Action items

Principals: Sign up for Beyond Courage: Leading for Gender Inclusion on PDExpress.
Please click here for information on the next training sessions for Principals. Required for all principals, this two-hour training provides leaders with tools and information to support gender inclusion. Currently SPPS is drafting a Gender Inclusion Policy. It is essential that all students have a safe, non discriminatory learning environment that will support their academic achievement and prepare them for college and careers.

This training includes:

  • Understanding the barriers to safety and academic achievement transgender and gender variant students may experience
  • Providing supports to transgender and gender variant students
  • Making connections to existing school district policies and initiatives that empower principals to lead on behalf of transgender and gender variant students
  • Familiarizing principals with the supports offered to/within the district to assist them in their work.

Principals: Review important Special Education information
Visit the Office of Specialized Services (OSS) website for a newsletter with key information for principals. The September newsletter includes:

  • Information on co-teaching
  • Minnesota Department of Education compliance self review
  • Behavior Team referral process
  • Discipline chart and Q&A.

Teachers: Fill out Marvelous Mitten Makers form to receive winter wear for students
The mittens are ready! Distribution time for handmade warm hats, mittens, scarves and headbands is fast approaching. As in the past, these items are to be distributed only to those children who cannot afford them on their own.

Please fill out the form at http://engagement.spps.org/marvelous_mitten_makers to let the volunteers know how many items you will need this year. Once you have completed the form, click on “Finish” at the bottom of the page and your information will be submitted.

Please complete the form by Friday, Oct. 17 in order to receive winter wear for your students. Items will arrive after the volunteers do their sorting at the end of October.

If you have any questions about the Marvelous Mitten Makers, if you would like to donate yarn (they always need more), or if your students would like to send thank you notes to the many wonderful volunteers (they really appreciate it), please contact: Judy Bonnevier at 651-739-5203 or by email at judybonnevier@yahoo.com.

Elementary teachers: The Minnesota History Theater Presents ‘Tales from the Minnesota Trail’ at the Minnesota Zoo Oct. 6-10
This 45-minute theatrical performance by the Minnesota History Theatre celebrates Minnesota’s native and immigrant heritage alongside the animals and natural beauty of our state. The performance is appropriate for grades K-6, and is a wonderful addition to a day at the Zoo.

The play is free with applicable admission, but seats are limited and advance registration is required. Showtimes are 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day. For more information and to register contact Kelly at educate@mnzoo.org or 952-431-9218.

3rd Grade Teachers: Schedule a free field trip to the Minnesota Zoo for your students
Travelers and Target Corporations are sponsoring field trips to the Minnesota Zoo for every 3rd grade student in SPPS again this year. The sponsored field trips are offered Monday through Friday from September through March. The program provides admission, transportation, lunch, a 45-minute naturalist-led Zoo Class, time to visit the animal exhibits for all students and one chaperone for every five students. The Zoo Class that your students will experience is Animal Heirs. It was specifically created by SPPS district science specialists and is aligned to state science standards.

To learn more and to register, visit the Elementary Science link at Office of Teaching and Learning website. Contact Jaime Dery at jaime.dery@spps.org or 651-744-7394 with questions.

Principals and supervisors: Find a site coordinator for Community Giving Campaign by Oct. 3

This year’s Community Giving Campaign at SPPS will begin Oct. 20. The campaign is a way to support the many community organizations that provide services to students and are actively involved in our schools. Designating someone to lead this annual effort at each school and building is key to motivating and inspiring employee involvement.

Your site coordinator should embody the spirit and passion of the school and its students. Site coordinators can be teachers, educational assistants, administrative support staff, principals or assistant principals. Look for someone who:

  • Motivates and inspires others
  • Is actively involved in school activities
  • Is passionate about student success
  • Is a leader
  • Has a network of colleagues to call on for support.

Please forward the name of your site coordinator to mhartung@communitysharesmn.org by Friday, Oct. 3. More information about site coordinators and Community Giving Campaign is is available here. Trainings for site coordinators will be at the district headquarters, 360 Colborne St. Trainings will take place:

  • 7-8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 13, room B
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, room B
  • 3:45-4:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, room B
  • 7-8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, room A

Principals: Create a wellness team
The SPPS Wellness Policy requires all buildings to have a Wellness Team, which can be made up of building staff, parents and guardians, students and community members. Administrators should designate a Wellness Champion and convene a Site Wellness Committee.

Wellness Champions promote and implement the district’s wellness policy and employee well-being program at the building level. They attend semiannual trainings, write and evaluate a yearly Wellness Action Plan for their site, and serve on their site’s Wellness Team.

There are two opportunities for Wellness Champion trainings on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 360 Colborne. Designated Wellness Champions should register on PD Express for either the 7:30-9:30 a.m. or the 3:30-5 p.m. session by Sept. 29. If you have questions, contact SPPS SHIP Grant Coordinator Carol Grady at carol.grady@spps.org.

All staff: Keep students healthy and safe by using soap, not hand sanitizer
During the cold and flu season, we may be tempted to use hand sanitizers. However, did you know that the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health both recommend using hand sanitizers only as a last resort? Hand sanitizers can contain strong alcohols, dry our skin, increase allergies, and give a false sense of being "germ free" when in fact hand sanitizer effectiveness is quite limited.

SPPS has opted to not use hand sanitizers. Having students wash their hands removes the most germs, and although it takes more time than a squirt and rub, hand washing is the best practice we can instill in our students to develop long-term healthy habits.

Principals and staff development coordinators: Complete MDE Staff Development Report
SPPS is required by the Minnesota Department of Education to report all professional development activities that occurred both at the district and building levels during the 2013-14 school year. The reporting deadline is Friday, October 10, 2014. You will be asked to provide data on your school’s student achievement goals, advisory committee membership, staffing, staff development activities, and the impact of these activities on teaching and learning. For complete instructions, read this memo from Stacey Gray Akyea.

Staff: Attend a retirement insurance session starting Oct. 15
Human Resources at SPPS is sponsoring a series of monthly meetings regarding district retirement insurance benefits, personnel policies, and severance program. All meetings will be held at district headquarters, 360 Colborne St.

Meeting dates and times are:

  • 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, rooms A and B
  • 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, rooms A and B
  • 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, rooms A and B
  • 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, rooms A and B
  • 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, room A
  • 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, room A

Reserve a spot at one of the meetings by emailing megan.jonesarko@spps.org. You will receive an email confirming your reservation. Please indicate your name (and spouse’s name if s/he will attend), employee ID, title, and which meeting you plan to attend. More information is available here.

Grade 3 Teachers: Request free dictionaries for your students
The Saint Paul Chapter of Rotary International will once again be providing a dictionary for every student in third grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Rotary members enjoy being able to deliver the dictionaries in person and meeting the students who benefit from this project. Interested schools should sign up as a group, and if possible, have all students in third grade in one area for the presentation. Rotary members will take a few short minutes to explain Rotary before handing out the dictionaries. These dictionaries become the property of the student.

Saint Paul Rotary members are available to make visits to schools Oct. 20 through Nov. 14. The deadline to sign up for Rotary visits is Oct. 5. Email kathy.weyandt@spps.org with the following information to sign up:

  • School
  • Contact person
  • Requested date
  • Best time
  • Number of students in third grade

If you have any questions, contact Kathy Weyandt in the Office of Communications, Marketing & Development, at 651-767-8373 or via email.

Secondary Principals: All 6-12 teachers need training in Campus Instruction, upgrade for iPads
Campus Instruction has tools to help teachers streamline their workflow and engage their students and families in using an iPad or laptop. Teachers can use Campus Instruction to send documents and resources to student groups via Student Portal. It also allows students to submit assignments within Portal. Teachers can also send messages to students and parents, as well as create assessments where scores stream directly to the gradebook. 

What teachers are saying about the new Campus upgrade for iPads:

  • “I never thought Campus could be so user-friendly and accessible.”
  • “The changes are so practical and long overdue.”
  • “I love the Inbox Messenger. I can’t wait to send messages to my class.”

Come and see for yourself! Kristen Lynch and her Campus support team can come to your school to present at a staff meeting or in a way that works best for your school. An introductory session, which gives participants access to Campus Instruction, needs at least 45 minutes. All grade 6-12 teachers need to be trained in Campus Instruction before second semester. Please contact Kristen Lynch at kristen.lynch@spps.org to schedule a session or learn more information.

Principals and teachers: Attend Personalized Learning professional development
All teachers at Year 1 iPad schools are required to attend a six-hour professional development course called "Establishing a 1:1 classroom environment."

During the course, you will learn proven strategies for using iPads to enhance learning in the classroom. Topics include:

  • Criteria and process for selecting apps for students
  • Work flow for students and teachers as they share files
  • Classroom management
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  • Tasks to try with students in the first days of iPad implementation

Teachers have the choice of when to take the course: during the week with a substitute provided, or on a Saturday for stipend pay. There are multiple sections to choose from, differentiated by grade band and by level of technology experience.

The first section takes place Monday, Sept. 22, and then sections are offered almost daily through the beginning of November. All sections are posted on PD Express. Each section is limited to 25 participants.

Teachers, please choose an open section rather than joining a waiting list.

Principals, please arrange the sign-up dates with your staff in order to control the number of teachers out of the building on a given day.

Contact Karen.Randall@spps.org with questions.

Other required Personalized Learning courses for teachers:
All instructional staff must complete the first of three Personalized Learning Essentials course modules by Tuesday, Sept. 30. This introductory session provides a baseline understanding of the rationale for Personalized Learning, what the essentials are and how technology can be effectively leveraged as a tool inside and outside the classroom.

The course will take about an hour to complete and is designed for a group. All of the materials needed are available for download from the Moodle course, which is available at eLearn.spps.org. The second and third modules will be available by the end of September, and must be completed by the end of November.

Contact Jeff.Rahman@spps.org for further information or questions.

Learn about the core apps that SPPS recommends for your iPad through in-person trainings. This training is optional, but highly recommended. Core apps include Pages, Keynote, Garageband, iMovie and Google Drive.

Please check PD Express for dates and times for September offerings. You may also take advantage of the iTunesU online courses on these applications. See the Office of Personalized Learning website for more information.

School staff: Attendance Matters Awareness Campaign
Last week several schools received printable, customized signs/posters as part of a community-wide Attendance Matters Awareness Campaign—a collaboration among Saint Paul Public Schools, the City of Saint Paul, the Ramsey County Attorney’s office and the Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative.

The campaign includes several aspects, including posters for schools, stickers, letters to be backpacked home and more—many of which have already been distributed to schools.

Part of this campaign will also include a social media and digital effort:

  1. This week, spps.org will publish a webpage that promotes the campaign, along with posts on social media linking to that page.
  2. The Office of Engagement has printed several ‘pledging’ posters to encourage students — or parents of students, or teachers in the classroom (perhaps even competing with other classrooms) — to take pictures of themselves holding these posters, and then sharing these pictures on social media with the hashtag #attendancemattersSPPS.

The Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative is asking schools to incorporate the social media aspect of this campaign as appropriate. (Note: It is important that if teachers are taking the photos that students’ families have signed the media permission form.)

Once schools begin sharing these photos publicly, the Office of Communications will aggregate the photos into a large photo gallery from each school, showing how classrooms and students are "pledging" to keep up their attendance.

Questions? Thoughts? Contact Christa Anders with the Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative at christa@advance-consulting.com, or troy.melhus@spps.org for additional information.

School staff: Training for this year's Give to the Max Day is Thursday, Oct. 9
Give to the Max Day, the major online giving day of GiveMN.org, will be back for its sixth year on Nov. 13. Last year SPPS schools raised over $33,000 on this one day, and SPPS parent organizations raised an additional $50,000+.

Learn how to make the most of your school’s GiveMN.org fundraising page at a workshop presented by GiveMN staff on Thursday, October 9, 4-5:00 p.m. at 360 Colborne, in the second floor training room.

The DONATE button in the upper right corner of each SPPS school website links directly to its GiveMN.org fundraising page. It’s easy to customize this page to highlight projects such as playground updates, artist residencies, or adding books to classrooms and media centers. The success of your school’s fundraising effort on GiveMN is directly related to the effort you put into customizing your page on the site -- and your use of social media to publicize it.

Find out how to make the most of your school’s GiveMN.org page at the Oct. 9 workshop. Click here to learn about other online fundraising options for teachers and schools.

Teachers: Register for free supplies
AdoptAClassroom.org is making a special push to generate support for first-year teachers and their classroom supply needs. Visit AdoptAClassroom.org to register for the supplies you need to equip your classroom. It only takes about 10 minutes to complete some basic information, a description of your classroom and its particular needs, and upload an image. When your classroom is funded via donations to the site, you’ll be notified by email that you have funds available to spend. Then you can shop on the site and the products are shipped to your attention directly to your school. AdoptAClassroom hopes to make available at least $100 per first-year teacher for use on its site. All teachers are invited to register their classroom needs at AdoptAClassroom.org.

Teachers: Apply for fall grants now
Click the links below to go directly to the funder’s website. Before you apply, visit the SPPS teacher grants webpage. Here you will find basic grants How-To, an important School Grant Pre-Approval Form and a helpful School Grant Checklist. Questions? Call or email Lisa van der Steur, 651-767-8108, lisa.vandersteur@spps.org.

It is vital for grant seekers to send grant applications to the Office of Communications, Marketing and Development (CMD) before submitting them to the funder. If you wait until the grant is awarded, it could take up to four weeks or more to receive the funds. CMD wants you to (1) get the funding you need, and (2) use it as soon as it comes in. Call or email Lisa van der Steur, 651-767-8108, lisa.vandersteur@spps.org, with questions. 

Due October 1:
Toshiba America Foundation
K-5 grade teachers are invited to apply online for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their own classroom.

Association of American Educators Foundation Classroom Grant Application
Classroom grants of up to $500 can be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. Funds must be used within one year of the application deadline and are awarded as reimbursements only.

Association of American Educators Foundation Teacher Scholarship Application
Teacher scholarships are available for up to $500 to reimburse teachers for books, conference or workshop registration fees, or travel expenses to professional development activities. Funds must be used within one year of the application deadline.

Due October 6:
Inspired Educator Grants
The Inspired Educator Grant program of Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation supports and recognizes excellence in teaching and learning. These grants are intended to enhance and enrich the educational experience of students in SPPS through projects that (1) engage students in critical thinking and problem-solving, and (2) deepen students' knowledge of standards-based subject matter. Applicants must be educators working for SPPS (preK-12). Educators can apply as individuals or as a team. The project must be directed by the applicant(s). Awards range from $500 to a maximum of $3,000. In 2013, the Foundation awarded $26,347.44 for 12 projects.

Due October 15:
Lowe's Toolbox for Education
The Fall 2014 cycle is now open. If 1500 applications are received before the application deadline, the application process will close.

Due November 5:
Expanded Learning Through Libraries Mini grant
Approximately 12 grants from $1,000 to $10,000 will support activity-based partnerships between schools, nonprofit community organizations and public libraries. The overarching goal is to increase organizational capacity to connect students with meaningful out-of-school time opportunities that improve literacy, academic achievement, college readiness and more.

No deadline:
Save Our Schools
Have an idea to help your students? Want to build rapport with your students and community? Save Our Schools (SOS) is a Twin Cities-based nonprofit organization that helps fund programs and projects that champion collaboration between students and staff. SOS wants to hear ideas that will help you empower your students, build their self-esteem, and improve student attendance and performance. A simple online application will be available in the next two weeks; if this is approved, you’ll also need to provide photos or video, which will be posted on the SOS crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding is the funding of a project or program through many donations, via many different vehicles (internet, mail, fundraising, competitions, various partnerships etc.). It’s like Kickstarter for schools! Email lisa.vandersteur@spps.org with your idea or questions and she’ll make sure you get the latest information.