Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 14-01-2016

It is about this time every year I am questioned why Ellendale does not have a peewee wrestling program like other schools.  Well the answer is simple….

**DISCLAIMER** Before I tell you my answer I want to come clean and state I have a child that participated one year in peewee.  He is also now a varsity wrestler so I do have an interest in this program, and it being successful.  Yes, I am biased **

For Ellendale School to have a program similar to Oakes, or Webster S.D., or any place else really boils down to one thing – YOU!  Each of the programs mentioned benefits greatly from a few highly motivated and dedicated community members or parents willing to get the season started every year.  Some note that EPS has programs for little basketball or football players and chastises me for a lack of support for wrestling.  The peewee basketball program several years ago and now were run by volunteers interested in that sport.  The peewee football program is also organized and run by parent and community volunteers.  EPS stands ready to help, but again we need YOU!

At the present time Ellendale has a contract with our varsity coach to coach a peewee program but this is not feasible, within his limited time, until the end of the varsity season.  I realize many schools start as early as Dec 1st, but this is commonly due to the work of the aforementioned volunteers.  The EPS Athletic program and THUNDER are anxiously awaiting YOU or some other individual that would be willing to head up or assist with our program.  You don’t need a degree in coaching.  You don’t need to be a past state champion in wrestling.  You only need to have an interest, pass a back ground check, and a willingness to help some kids learn more about this outstanding sport.  Come on!  If people in the community want a program like (insert name here) then you must step up and take action.  We are waiting for you.

If you are interested please contact Mr. Matt Herman, Activities Director, at (701) 349-3232 today.





Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 13-01-2016

North Dakota Century Code 15.1-07-2 requires school districts to conduct a long term planning meeting every even numbered year.  This is intended to provide an opportunity for the Board and community to review  and address the effects that demographics might have on the district in the ensuing three-year and five-year periods, and specifically addressing potential effects on: a. Academic and extracurricular programs; b. Instructional and administrative staffing; c. Facility needs and utilization; and d. District tax levies.

The Ellendale School Board has set this meeting for Monday, Feb 8th at 6:45.  The presentation given the Board and community at that time will also be published online for all community members to review.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 06-01-2016

The need for teachers has been a reoccurring topic in both South Dakota and North Dakota for several years.  It was thought to be more significant in South Dakota, and that may be so, but according to a recent story in the FORUM it is a growing concern here as well.

“Halfway through the school year, more than 200 teaching jobs remain vacant in North Dakota’s public schools after a “community experts” pilot program aimed at easing the state’s teacher shortage failed to fill a single slot.” (Forum, January 5, 2016)

The story in the Forum focused on the lack of help from a one-year program designed to allow some without teaching degrees to fill specified vacancies.  What many don’t realize is that this list of possible positions is very narrow and does not include core subjects.  Thus North Dakota continues to have vacancies the following vacancies: 35 in CTE, 32 in Social Studies, and 28 in Special Education.   This in comparison to 65 teaching openings posted in South Dakota (www.asbsd.org Jan 6, 2016).   So neither state is flush with teaching candidates.

So what are some reasons for the shortage?

Promotion – How many parents today are encouraging their child to become a teacher?  Personally, I have had one of my children consider going into law enforcement.  My response, “Really, son is that what you want to do?” Then I turn on the news and reinforce that today’s society appears to have little respect or admiration for law enforcement, and by the way you will do that job for little money.  Isn’t that the same for the teaching profession?  Turn on the news.  How often is the profession raised up and admired enough by adults to cause their children to consider it as a career.  More often than not, parents are responding to their child’s inquiry to become a teacher as I did to my son about being a cop, negatively.

Autonomy – Almost everyone has a boss.  Even CEO’s have a board they must report to.  Yet, autonomy in one’s job is a strong indicator or happiness and satisfaction.  Educators today have lost almost all their autonomy to do the job they are trained to do.  Why would any young person look fondly on a profession that is significantly regulated from the top-down?  Kids in our high schools see teachers being threatened and disrespected more and more by students and parents.  They fully realize they have to be ready to plan for lessons but also bombs and active shooters.  They see teachers spending more time preparing for tests and frustrated.  Thus, that office job at Microsoft in Fargo looks better and better and they go for it.

Compensation – Some want to dismiss this but let’s be honest.  A student today can become a nurse and  earn on average $26/hr ($54,000/yr) or start as a North Dakota teacher for about $34,000/yr.  In addition that new nurses at Sanford (Modernhealthcare.com, Jan 1, 2016) will be getting a $20,000 signing bonuses.  Wow that would seem simple.  Knowing both will leave a North Dakota university with 40-60K in debt which would you choose?  In addition, unknown to many outside of the profession, North Dakota teachers will then contribute commonly 12% of that salary to NDTFFR.  That does not leave much left to pay the rent.

So what can we do?

The answer will have to be multi-faceted and it will not be corrected quickly.  I have proposed to several legislators a need to develop a program to pay off new teacher’s higher education debt.  I believe this would be enticing to some students and their parents.  Would you encourage your child to pursue a career in education if they could write-off their college debt after 5-6 years of teaching?  I also believe we need to promote the profession.  We need to work as earnestly as Sanford on shining the positive light on teaching and recruit the best and brightest like they do.  Schools don’t have the combined corporate presence that can be accomplished by Sanford or Microsoft but we are going to have to figure out a way to do it.  We need to start reaching our young people in elementary school, to get them to see the wonders and benefits of becoming a teacher.

Teacher shortage is a real concern and very shortly there will not be a school in North or South Dakota that is not feeling the pinch, cutting programs, or increasing class sizes.  It is going to be inevitable.  But, with some work today we can start to turn the tide.

** After Thoughts ** As a teacher myself it is a tremendously rewarding and enjoyable career.  I would not change it for the world.  I am just glad someone turned me on to it many years ago.