Action items

Administrators, test coordinators and specialists: Nomination deadline for CogAT 7 testing revised
The deadline for nominating students for CogAT 7 testing has been changed to Friday, Oct. 24. This assessment is used as one predictor for elementary students to determine eligibility for Talent Development and Acceleration Services (formerly gifted services) at SPPS.

The CogAT 7 test will be provided to all SPPS students in kindergarten, and to any previously unidentified students in second grade. Students can also be nominated to take the test and must be nominated by Friday, Oct. 24. For information about testing and Talent Development & Acceleration Services, visit tdas.spps.org. Contact Nate Gibbs at nate.gibbs@spps.org or 651-325-2572 with questions.

Teachers: Put Culturally Responsive Teaching into practice
Join us for Culturally Responsive Teaching sessions to create a safe school community and deepen our understanding of racial equity.

During the sessions, you will explore the "four Rs" of culturally responsive teaching; develop strategies for building relationships; establish relevance by bridging content to students’ lives and experiences; and reflect on our own thinking, practices and systems that marginalize students in the classroom.

You may attend any or all sessions. Each session meets from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Multicultural Resource Center, Washington Technology Magnet, 1495 Rice St. Light snacks and clock hours are provided.

Register under Racial Equity on PD Express (SPPS employees) or by contacting the MRC at mrc@spps.org or 651-744-2635. Contact brian.white@spps.org or janice.mandell@spps.org with any questions.

The topics of the CRT sessions include:

  • Relationships: Wednesday, Oct. 22
  • Rigor: Wednesday, Nov. 5
  • Relevance: Wednesday, Nov. 12
  • Realness: Wednesday, Dec. 10

All staff: Request voting supplies from Kids Voting Minnesota by Wednesday, Oct. 22
The Kids Voting Minnesota Network is helping schools provide voting experiences for students Tuesday, Nov. 4. Visit www.kidsvotingmn.org for age-appropriate lessons about voting, and access to free election supplies and materials for your students. The deadline for requesting free election supplies is Wednesday, Oct. 22. If you have any questions, email traci@kidsvotingstpaul.com.

Teachers: Register for We Act today
Community Education is working to increase the number of SPPS youth having a positive impact in the community by participating again this year in We Act. Last year, 1,500 youth participated; this year we want more than 2,500. 

Many of you are already working with students to positively impact the community through school gardens, reading buddies and recycling programs. We want more SPPS staff to join in the effort.

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Register for We Act today at http://www.weday.com/we-act/we-act-program.
  2. Do service, service learning and/or community impact projects with your students.
  3. Report what you did.

To help support the work of SPPS students, Community Education has created the We Made a Difference initiative. By participating in We Act and reporting through We Made a Difference, your class will be eligible for funding to support their work.

For more information about these initiatives, go to http://commed.spps.org/we_act or contact Caritza Mariani at caritza.mariani@spps.org or 651-744-2873.

K-3, EL and special education teachers: Early literacy module beginning soon
Another early literacy module is being offered this year through the Literacy Department at The Office of Teaching and Learning. The module begins Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Register on PD Express for Running Records for Progress Monitoring (LIT106) if you would like to be part of this course. If you would like to enroll in Guided Reading: Taking it Further (LIT202), you must have completed the Running Records for Progress Monitoring course (or Reading Recovery Advocate course within the past five years).

If you have questions, contact Maren Wallenberg at maren.wallenberg@spps.org.

School staff: Next phase of teacher development, evaluation plan will be announced soon
The Teacher Development and Evaluation (TD&E) Oversight Committee will soon announce details for the next phase of the agreed-upon Teacher Development and Evaluation plan. The plan impacts teachers, TOSAs, nurses, school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, speech and language pathologists.

The plan will identify areas for growth, set a SMART goal and outline key learnings through end-of-the-year reflection.

Principals and union stewards will soon introduce the details of the Individualized Growth and Development Plan required by MN Statute (122A.41). Information can be found under the Individualized Growth and Development Plan section at tde.spps.org.

School staff: 7th annual Shop, Ship and Share event is Nov. 21-22
The American Legion invites students to participate in the Packages for Our Military community project in November to help send packages for the holidays to deployed Minnesota military members.

Students, groups or classes can donate items, write letters or draw pictures that will fit in a flat-rate box, supplied for free by the U.S. Postal Service. A list of the most needed items will be supplied.

Last year, 47 schools helped the American Legion send more than 900 packages overseas. This year’s goal is to send 1,000 boxes.

To participate, contact Lisa Sunderland at 651-225-6175 or at Kristine.k.nahl@usps.gov. Include the name of your school and class, contact information (phone, address and email) and your principal’s name in the message.

Third grade teachers: Schedule a free Minnesota Zoo field trip for your students
Travelers and Target are sponsoring field trips to the Minnesota Zoo for every third grade student in SPPS. The field trips are offered Monday-Friday from September to 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.

AVID teachers and coordinators: Stay up-to-date with AVID Monthly Moment
This month’s issue of the AVID Monthly Moment newsletter features good news, upcoming events and the Culturally Relevant Teaching strategy of the month.

School staff: EDL canceled on parent-teacher conference days
Extended Day Learning (EDL) will be canceled if parent-teacher conferences fall on scheduled EDL days. If school sites want to offer EDL programing on conference days, you can make transportation arrangements by contacting Fatima Lawson, the Department of Alternative Education POSA, at Fatima.Lawson@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, the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health 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. Hand washing is a best practice we can instill in our students to develop long-term healthy habits.

All staff: Attend a retirement insurance session
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 360 Colborne St.

Meeting dates and times are:

  • 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: Promote our Attendance Matters Awareness Campaign
Several schools have 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.

The campaign also includes a social media and digital effort:

  1. Spps.org published 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 online 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.

All staff: Make changes to your school's GiveMN fundraising page by Oct. 31
GiveMN will conduct an SPPS-only webinar at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, on how to raise funds for your school online. Register here.

GiveMN has made several changes this year that you need to know about. For example, you will not be able to change anything on your GiveMN web page after October 31. Now is the time to update your page.

Give to the Max Day, the major online giving day of GiveMN.org, will return for its sixth year Thursday, Nov. 13. Last year, our schools raised more than $33,000 on Give to the Max Day, and SPPS parent organizations raised more than $50,000.

Check out GiveMN’s considerable resources for fundraisers, including sample copy, translations, and logos, here. If you cannot access your school’s fundraiser page, contact Brandi Cavalletti at Brandi.Cavalletti@spps.org or 651-767-8181.

Teachers: Need extra funding? Apply for grants now
Click the links below to go directly to the funder’s website. Before you apply, visit the SPPS teacher grants web page to find basic grants how-to, a School Grant Pre-Approval Form and a helpful School Grant Checklist.

In most cases, you must 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 arrives. Contact Lisa van der Steur at 651-767-8108 or lisa.vandersteur@spps.org with questions.

Save Our Schools
APPLICATION FORM NOW AVAILABLE AT LINK ABOVE. 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 and many different vehicles (internet, mail, fundraising, competitions, various partnerships, etc.).

Due Oct. 31
Farmers Insurance Thank a Million Teachers
Most teachers spend their own money for basic classroom supplies and programs like the National Board Certification. The Thank a Million Teachers initiative wants to help. In 2014, the group is awarding grants of up to $2,500 each to teachers across America that can be put towards classroom supplies or National Board Certification.

Due November
National Science Teachers Association (various grants and deadlines):

Vernier Technology Award
Vernier Software & Technology and the National Science Teachers Association is offering seven awards to recognize the innovative use, or potential use, of data-collection technology (like probes or sensors) interfacing with a computer, graphing calculator or handheld in a science classroom. Awards will be presented in these categories: one elementary award (grades K–5); two middle level awards (grades 6–8); three high school awards (grades 9–12); and one college award. Applications due Nov. 30.

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Outstanding Environmental Educator of the Year
The SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Environmental Excellence Award recognizes outstanding efforts of students, teachers and community leaders nationwide, who are working at the grassroots level to protect and preserve the environment. The award is $10,000 and an expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference. Application deadline is Nov. 30.

Due Nov. 1
Education Support Professionals: Professional development grant
These grants provide education support professionals (ESPs) with opportunities to take the lead in acquiring and sharing new skills and knowledge. These skills might include new instructional ideas, technology, working with parents, etc. You may request up to $1,500 to acquire these skills and share your new learnings with your colleagues. ESPs include classroom paraprofessionals, clerical staff, bus drivers, etc., who are members of Education Minnesota ESP bargaining units. This application is not for use by licensed professionals who are members of other Education Minnesota bargaining units.

Due Nov. 7
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (various grants available by grade level and topic):

To apply, you must be a current full individual or e-member of NCTM on or before Oct. 15, or teach at a school with a current NCTM pre-K–8 school membership on or before Oct. 15. Visit the website for details.

Due Nov. 19
Air Force Association: Aerospace education
Each school year, the Air Force Association awards grants of up to $250 to projects that significantly influence student learning. A committee comprised of aerospace education experts will review qualified grant applications and make recommendations on funding. The Educator Grant program promotes aerospace education activities in k-12 classrooms with a goal of encouraging the development of innovative aerospace activities within the prescribed curriculum.

Due Dec. 12
Education Minnesota classroom grants
The grants are for licensed personnel who work with students and wish to improve their practice and student achievement. You may request up to $3,000 for a project you design now and implement in the next school year. Licensed personnel include classroom teachers, guidance counselors and others who require a license for their jobs. Education Minnesota  prefers projects that: address the needs of diverse students or students at risk of failure, involve partnerships, and are replicable.

Education Minnesota: National Board Certified Teachers Scholarship
Education Minnesota members who are licensed to teach and have three years of teaching/counseling experience are eligible to apply for a scholarship to help offset the costs of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). The scholarship is meant to encourage motivated members; therefore, initial NBCT applicants will receive preference over those who have already completed the program.