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Area principals working together

By Staff | Feb 21, 2014

Tim Chapman/PCT Cynthia Jelleberg, director of North Central Education Cooperative, leads a discussion with area principals on Wednesday at Dakota Farms.

Principals from nine schools met on Wednesday at Dakota Farms for the first of four North Central Education Cooperative meetings this year.

Twenty-one attendees, including two NCEC directors, discussed important issues affecting schools, ranging from how to best meet Common Core State Standards to drop-out prevention and parent evaluations.

“Collaborating with other people in the same industry is always beneficial,” Rugby Secondary Principal Jared Blikre said. “Bouncing ideas off each other, finding out what other people are doing, what’s working for you, what’s working for us, showing and sharing, and just getting together once in awhile is great.”?The NCEC was formed eight years ago, but the quarterly meetings started last year. NCEC director Cynthia Jelleberg can tell the meetings are already benefitting participating schools. The exchange of ideas allows principals to better address the changing landscape in public education. Principals hear what their contemporaries have tried and can learn of what strategies to avoid.

“That’s huge knowledge for them,” Jelleberg said. ” ‘Don’t try this approach, it won’t work. I’ve tried it,’ or ‘This has really worked. Attempt this.’ Just that sharing, it gives you a sense of community in itself.”

Jelleberg said the cooperative reminds educators that they don’t figure solutions out on their own. When the group first met last year, she remembers a quiet crowd of acquaintances, who knew each other mainly through athletic events between schools. Wednesday’s meeting included lively discussions.

“Even though we’re 19 miles from administrators in Rugby or 40 miles from administrators in Bottineau, we don’t talk a lot unless we get together at things like this,” said Scott Thorson, elementary school principal in Towner. “We find that our schools have a lot of the same things in common and it’s just fun to be able to bounce ideas off of people and hear what they’re saying about their issues and how they’re doing things. I think we all learn from each other.”

Area schools with representatives present included Rugby Public, Little Flower Catholic School, TGU, Bottineau, Drake-Anamoose, Dunseith, Harvey, Turtle Mountain and Westhope-Newburg.

“I think the great part of the meeting is how much collaboration they now do outside of these meetings,” said Shelly Hoerer, NCEC professional development director, “where they’re calling each other and saying, ‘How do you do this?’ So it’s not just these meetings anymore, it’s outside of them.”

For more information about NCEC visit the group’s website at ncecnorthdakota.org.

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