Gursirat and Hargun Toor, and their mother, Harjinder Singh receives a warm welcome back by Wheatland teachers Sara Graham, Alison Cable and Janet Kordus on Aug. 30. Gursirat enters the third grade while Hargun starts the seventh grade (Submitted/The Report).

Teachers visit homes to prepare students for year

By Jason Arndt

Wheatland Center School teachers were on a mission to welcome students back last week when the staff made house calls for the second straight year.

The Aug. 30 mission, according to Wheatland District Administrator Marty McGinley, was designed to relieve jitters students often have before school starts.

“Each year we work to reduce anxiety in our students so that they feel comfortable and are able to learn at an optimal level,” he said. “This was simply the next step in building those relationships with our students and families.”

To bolster relationships, the 40 teachers boarded five busses, and greeted students at their doors by inviting them to the recently held open house.

While teachers gave hugs, they also distributed spirit items, handed out treats and gave students high fives.

The teachers, meanwhile, saw it as an opportunity to end their in-service day.

“Teachers teach because they love their students, and to see their students’ face light up when we walk down the driveway, puts us all in the right frame of mind for why we do what we do,” McGinley said.

For Principal Drew Halbesma, he did not know who got the most out of the event, the teachers or students.

“I am not sure who had more fun, the students or the teachers,” Halbesma wrote in a news release. “It says a lot about our team at Wheatland. When it comes to doing things for kids, there is no better staff in the state.”

McGinley, who credited Halbesma for the idea last year, said the community outreach event gives students and families a head start to the school year.

House calls also offered parents relief, McGinley said, noting they are ready to send their children back to school.

“Some parents even commented that as summer comes to a close they too are ready for students to go back to school,” McGinley said in an earlier news release.

As the teachers completed their mission Aug. 30, the district could add a van next year, with hopes of visiting open enrolled students.

Larger need
In 2017, the event carried a larger purpose for the community, which was affected by July’s flooding event near the Fox River.

McGinley said the unprecedented floods, and struggles families have endured, served as motivation for the teachers.

“We had multiple families impacted by the flooding and several of our staff members have made trips to the area near the river behind Luisa’s Pizza,” McGinley said. “They have delivered supplies to those in need both in the midst of the flood and since then.”

Throughout the summer, the school stayed in contact with affected families, offering services wherever possible.

Of all the families affected, one has still not returned home, but Wheatland is addressing their needs.

In addition to Wheatland Center School, Riverview School offered community supports, including the use of its facility to host the multi-agency support meeting after the floods.

“We had representation at the multi-agency support night at Riverview and were able to identify some of the families in need,” McGinley said.


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