Carrington Public Schools
With approximately 500 students in the district, Carrington Public Schools is large enough to offer a wide-variety of classes and programs, but small enough to effectively personalize learning and support all students according to High School Principal David Nowatzki.
Eight years ago, Nowatzki decided that he wanted to not only lead, problem solve and make a difference in a classroom, but he really wanted to do it at the building level. His principal title comes after years of teaching experience in Maddock (8-12 science teacher) and at Red River High School in Grand Forks (chemistry, physics, and physical science teacher), but more importantly with a passion to help students develop a life-long love of learning.
Alongside him, Elementary Principal Jenna Helseth is in her first year but has 11 years of experience behind here with three of them as a part-time elementary principal and the others as a music/instrumental teacher. Helseth has always been active in leadership organizations that called her to work with students and in the education field. Her love of music was what pushed her to bring the joy of sound into students’ lives. She accomplished her goal of earning a master’s degree and developed new passions: best practices and education policy! With encouragement from past teachers, administrators, and mentors in the field, she chose to step into an administration role.
Nowatzki and Helseth work under the leadership of Superintendent Brian Duchscherer and his 20 years in the education field. Duchscherer is currently in his 11th year as the Carrington superintendent but was also a superintendent in Wishek, ND. His work in education began when he saw a platform that would allow him to make a difference for ALL students.
“I believe that we at Carrington focus our energy on taking care of the needs of our students both academically and socially.”
Carrington addresses these needs in many ways, but one major component is the work through creating a Multi-Tier System of Supports. This work is being done at both the elementary and secondary levels with the elementary engaged in the South East Education Cooperative’s Year 1 cohort and the High School in the Year 2 cohort. Both MTSS cohorts with SEEC are multi-session professional learning opportunities that engage MTSS Leadership Teams from multiple districts, all facilitated by nationally-known speaker Wayne Callender with Partners for Learning, Inc.
At the elementary level, Helseth said their MTSS leadership team of six attended the NDMTSS Conference in June followed by a two-day training in Bismarck, the current MTSS Cohort sessions with SEEC and meets weekly to continue improving its MTSS plan.
“We revamped what was our K-3 “RTI Time” and are working with K-6 and really focusing on our Reading Pathway as well as developing and using a behavior flowchart. The SEEC has helped in finding and accessing resources, provided training, brought in nationally-known speakers and allows us to network with other schools.”
At the high school level, Nowatzki noted that his team is implementing a reading pathway in grades 7-9, developing a math pathway and eventually creating a 7-12 behavior pathway yet this year through the SEEC MTSS Cohort Year 2 with hopes that there will be an in-school support option after year 2 completion.
Superintendent Duchscherer reiterated the work of his principals above noting that,
“SEEC bring a lot of professional development opportunities for our employees but we also take part in SEEC principal meetings, administrator meetings and its Medicaid reimbursement consortium services. Outside of SEEC services our high school is also working on a book study and current techniques of embedding formative assessment within the classroom plus we continue to implement flexible seating concepts and strategies.”
Carrington is doing a lot of fantastic work, all while also planning on moving into a NEW elementary school next fall! Through new building plans, new implementation and continuous improvement in their school system this district has a lot on their plate just like a lot of our schools, but, according to Helseth, “We are committed to holding high expectations for ourselves and students.” So, I don’t think anyone needs to worry because we know you’ll all come out on top!
Leaving you with a few notes of advice …
“Keep students at the center of decision making.” – Helseth
“Your attitude is a choice and completely under your power. Choose to be positive every day and be thankful for the opportunities and experiences you have in education.” – Nowatzki