Student Engagement and Advancement Board presents SRO project to BOE
The Student Engagement and Advancement Board (SEAB) presented to the SPPS Board of Education for the first time last week. Their first project was to examine School Resource Officers (police officers) in SPPS schools.

The SEAB's role is not to speak for students, but to create and implement ways of gathering student input and presenting recommendations to the Board and administration. About 1,300 students and 155 staff completed a survey about SROs, and another 84 students participated in focus groups.

The SEAB presented a number of recommendations that included ways to improve student experience with SROs and clarify their role to students and staff. The presentation also addressed concerns about the potential criminalization of urban students without any district data collection on the impact of SROs, and the SEAB’s recommendations to change that.

The SEAB would love to hear from staff and students. Email students.eab@spps.org or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

SPPS students ‘Share the Love’
SPPS students showered their communities with love last month through the 2016 Share the Love project. In all, 2,628 students and 49 instructors from 33 different schools participated. They made creative cards to send to community members they wanted to honor or support with a positive message this winter.


Share the Love is a program designed to deepen young people's understanding of what it means to build strong communities. Groups are provided with an activity guide, art supplies and a prepaid mailing box to send cards to their chosen recipients. Students worked with staff to consider the needs of their community and the people in it.


The cards were designed with themes of gratitude and friendship. Some students were inspired to thank people in their own school community, such as teachers and cafeteria staff. Other students chose to acknowledge their community’s elders by sending cards to senior living homes.  


The community is stronger thanks to the work of the 2016 Share the Love Participants. The 2017 project will reach even farther. To participate, watch for registration information next winter.

SPPS Students at the Winter Carnival
Nearly 600 youth and chaperones attended the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Showcase in February. Students from eight SPPS schools worked on classroom activities to list what they love about Saint Paul. Then they joined the Winter Carnival royalty to learn about the festival’s history of contributing to community-building. After the show, students visited Rice Park to view ice sculptures and the ice palace. Community Education is proud to have worked in collaboration with the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation and 3M to create this opportunity for students.

Four SPPS teachers are semifinalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award
Four SPPS teachers have made it to the semifinals of this year’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. A selection panel of community leaders has narrowed the list from 115 candidates to 34. Among this year’s semifinalists are:
  • Juanita Ortiz, a Latino culture teacher at Phalen Lake Hmong Studies
  • Laura Weghorst, a special education teacher at Murray Middle School
  • Mark Westpfahl, a sixth and seventh grade social studies teacher at Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School
  • Koua Yang, a social studies teacher at Harding Senior High School
Farnsworth teacher named High Tech Kids Coach of the Year
David Barrett, a teacher at Farnsworth Aerospace Upper Campus, won the High Tech Kids Coach of the Year for First Lego League at the Lego League State Tournament on Feb. 20 Barrett has been a Lego League coach since 2012 and has seen success with multiple teams. Barrett was recognized for his “unfailing enthusiasm and dedication to Lego League.”

SPPS students, staff featured last week in ‘I Am SPPS’
The “I am SPPS” campaign shares videos, photos and quotes from SPPS students, staff, families and supporters. The campaign can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and at spps.org/iamspps.

Last week “I Am SPPS” featured:

  • Barb Herman, school nurse at Mississippi Creative Arts
  • Pao Yang, SPPS school bus driver
  • Hillary, student at Mississippi Creative Arts