within the largest school district in the state

for the past two years. Having had a year of experience prior to my practicum, I felt

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fortunate to understand the standards much better than someone who may be a

complete rookie. Never-the-less, even with a minimal amount of experience, I

depended heavily upon my advisor, Jim Novak. I had a lot of questions and thank

goodness, he in his amazing patience and enormous experience always led me to an

appropriate and positive solution. Overall, I have enjoyed my practicum and experience

and feel I am a better administrator for doing it.

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