On Thursday night, dozens of people from different organizations sat down at tables in the East High School cafeteria to brainstorm ideas to improve schools in the Green Bay Area Public School District.
“We just want to help students and help their families as well, I really think it’s easier to build a student than it is to fix an adult,” Nic Dykstra, a youth pastor at Central Church in Green Bay, said. “And so can we find a way to help these students where they’re at right now, so that we don’t have to worry about them later on when they’re adults.”
School district superintendent Michelle Langenfeld held a news conference at the end of June, asking for the public and community organizations to come forward with ideas to help change the culture at schools.
Langenfeld’s news conference was in response to a Washington Middle School resigning over bad student behavior and students’ attitudes toward faculty.
The school district invited everyone who had reached out wanting to help to come to the roundtable activity on Thursday.
Members of organizations who walked into the cafeteria grabbed a marker and sat down at a table with a large sheet of paper sprawled across it.
At each of the five tables, there was a question attendees had to respond to about improving the school district.
Comments were unfiltered, honest, and real.
“A lot of these issues I think stem from sometimes at-home issues, whether it’s poverty at home, or an absent father, or an absent mother, or different issues like that,” Dykstra said about why students may be acting out in schools.
Each group had eight minutes to write down their feedback for the district, then moved onto the next table for the next question.
“That’s kind of one of my biggest pushes, is that are we understanding our culturally diverse students? Are we meeting the needs of families and volunteers that are culturally diverse? Are we welcoming them into our schools?” Jamie Froh Tyrrell, a former GBAPS school teacher, who now works in the education department of UW Green Bay.
The activity was facilitated by a group called CESA 7.
CESA 7 will take all the comments, unfiltered, and turn them over to the school district for them to read and use to think of new programs and changes to the schools.
“You can see in this kind of a format, nobody’s really afraid to talk,” Jeff Dickert, agency administrator from CESA 7, said. “And the facilitators are from the community, not from the schools, so in this process they feel very free to talk about what can we do in the community to make Green Bay public schools better.”