Governor Walker Tours National Blue Ribbon Award Nominee School — Mountain Bay Elementary
On Tuesday, April 11, Governor Scott Walker, joined by Representative Pat Snyder and Representative John Spiros, visited Mountain Bay Elementary School — one of eight Wisconsin schools to be nominated for a National Blue Ribbon Award for closing the achievement gap. Principal Patrick Phalen and Superintendent Kristine Gilmore accompanied the group on a tour of the school, visiting the first and second grade mixed-age classrooms of Peter Tabor and Tara Slagoski. The students proudly displayed their use of QR codes and iPads in the classroom to the legislators and shared the latest drafts of a writing assignment that required students to address and solve a real-world personal challenge. Governor Walker, noting the teachers’ innovative use of flexible learning spaces, commented that the school was “ahead of the curve” in providing students with a variety of environments in which to learn according to their personal preferences.
The legislators then visited the classroom of Art Teacher Connie Graham. Mrs. Graham outlined the students’ current project — designing, creating and engineering a metal imprint car. Students read Chris Van Dusen’s “If I Built a Car,” then studied principles of automobile design. Having completed their sketches, students then transferred their design to thin metal plates to complete the imprint. Mrs. Graham noted, “Mr. Van Dusen’s book is very engaging and these students are particularly creative. When you combined that with the students’ knowledge of design, math and engineering — the result is amazing car designs.”
Following the tour, Governor Walker held a press conference attended by members of the D.C. Everest (DCE) administration, DCE principals, DCE School Board members and third, fourth and fifth grade members of the Mountain Bay Student Council. Walker noted that one of his constituents’ biggest concerns is workforce opportunity. He emphasized the important role of education in building a strong Wisconsin workforce and discussed his budget proposal, which includes increased spending on K-12 education.
Members of the Mountain Bay Elementary Student Council then posed a series of questions for the Governor. When asked whether he planned to run for re-election, Walker noted that, “I like the idea of running again because I’ve never been more optimistic about where things are going in this state.” Students also asked about his duties as Governor, the process of running for office, why he chose to run for Governor and what he planned to do for public education. A fourth grade student, who will be touring Madison and the state capital later in the week with his classmates, asked if he would see Governor Walker in Madison. Walker responded that he would be touring the state at that time and therefore miss the students, but assigned the student with some homework while touring the capital building — figuring out who Old Abe is. When asked what his favorite part of being Governor is, Walker responded, “Touring the state and seeing the schools, the hospitals, the businesses. People are proud of what they do and where they work. That’s what I like best.”
Principal Phalen noted, "It is an honor to host a visit from our state leader, Governor Walker. Being chosen for such an honor is a testament to the great work our students, staff and District do on a daily basis." Superintendent Gilmore, who provided Governor Walker with an #EverestStrong t-shirt designed by DCE student entrepreneurs, thanked the Governor for visiting the school adding that it is important that all students throughout the state have access to the opportunities education can provide them. “Our District has made every effort to ensure that each student in our District is provided with the skills they need to succeed in life, a career and post-secondary education. Mountain Bay has done an exceptional job at closing the achievement gap among students, which is why the school has been nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Award.” She concluded, “We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase our accomplishments to the Governor and demonstrate how digital technologies and personalized learning provide equal opportunity for all of our students.”