NPHS, Mayo team together for health careers class

New Prague High School principal Lonnie Seifert told members of the New Prague Area School Board about a new pilot program that will be offered at the high school in conjunction with Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague.

            Seifert said the school was approached by Dr. Martin Herrmann, chief of staff of the local hospital, and Mary Klimp, administrator, about the program. The Health Care Careers pilot class would allow students to gain hands-on experience in up to 20 different health care career fields.

            Students would be strictly monitored and supervised and would begin with a week-long "boot camp," in which they would learn the basics about data privacy, expectations and protocol. The students would be held to very strict standards.

            The district needed to have a teacher with a vocational licensure to supervise the program, and business teacher Jane Dittberner had the appropriate certification.

            "We're hoping this will be the beginning of some partnership we can have with the community," Seifert said. "If it works, we will look to start similar programs with other businesses," he said.

            Superintendent Tim Dittberner was excited about the possibilities. "This all goes toward college and career readiness" he said.

            Seifert also discussed some changes to the school's delivery system, including one that will be implemented this year. High school staff will have the opportunity to work with students with intervention and enrichment programs or meet as professional learning communities on Wednesday mornings, from 7:50 until 8:35 a.m. The regular school day would begin at 8:40 a.m. on those days, with students either taking part in small group activities, or participating in the schools Silent, Sustained Reading program.

            "We want to spend more time developing our professional learning community," Seifert said. "This will give teachers a regular opportunity to meet and collaborate on ideas, and will also allow students time to work in areas in which they have shown a need," he said. "Teachers will identify students who need direct instruction additional instruction and work with them during this time.

            "If you’re going to have an intervention, it needs to be direct, not optional. This puts the intervention into the school day, and the kids do not have the excuse of not being able to come in before or stay after school.

            Seifert also said he is looking at the school's schedule, which had three trimesters of five blocks each. They will explore several alternatives, including a seven period day with quarter sand semester, a six-period day with semesters and a six-period day with "Zero Hour," where students seeking additional opportunities come in early before school for an extra hour of instruction.


Coordinator position   Buildings and grounds director Craig Most told board members that the district is looking to fill a coordinator position in his department who would be in charge of two buildings and also have a master electrician's license. The district has contracted with outside firms for electrical work and has some major work on deck for the next few years, and having a master electrician on staff would eliminate the need to contract for that work, saving the district money. He said the district already has two other coordinators, one of whom has a boiler license and the other with expertise in HVAC systems. He added that the coordinator spot would fill a position that was eliminated as a cost-saving move several years ago with a retirement. 

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