District Superintendent

Hello and thank you for visiting our web page. The entire school community in Thorp works together to provide an excellent education for every student, and we invite you to join us! Whether you're considering a move to our community or looking for a way to be more involved in our schools, the School District of Thorp offers many opportunities.

I'm proud to serve and lead the school district as Superintendent. As a 20-year veteran educator, who has worked in rural, suburban, and urban settings, I can honestly say that we have something special in Thorp. Our small class sizes, caring and professional staff, strong academic offerings, and great co-curricular sports and recreational programs form the core of our schools. But most importantly, our entire community comes together to support and encourage our students. Please feel free to contact me for more information about our schools and again, thank you for visiting our web page.

My office phone number is 715-669-5401 and my email address is: jhumphries@thorp.k12.wi.us

Sincerely,
John Humphries, Ed. S
School District of Thorp Superintendent

Mr. John Humphries, the District Administrator in front of a chalkboard


SUPERINTENDENT UPDATES

July 7, 2017: Introductions

7/11/17

Letter to the Editor:

I want to reach out to the community here in Thorp, to thank you and tell you how honored I am to be your new Superintendent of Schools. I also want to share some information about recent events in the district and things we have to look forward to.

As a 20+ year veteran of education, I'm thrilled to have my first opportunity to be a superintendent. I've worked in rural, suburban, and urban environments and have seen that small districts like ours have great flexibility and the opportunity to have strong relationships with people all across the district. These are unique features of a small district that were exciting to me as I considered joining your community. I was also very impressed with the level of community support for the schools including your recent referendum.

As many of you have heard, Mr. Glen Schraufnagel, our Agriculture teacher at Thorp High School, has resigned in order to take a position working with school districts all across our area. The neat thing about this type of position is the opportunity to work with dozens of educators and schools. Of course, we will miss Mr. Schraufnagel here in Thorp—we wish him all the best as he takes on some new challenges and opportunities. We will be sure to involve a wide variety of people in the process of hiring a new teacher for this critical position. Teacher turnover is always difficult for school districts, and one of my goals will be to ensure that we recruit and retain the best teachers for our students. I invite you to join me and to continue to talk about the great support our community shows for our schools. This is the type of thing that attracts excellent new teachers and helps our current staff stay right here in Thorp.

We also have a great opportunity coming up this summer with the passage of the building referendum. I have already begun meeting with our architect and project manager to ensure that the new athletic facilities and remodeling plans will meet the long-term needs of our students and staff. I'm very about excited the designs – local architect Robert Krzyzanowski, a Thorp High graduate, has been sharing some creative ideas that are sure to impress, while also staying under budget. We are using your hard-earned taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible.

Finally, I want to invite you to stop in and visit with me this summer–the most important thing a new superintendent can do is to listen. I will look forward to meeting more people in our community in the coming days and weeks, and thank you again for welcoming me to Thorp!

Sincerely,

John Humphries

Superintendent of Schools

August 28, 2017: Back to School

Dear Editor:

It’s back-to-school time in Thorp, and I couldn’t be more proud of the excellent faculty and staff here in the school district! All summer, our custodial staff worked to clean and wax, trim bushes, paint, and make the schools look great. Coaches started working with student-athletes on August 1st. Our teachers started on August 9th with a full day of training in Chippewa Falls along with hundreds of other local educators.

Then, last week, we started out Monday morning with a great kickoff event. As you might have read in the articles by Alex Weise, our entire staff were shown how special and important they are. I want to thank the Courier for sending their reporter and for the weekly highlights about teachers. I am honored to be a part of a community that respects and appreciates the great work done in our schools every day.

My message for staff this year was very simple: I want them to have their best year ever. Honestly, my job couldn’t be more clear--I want every person in the district to be able to do the best job possible and I am working hard to take away everything that might distract them from that mission.

I also shared a few impressions of the district that I took from my first few weeks in town--it’s clear that something is working in Thorp because of the behavior of the children and teens in this community. Children riding their bikes stop, smile, and say hello as I walk by on the sidewalk. The teens working in restaurants, stores, and the gas station are warm and welcoming, often introducing themselves to me by name as they smile and firmly shake my hand. Then, last Friday during the national anthem at the football game, I saw something I had never seen before. The younger children off on the playground stopped, came down off the play equipment, and stood with their hands over their hearts to respect our flag. Residents of Thorp, you truly have something special going on, and I am confident that it involves strong families and great teachers. I am so honored to be a part of this school and community.

We started off the school year on Friday morning with an assembly in the elementary/middle school. The students were treated to music and even some dance moves by their teachers! Principal Tyler Nelson wished them all well and reviewed some things about how the school runs. As I left, I made a point to walk by a couple of high school classrooms and even though we were less than an hour into the school year, two of our high school science teachers already had students engaged in experiments! One group had their lab goggles on and were learning about lab safety and how to clean up chemical spills. The other had some tropical termites that were responding to certain chemical stimuli. One young lady volunteered to explain the experiment to their new Superintendent, and confidently talked about how they determined why these insects behaved the way they did. This is called “inquiry-based science” and is a great way to engage students in learning. Instead of opening to Chapter 1, let’s get our hands dirty right away and then talk about the concepts behind the activity!

We are off to a great start here in the school district--I’ll keep you updated as the year goes on.

John Humphries,

Superintendent


September 11, 2017: Notes on Respect, Bullying, and Children

I want to share some plans the district has for working on issues with regard to respect, bullying and children. Before I discuss the ins and outs of policies, etc. I wanted to tell you about a change we are planning for the next few weeks. Sometime soon, our students will take over the responsibility for raising and lowering the American flags each day. This small but important act teaches civic responsibility and respect for the symbol of our freedom and democracy. I look forward to seeing our students contribute to our schools in this way. Each day in our schools, the children of Thorp are taught directly and by example how to respect others no matter their skin color, family income, or religious background. We should all recognize the important role we play in this community, helping children and young adults learn how to live peacefully and to thrive, together. Mr. John Neira, one of our Kindergarten teachers, is demonstrating our nation’s resolve in the face of adversity as he deploys to Florida with the National Guard. Elementary Principal Tyler Nelson updated the staff with this message of support, “Texas and Florida have been hit hard over the last couple of weeks and these communities and their residents have hope because of people like Mr. Neira. On behalf of our staff, I want to thank Mr. Neira for his continued service to our country. I think it is also appropriate to recognize all the men and women who support our country in so many ways. We wish Mr. Neira the best and look forward to his return. Please keep Mr. Neira and all the families impacted by these tragic events in your thoughts.”

The district’s policy on bullying and harassment puts in writing some of those basic values we share in our country--the freedom to pursue our dreams and to access a solid education for example. The policy helps guide the behaviors of adults and students in our schools and was last modified in 2010. It has general definitions and guidelines for investigation and responses to bullying and harassment. In reviewing the policy, administrators in the district have agreed that we could expand the definitions and that more specific guidance about responses would be helpful. For example, rather than just suggesting that bullies be punished, is there an opportunity to hold them accountable and teach them different behaviors? A policy change could clarify how that might work, who would be involved, and how to escalate to the next level if the first step isn’t effective.

As you may have read in the Courier article two weeks ago, we would like community input on the proposed policy changes and we welcome community members to join us for two meetings on the topic. They will take place from 5:15-6:15 on Tuesdays September 19th and October 3rd. In the first meeting, we will review the current policy and discuss some things we would like to change. We will introduce a model policy that we have been studying. In the second meeting, we will review the model policy in more depth and have a chance to discuss ideas for changes. We can consider the need for a final meeting either before or after the October 18th school board meeting. Please contact me at the school district office if you would like to join us--I would like to know how many people to make copies for, so please RSVP at 669-5401. We will meet in the Board room at the High School or in the Elementary Library, depending on the number of people we have.

Thanks for your interest.

Sincerely,

John Humphries

Superintendent

October 2, 2017: Invitation to Annual Meeting

With today’s article, I’m glad to invite the Thorp community to the annual school district meeting. We’ve got school kicked off for the year, our new website is coming together nicely with a new look and improved navigation, and it’s time for us to hold our annual meeting. This is the meeting where voters and taxpayers have an opportunity to weigh in on the operations of the school district. In some districts, this meeting amounts to a small handful of people who meet to approve the school tax levy for the year. I would like to involve more people in this important meeting, and by working with the school board and members of my staff, we have an expanded agenda and some new opportunities that we hope will encourage more people to join us as we gather on October 23rd in the High School Multipurpose Room at 6:30 P.M.

First, we will have food and music! Our students will play selected musical pieces, and we will share a variety of desserts along with some other treats provided by Market & Johnson, the company that will manage our construction project this spring. Our school board will be introduced and thanked for their service, and I will have a chance to introduce the community to some key leadership personnel in the district. In the last year, the board has hired a new leader in every one of the four administrative positions, and we believe it’s important that you know a little about us. More importantly, I want to share the state of the district, the achievement levels of our students, and the directions we hope to be moving in the coming year. This will allow me to reflect on my first four months in the district and to share the good news and the challenges we face.

After my brief presentation, Justin Geissler of Market & Johnson and Thorp HS Grad Robbie Krzyzanowski of Wendel Corporation have been invited to share updates on the building project. This will be our first opportunity to share drawings of the new entry into the high school, the athletic additions, and the new floorplans. We hope to have some color schemes and ideas about flooring and other improvements that will be part of the project. Please join us to see what the future holds!

And finally, we will review the school district’s budget, and ask to you approve the tax levy needed to educate our students. The budget is being published in the Courier for the next 2 weeks, and by the time of the meeting there are going to be some changes as aid and property valuation information is made available by the state. We expect that our tax rate will be $7.52/$1000 of property plus $0.94 for the referendum debt, for a total mill rate estimate of $8.46. This is an increase of $0.73 over the 2016-17 actual mill rate of $7.73 and will remain one of the lowest in the area. The referendum estimate the district used was an $0.80 increase, so we have been able to reduce costs and borrow at very attractive rates resulting in lower expenses than were approved in the referendum. I look forward to sharing more good news with you on October 23rd at 6:30 PM at Thorp High School!


October 3, 2017: School Board Appreciation Week

Last week, the Thorp School District joined school districts throughout the state in saluting our local education leaders during Wisconsin School Board Week.

The commemorative week is designed to recognize the contributions made by Wisconsin's school board members, including the Thorp School Board, who are charged with governing public education under state law.

Wisconsin school board members are chosen by their communities to manage local schools. They oversee multi-million dollar budgets which fund education programs for more than 867,000 students in more than 420 public school districts. Their personnel decisions affect thousands of teachers, administrators and support workers. In Thorp, our board oversees the education of more than 600 students and 75 employees. The district is one of the largest employers in the community.

School board members are volunteer leaders, responsible for formulating school district policy, approving curricula, maintaining school facilities, and adhering to state and federal education law. Legal concerns and the complexities of school finance, including budgeting and taxation, require them to spend many hours in board training programs and personal study to enhance their understanding of these issues.

Our deepest appreciation is extended to the dedicated people who make it possible for local citizens to participate in education in our community. We salute the public servants of the Thorp School Board whose commitment and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible: President Marie Karaba, Vice President Dave Burke, Treasurer Brenda Henke, Clerk Jeanette Kodl, and Member Ty Schneider.

Please join us by saying thanks to our school board members during Wisconsin School Board Week!