The WHA School Board welcomed Travis Hensch, the district’s new Community Ed/Activities Director, at the Aug. 13 board meeting.

“I’m excited to be here,” replied Hensch, who had been on the job two days at that point. “But don’t ask me where anything is yet.”

Hensch, who grew up in Bethel, Alaska, earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education-English, at Bemidji State University. While there he was the junior varsity boys’ basketball coach at Laporte School.

Hensch went on to earn a master’s degree in technology for education and training at the University of South Dakota, and a K-12 principal’s license from Saint Mary’s University, Winona.

From 2003-2009, he was high school English teacher and head boys’ basketball and JV softball coach at Wadena-DeerCreek High School. From 2009-2012, he was dean of students and activities director at New York Mills; and from 2012-2015, K-12 Principal and Activities Director at Northome.

Other coaching experience includes baseball, softball, wrestling and golf. He and his wife Shana have three children.

The board also approved several new hires: Jolene Link, elementary social worker; Brianna Byam, speech language pathology assistant; Laura Scanlon, business eduation teacher; and Randy Cadwell, technology paraprofessional. Para Hannah Johnson’s resignation was also accepted.

In her report, Elementary Principal Jill McGowan reported that 17 teachers plus administrator attended the June 28-30 High Reliability Schools Summit in Austin, Texas. All WHA teachers will attend the Sourcewell Minnesota Summit for Greater Learning and Leading, Aug. 14-15, at Madden’s Resort, Brainerd.

Grade 6-12 Principal Ryan Jensen attended an ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Summit held June 20 at the Lakeville School District. ESSA is the new federal education law that replaces No Child Left Behind. It gives states more of a say in how schools account for student achievement, including achievement of disadvantaged students.

Jensen and the administrative team also attended GiANT leadership training held June 26. at Sourcewell in Staples.

Superintendent Eric Pingrey reported that he has been asked to serve on the board of Bemidji State University’s student teaching program, to help create a better student teaching experience. One major reason, he said, is the work WHA is doing with its HRS program. BSU would like to place up to 10 student teachers per semester at WHA.

The steering committee will meet Aug. 28 to continue discussions on a Level 4 facility that would serve students with physical and mental challenges that require special ed services.

In other matters the board

Awarded the milk bids to Land O Lakes; and the bread bids to Pan-O-Gold Bakery.

Approved the Elementary and Grade 6-12 Student Handbooks, but tabled action on the District Handbook to give board members time to review it.

Approved a three-year, month-to-month lease (Aug. 1, 2018-July 31, 2021) for WHA’s Alternative Learning Program at the Walker Area Community Center  for $2,500 per month.

Approved Indian Policies and Procedures updates for the 2018-2019 School Year.

Changed the meeting time for future school board meetings to 6:30 p.m. (instead of 6 p.m.) to allow more time for board work sessions prior to the meetings. The change takes effect in September.

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