Overseeing nearly 300 K-12 students in Enderlin for the past five years, Superintendent Tom Rettig started in the education world because of his love for math, basketball, running and the urge to share his enthusiasm with others.
Rettig has been in the education world for 30+ years and was very happy to share his pride for his staff and students and the culture of support instilled throughout the district. Success comes from everyone working together and supporting one another when struggles arise. As the district moves to implement new programs, strategies, whatever it may be, the supportive culture is what carries them through.
What is the best thing you’ve implemented in your school(s) in the past three years?
“It’s difficult to say just one, but our reading tiers, multi-tier system of supports improvements and technology advances would have to be on top.”
All of these pieces require time, money and overhead, but the outcomes make it all worthwhile, struggles and all. Rettig explained some of the bumps in the road that came with each of the three pieces shared above.
“The reading tiers took a lot of focus on scheduling which took a consolidated effort between principal and staff to accommodate all tiers with a limited staff. MTSS is a matter of implementing ideas gained from attending multiple, various workshops/trainings which the SEEC was helpful to us in advancing our implementation. Finally, technology involves a lot of money and good planning.”
Retting explained how the district began implementing its Reading Tiers in grades K-5 and use NWEA scores and local assessments to place students in one of three tiers based on their reading level, NOT their grade. With an already highly-qualified staff, no training was needed, but creating the schedules to allow students to be grouped based on ability was a much larger hurdle. Rettig is excited to see Spring assessments scores to help give them more data on how these reading tiers working for the students.
On the MTSS side, Enderlin has been using this system for many years, but it is something that continues to evolve with great teacher support.
“We have begun to use more progress monitoring within MTSS that utilizes test scores to closely monitor progress and accommodations.”
Technology usually doesn’t start off as easy as we hope, but if we know we chose the right technology, after training and some hands-on testing, it serves as a great tool to support our classrooms. In the past four years, the district has purchased an iPad cart (30 devices) and three MacBook Air carts (25-30 devices each)!
When deciding WHAT technology to purchase Rettig explained the district’s process.
“Our first step was to install a managed wireless network which included 36 access points allowing us uninterrupted accessibility throughout the K-12 building. As instructors increased the amount of technology needs and desires in the classroom we added more devices. We used EduTech for some initial iPad training, but our instructors and students are so comfortable with computers that we utilize the “train the trainer” method along with our full-time technology coordinator.”
In the midst of a lot of discussion on changes in education there are many topics those in education are keeping their eye on, as are we at the SEEC. Rettig explained his appreciation of the work the SEEC does to keep up with educational advancements and new ideas in the education field to help stay current. The Teacher Support System and Teacher and Administrator recruitment are two items that Rettig notes as future items to address and watch and the SEEC will have its eyes on these areas and help direct its members to solutions and opportunities.
“I like that whether you are just getting involved with an educational venture or are very familiar, the SEEC has the professional development to meet your needs.”
Rettig leaves us with a little reminder, “Education is a public service occupation. Treat all people well.”