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Northwoods school nears 'exceeds expectations' after 13-point improvement on state report card in three yearsSubmitted: 11/13/2019

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RHINELANDER - New data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) shows one Northwoods school experienced greatly improved performance over the past three years. 

According to DPI 'report cards' released Monday, 87% of rated schools in Wisconsin met or exceeded expectations as did 96% of the state's 421 public school districts. Scores are calculated in four priority areas including student achievement, school growth, closing gaps between student groups and postsecondary readiness. 

At James Williams Middle School (JWMS) in Rhinelander, student achievement, school growth and postsecondary readiness are all on the rise. JWMS earned a 72.3 "meets expectations" score for the 2018-2019 school year. That's up nearly 13 points from just three years ago and just 0.7% shy of "exceeds expectations." Of all Northwood's schools, JWMS saw one of the greatest improvements over the past three years.

"To see that growth and know the things that we are doing here are closing the gaps is a very great thing," said JWMS principal Richard Gretizinger.

Gretzinger said more students at JWMS are taking advanced classes which have helped close English Language Arts (ELA) and Math achievement gaps. The school system's master schedule was also revised within the past three years. At JWMS Math and ELA class times grew from 45 minutes to 70 minutes. Student intervention time and teacher collaboration time were also added to the revised schedule.

"The processes that we have in place are effective and we just need to stay with the path," said Gretzinger

Other schools across the city of Rhinelander are also on a path toward improved achievement. 

As a whole, the Rhinelander School District earned a 68 "meets expectations" score for the 2018-2019 school year. That score is up more than six points in three years. 

Rachel Hoffman, Director of Teaching, Learning and Technology for the district said even with that success there's still a long way to go.

"Very excited about the growth that we've seen but we know it's just the tip of the iceberg," said Hoffman.

Across the district, Hoffman said math and reading intervention coaching has made education more equitable. Reading and math specialists have also helped the district align its curriculum with state standards. Hoffman added that understanding student's unique differences through Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has also had a marked impact.

"We're looking at not having a one size fits all model, so we're looking at adjusting our instruction and the methods that we use," said Hoffman. "We're look at different areas for action, expression and representation for our students. 

Hoffman said the district's new model allows some students to present information they've learned in the way they want to. For example, instead of a book report a student could present a video essay. The district is also taking greater care to accommodate student comfort in the classroom through specialized seating options.


Story By: Stephen Goin

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 LOCAL NEWS

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TOMAHAWK - Charlotte Andreachi owns the Knot Haus craft shop in downtown Tomahawk. This holiday season, she wanted to give back by helping homeless people in the area.

"It's much worse than most of us think, which is what I found out too," said Andreachi.

Then, she got an idea.

"I had a rack in the back that wasn't being used," said Andreachi.

She put it outside her shop with nine coats on it Nov. 1. A sign on the rack asked those who need one to take one, and those who have extra to leave one.

"I count them just because it's interesting to me [to see] how many are gone in the morning when I come in," said Andreachi.

In just under two weeks, nearly 25 coats have been taken. Meanwhile, individual donations have kept the rack fully stocked.

"That's what's amazing to me. The generosity of the people out there donating coats," said Andreachi. "Obviously there's a need since we've gone through about 25 already."

Andreachi knows first-hand just how tough homelessness can be.

"At one time, I was living out of my car in my early twenties," said Andreachi. "That was in the summertime. I just cannot imagine in the wintertime trying to stay warm."

Andrea Krueger serves as the President for Tomahawk Main Street. She's also a good friend of Andreachi's. She's more than happy with how the community has responded to the coat drive.

"We're very fortunate here in Tomahawk to have a community with open hearts that's willing to give when needed," said Krueger.

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CORNING - A fatal car crash occurred early this morning in the Town of Corning. The crash took place at 3:12 AM on State Road 64.

A witness reports seeing the victim swerve to miss a deer, leaving the roadway, and rolling over. Corning firefighters responded but the victim was pronounced dead on the scene.

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SUGAR CAMP - 23-year-old Sean Holtslander died in Sugar Camp after being hit on his motorcycle in August.

The Oneida county sheriff's office arrested Jeffrey Liebscher in connection to the crash.
 
Dorothy Holtslander said she feels the justice system failed her son, and her life without her son has been a living nightmare.

She doesn't think the bond for Liebscher matched the circumstances.

"The DA told me he was hoping for $20,000 to $50,000 considering he took a life; I don't think $1,500 is a modest or significant amount," said Holtslander.

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- A Minocqua man facing ten felony counts of possessing child pornography waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Matthew Kummer was arrested last month at James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander.

Kummer said he was there to pick up his friend's daughter.

Police later found pictures of underage girls on Kummer's phone and on a flash drive at his home.

Kummer also faces charges of Photographing a minor without consent and violating terms of the sex offender registry.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

MADISON - More than 234,000 voters in Wisconsin would be made unable to cast their ballot unless they register again before the next election under a lawsuit that liberals fear could dampen turnout among Democrats in the 2020 presidential race.

The lawsuit being filed Wednesday could affect how many voters are able to cast ballots in both the April presidential primary and November 2020 general election in Wisconsin.

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SHOREWOOD, WI - All public schools in a Milwaukee suburb closed after officials say a high school student wrote a hit list and was found in possession of a loaded magazine of ammunition.

Shorewood School District officials said because of "ongoing safety concerns," classes and activities are canceled Wednesday.

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WAUKESHA - Video footage captured a bus driver rescuing two young children found wandering in the snow Monday morning.

When the Waukesha bus driver, Nicole Chamberlain, saw the two children, she didn't hesitate.

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MADISON - Sean Duffy has taken a job for a Washington lobbying firm after resigning from Congress two months ago, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and newborn who has a heart defect and Down syndrome.

BGR Group announced Tuesday that the Republican Duffy would be working for the firm as a senior counsel heading up its financial services practice. Duffy is the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee's housing subcommittee.

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