Action items

Principals and supervisors: Find a site coordinator for Community Giving Campaign at SPPS on Oct. 20
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 building and school is key to motivating and inspiring employee involvement.

An effective site coordinator embodies 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

More information about site coordinators and the Community Giving Campaign is available here. Trainings for site coordinators will be at the district headquarters, 360 Colborne St., and 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 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 at the district and building levels during the 2013-14 school year. The reporting deadline is Friday, Oct. 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.

Personalized Learning and iPad Rollout Updates
As the district prepares for Apple iPad distribution to students, the Office of Personalized Learning and the Technology Services department have several items for teachers, principals and district staff this week.

Teachers: Set up your iPad before ‘1:1 iPad Environment’ course
Apple recently released a new version of the operating system for iPads, which affects the availability of Apple apps. Technology Services recommends that you upgrade your new iPad to IOS 8.

Staff: Accept iPad volume purchasing agreement 
Staff that have received iPads as part of the 1:1 Personalized Learning Project will have to accept the volume purchasing agreement terms in order to use their iPads.

Staff: Complete Personalized Learning Essentials modules 1 and 2
The Personalized Learning Essentials modules provide a baseline understanding for SPPS staff regarding the rationale for Personalized Learning, what the essentials are and how technology can be leveraged as a tool to promote Personalized Learning.

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."

Principals: Designate a licensed staff member as your school’s CIPA contact
The Office of Personalized Learning is requesting that each school designate a teacher or licensed staff member as the CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) contact.

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. The Campus support team can come to your school to present at a staff meeting or in a way that works best for your school.

 

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 will be distributed only to children who cannot afford them on their own.

If you have 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 volunteers, contact Judy Bonnevier at 651-739-5203 or at judybonnevier@yahoo.com.

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

Fill out the form at http://engagement.spps.org/marvelous_mitten_makers to report how many items you will need this year.

Third grade teachers: Schedule a free field trip to the Minnesota Zoo for your students
Travelers and Target are sponsoring field trips to the Minnesota Zoo for every third grade student in SPPS again this year. The sponsored field trips are offered Monday-Friday from September-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, which was specifically created by SPPS science specialists and is aligned to state science standards.

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

Principals: Register for 'Leading for Gender Inclusion'
All students must have a safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment that supports academic achievement and prepares students for college and careers. SPPS is drafting a Gender Inclusion Policy to ensure this. A two-hour Leading for Gender Inclusion training is required for all principals to learn tools and information to support gender inclusion.

The 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 district policies and initiatives that empower principals to lead on behalf of transgender and gender variant students
  • Familiarizing principals with the supports offered within the district to assist them in their work
  • Additional information on training sessions.

Principals: Schedule an optional formal observation of your school counselor
Darren Ginther, supervisor of the Office of College & Career Readiness Department of Graduation Progress and Acceleration, works closely with SPPS school counselors throughout the year. He is available to complete one formal observation of the counselors in your building. Conducting an observation of your counselor(s) is optional. You can schedule one by having your counselor contact him at Darren.Ginther@spps.org.

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

All staff: Keep students healthy and safe by using soap, not 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 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.

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

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 of 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 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: Schools must have media permission for students before taking their photos.)

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 return for its sixth year on Thursday, Nov. 13. Last year, SPPS schools raised more than $33,000 on this one day, and SPPS parent organizations raised an additional $50,000 plus.

Learn how to make the most of your school’s GiveMN.org fundraising page at a workshop presented by GiveMN staff from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at the district headquarters, 360 Colborne St., 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: 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 15:
Lowe's Toolbox for Education
The Fall 2014 cycle is now open. If 1,500 applications are received before the application deadline, the application process will close.

No deadline:
Save Our Schools
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. If your online application is approved, you’ll 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.).