Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our Land of Many Waters

Our Land of Many Waters

Our district is filled with waters, which, like all things, diverge and converge. Due to our relative elevation, waters collect into streams and rivers here, and leave our district rather than enter it. Our part of Indiana was well-described in the 1857 Henry County Atlas as “...inclined to be wet” and in the 1884 Henry County Atlas, “The land is watered by numerous streams which flow toward all points of the compass….”

Big Blue River (often unfortunately shortened to simply “Blue River” in common use -  which is a shame) runs for about 84 miles from northeast to southwest across Indiana. Its source is now technically the discharge from the dam at Summit Lake, at 40⁰ 01’ 26.79” north, and 85⁰ 19’ 35.70 west. At this source, in normal weather, the river is about 5 feet wide.  

If you went all the way back to the easternmost source before Summit Lake was built - which has been described as having been a “a powerful bubbling spring” (artesian wells are still common throughout our district) somewhere in the Summit Lake area - it could add a bit to the river’s length. But if you examine historical maps and documents, the accepted source of Big Blue River is a small creek rising at about 1100 feet above sea level which starts southeast of the intersection of Hwy 36 and CR 500 east, in Blue River Township, about 2 miles due east of our campus. Using this source, you add 4.5 miles to the length of the river from the Summit Lake dam. Big Blue River then flows west from the dam and then flows south through the bed of the Blue River Valley - a valley that predates the current river.

The Flatrock River runs for about 98 miles from northeast to southwest across Indiana. Its source is a ditch at 40⁰ 00’ 13.08” north, and 85⁰ 14’ 48.08” west, rising at about 1130 feet above sea level.  This is the ditch that runs beneath Highway 36 about a quarter of a mile east of North Broad Street in Mooreland, only  2 miles from the source of the Big Blue River.  Near Shelbyville, some 40 miles downstream, these two rivers are nearly 17 miles apart, and then begin to come together again.

Other local waterways include Sugar Creek, which runs from a ditch near where Raider Road intersects Highway 38, about 10 miles southwest of our campus, and runs for about 83 miles, and ends near Edinburgh, and nearby Fall Creek which starts as a ditch between Honey Creek and Sulphur Springs, and flows for almost 60 miles through Henry, Madison and Hamilton before entering Geist Reservoir - and then exiting Geist Reservoir -  in Marion County, continues until it enters the White River at the White Water Parkway.

Buck Creek begins as a drainage ditch and creek bed just southeast of Buck Creek Church on Buck Creek Pike.  It flows north, just barely curving into Delaware County - actually coming within 5 miles of White River -  but then it it comes back into far northern Henry County -  and our district -  and then into the the Blue River Valley above the big northern bend.  It flows west and then north for another 20 miles as it is joined by the Little Buck Creek (which begins southwest of Mt. Summit and flows through Springport) at Luray. It then flows northwesterly until it joins the White River at Yorktown. What is commonly called the “White River” in East-central Indiana is technically the “West Fork of the White River”, the formerly-named “Opeecomecah” or “Wapahani” River,  which runs for over 300 miles.

But all of these waters, after departing from our district, do all come together again.

About 70 miles southwest of here, just west of Edinburgh and a few miles north of Columbus, Big Blue River joins Sugar Creek and becomes the Driftwood River.  The Driftwood River then joins the Flatrock River just west of Columbus, and then the river becomes the “East Fork of the White River.” The East Fork then runs southwesterly for almost 200 miles - all over the place and in every direction,  to join the West Fork of the White River near Petersburg, and from there flows westerly to join the Wabash River at Mt Carmel, Illinois, where the two rivers are each about 500 feet wide, combine into a river now 1000 feet wide, and then flow south into the Ohio River.

As an aside, in the extreme southeastern part of our District, White Branch Creek very quickly departs our district and county and joins Nettle Creek near Dalton Road in Wayne County, which flows into the Whitewater River which rises near Modoc and flows through Hagerstown, Cambridge City, Brookville, crosses into Ohio south of  I-74, and then into the Great Miami River and the Ohio River near the I-275 bridge.
Truly, a region of “numerous streams which flow toward all points of the compass"…. and Big Blue River is our own.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Van Nuys Earthworks Site

Van Nuys Earthworks Site

In the graphic below you can see the original survey (in grey) of the earthworks at Van Nuys, overlooking Little Blue River. It is overlaid on a satellite image (Google Earth, in green) of the area of the bluff southeast of intersection of Hwy 103 and CR 200 N - about 3 miles southwest of our campus. Dr. Walter Van Nuys was the superintendent of the Epileptic Village in the area, and the site is named after him.

This was the former site of the administration buildings of the State Hospital and later used as “North Campus” for New Castle Schools.  I have added all of the labels.

Red Circles indicate the rough locations and the relative sizes of the mounds.

They’re faint, but in the original grey map (overlaid) the mounds are numbered, while lettered structures are former hospital facilities. All but three mounds are now gone.

Alignment and relationship between the “Great Mound” and the smaller mounds.

At 40° North Latitude the declination of sunrise and sunset from true east at the solstices is approximately 30° north in the summer and 30° south in the winter, and, like everywhere else on Earth, is at 90° and 270° at the equinoxes.  This alignment creates an equilateral triangle between sight points on the mounds.

There is also evidence of alignment to the ratio known as the “Golden Ratio” which is the ratio of 1 to 1.61. This has been recognized as an aesthetically and mathematically pleasing ratio in many cultures since very early times.

Below, in gold, it is the measure of the east-west distance between the “Great Mound” (Westernmost and largest mound) and the north-south line created by the northernmost and southernmost earthworks, and the north-south line created by the “corner” mounds.

Some of the relationships between lines appear to be the same ratio as is one to the square root of two. They are shown in a rust color. Many other mounds also have a 30° alignment as well, also shown in red.

(The image above shows what “archaeology” did to the site.)

We’ll remove the old grey survey drawing overlay on the image below to see the relationships more clearly.

The “Golden Spiral” is also found in the spacing between the center-line created by the Great Mound and the rest of the complex, as well at the proportions of the complex from east-to-west and from north-to-

If you connect the corners of the squares which are created by multiplying the side of the previous square by the golden ratio, the shape grows by the golden ratio and the arcs create a seashell shape as they grow.

The red arcs show two other examples of this “seashell” ratio in the design of the site.

It becomes even more clear that this is a sophisticated and complex calendar, carefully designed and obviously guided by generations of careful astronomy. You can see how the sight lines for the solstices and equinoxes and true north determine the whole composition.

In a moment we’ll subtract the background completely
and you can see the complexity of the design.

The structures, alignment, and science become art.  The aesthetic arrangements work precisely because it is science. All things art are science, and science, art.  This is very much more than dirt arranged to watch the sky.

We do, in fact, come to work each day about 3 ½ miles from what may be one of the largest works of art in Indiana.

Most of this site was pillaged by the early settlers, then the hospital construction started the major leveling of the site, which was finished by the Ball State University Archaeology department.  Only three small mounds remain, in pretty bad shape, all north of the old road.

And this very morning, Monday, March 20, at 7:46 am (local time), the sun will rise exactly along a path measured by each of those red east-west lines and will set that evening on the western horizon on a point perfectly opposite.  Art and science, observed and realized.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Traits / At-risk Traits Associated With Socio-economic Status (SES), Wages, And Educational Level

Traits / At-risk Traits Associated With Socio-economic Status (SES), Wages, And Educational Level

Sources CDC, Dept of Ed, Dept of HHS, Dept. of Labor, Dept of Justice, APA

 Below is some data we all should know about at-risk traits that impact our students. Bear in mind -  some of these traits are correlational but not necessarily causal - smoking is more likely in populations with low educational levels, but smoking does not cause you quit school. High-risk traits tend to be clustered in specific populations which makes many of them multi-categorical and frequently multi-generational.

The percentages of these at-risk traits that are impacting our communities is growing, and some of them are growing in Henry County at higher rates than other area counties. These traits have significant impacts on our students and families.

Rates that are unlabeled are national data.
State and County data are labeled as such.

Criminal Incarceration Rates

Percentage of Incarceration Rates and Education
56% of inmates in federal prisons did not complete high school.
67% of inmates in state prisons did not complete high school.
69% of inmates in local jails did not complete high school.

Poverty and Drug Use (including tobacco)

Studies show a positive correlation between poverty and drug use (including smoking).

Smoking Percentage in Henry County: 21.5%

Smoking Percentage By Education
45.3% of adults with a GED diploma.
34.6% of adults with 9–11 years of education.
23.8% of adults with a high school diploma.
9.3% of adults with an undergraduate college degree.
5.0% of adults with a postgraduate college degree.

Smoking Percentage By Poverty and Educational Status
29.0% of adults who live below the poverty level.
17.9% of adults who live at or above the poverty level.
Smoking is 50% more likely among people who have a disability or physical limitation.

Opioid (Morphine Derivatives) Dependence and Abuse in Indiana
The opioid addiction rate in Indiana is just under 12 persons per 1000. (119,000 people)
Area arrests for dealing narcotics has grown almost 400% from 2014.
90% of “poisoning deaths” in Indiana are drug overdoses.
Drug overdoes deaths in Indiana have risen from 184 in 1999 to 1152 in 2014.

The most common age cohort to die from drug overdose death in Indiana is 30-39.
13% of all Heroin overdose deaths in Indiana are aged 10 -19.
52,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015.
Total recorded US deaths Vietnam Conflict, all causes, 58,220.
We have an”overdose Vietnam” every single year in the United States.

Other Health Factors and Poverty

Obesity Percentage in Indiana: 31.3%
Adult Obesity rate in Henry County: 32.0%

Adult Obesity Percentage by Education Level
33% of adults who did not graduate HS are obese.
21% of adults who graduated from college are obese.

Adult Obesity Percentage by Household Income
33% of adults who earn less than $15,000 are obese.
25% of adults who earn more than $50,000 are obese.

Childhood Obesity Percentage by Parent Education
33% of children whose parents did not graduate HS are obese.
9% of children whose parents graduated from college are obese.

Obesity Impact / BMI (BMI=body mass index) on Life Expectancy
BMI of a “normal, healthy weight” = BMI of 18 to 25. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.
BMI (body mass index) of 40-49 reduces life expectancy by 6.5 years.
BMI of 55-59 reduces life expectancy by 13.7 years.

Marital Status, Race, Education, Unemployment and Education

Percentage Of Unmarried Mothers By Race And Education
72% of black children.
53% of Hispanic children.
29% of white children.
9%  of children whose mother had at least a bachelor’s degree.

Median Household Income and Poverty
Median Household income for India: $50,532
Median Household income for Henry County: $41,855
Single mothers: $26,000.
Married couples: $84,000.
Percent of single-mother households with household income which is less than half the poverty rate: 51.9%.
Percent of married couples with household income below the poverty rate: 7.6%.

Unemployment rates and education
Unemployment rate for Americans who did not complete High School 30.3%.
Unemployment rate for Henry County: 5.1%
Unemployment rate for all Americans: 4.9%.
Unemployment rate for Americans with college degrees: 2.1%.

Career Earnings and Education

Educational Level and Career Earnings (Synthetic Work-Life Earnings, determined by Dept of Labor)
None to 8th grade $936,000
9th to 12th grade $1,099,000
High school graduate $1,371,000
Some college $1,632,000
Associate’s degree $1,813,000
Bachelor’s degree $2,422,000
Master’s degree $2,834,000
Doctorate degree $3,525,000
Professional degree $4,159,000

Educational Readiness
School success and poverty (nationwide) comparing low SES to high SES
Student from lower SES families enter school about 3.3 grade levels below students from high SES families.
Students from lower SES families graduate school up to 4.3 grade levels below students from high SES families.
Students from lower SES families are twice as likely to have behavior problems.

Bottom line - do not be shy in discussion about
destructive decisions with our students.

The Indiana  counties with the most severe fatal drug overdose problems (OMP, or “Overdose Mortality Priority”) are Madison, Marion, Henry, and Vanderburgh counties. Henry County is in the top 10% of all Indiana Counties in Alcohol- and Drug-induced fatality rates.

Also, in 2015 1 in 10 live births in Henry County were to mothers less than 20 years old - making it likely that they are born into at least 4 at-risk categories (single mother, low education level mother, unemployed mother, poverty) if not more. In Delaware County it is about 1 in 12.  In Hamilton County the rate of teenage mothers out of all live births was 1 in 50.

There is nothing we can to that will help our students more than to constantly provide positive messages to keep them focused on being successful in school and to look beyond school, avoid addiction, learn to maintain a healthy body and to avoid unhealthy decisions, and postpone their first child until they are older, married and have a reliable and livable income.

As teachers, we do not have the option of pretending that all lifestyles are equal paths to success.  We can model and encourage constructive choices and reinforce good choices.

We need to ensure that we are providing supports and options for our students who are exposed to unhealthy lifestyles and encourage them to aspire to a lifestyle - and life - that will be likely to provide them with success in their lives. This does not mean preaching, discouraging or shaming - it means teaching, modeling, demonstrating and reinforcing.

A little bit of encouragement, trust, and confidence will go a long way. Your voices are heard and your actions are noticed. Sometimes teachers don't realize the impact that they can make on the rest of a student's life.

Friday, March 10, 2017


Digested from multiple sources

“Neurodiversity is a biological fact.  It’s not a perspective, an approach, a belief, a political position, or a paradigm.”
       Walker, Nick. "Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions."

For many years normalcy in the core factors of personality which define how people interact with others was based upon the postulate that extroverts made up most of the population and therefore extroversion was the normal human type. In recent years, however, we have come to understand that introversion and extroversion are related to how sensitive people are to external stimuli, and we now realize that both extroverted and introverted people are normal, just on different places on the sensitivity scale which alters their tolerances to stimulus.

Extroverts who work in education had to learn (Or, more accurately: are still struggling to learn…) how inappropriate it is to try to “fix” introverts, and introverts became much more able and empowered to communicate to others to quit bothering them.  

Serious and effective teachers no longer consider an introverted student (often very happy to be solitary and quiet) to have a disability that needs to be corrected. Introverted people are just a different personality type and they withdraw from excessive stimuli on purpose and we now understand how improper it is to force them into high-stimulus environments.

Now we are also faced with approaching some factors of diverse neurological conditions as being part of the normal range of human behavior and disposition, and ought to examine how we approach learning with these students. Advocates believe that atypical neurology is simply a variation of within the normal range of neurological function rather than a disorder that suggests pathology.

This corporation has no specific programming or practices based upon (or planned for) the following information, it is presented here only so that we, as a staff, are familiar with and keep current on in this area:

Neurotypical (NT)

The term Neurotypical (NT) describes students (and adults) without any authentic diagnoses of developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder / dyspraxia, or ADHD.  Literally - “Typical” behaviors associated with the largest part of the population. Sometimes people who are not autistic are called “allistic” in the ND community.

Neurodivergent (ND)

The term Neurodivergent (ND) describes students (and adults) whose learning styles  -  as related to a diagnosed neurological disability - are instead perceived to be only normal variations in intellectual and personality traits that come from the human genome. ND students may need some modifications and adaptations, but do not need to be “fixed” or “cured.”

Much of the ideas of ND thought came out of the “anti-cure” philosophy of the Autism Rights Movement which gained strength in the 1990s as autism diagnoses grew from 1 in 5000 in the mid-1970’s to 1 in 100 today.  It also uses a lot of the strategies of that were used to de-stigmatize ranges of sexual preference (other than strictly heterosexual) as a disorder.

People with ND diagnoses considered themselves to be in a population which was comparable to being homosexual or left-handed: a normal variation of the human population which did not need to be fixed, but which does create difficulties with functioning in mainstream populations. They are a minority of the population, but with distinct traits that are authentic representations of their ND status.

Some ND students would be also multi-categorical, and would have genuine disabilities in neurological function. In other words, in the ND philosophy, a student who is autistic and also low-IQ would need to have services to accommodate the intellectual function, and services to help the student learn to better interact with others, but not to fix or cure the atypical or asocial behavioral traits.


The other side of this is that we have arrived in the current neurological landscape after a period where NT parents of ND children have done most of the speaking for them. This conflict can be very heated in some circles.

The current generation of ND adults often find themselves in conflict with adult NT parents of ND children - parents who do have the best of intentions but who cannot truly understand what is going on inside the minds of their ND children. So we now also have a conflict between NT parents of ND children on one side, and adult ND persons on the other - and they are rarely in agreement of what is best for ND children.

As we have addressed before, this is very similar to parents and teachers of both special ed and very high IQ students - who are also categorized as ND by some sources. (A very young, autistic and high IQ introvert can be multicategorical in ways that their parents cannot possibly understand - but they know they love and want what is best for their student)  Hi IQ isn’t something that anyone would suggest we “cure” but it can certainly require that a High IQ student learn how to interact within a society where almost all of the rest of the population has a lower IQ.  This would be comparable to what the ND advocates are promoting.

The Autism Society of America states that: “Most of the enlightened world knows that autism is at its root, genetic, and therefore by definition it is not something that can be considered “curable” or a “disease.” And although we know that there are many “diseases” that are genetic and that can be treated in various ways, we can get their point.

Much more on this will be coming and we’ll see some genuine changes in approach in the next few years because more and more adult people who are ND will enter into fields of care and treatment. We’ll also start to see some changes in parental approaches as these adult ND advocates become more influential in the field, and changes in educational and instructional methodology for ND students will follow. We’ll also start to identify second generation ND students who have both an ND mother and an ND father.  And ND mom and ND dad, having grown up ND in an NT world, will be much more proactive in their child’s care and education.

“We don’t pathologize a calla lily by saying it has a ‘petal deficit disorder. Similarly, we ought not to pathologize children who have different kinds of brains and different ways of thinking and learning.

  -Thomas Armstrong

Friday, March 3, 2017

Professionalism – A list of lists

Professionalism – A list of lists

If you’ve been following the school news in Muncie, you’ve probably seen some of the debate over the question of teachers as professionals or not. We’ve always been subject to more criticism than most professionals, and lately as a political wedge between teachers and “professionals” on one side and lower wage-earners on the other. Plus, a lot of people just like criticizing teachers for their own reasons.

Professionalism is defined differently depending upon the sources you consider.  I remember even in undergrad and graduate classes talking about professions and professionalism, but rarely discussing why it was important to think of ourselves as professionals. Since teaching is a very accessible profession for people from all backgrounds and social classes, teachers do bring different values and ethics into the workplace. The same was true in the Army as well, although the term “professionalism” was used much more in common communication in the Army than it is in education, which I think is strange considering what we do every day.  

 It is commonly agreed that a profession is something more than “just a job” - and professionals are expected to be held to higher standards than common or unskilled labor.  

 People try to make lists of what is a “profession” and what is not, but we have all met people who are professionals in every job they’ve ever had, skilled or not, and we have all interacted with people in ‘professional’ positions who are nonetheless not performing like we’d want or expect from professionals.  When a person in any role fails to treat a customer appropriately we label them “unprofessional” and I think that is quite appropriate, regardless of their job, even if it is not a traditional “profession.”

I think the best, most inclusive definitions of a profession that I’ve found all seem to have among them a set of common descriptors, which are summarized in general terms below-

A profession is:

1.  A paid position that requires specific skills and knowledge.
2. That the needed skills and knowledge are acquired and formalized through a course of rigorous preparation that is codified by a college degree or professional association.
3.  Which requires a period of internship prior to full admission into the profession.
4.  Which requires licensure by a civil or professional authority.
5. Which has expectations of continuing education and professional development to remain current in the field.
6.  Which has its own code of ethics and accountability, because…

7. There is an explicit expectation of autonomy and independent work which is guided by the professional’s own training and experience - rather than constantly being directed and managed.

Outside of what the professions are, a true professional can also be described by summarizing the most common descriptors:

A professional is someone who:

1.  Always put the student / patients / clients / customers’ needs first.
2.  Follows the highest standards of integrity, courtesy, honesty and responsibility.
3.  Follows the highest standards of workplace performance.
3.  Works to remain current with the best practices in their field.
4.  Belongs to professional associations.
5.  Presents themselves as professionals in their bearing, image, and dress.
If you take a look at what educational professional organizations list as the key traits of professionalism for educators, you can organize them to create a “meta-list” of the following:

A professional educator is:

Accountable for their student’s learning and cares deeply about it.
Current in the field of effective pedagogy.
Knowledgeable in subject matter content.
Respectful and plainspoken.
Prepared to do the job.
Constantly communicating.

A professional educator does:

Put students first.
Strive for improvement and excellence.
Follow the canons of ethics and integrity.
Comply with federal and state law, corporation policies, building procedures and expectations and works to improve them when they become ineffective or outdated.
Maintain an appropriate image and dress.
Act with courtesy and respect.
Set the example and become a resource.
Avoid mixing any gossip, social media, or politics with work.

A professional educator has:

Established a stable and predictable learning- and student-centered learning environment.
Planned for every daily lesson.
Prepared for every daily lesson.
Created clear standards-based objectives for every lesson.
Administers authentic assessments.
High expectations for every single student.

Most of our teachers and non-certificated staff do most of these things already without even thinking of them as professional traits - they are just doing their job.  We have made great progress because of all of you who are doing your best every day. We have a simple target here at BRV - We WILL be the premier school in east-central Indiana. As many of you know, when you get in rare company, among the best-of-the-best, every detail matters.  John Wooden, who was born in Indiana and went on to win 10 NCAA championships at UCLA, started his season every year with teaching his team the way UCLA players are expected to tie their shoes.  

Now this story is interesting on the face of it, but it serves another purpose - professionals understand it right away and get it, while non-professionals think it is a quirky story told for laughs.

Success is always in the details - and professionals always notice the details.  We will succeed faster than competitor schools by getting more details done right more of the time - which is the ultimate mark of a professional.

There is a lot going on and every one matters - thank you all for what you do and three weeks until Spring Break…..