Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 Principal Report, where I present a summary of events, activities and information from the current and previous month. These items are categorized within the 3 action statements that form the Mission Statement created by our school staff at the start of the 2015-16 school year. These statements were meant to operationalize our Vision Statement that is displayed in the ‘footer’ on each of these pages. This Vision and Mission Statement was re-visited and recommitted to as a staff during our 2016-17 school start in-service program.

Partner and Communicate with our communities

  • Our annual Community Dinner was August 31st, it was very well attended with approximately 200 people eating and visiting with staff and community members.
  • Our PTA is off to another strong start. Membership has grown, new officers have been installed and an active schedule of events have been posted on Facebook as well as a dedicated link (Solon Springs PTA) on our school webpage under the Parents/Students section of the menu.
  • Tracey Henegar from UW Superior, Outreach delivered training to support Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) to our staff during in-service. This training will be followed up with on October 3rd with an event at our Community Center that will view a documentary related to this topic (Paper Tigers).
  • Committee work for Early Learning Center Proposal:
  • The 1st Annual Golf Scramble to support the Solon Springs Athletic Department was a HUGE success! 32 teams participated, our athletes (wearing uniform jerseys) were working and leading contests at several holes, a silent auction and a wonderful meal made for a very enjoyable afternoon at Hidden Greens. A heartfelt presentation about the value of athletics from alumni Joe Wickland was well received and preceded the awards, auction winners and drawings.
  • In partnership with our local Lions organization, Vision Screenings will be held here in Solon on Oct. 17th and 18th.

Provide a safe and positive environment for everyone
  • Check-In; we started a new process this year to make sure that all students have the support needed to be successful. 30 students were assigned to meet with a staff member each day if they had earned either a D or an F on the last report card from last school year. The ‘check-in’ process includes monitoring their own grades using Skyward, creating a plan of action and monitoring progress. Monitoring progress includes motivation to improve as well as accolades for staying on track and improving. On Oct. 3rd at mid quarter, if they no longer have any D’s or F’s, they will be removed from the ‘check-in’ status.
  • Cell Phone Use: Students in grades 6-9 are required to place cell phones in clear hanging organizers during class. Grades 10-12 are allowed to keep them with them, but not allowed to use (or become a distraction) during class times unless directed by teacher.
  • Tutoring Club: Our 21st century grant that supports our After School Tutoring was approved again for this year (50,000).Tutoring started on Sept. 12th; we have a light number of students being served at this time (37) but that number will increase within the next few weeks.

Provide a progressive and quality education that meets the needs of each individual student.

  • Field Trips: Ricing, Ernie Swift, Gordon Flowage and Beauty and the Beast
  • STAR testing and RtI: Collaboration time is dedicated to viewing the scores, the areas of support needed and providing interventions and resources to the students who are most in need. Also, time and consideration is given to the students who are most in need of enrichment, at this time enrichment plans for at least 2 students are being put together.
  • PLC’s/Collaboration: See handout with collaboration schedule. Collaboration is at the heart of an effective Professional Learning Community. These meetings will attend to meeting the needs of growth and achievement for all of our students and guided by local and state data.
  • My Learning Plan: Educator Effectiveness platform demonstrated to model a Specific Learning Objective (SLO) as well as a Personal Professional Goal (PPG) that is required annually by all teaching staff.

My summary notes
Dene Muller

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Solon Springs School has a School Garden!

How does our garden grow? Well, it starts with many people committed to a project that is great
for kids!


  • Last year’s summer school planted a garden at the Mercantile’s Community Garden.
  • Solon Springs Garden Club supports students with knowledge, skills, and extra garden plot space.
  • Donations to the school from gardens.
  • Fall Environmental Ed class harvests final gleanings from garden
  • Maintenance Director plows an area next to the tennis courts and donates fertilizer in preparation for the next spring.
  • Mrs. Fromm writes grant and obtains funds for developing school garden!
  • Garden Club meets with Food Service Director asking what they can plant and do to donate fresh produce to our school kitchen; a great new partnership has begun!
  • After School Tutoring Club starts seeds for flowers and plants to be set in garden using the greenhouse in our school.
  • A visit from staff at Northland College to tour our green house and school garden in order to make connections for Environmental Ed, College/Career connections and resource support.


  • Soil sampling and visit from Douglas County Extension to support this project.
  • Town of Solon Springs donates the hauling of black dirt to the garden.
  • Fencing put around garden to protect from hungry ‘critters’!

  • The final day of school interested students work in teams with staff to plant the garden! Care, love and special treatment was given to all the plantings !!

This is how we grow our garden. My impression is; It is also how we grow our school! Students, staff, community members, and outside agencies all working together toward a common goal of student growth and achievement. There could not be a more important project and the dedication I see invested in this process is awe inspiring. I’m so glad to live, grow, and learn here in Solon Springs.
Stop By and check out the progress of our garden. Stop in any time to talk about the growth of our students and staff :) !!
Warmly submitted,

Dene Muller

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 2016:  Principal Report, where I present a summary of events, activities and information from the current and previous month. These items are categorized within the 3 action statements that form the Mission Statement created by our school staff at the start of the 2015-16 school year. These statements were meant to operationalize our Vision Statement that is displayed in the ‘footer’ on each of these pages.

Partner and Communicate with our communities

·       Nothing says a successful partnership with our community as Scholarships! As of today 28 scholarships totaling $42,750 will be awarded at graduation.

·       The presentation during our Awards Banquet for Ben P.: During the fall of 2014 several of our seniors (juniors at the time) joined students across the nation in taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test also called the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or for those who like acronyms the PSAT-NMSQT. This test provides a great practice and indicator of areas to study for the ACT, SAT and other required College Entrance and Application exams. Of the 1.5 million students in 22,000 high schools nationwide who take the test, the top 50,000 students are selected for recognition. The top third of those 50,000 are named National Merit Semi-Finalists. That means of the 1.5 Million Students nationwide, 16,000 are named semifinalists. The semi-finalists take the SAT and complete an arduous application process. This year 15,000 of these students were selected based on their merits to be named FINALISTS by the National Merit Scholarship Program.

For the first time in many years the list of the top 15,000 students in the nation includes a 2016 graduate of Solon Springs High School.

It is my honor, on behalf of the National Merit Scholarship Program to present Solon Springs High School Senior Ben Pettit with this recognition of his status as a National Merit Finalist.

With this status he is qualified to be one of the 7,400 students nationwide to be selected as a National Merit Scholar and awarded a National Scholarship. We’ll find out next week at graduation if Ben is among the top students in the nation who will receive this honor.

·        The J.H. Choir/ Band Spring Concert & S.H. Recital was Tuesday May 3, at 7 p.m./ The S.H. Band/ Choir Spring Concert is May 17th at 7 p.m. These were the final performances for/with our school by Mrs. Rindo. Students thanked and honored her at the concert with a poster, flowers and a standing ovation!
·       Mr. Nelson scheduled a Middle School as well as a High School orientation for May 10th. We thought we would try to have this in the spring and follow up in the fall if needed.
o   Survey information from students and parents was shared about the 1 to 1 program:
--Challenges identified were Off Task Temptations, less handwriting and not liking it as much at the end of the year as in the beginning. Also, parents have a more difficult time supporting homework if the text is not brought home as well.
--Positives: Efficient learning, better prepared for high school and beyond and students are more confident learners.

·       Another successful Blood Drive was held on May 11th. We had 3 high school seniors, and a junior worked hard on this process for a year. Donations this time totaled 29. This Leadership experience will translate directly to scholarship dollars from Memorial Blood Center, for the 3 high school students.

·       Our Junior Library Club hosted Brian Freeman (a prolific mystery author familiar who has visited here before) on May 2nd. He met with grades 4-12, spoke about the writing process, answered questions and even visited 1st grade to talk about writing and its importance. Thank you to Peggy Constance for setting up this wonderful connection.

o   After school Mr. Freeman signed books for our staff. He then went to The Little Gift House for a talk and book signing/selling opportunity.

Provide a safe and positive environment for everyone

Athletic Update:
  • Softball- Hosts a 1st round regional game tomorrow against Mellen.  The winner will play in Hurley on Wednesday.  All-conference meeting will be held tonight in Ashland.
  • Baseball- Baseball will host Flambeau in a 1st round regional game next Tuesday.  The winner will play the winner of Northwood and Shell Lake on Wednesday, June 1st.  All-conference meeting will be Wednesday in Ashland.
  • Awards night- Awards night was held on Wednesday.  Athletic, academic, forensics and music awards were all handed out.  There were 64 varsity letters given across our 7 varsity offerings, with nineteen of those going to first-time letter winners.  The senior class earned 74 letters over their four years in high school.  Sixteen of the twenty-two seniors earned at least one letter, with the typical senior earning 4.5 letters. 
  • For next year:
    • Football- Coach Hager from Northwood will be here on Thursday to meet with those interested in playing football next year.
    • Coaches- I will be meeting with the coaches’ on-staff in regards to their intentions for next year.  I will be offering each one of them a contract based on the results of my evaluations.  I hope to have those contracts approved at the June board meeting.  I will be posting the unfilled positions, first to staff, and then to the community.  I hope to have those contracts finalized by August.
    • Fall sports meeting is tentatively set for Monday, August 8th.  I'll be sending out letters to all athletes with the date, and whether or not they'll need a physical over the summer.  
    • Due to low projected numbers in the middle school, I will likely invite the 5th grade girls and boys to participate in MS basketball and volleyball.  All of the teams in our league field two teams and we likely wouldn't without including the 5th graders.  We've done this in previous years for girls’ basketball/volleyball.
    • Golf tournament- Mertz-Rookey Insurance and Hidden Greens North are partnering with us to host a golf tournament on Saturday, August 24th.  The proceeds from the 9-hole tournament, dinner, and silent auction will go support the Athletic Department.  Funds will first go to replacing our 30+ year old batting cage.  Future funds and fundraising will possibly go towards updating bleachers and possibly the gym floor, as well as a weight room addition. 
Here is a sample of our final days of school learning opportunities:
·       May 22nd & 23rd - Students will still be on the 7-12 band trip.  Mrs. Rindo will be sending a list shortly.  Students must be passing all classes.

·       May 24th - Mrs. Lewis will be taking library club to a movie
·       May 25th - Mary Maderich from CESA #12 will be here.  If you'd like to meet with her please talk to Mrs. Muller.  Mrs. Fortuna and Mrs. Polzin are planning an all-day activity with the 7th grade related to the book they have been studying in ELA.
·       May 26th - Seniors check-out in the morning.  Highway clean-up for seniors in the afternoon. Senior Lock-In at 8:00 p.m. with breakfast served by staff at 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Friday.
·       May 27th - Graduation practice beginning at 8:30.  7-11 band/choir will be called down at around 9-9:15.  Mrs. Peterson and Ms. Johnson will take Mrs. Makala’s 1st and 2nd hour classes.
·       May 31st - freshmen will be on Upper St. Croix Lake in the morning.  All classes will be hiking the NCT in the afternoon.  Please sign up for a hiking responsibility on the sheets in the lounge.  
·       June 1st - Canoe trips:  Middle school to Namekogan, High school to the Brule.
·       June 2nd - 3 pm grades due for everyone.
·       June 3rd, students will be dismissed at 1:00 p.m. with staff meetings and classroom checkout in the afternoon.

Provide a progressive and quality education that meets the needs of each individual student.

·       We will be graduating 24 seniors on Saturday. Data from a survey done by My College Options shares this information about this class:
o    30.8% plan to pursue a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) career versus 28.2% nationally
o    19.2 % will be the first in their families to attend college
o    92.3% plan to attend a four-year institution

·       Summer School will be again offered this summer. We have an option for credit recovery as well for high school students who need this opportunity.  Summer School will start on June 21, 2016 and run from 8:30-11:30 4 days each week scheduled.

·       4K graduation celebration was on May 20th! It was too cute for words!

·       The final week of Tutoring Club was May 16-19th: We have expanded the opportunities for enrichment with groups such as Outdoor Ed., Games, Physical Activity, Social Cub, Forensics, and Lego Robotics, Quilt making, Photography, guitar lessons and lotion/soap making

o   Over 40% of students in our school participated with After School Tutoring and Club Actives this year.
o   Improvement in homework completion, class participation and classroom behavior have all been observed from teacher feedback questionnaires.
o   Student and parent feedback has been provided by surveys sent home as well as collected during the final week. This information will guide planning for next year.

My summary notes
Dene Muller

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May Day! This week begins our final full month of 2015-16 school year!

Prom was a wonderful and beautiful end to the month of April. We have two staff members who volunteer countless hours and work with the Junior class to create an environment meant to make wonderful memories!! The Community Center in Solon Springs was the venue and music were both donated to support this event.

This last week of April saw the entire Middle school travel to UW Superior, enjoy lunch in a college (UWS) cafeteria and then participate with Leadership and Team building activities. Feedback from staff as well as students was very positive! The same afternoon, one of our staff arranged for a presentation from 2 Sawyer Co. police officers to present information and activities related to making important choices related to alcohol and drugs to our High School students. This presentation included  answering questions, impaired vision goggles as well as a K9 dog. Afterwards students were in small groups and created lists of actions that are needed by all of us to promote a positive school climate that supports student success. This list has been shared with staff as well as students. This assembly was timed purposely to be before Prom weekend. Again, feedback from staff and students was positive. I am very impressed with how quickly our students take ownership of their school and the well being of each other!

Ongoing outdoor trail work scheduled for Fridays in April by the 8th grade class is well underway. This project is a part of the Environmental Ed. class and was supported with Grant funding from a Green School grant award. The students are so very proud of their work and are truly making an impression with their younger as well as older peers. Volunteers from the National Guard have helped on two occasions.  Bridge building and zip lines have been built and enjoyed by all!

April also saw our Elementary Spring Music concert that was well attended by parents and community members. I believe our music program is second to none!! Planning for organized hikes on the North Country Trail (NCT) have been planned for each Elementary class. This will be the 2nd annual NCT hike plan. It is well supported by community volunteers and the students always come back with amazing discoveries!

All of these activities have been planned and completed during our busy 'testing' season with the Wisconsin Forward Exam (3-8 grade), PALS assessments (4K-2) , ACT Aspire (9-10) and ACT (grade 11).

I am so impressed and grateful to work with staff (bus drivers, maintenance staff, office staff, para educators, volunteers, and Teachers) who work so purposely to develop our students in such a well rounded manner. As I reflect on all the wonderful learning opportunities afforded our students, there is a very strong thread called COMMUNITY support that is in each level of projects and activities. I am so very proud to be a part of Solon Springs!

Warmly submitted,
Dene Muller

Saturday, April 23, 2016

 Each month at the School Board Meeting, during the Principal Report, I present a summary of events, activities and information from the current and previous month. These items are categorized within the 3 action statements that form the Mission Statement created by our school staff at the start of the 2015-16 school year. These statements were meant to operationalize our Vision Statement that reads:
Solon Springs School is an inviting, caring, family environment partnering with our communities to engage all students in the learning process and motivate students to meet the highest expectations with pride and honor.

These are my summary notes from the March School Board Meeting:

Partner and Communicate with our communities

·       The State Wide ACT testing was completed on March 1st. Our local Community Center was the location and the PTA donated a pizza lunch for the students. The environment was well received by students. This partnership truly supports our students!
§  The local Shrine Organization has informed us that they will be offering a Solon Springs Senior with a Scholarship this year. ALSO, our 2nd and 4th graders are participating in the Shriner Coloring Contest and their classes will earn tickets to the Shrine Circus in April.
§  Conversations continue with the Health and Development Center (HDC) in Superior. Tanya Nelson working with Americore as well as interns will be presenting to staff about the program Too Good for Drugs (grades 3-5) as well as Drug and Risk behavior related resources for students (gr. 6-12). These resources correlate with areas of need identified in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
§  A Blood Drive for Memorial Blood Centers on March 14th netted 19 donations. That translates into 57 patients who could benefit from the blood collected here. Our final Blood Drive of the year will be May 15th.
§  Mr. Frane (UMD Music Professor) provided a one day alternative Music Clinic for our students here at Solon Springs School on March 9th.
§  A Zumbathon and Walk was held in our school on March 12th. This well attended event was sponsored by our St. Croix Federation of Teachers to raise funds for their annual scholarship.

Provide a safe and positive environment for everyone

·       Attendance at Girls/Boys State Basketball, the Senior trip to the Wilderness Resort and a snow day thrown in for good measure have all been accomplished this month!
·       A kick off for Jump Rope for Heart (elementary) and Hoops for Heart (middle school) has occurred and is being supported by Mr. Besonen and Mr. Amys.

Athletic Update:
· Girls Basketball
o Girls basketball lost their opening round playoff game against Shell Lake.  They finished the season 11-12.
o Phoenix Thomas was named 2nd team All-Indianhead Conference, and Karly Sutherland was named Honorable Mention.
· Boys Basketball
o Boys basketball lost in the regional final against Luck.  The boys finished 23-2, a new record for wins in a season.  
o Adam Vandenberghe passed 1,000 career points in the regular season finale against Mercer.
o Vandenberghe was named 1st team All-Indianhead Conference.  Jens Gehl was named 2nd team All-Indianhead
· Softball
o Softball began practice on March 14th.  They have about 18 girls participating.  Their first game is home on April 4th against Drummond, weather permitting.
· Baseball
o Baseball began practice on March 21st.  They have 12 boys participating.  Their first game is at Northwood on Friday, April 1st, weather permitting.
o There are only 6 teams in the conference that play softball, but 8 that have baseball teams.  That accounts for the difference in games played.

Provide a progressive and quality education that meets the needs of each individual student.

·       While a more detailed presentation about test scores and comparison of data is attached; review of local data indicate that 62% of our students were on the Honor Roll lists, 26% maintain a basic grade point average and 12% were on the D/F list at the end of 1st semester. While we always aim to improve those statistics, they indicate that over 80% of our grades 6-12 are engaging with the curriculum with success.
·       On March 17th our High School Forensics team competed and 5 of the 6 participants will be competing at the State level on April 16th!

·       Mrs. Makela has engaged students from her Nutrition Class as well as Engineering Class in competitions. The Nutrition Class submitted recipes to the 2016 Whipping Up Wellness, Wisconsin Student Chef Competition Cookbook and one was chosen to be entered into the cookbook (Cream of Chicken Casserole); the Engineering Class participated with a Bridge Building competition in Superior.
·       Teacher In-Service March 28th (agenda attached), focus on laying ground work for development of collaboration as well as curriculum for 2016-2017 school year!

My summary notes
Dene Muller

·       Coming Up in April: Referendum Vote; Forward Testing; Honors Choir, NHS Induction, Spring Concert; Green Schools Grant starts with 4 Fridays to build a trail!, NHS Desert night April 10th, 4K Registration April 13; Jamboree and Book  Fair April 17th; Northland College collaboration visit April 21st, Mid-Quarter April 28th, Student assemblies, Prom April 30th

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The view from my office is one of pride and gratitude!
Thank you to our community for voting with such an overwhelming voice to pass the Referendum on April 5, 2016.
Your vote was truly an example of the positive impact a community can have when they work together! This is just the beginning, we need to keep the momentum going and continue to promote the great things our school does for students and the community!

Dene Muller

Friday, October 16, 2015


October, 2015
This month is moving way too fast!  I have not been able to keep up with my planned weekly updates! So, I am reverting to sharing some pictures in hopes that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is still true!!
I wanted to share a glimpse into the wonderful opportunities each day brings for me in this school that serves and educates all of us in this community. These images were captured within 3 days at school As I walk the halls and grounds of this school that engages students from ages 4 to 18, I see examples of learning environments such as these: Firefighters from our community volunteering their time to provide active lessons about fire safety, play practice for The Music Man that includes community members, 8th graders playing ukuleles for elementary students in order to share musical skills, students selling concessions at a volleyball game on Parent night and firefighters enjoying lunch featuring ‘smokehouse chili’ with our students. And finally a walk around a trail behind our school reveals a wonderful outdoor classroom that is frequented by classrooms each week!

Warmly submitted,
Dene Muller