How will you Thank a Teacher?

How will you #ThankATeacher?
Michelle Mueller, Principal of Wisconsin Connections Academy

As a former educator and current administrator, there’s nothing more motivating than seeing students thriving and making connections with their teachers. With Teacher Appreciation Week taking place May 7-11, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by an incredible network of educators who let their dedication and love for teaching shine through every day.

Teachers give so much to students—from a quick boost of confidence to helping understanding a concept that’s causing them trouble—educators are always there. I can think of several occasions where my fellow educators took the time to support me when I needed it. This Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to take a moment to thank your colleagues, past educators and administrators for the commitments and differences they are making, each and every day.

Here are a few ideas to #ThankATeacher this Teacher’s Appreciation Week:

• Share content using the hashtag #ThankATeacher on social media. Have a little fun by sharing photos and stories with the #ThankATeacher hashtag across social media. Many organizations will be hosting contests and other activities, so take some time to join in on the festivities.

• Let teachers know how their teaching connects with students’ lives. Taking a moment to acknowledge how a teacher is impacting a student’s life in a positive way is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give. Simply knowing that you’re making a difference is more valuable than any present could be.

• Get in touch. Whether it’s in person or virtually, take the opportunity to check in and say ‘thanks’ to an educator who has made a difference in your life. This simple action acts as a reminder of how big of an impact teachers make in our lives.

• Take advantage of these fun (and free) resources. The National PTA does a spectacular job of raising awareness and encouraging engagement throughout the week. This year, they’re offering everything from editable teacher appreciation certificates to social media profile graphics.

• Continue showing your thanks. Just because Teacher Appreciation Week ends doesn’t mean the thanks need to stop! We all know the rewarding boost from a quick compliment or a simple hello, so continue the movement throughout the year.

School isn’t just a place for learning, it’s a place for building community. At WCA, teachers are the foundation of our success. Our teachers take care of families, they get to know the learning style, skills, and personalities of our students. We take the time to build relationships with student’s parents. It’s a thrill to have the opportunity to work with families and really get to know them. I recently had a student who graduated four years ago call and say ‘you made a difference in my life’ – and that tells me that we’re doing something right. So please, take a moment to thank a teacher in your life. They deserve it.


Pre-Construction Tips


Seek a construction partner who:

1. Emphasizes honesty, collaboration, accountability, and deep domain experience to help you make informed decisions.

2. Strives to build a trust-centered relationship with all partners and project constituents.

3. Doesn’t pass the risk, but rather manages it.

4. Actively monitors the design for cost, content, and constructability.

5. Produces systems estimates, which can be valuable in determining where to invest your budget.

6. Explains how to sequence or schedule the work and how market dynamics – such as material and labor availability – can be strategically planned to benefit the project.

7. Attends design and planning meetings and offers immediate or near real time input.

Stahl’s role during pre-construction includes attending design and planning meetings and offering immediate or near real time input on the following:

· Risk Management

· Feasibility Studies

· Budgets

· Value Engineering

· Schedule / Phasing / Sequencing

· Constructability

· Site Logistics

· Safety

· Labor Dynamics

· Systems Analysis / Selection

· City Review Process

· Labor / Material Availability

· Bidder Outreach

· Bidding Strategies


Seek a construction partner who:

1. Is thorough in their review and collaborative in seeking options that work for all partners and project constituents.

2. Sees their role as one of creating the right environment with the architect and the District – an environment of trust, understanding, and commitment.

3. Concentrates their efforts on the overall building process – getting the building designed, built, and occupied – and making that process work to the advantage of their partners.

4. Interacts most heavily with the District during construction as they keep everyone up-to-date on the project budget, schedule, and potential opportunities for cost savings and value upgrades.

5. Is transparent, communicative and believes progress is achieved through planned meetings with the entire project team, site walk-throughs, and constant communication with the community and all other project constituents.

6. Remains a collaborative and willing partner to take on challenges throughout the duration of the entire project, start to finish.

7. Views their role during construction as having many different components and layers.

Stahl’s role during construction includes the following:

· Writing Work Scopes

· Subcontractor Engagement

· Bidding

· Writing and Managing Contracts

· Risk Management

· Overall Cost Management – Value Engineering Support

· Contingency Tracking

· Pay Applications – Work Complete Management

· General Conditions Management

· Subcontractor Management

· Onsite Construction Supervision

· Schedule Tracking

· Quality Control

· Progress Reporting and Deliverables

· Safety Program

· Punch List

· Warranty

From Planning to Implementation

Creating a customized plan for a school district’s future

How has ICS helped Minnesota schools pass over $500 million in referendums this past year? Effective strategic planning. Whether a school district enrolls 200 or 2,000 students, the need for effective strategic planning is critical. Strategic and systematic thinking are the hallmarks of districts positioned for future growth. But where do you begin? How does a district move from planning to implementation and what are the steps to achieve a successful facility-related project?

Understanding the needs of a district is paramount to the planning process where facility improvements, programmatic initiatives and 21st Century learning environments continue to drive education forward. Before defining needs, focus on organization and engagement – an effective plan includes elements that reflect the values of a collaborative and diverse group of people who take ownership in helping shape it. Once needs are established, effective decisions can be made to best position the district for the future. Navigating the funding for projects, effective community facilitation, dynamic referendum planning and strategy, selecting an appropriate project delivery model and establishing a plan for on-going facility operations and future planning are all steps within this process.

A trusted and knowledgeable advisor will be able to assist in guiding a district through this process. ICS Consulting, Inc., with expertise in the complexities of planning and construction, seeks to be a trusted advisor in developing a customized plan and approach for each district. Our team provides the knowledge, skills and tools to help districts craft a vision, plan the approach, fund the work, manage the construction and maintain overall operations. Whether your district is beginning to think about addressing needs or ready to implement a large-scale project, the ICS team is ready to serve as your advocate, representative and partner.

Our services include owner’s representation, facility assessments, long-range planning, project development/funding, community engagement and task force facilitation, referendum planning, program management, construction management, commissioning, re-commissioning, utility and energy monitoring and facility tax solutions. For more information, visit

Minnesota Autism Conference

The 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference will be held April 26-29, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Minneapolis – Park Place in Minneapolis. During the conference, experts, educators, therapists, direct support professionals, parents, caregivers, and people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will connect, collaborate, advocate, and educate.


Held during National Autism Awareness Month, this four-day conference is organized by the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM), the state’s oldest nonprofit organization focused on ASD, with a mission of enhancing the lives of those affected by ASD from birth through retirement. 


With a prevalence rate of one in every 68 people (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), ASD is the fastest growing developmental disability in Minnesota and the U.S., and AuSM believes programs and services are needed now more than ever to serve this increasing population.


“By bringing the autism community together, AuSM is providing a platform for the community to connect, learn and grow,” said Jonah Weinberg, AuSM’s Executive Director. “The state autism conference is an important event where individuals with autism and caregivers, educators, and providers can find the latest ASD information and resources that will help people with autism thrive.”


The goal of AuSM’s annual conference is to advance understanding of ASD through daily keynote speakers, 32 expert-led topical breakout sessions, exhibitors offering a variety of autism services and products, and resources provided through the AuSM Bookstore. 2017 keynote speakers will include autism icon Temple Grandin, PhD; Steve Silberman, best-selling author of NeuroTribes; Kerry Magro, autism advocate; and Chris Ulmer, special education teacher and motivational speaker. 


To encourage educator involvement in Chris Ulmer’s presentation, AuSM is holding the “AuSM Educator Challenge” through March 15. Educators are invited to tell AuSM how they encourage and motivate their students in the classroom. Five educators who enter will be given free tickets to attend Chris Ulmer’s keynote presentation on April 28 and will share their strategies with the audience. 


Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Minnesota Board of Social Work, and the Minnesota Board of Psychology will be available for participants. The final day of the conference will focus on post-secondary transition and life skills for individuals with autism.


In addition to its 22nd annual conference, AuSM will hold its third annual gala during the conference on Friday, April 28 from 6-10 p.m. The gala, “Oh, the AuSM Places We’ll Go!”, will bring the community together for fantastic food, drinks, games, prizes, a silent auction, and a celebration of those who inspire and support individuals affected by autism. 


For a complete conference schedule, session descriptions, biographies of presenters, and to register, please visit For more information e-mail, or call 651.647.1083

Audubon Center of the Northwoods

​Let the Audubon Center of the North Woods Become Your School’s Environmental Learning Center

If you’ve ever wanted to give your students an incredible field trip experience that meets academic standards for your classroom in a fun, educational, outdoor setting – now is the perfect time and the Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) is the perfect place!
The ACNW Experience
Some of the quality features that make ACNW the best choice for your school:

Convenient, accessible, central location

An intimate campus size 

Flexible scheduling options

Robust and engaging wildlife, adventure and ecology-based programming

The best food you’ll experience at a school-related field trip (seriously- GREAT food!)

Enthusiastic and caring staff of both experienced educators and budding naturalists who are at ACNW for the same reason: it’s the best place to be for environmental education!

National Board Certification Teachers

Good morning and happy Wednesday, readers! I hope your week has been going swimmingly so far.
“National Board Certification is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. NBC has national standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.The National Board certifies teachers who successfully complete its rigorous certification process. National Board Standards are developed by a committee of outstanding educators who are broadly representative of accomplished professionals in their field.”
Congratulations to the following recipients!:
Denise Gloudemans, Big Lake High School
Claire VanBlarcom, Big Lake High School
Laura Unterholzner, Rochester School District
Read about their accomplishments on page twelve in our most recent issue, now available in K-12 schools throughout the state as well as online at
Have a wonderful rest of your day!

Hamline University

It’s just another manic Monday. Ha! Greetings readers! Was it just me, or did that weekend go by way too quickly? Somebody slow down the timeline. We’re already a week into February. Unbelievable.

Hamline University has some wonderful graduate education programs, in fact the broadest array in the region.
Look into receiving your Doctorate of Education, Administrative liscensure, Master’s degrees such as Education, English as a Second Language, and much more!

They can be seen on page eleven in our most recent issue.

Our paper is available in K-12 schools throughout Minnesota, or online at

We’ll catch you later, everyone! Have a marvelous, and hopefully not manic, rest of your Monday!