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Witt gets principal role

Well-known middle school teacher John Witt will oversee the school district's summer school program.

The night of Monday, June 20, the school board approved John Witt as summer school principal for the River Falls School District.

Witt has been teaching for 25 years. He teaches seventh grade math and reading at Meyer Middle School during the school year.

He said the best thing about summer school -- so far -- is the students.

"Just seeing the kids, seeing them excited about being here," said Witt.

The River Falls School District summer school program consists of a combination of remedial classes to give students academic assistance, and enrichment classes for students interested in certain specialized areas. Some enrichment classes this year include a young artist class, crime-scene mystery class, and a speed-and-strength training program for athletes.

The remedial classes began Monday, as did several of the enrichment classes. While enrichment classes do run on a more variable schedule than the remedial, basic skills classes

Some enrichment classes may last anywhere from four days to all summer, depending on the type of class. Basic skills classes run from June 20 to July 21.

With 325 students enrolled in basic skills classes, and 1,200 students enrolled in enrichment classes, Witt said the first day of summer school felt like any typical first day of school: Hectic.

"I was giving a lot of directions, walking kids to classes," said Witt.

It takes patience and resourcefulness, Witt said, to be summer school principal.

Witt said these qualities are also useful for a seventh grade math and reading teacher, but it is more important to enjoy working with children.

"I think you just need to be excited about kids and helping kids out," said Witt.

It was this excitement that brought him into the field of education in the first place.

"I just really had a passion for working with kids and helping youth," said Witt.

In his seventh grade classes, Witt tries to use a hands-on teaching style. He uses activities like dice games and mental math games to teach students about probability and negative numbers.

Witt's teaching methods often lead to another favorite teaching experience, what he calls an "ah-ha moment" -- the moment when a student who's struggled with a concept finally understands.

Witt said being summer school principal is different than being a teacher in many ways. The largest difference is less direct contact with students, which, for Witt, is not necessarily a positive.

However, Witt said there are advantages to being in administration, and he's eager to discover all of them this summer.

This is Witt's first time serving as summer school principal. He said he hopes to discover this summer whether administration is a career he would like to pursue full-time.

Whatever Witt decides, it will involve working with children.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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