Jon Pickinpaugh holds high expectations for his students and provides both the structure and the tools to help them succeed. An eighth-grade science teacher at Nebraska’s South Sioux City Middle School, Pickinpaugh provides clear instruction and information, posting targets, agendas, and descriptions of proficiency levels through his scaffolded lessons. He has implemented a highly efficient means of tracking student progress—his young scientists set their own learning goals and monitor them through each standard via interactive notebooks and binders. The district requires daily learning targets, which Pickinpaugh references throughout each lesson so students know what they are expected to learn, and why.
Pickinpaugh has led the school’s development and implementation of Nebraska Science State standards and uses a variety of instructional strategies in his classroom, including bell ringers, videos, direct instruction, gradual release of responsibility, stations and hands-on lessons. The South Sioux City district is moving toward standards-referenced grading, and Pickinpaugh supports giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning. His students consistently make solid gains on Northwest Evaluation Association’s MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments.
For more than five years, Pickinpaugh has been part of his building’s professional learning community, which has worked through standards prioritization, articulation, building of proficiency scales, and creation of standards-based assessments. He has served on building and district committees addressing continuous school improvement, accreditation, standards-referenced grading and positive behavioral interventions. Pickinpaugh presented his work on science standards at a national conference in Florida and mentors new teachers.
Pickinpaugh coaches wrestling and football and believes that character education is a vital part of coaching. Athletes set self-improvement goals for competition and wear dress shirts and ties on meet days. After school, Pickinpaugh teaches students about healthy living and weight training. Spending time with his students in the weight room gives him an opportunity to talk with them about life outside of school; in the high-poverty, largely minority school, many students see him as a father figure.
Pickinpaugh earned bachelor’s degrees in business administration (2005) and education (2010) from Wayne State College.