Pride is evident at MMCRU

Friday, August 23, 2019
(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) MMCRU Superintendent Dan Barkel stands outside of the MMCRU Middle School in Remsen where new window clings and logos portray the district’s new branding. The project is a part of the district’s five year strategic plan to bring the students, staff and community of Marcus, Meriden, Cleghorn and Remsen closer together. The districts are in their fourth year of whole grade sharing.

REMSEN/MARCUS — Students and teachers in the MMCRU School District went back to the classroom Friday, Aug. 23. This will be the fourth year of a sharing agreement between the two districts.

One of the things everyone will notice at the school buildings are the new branding logos.

Those logos, on doorways and even steps, are a way of bringing students, staff and the communities closer together.

Superintendent Dan Barkel said its the beginning of building update goals set by MMCRU in its five-year strategic plan.

The decals display the school logo and gives students and the community a sense of pride in their school.

“We call it ‘What it means to be a Royal.’ We want it to be a welcoming environment,” he said.

Instruction-wise, Barkel points to the district’s industrial tech building at the high school in Marcus.

“Last year was our first year with the industrial tech building. That’s going very, very well,” he said.

“The big emphasis statewide and also nationwide is the school-to-work opportunities and that program is about as effective at that as any around,” he explained. “Our enrollment is busting at the seams with that. We have 70 to 80 percent of our student body involved in industrial tech classes of one kind or another, which is a huge percentage for most industrial tech programs.”

At MMCRU, classes include CAD, welding, woodworking, and cabinet-making.

“We’re also looking in the future to incorporate CNC lathe operations. We are still in the process to secure a CNC machine so we can teach those skills,” he added.

On Thursday, the district hosted U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who toured the high school’s industrial technology classroom in Marcus.

Those strategic goals include the addition of a technology integrationist this year.

“This person will help with technology improvements, both in terms of instruction and also in software and hardware needed,” Barkel said.

Another goal already being worked on is professional development and professional learning communities (PLC).

“We want to be more intentional about our professional development with staff, and make sure it’s well-funded. Just this past month, we sent about 15 staff members to a PLC conference in California. So that is helping to jumpstart our initiatives with learning communities within our school,” Barkel said. That included teachers from pre-K to 12th grade.

“We’ve been spending a fair amount of time with that just at the beginning of the year. We want to make sure we are all on the same page with each other, communicating with each other, holding each other accountable and making strong efforts to move forward.”

Going along with that is the goal of creating a framework to make instructional decisions based on data to improve student performance.

“I think too often we haven’t examined our data carefully enough to see what we need to do to improve within both the Remsen and Marcus districts, and we just want to be much more intentional about how we make decisions in regards to instruction,” Barkel explained.

Colabortation between the two schools has been a work in progress as well.

“That has really gone well. Working together between Marcus and Remsen just keeps getting better every year. More and more, like emphasis of last year, we are trying to make our processes and procedures alike at both sites.

“For instance, one of the things that we got accomplished this past summer was registration.

We also did online registration, which helped to prompt that,” Barkel said.

“We’ve also worked hard at getting our bus routes to be more efficient. Since we have a sharing agreement, we can bus in each other’s district freely,” he said.

With the retirement of business manager Clint Leonard at Remsen, the districts now have a shared business manager in Joe Mohning. In addition, Jill Alesch is serving as the shared board secretary/HR person in the district.

“That’s a pretty big change for our district, but again it’s trying to create more efficiencies, and giving us some more opportunities for state dollars moving forward with the sharing program,” he explained.

“The kids are all on the same page, and they’re great with the sharing program. It’s just getting adults on board and how we are doing things all on the same page,” Barkel said.

To that extent, the board also said the schools will offer more events to get students and community members into the buildings throughout the school year.

“We just want to get the community inside the doors of the building more often. And we also want to get the board inside the building so they see what’s going on, more first-hand,” Barkel said.

The district will also be examining extra-curricular activities.

“We want to see if there are more opportunities we can provide our students and to be more focused on where we are going,” Barkel said.

Being on the same page in both communities is important.

“”We have made a lot of progress during the last four years,” Barkel concluded.

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