Teachers: Freshmen should mix with upperclassmen

Half of the discipline incidents recorded at Verona Area High School last year came from the freshman class, and administrators hope they’ve determined one reason.

In recent years, freshmen have taken all their core classes in the K-Wing while grades 10-12 have been housed in the school’s main building. 

“Sometimes it feels like we’re two separate communities,” VAHS associate principal Pheng Lee told the Verona Area school board Monday night.

Lee, who is in charge of the ninth-grade class, joined dean of students Alan Buss, who is in charge of discipline for grades 9 and 10, and a group of teachers in presenting a plan to the board to “integrate” the ninth-graders into the main building in the 2016-17 school year.


Hoffman voted as president elect for educators group

A former Verona Area High School agriculture teacher is staying involved in the profession.

The Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators chose Kevin Hoffman, who retired from VAHS at the end of the 2013-14 school year, as the president elect at their annual conference June 22-25, according to a news release.

Hoffman will also serve an additional three years on the board of directors with his election.

The position will require Hoffman to oversee WAAE committees, plan and assist the current president with his roles and duties. Hoffman will take over the president’s role when WAAE celebrates its 100th year in two years at a conference in Appleton.

Hoffman will also travel and attend numerous regional and national conferences, according to the release.


Literacy volunteer training Sept. 8, 16

Those interested in volunteering to help struggling readers in the Verona Area School District can attend a training session Tuesday, Sept. 8, or Wednesday, Sept. 16.

The district looks for volunteers every year to spend 30 to 60 minutes a week working with students on their reading.

The Sept. 8 training will be at Country View Elementary School from 9-10 a.m. and the Sept. 16 training will be at Stoner Prairie from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

If interested, email Michelle Matysik for Glacier Edge, Stoner Prairie or Verona Area International School at For all other elementary schools, email


Board takes on task of centralizing

The Verona Area School Board has unveiled a new plan to give more consistent and clearer direction to site councils and guide its own future policy decisions.

The board is expected to consider the document, referred to as the district’s “framework,” at its September meeting. So far, it has been discussed in draft form at the board’s curriculum, instruction and assessment (CIA) committee.

District administrators began collaborating on the document in July after hearing criticism from parents from around the district, some of which related to inconsistencies among the district’s 11 sites.

The framework lists four categories that should affect all decisions: equity, excellence, empowerment, engagement/expectations.


This year, it’s personal

Photo by Scott Girard. Tammy Holtan-Arnol led a Nurtured Heart Approach training earlier this summer at Country View Elementary School. It’s one of a few approaches the district has emphasized in recent years.

The coming year promises to bring plenty of change to the Verona Area School District.

VASD has tried to remain on the cutting edge of many initiatives around education, from behavior strategies that foster positivity and teaching students proper behavior to acquiring technology to aid in its personalized learning goals. Those efforts – plus changes to traditional VASD models like site councils and scheduling at the elementary and high schools – will play a major part in nearly every school this upcoming year.

1. Nurturing the behavior system

The district has focused its behavior initiatives in recent years on programs like the Nurtured Heart Approach and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports.


Seminar highlights online learning networks

The Verona Area School District will host a presentation on using online learning networks for education.

Will Richardson, a parent of two teenagers, has “spent the last dozen years developing an international reputation as a leading thinker and writer” on the topic, and is a former public school educator, according to a news release from VASD. He will bring those thoughts to the Verona Area High School Performing Arts Center, 300 Richard Street, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27.

Richardson’s work has appeared in publications including Education Week, The New York Times and English Journal.

“He is an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms on new learning opportunities that the web and other technologies now offer,” the release said.


VASD to post events on website, not fliers

The Verona Area School District will soon begin focusing its promotional efforts for events online.

In an email to parents last week, the district said it has a “continued focus to reduce paper, reduce staff time, and reduce printing costs” by using the website instead of multiple emails or fliers sent home.

“More importantly, this will allow for more local organizations to post the great things happening in our communities for your family all in one spot,” the email said.

Organizations, both school-related and community non-profits, can follow instructions at to find out how to share information on upcoming events.

Elementary school families will receive a final take-home flier reminder, and links will be available in school newsletters and on website home pages.


Getting social: Online policies aim to spark community conversation

Proud parents showing off report cards, projects or photos from their child’s recent football game – it’s all over social media, and now the Verona Area School District wants to be part of the conversation.

The school board discussed a pair of policies Monday night aimed to make it easier for schools to create their own social media profiles and the district to have a centralized profile.

“You want to have consistency among the district but you also want to have each school creating their own identity,” district public information officer Kelly Kloepping explained. “This is just one more way for us to be able to reach out to not only families but also teachers, supporters in the community.”


Board establishes committee on transgender policies

The Verona Area School District will likely have policies in place by this fall regarding transgender students.

Superintendent Dean Gorrell asked the school board Monday night to establish an ad hoc committee to determine policies, as the district has some transgender students.

“We’ve got a need and an opportunity for development of a policy that’s probably past due for us,” Gorrell said.

Board member Amy Almond volunteered for the committee, and Gorrell said it would likely include staff, parents and students to help develop the policy.


Crucial steps ahead for West End purchase

Map courtesy Verona Area School District. The Verona Area School District hopes to acquire 44.75 acres of land on the West End through a purchase agreement with Vanta. The district’s land would include Lot 5 in the above map.

The Verona Area School District is getting closer to finalizing its purchase of the West End property as it also readies to close on the other two properties purchased through April’s referendum.

VASD received approval from voters in the spring election to borrow bonds to purchase up to three pieces of property, and also to use the condemnation process on one of those three if necessary. Superintendent Dean Gorrell told the Press Tuesday the district will close Aug. 19 on the Herfel and Erbach properties, in the Town of Verona and on the west side of the city, respectively.


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