Dean of Student David Waskow
Dean of Student David Waskow
Student success is about building relationships.
That’s what Decorah High School Dean of Students David Waskow said as he begins his second semester in a newly created position at DHS.
Waskow, who was hired for an interim position second semester of the 2013-2014 school year, and reapplied and was hired for this school year, said in working with students, “If you can build a relationship, respect goes both ways. If they (students) think you don’t care, you don’t have a relationship. I try to show them we do care what happens to them.”
At the June Decorah School Board meeting, DHS Principal Kim Sheppard described Waskow as a kind of “triage” person when it comes to truancy, minor discipline and grade improvements.
Waskow said his interactions with students come mostly during the school day, but at night he fills in to help Activities Director/Associate Principal Adam Riley with activities supervision.
“I can go one place and he can go another,” said Waskow.
“I’m looked at as kind of an assistant to Sheppard and Riley.”
Waskow said he is assigned tasks, and he has been able to take a load off of them as far as discipline. As a result, behavior problems are being dealt with in a more immediate manner.

Academic monitoring
In addition, students are referred to Waskow for academic monitoring.
“If there are areas that aren’t going well academically for students, teachers refer them to me or to Cindy Larson in the success center. I can kind of be the person who says, ‘You will spend more time after school working on this,’” he said.
“Before, it was tough for Shepherd and Riley to get to all that,” he said.
“I am trying to touch base with kids more for academic purposes and discipline on a daily basis.”

Waskow retired at the end of the 2012-2013 school year after teaching for 21 years in the Clarksville system as a physical education teacher, American History teacher and activities director.
He said he retired because he had reached the “rule of 88” (the formula for state employees which determines eligibility for retirement by combining the person’s age with years of public service) and he felt it was “time to back down a little bit.”
However, once retirement set in, he was still taking frequent substitute teaching assignments as a way to stay connected with students.
“I guess I thought I had more to offer yet,” he said.

Going well
Waskow said since coming to Decorah, the thing he is most proud of is the way students’ grades have improved. At the end of first semester last year, 12 students earned a total of 19 “Fs” on their report cards. By the end of second semester (Waskow’s first with the District), there were just two students who earned a total of three Fs.
“Everything here has been positive. Decorah is a great school system and kids get a really good education here,” he said.
He said he thinks the job is going well and he appreciates the team approach at DHS 
“This position has been well received by staff and the administration. That’s why I applied again,” he said. “It isn’t just me, it’s a whole team. But what I can do is help,” he said.
Waskow said he will continue to work on relationships with students and parents.
“A lot of parents still deal with Adam (Riley). And I’m okay with that. If a parent has concerns, he or she should feel free to email or call whatever staff person they might feel comfortable with,” he said.

About Waskow
Waskow commutes to daily to Decorah from Sumner.
“It’s a little commute, but if there’s an emergency after hours, I can be here pretty fast,” he said.
Waskow said he and Cheryl, his wife of 32 years, have two grown children and six grandchildren, all of whom live in Sumner. In addition, Waskow’s parents also live there.