The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 16, 2013

Cardinal’s initiative to improve culture paying off

ELDON — There may be a risk in telling your school board you want to focus on how everyone gets along more than improving classroom performance. But the tactic may be paying off as more students sign up to attend Cardinal schools.

For years, more students open enrolled out of the Cardinal school district than came into the district. Last year, 73 kids left Cardinal and 89 came in. That may not sound like a big deal, but since each student gained brings in almost $6,000 in funding, the small district saw revenue rise more than $90,000 dollars.

And with class sizes already known for this year, the district said 82 students will attend school outside the district. But coming in from other districts are 104 kids.

Parents often have different reasons for open enrolling. One school may have more special education  classes or it may be closer to where Mom and Dad work. But in general, parents will only go to a district they’re comfortable with.

So a district that concentrates on a good attitude among students and staff may be appealing to parents. Cardinal school board president Mike Kayser said Superintendent Joel Pedersen’s idea sat well with the board.

“My take on it is by improving the culture, the students and the faculty are more motivated,” he said. “To me, you have to improve the culture before you can improve achievement.”

“I’m really a broken record, I know, but it’s relationships first, quality content second,” said Pedersen. “You have to change that culture.”

The school board president agreed, saying it’s easier to get people moving in a positive direction when everyone is on the same page. And when people feel good about school, they want to come more, whether they’re students or teachers. And that, he said, also leads to improved achievement.

“Culture isn’t just about [happy] notes in the mailbox. When you really transform culture,” said Pedersen, “you have to have difficult conversations, too. When people in a situation don’t handle things appropriately, we have to say that’s not how we’re going to act. But the next day, you tell them, ‘I’m here for you!’”

You must celebrate your successes, he said, but also have those honest discussions about what can be improved. That will help lead to things like better attendance, better test scores, better graduation rates.

“There’s a lot of positive reinforcement from the board and positive reinforcement from Joel,” Kayser said.

“We can’t be afraid to say relationships first,” Pedersen said. “Yes, when you do that, it’s taking a risk. But some of the best outcomes are from concentrating on what is most important. If you have the foundation of a culture of success, everything else falls into place.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Resolution — Techel verdict reached

    DAVENPORT — The father of a slain Wapello County woman said he began to heal as soon as he heard the guilty verdict today. The jury unanimously pronounced Seth Techel, 23, guilty on charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a h

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0726 OTT Garden Bites III Color Photo -T Garden Bites sees growth BLOOMFIELD — Nearly one month ago, families gathered at Pioneer Ridge Nature Center to plant various vegetables to harvest and eat on Thursday at Garden Bites. The program allows families to get their hands a bit dirty at Pioneer Ridge and plant food

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0725 OTT Riverfront design A new outlook on Ottumwa OTTUMWA — A "River Renaissance" is brewing in Wapello County. Planners working for Christian Rushing Studio from Tennessee took the public's ideas, and gave them life via maps, numerical projections and artists' renderings. "Hold onto your seats; you

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police to parents: check kids' online activities BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield police chief says the arrests of nine men in connection with sexting a teenage girl underscores the need for parents to keep an eye on their children online. Chief Shawn Armstrong said cases involving one or two people are

    July 24, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook