April 23, 2003 12:25 AM

More R.I.-Milan district teachers to be trained in problem-solving program

By Robin J. Youngblood, Staff writer

ROCK ISLAND -- When many Rock Island-Milan students have a problem, they and their teachers can turn to Koalaty Kid to find a solution.

The problem-solving program, which the district began using about 18 months ago, is available at 13 of 16 Rock Island-Milan Schools. More teachers will be trained in the technique next school year, district staff members told the school board during an update Tuesday night.

Jay Marino, assistant superintendent of curriculum, and several teachers said they have seen Koalaty Kid work at district schools. The number of teachers trained as facilitators to help other instructors grew from two to 17.

Students, teachers, staff and the whole school can use Koalaty Kid in every aspect of learning and life, Mr. Marino said. At school, kids and teachers use the program's ``Plan, Do, Study, Act'' method to improve everything from reading and math skills to lunchroom behavior, they said.

It teaches everyone to choose something they struggle with, such as math story problems, and then develop an improvement plan with their teacher.

The program has several tools to design the improvement plan, such as flow-charts, diagrams and brainstorming techniques, they said.

Several board members spoke in support of the presentation from Mr. Marino and facilitators Roger Akers from Thomas Jefferson Elementary and Carol Schoening from Earl Hanson Elementary.

However, new board member Earl Strupp said he's seen quite a few programs while he was a teacher, and many did not produce results. Even when a program worked, the administrator supporting it would leave the district and the ideas went with them, he said.

``I've got an open mind,'' he said. ``I'm just going to be cautious.''

Board president Elma ``Mooch'' Gay and others at the meeting said they've seen the results and teachers' commitment to Koalaty Kid.

``The difference I've seen (with this program) ... is that the buy-in is from all levels,'' she said.

Earl Hanson teacher Sandy Hovonick said she's also seen the improvements and will use Koalaty Kid even if an administrator leaves the district.

``I have never seen a program where so many teachers have asked to be trained,'' she said. ``I have really been impressed.''

Mr. Marino said Koalaty Kid doesn't rely on one person to make it work. Many district teachers are trained to use the techniques. By the end of the next school year, every teacher will be able to use Koalaty Kid.

The next board meeting is 6 p.m. May 13 in the Rock Island High School Library.

In other business, the board:

-- Accepted a policy about time outs and physical restraints for students. Board member Linda Dothard said physical restraint or isolation will be used only when students might hurt themselves or others.

-- Accepted the resignation of Bruce Bufe, assistant superintendent of Title I and reading, and assigned Longfellow principal Bill Osborne to that position.

-- Sue Reading, assistant superintendent of pupil personnel, resigned.

-- Approved school improvement plans for Thurgood Marshall Learning Center and Edison Junior High School.

-- Learned Ms. Gay met with Ametra Carrol of Rock Island about ``giving teeth'' to a resolution about raising the drop-out age from 16 to 18. Ms. Carrol is asking law makers and school boards to sign the resolution. Ms. Gay said they are gathering information about the issue.

Staff writer Robin Youngblood can be reached at (309) 786-6441, Ext. 257, or by e-mail at robiny@qconline.com.