Success Stories

Waupaca Learning Center El

Grade Level: Elementary
Region: South

Our Success Story

“The Waupaca Way”

Developing a Culture of Common Language and Expectations Across the Community

Staff commitment and persistent effort are what it takes for a school to implement a culturally responsive multi-level system of support. The Waupaca Learning Center has achieved the distinction of being recognized in the content areas of reading, math, and behavior by the Wisconsin RtI Center. This is no small feat. However, staff would be the first to say they still have work to do.

The Waupaca Learning Center began its implementation journey ten years ago focusing on the academic content areas of reading and math. Four years into the process, John Erspamer arrived as the new building principal. This change in leadership led to an overhaul of RtI, implementing a leadership team and incorporating more data. The school continues to build a continuum of academic supports to meet the needs of all learners.

During John’s first year as building principal, it did not take long for him to realize that it would be beneficial to explore options for developing a school-wide behavioral supports system that would meet the needs of all learners. He recognized the need to change the school culture from a reactive system to a positive, preventative, and proactive system. John also knew this was a deep systems change that would require careful implementation planning to create staff buy-in and sustainability.

John explored the PBIS framework and felt it was a good match for students in Waupaca. He was able to hire a full-time PBIS coordinator to support the implementation process. A collective leadership model was strategically established with a leadership team composed of strong team members who would create excitement around PBIS and promote teacher buy-in.

The Waupaca Learning Center’s implementation process is grounded in making decisions based on data. The leadership team consistently uses the PBIS and academic self-assessment tools to evaluate their system’s implementation - noting areas of strengths and opportunities for growth. Staff participates in the All-Staff Perception Survey and the Self-Assessment Survey (SAS) to identify their perceptions of the implementation status and obtain feedback on priorities for action planning.

Over the years, the Waupaca Learning Center has established a strong, school-wide foundation built on effective collaborative structures with multiple expertise and community partnerships supporting the work. The team established systematic procedures such as meeting routines and protocols which led to an efficient and effective use of time. For example, Tier 2 meetings always begin with a systems-level discussion then moves to a student-level discussion.

Data is collated and is an integral part of the team’s discussion and decision-making. The diverse expertise of the team provides multiple lenses and perspectives as to how to best meet the needs of their students. As a result of their integrated efforts and effective processes, the team would agree, “Of the 700 students in this building, there isn’t a student that we don’t know about if they are struggling in reading, math, behaviorally, or socially/emotionally.”

The Learning Center, along with the other schools in the district, have built a culture of common language and agreed-upon practices that extend beyond the walls of the school buildings. The schools built partnerships with the Waupaca Area Public Library and Community Recreation Center. “The Waupaca Way- Be Responsible. Be Respectful. Be Safe. Be Prepared.” is infused throughout the community and students are reinforced with the common language and expectations throughout their day whether they are in school, at home, or in the community.

Staff members at the Waupaca Learning Center work hard to keep the momentum going. They are seeing positive student outcomes and want to continue to work towards the goal of all students being good, productive citizens.

Our School

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1515 Shoemaker Rd
Waupaca, WI 54981-2093