I was born and raised in Lyndon, Illinois on our family farm. I attended Prophetstown Schools. After high school I attended Mount St. Clare College and played basketball. I later coached High School Football for East Central High School in Miles, Iowa.
This will be my 17th year in education and my 9th year at Midland. I taught the first eight years of my career in Sparta, Illinois in Southwestern Illinois. I taught 8th grade Social Studies, coached basketball and was the Middle School Athletic Director. During my tenure I also attended graduate school at McKendree University and obtained my administrative license.
I have been married to my wife Michelle for fifteen years. We have two children, 10 year old Macie and 6 year old Ava. My favorite restaurant is Neil and Shorty's BBQ in Princeton, IL. My favorite television show is Chicago PD. My favorite book is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (I highly recommend it!). I'm a diehard Chicago sports fan (I should pick teams better!). I'm also involved with my daughter's travel softball team and can be found on a diamond or in a gym watching my wife coach high school basketball if I'm not at the middle school.
I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to work with you this year! There are lots of good things going on here at Midland Middle School so stop in and see us sometime! Until then, it’s a great day to be a Timberwolf!
Recently, I found myself focusing too much on negativity. Too much work, too much going on with my kids schedules, not enough family time, too much covid and the list went on and on. I wasn’t being supportive enough in my opinion due to all the negativity. I can’t stand negativity and I knew I had to make a change in perspective. I made a personal commitment to find the light each day after Thanksgiving. No matter the day, find the light. It worked. For a day. Then last week’s unthinkable tragedy hit our district. Through tears and hugs, I was determined to not only find my light, but help others find theirs. We showed our students we cared about them. When dried tears, gave another hug and just stopped to listen. We had students wanting to talk about struggles, while others just wanted to sit for a minute. My light shone bright when I received a note from a student checking on me. The note went on to say that while I tell all of them (the students) we love them everyday, they hoped that I knew the feeling was mutual. I told the student that it took a minute for the note to be emailed, but sure meant a whole lot.
When the pandemic first hit, not having the students in the building with us was extremely difficult. I missed having the building full of kids. Maybe not all the noise, but I sure did miss the kids! My worry wasn’t the learning loss during the pandemic, but the loss of togetherness we lost. Studies are now being done on the emotional stress we are all dealing with. The results, thus far, are frightening. We must do better to care for one another. We have to. Mr. Gauwitz sent out various resources last week to our community. If you didn’t see them, we have them posted on our website and I’d be happy to send them home to you.
One of the most important aspects of all of this that I want to emphasize with you is communication. I am a parent of two elementary girls. Each night we make a point to talk about our days. My house, like yours, typically plays out the same way. “How was school?” “Fine.” End of conversation. I am just as guilty of moving on. So, we make a collective effort to try other things. Tell me how lunch was? Explain this Math to me (we all need that, right?). What did Mr. Sams have to say today? The dialogue isn’t always great, but it’s a start. I take the same approach with the students. I love talking with them. About anything. I may not know everything, but I can tell you over the years I’ve learned about a lot of things from our students! I don’t hunt, but I sure do love listening to our students tell of their recent experience. I don’t know much about cars, or engines, but I sure do love having students tell me about their dirt bikes. We’ve talked about fun stuff, family stuff, sad stuff and silly stuff.
I lead with that to bring up this. A friend shared a fantastic post on social media the other day. The post was about an interaction between Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. The story is below.
"Today was a Difficult Day," said Pooh. There was a pause. "Do you want to talk about it?" asked Piglet. "No," said Pooh after a bit. "No, I don't think I do." "That's okay," said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend. "What are you doing?" asked Pooh. "Nothing, really," said Piglet. "Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don't feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either. "But goodness," continued Piglet, "Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you've got someone there for you. And I'll always be here for you, Pooh." And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right."
I share this post with you for one reason. Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs a piglet in their life. Someone they can talk to about anything or just have them sit with them for a minute. The power of presence is in full swing in this story. So, for you, our students and our staff, if you ever need a piglet, give me a call. I’d be happy to be your piglet, anytime.
Mr. Janssen, Principal
I wanted to take a minute to talk about some of the tools we are using in our classrooms. Over the past few years Midland CUSD 7 has made a great commitment to upgrading our technology we offer our students and parents. This commitment has resulted in a new website, Chromebooks and an infrastructure upgrade to handle the increased technology. In the middle school when I arrived 4 years ago there were two computer labs with older desktop machines. In the 4 years since we've reduced our computer labs to one, but that lab was refitted with all new computers. We also added a STEM LAB with new computers that have a variety of programs on them including drafting and 3D printing programs. Nearly all of our classrooms are also now equipped with Chromebooks with enough for each student.
Your students will be utilizing their Chromebooks on a near daily basis. You may hear a phrase from our building called 1 to 1 or 1:1. This is a ratio showing the amount of technology available per student. We are very nearly there in this building. At this point, the Chromebook carts are assigned to various classrooms throughout the building. The Chromebook doesn't travel with the student. Each student has an individual log in that they use.
Many of our teachers are using a program called Google Classroom. Midland CUSD 7 is a Google school. We utilize many parts of Google Suite (gmail, docs, sheets, slides and calendars). Teachers utilize Classroom to post classroom assignments, homework reminders or other various topics they want students to review. Students can log in and see other students questions and help their fellow students. I remember last year a teacher coming to my office to show me a message posted by a student on her classroom page. The student was asking for help on a problem. Before the teacher could answer, several students saw the post and helped walk the student through the problem. What great classmates! Students can access Classroom from home on a desktop computer or can download the classroom app to a mobile device.
Also parents, ask your child's teacher about their Google classroom account as parents can be added to get updates from the class as well. We also have many teachers using a program called Remind that will send a text message at the end of each day with what your child will have for homework that night. Again, please talk to your child's teacher to see if they are using Classroom, our website Edlio (mms.midland-7.net) or using Remind. Finally, Google Classroom also updates on some our teacher webpages. If you can subscribe to a teacher’s web page to receive updates as teachers post information or assignments.
Our goal is to nurture an environment of 21st Century Learning Skills. Many of these skills like collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking activities are at the core of our instructional practices. Thanks for reading and as always, there are a lot of great things going on a Midland Middle School so stop in and see us sometime. Until then, it's a great day to be a Timberwolf!