Mishawaka students return to school

NOW: Mishawaka students return to school


MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Classes started at School City of Mishawaka Tuesday morning. 

With the new school year, comes some new changes. The district will implement 11 new initiatives during the 2018-19 school year. Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher said the new policies will help the district achieve its number one goal: to help students learn. 

One of the new initiatives is "Learning by Design: The Mishawaka Way." The plan is made up of six components:

  • Curriculum development and alignment
  • Instructional alignment and power standards
  • Continuous improvement/ school improvement
  • Alignment of administrator and teacher evaluation plans based on continuous improvement system
  • Federal and state accountability plan 
  • SCM 5-Star accountability plan

Dr. Speicher said he hopes this will address an issue the district has struggled with. 

“We haven’t connected the dots very well in the past so, we’re hoping that this “Learning by Design: the Mishawaka Way” is going to connect the dots," said Speicher. "It’s going to be interconnected, it’s going to be integrated so that when we’re talking about curriculum development and alignment, we’re talking about accountability plans, they all fit together.”

Another new policy affects this year's freshman class at Mishawaka High School. Beginning this school year, the district will "team" ninth grade students.

Students will be grouped together in small learning communities and work with four to five teachers throughout the school year. 

The district tested teaming at John Young Middle School last school year and saw success. Office referrals dropped by 50 percent. 

Dr. Speicher said it's important to help freshmen because a student's performance during the first year of high school usually determines whether or not they graduate. 

"We’re going to provide them with more academic support but we’re also going to provide them with more social, emotional support at the ninth grade level because we have to make sure they’re successful during the ninth grade year," said Speicher.

Additionally, there will now be a dean of students for each high school grade rather than an assistant principal.

The district also spent the summer making a number of security and safety improvements.

Upgrades include new video surveillance cameras on the inside and outside of all schools in the district. Another change includes upgrading all exterior and interior doors and the handles and locks on those doors. By the end of the 2018-19 school year, all teachers will be able to lock their doors from the inside.

"Work hard, have grit, hang in there in good times as well as difficult times and know that you're going to get a lot of academic support as well as social and emotional support," said Speicher. 

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