Action Items

High school staff: Recruit students for Youth Advisory Team
The Board of Education voted unanimously Sept. 22 to recruit a pilot Student Advisory Team to increase student voice in decision-making at the Board level.

In the pilot year, this group of students will work to develop the long-term vision and structure of the Youth Advisory Team, work on issues important to them and on issues assigned by the Board and administration.

Please identify and recruit students who are passionate, creative and critical thinkers, as well as those who traditionally identify as leaders or are emerging leaders. Some students may need encouragement and support through the application process.

More information and the application be found on the SPPS Family Engagement website. The deadline for applications is Thursday, Oct. 15. Students can submit their application in the language they feel most able to express themselves.

Staff: Registration deadline for Walk/Bike to School Day is today
The deadline for staff to register your building for Walk/Bike to School day is Monday, Oct. 5.
SPPS will join children and adults worldwide for Walk/Bike to School Day (Wednesday, Oct. 7) to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking to school.

  • Administrators, wellness champions and staff should register their building for the event by Monday, Oct. 5.
  • Use these flyers to promote Walk ‘n’ Roll Wednesday.
  • Share your photos of Walk/Bike to School Day by emailing them to (Make sure students who are identifiable in photos have media permission.)

Stickers that read “I walked or rolled” will be available for distribution at registered schools. Schools with a high percentage of students who ride the bus or are driven to school may participate in the event through organized walks during the day, such as a coordinated recess event or classroom physical activity break. The building with the highest percentage of participating staff and students will host the Walk ‘n’ Roll Traveling Trophy for the next seven months.

Staff: Participate in Minnesota Children's Museum's statewide 'Day of Play' on Oct. 7
The Minnesota Children’s Museum is inviting SPPS staff to participate in a “Day of Play” on Wednesday, Oct. 7, to help promote the benefits of play and its important role in learning. The special day coincides with groundbreaking on a major expansion and renovation project at the museum’s downtown St. Paul location. On Oct. 7, the museum is asking Minnesotans to make time for spontaneous play and to share photos and videos with the hashtag #PlayMoreMN.

The museum, which will remain open during most of the expansion period, is creating entirely new galleries and exhibits – specifically designed to foster the type of open-ended, imaginative and immersive play that is most beneficial to children.

To participate, do something fun, creative or surprising on Oct. 7, take a photo or video, and share it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #PlayMoreMN. Learn more at Reminder, any students photographed or filmed must have media permission to participate.

Principals: Complete MDE Staff Development Report by Oct. 12
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 2014-15 school year. The reporting deadline is Monday, Oct. 12.

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, Director of Research Evaluation and Assessment.

Teachers: Share free homework help opportunity with students
The Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute is available for free homework help for students from 3-6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute (formerly Rock Star Supply Co.) is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting under-resourced students, ages 6 to 18, with their writing skills and homework. Students may use Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute’s space at 2388 University Ave. W., and work in small groups to finish homework, work on creative writing and practice reading with trained adults.

Staff: Learn Google Drive and love it
Google Drive (also known as SPPS Apps) is a great way to collaborate with colleagues and students. Google Drive combines tools for creating documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms. Save all of these documents online, and share and edit with others.

Want to learn more? Register for an in-person class in PDEXpress.

  • Thursday, Oct. 22, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 15, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Learn at your own pace with one of these online courses:

  • Moodle course: (PL) SPPS AppsDocs - MLR(V)
  • iTunesU course for iPads: access code J3V-74T-A84

View the short tutorials on the Personalized Learning website (requires access to YouTube).

Staff: Do not upgrade SPPS iPads and iPhones to iOS 9.1
Staff iPads and iPhones should not be upgraded to iOS 9.1, the newest mobile device update from Apple. Technology Services has identified a compatibility issue with Lotus Notes Traveler, the source for email on staff iPads and iPhones. Upgrading iPads or iPhones to iOS 9.1 will prevent staff from receiving email through Traveler on the iPad and iPhone.  

For the iPad we have a work-around. You will be able to see your email by logging into the email website through Safari on the iPad only. This work-around is unreliable for the iPhone and we do not recommend using this method for the iPhone.

If you have upgraded your district iPad or iPhone, you will not be able to downgrade to iOS 8.4.1.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the Service Desk at 651-603-HELP (4357) or

Staff: Professional Development opportunities available to learn about children's mental health issues
There are several voluntary professional development opportunities on PDExpress for SPPS staff to learn about children’s mental health issues. If you have questions or need additional information about these courses, contact Kathy Lombardi, Mental Health Coordinator, at

Descriptions for two of the courses are below:

Question, Persuade, Refer
Two Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) courses are listed on PDExpress (SPED0887-15-16). QPR is a one-hour suicide prevention workshop offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and is the most widely-taught gatekeeper training program in the United States. QPR covers the three steps to help prevent suicide. People trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis, answer how-to questions about suicide, and learn how to persuade and refer someone to help.

Youth Mental Health First Aid
Seven Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) courses are listed on PDExpress (OAYMHFA-15-16). YMHFA is for adults who regularly interact with young people. This eight-hour course will teach you how to help adolescents, ages 12-18, who are struggling with mental health or addiction.

The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development and teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Topics include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • substance use
  • disorders in which psychosis may occur
  • disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD)
  • eating disorders

SPPS received a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide hourly payments to staff for trainings and substitute teachers. Paraprofessionals will be paid for eight hours of training if they attend on a non-duty day. For licensed staff, this training will meet re-licensure requirements for “Early Warning Signs.”

Staff: Celebrate Indigenous People's Day on Oct. 12
The Office of American Indian Education and the Multicultural Resource Center are collaborating for Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, Oct. 12. The city of Saint Paul recently passed a resolution declaring the second Monday of every October Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Resources, mini-grants and other support are available for K-12 teachers to provide opportunities for students to celebrate and learn more about indigenous people. For more information, visit or

Principals: Read the Office of Specialized Services Newsletter
The Office of Specialized Services Principals’ Newsletter for October is available.