Karen Christenson, St. Anthony Park teacher, named National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator
Karen Christenson, a science teacher at St. Anthony Park Elementary, was selected from nominees across the U.S. as one of five Outstanding Educators by Project Learning Tree (PLT), the national environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation.

Sandra Muellner, LEAP teacher, selected as finalist for prestigious teaching award
Sandra Muellner, science teacher at LEAP High School, has been chosen as a state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMS), according to the PAEMS website. The awards are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Christenson teaches elementary students at St. Anthony Park Elementary School in St. Paul, using the environment as a way to teach life science. She uses “schoolyard safaris” and other PLT activities to introduce students to hands-on experiences and outdoor exploration. Student enthusiasm for science is high, and 87% of the students at her school have reached or exceeded proficiency in science according to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.

From 2003 to 2007, Christenson worked at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, teaching science enrichment to students in grades K-6 and launching the school’s first science fair. There, too, students made significant gains in science test scores.

PLT Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, exemplary use of Project Learning Tree’s award-winning curriculum materials, and exceptional teaching skills. For more information, visit www.plt.org/outstanding-educators.

Students Yee Leng Thao and Devonte Miller recognized as Beat the Odds Scholarship winners
Yee Leng Thao, a student at Washington Technology, and Devonte Miller, student at Gordon Parks, received a $4,000 Beat the Odds scholarship from the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Only four students are chosen each year in the state of Minnesota.

The CDF Beat the Odds awards program recognizes extraordinary young people who have overcome tremendous adversity in life to achieve academic excellence, demonstrate leadership in their communities, and aspire to attend college.

To hear each student’s story, visit the video page for CDF.

Kathy Kelley, Community Outreach Coordinator at Gordon Parks, receives Bethel Community Partner Award
Kathy Kelley, was recently recognized as a Bethel Community Partner Award. This award recognizes Kathy’s work to enrich educational and community outcomes by improving the quality of life in the community and developing sustained partnerships with the University.

Kathy's work has connected SPPS to the community through curriculum, helping to lay the foundation for district efforts like Strong Schools Strong Communities.

Murray students have great success at regional science fair, proceed to state competition
Murray Middle School had a fantastic showing at the regional science fair at the University of Minnesota on March 1, including three students who earned multiple awards. Congratulations to the following students on their accomplishments this year:

Awards won at regional science fair:

  • Forrest Ahrens: Broadcom Masters Award
  • Valerie Bares: Broadcom Masters Award, Memorial Award
  • Gayathri Dileepan: Broadcom Masters Award
  • Daniel Ellis: Air Force Award, Broadcom Masters Award, Science Club Award
  • Henrie Friesen: Broadcom Masters Award
  • Isaac Harker: 3M Award
  • Jackson Lee: Broadcom Masters Award, Navy Award
  • Fiona McKenna: Broadcom Masters Award
  • Abigail Moseman: Broadcom Masters Award
  • Celia Olson: Science Club Award
  • Alaina Portoghese: Just for Fun Award
  • Eli Powell: Just for Fun Award
  • Lily Xiong: Broadcom Masters Award

Advancing to state science fair:

  • Forrest Ahrens
  • Valerie Bares
  • Gayathri Dileepan
  • Daniel Ellis
  • Henrie Friesen
  • Jackson Lee
  • Alice Lightfoot
  • Fiona McKenna
  • Abigail Moseman
  • Celia Olson
  • Isak Stillwell-Jardine
  • Lily Xiong

Humboldt team raises funds for Neighborhood House
The Humboldt Girls Basketball Team raised over $2,000 for Neighborhood House Early Education Programs through their Free Throw Fundraiser this winter. Each player shot 100 Free Throws and earned pledges per basket. Junior Shay Akis led the way with 80 out of 100 free throws. Sophomore Amelia Franco raised $500 and Sophomore Pheonix Perez raised $400. The team exceeded their goal of $1,000 and beat last year's total funds raised by $100.

Two SPPS schools score big at math tournament
Central placed fifth and Highland Senior placed 16th in the Minnesota High School Math Tournament this month.

Students Hannah Davis and Colin Finnegan were among the top 50 students in the state to participate in the Invitational Contest. Hannah was among the top 10 and qualified for the Math Bowl.

SPPS receives Cadillac Escalade donation for automotive students
The General Motors Corporation generously donated a 2007 Cadillac Escalade to students at the Saint Paul High School Automotive Center. This donation will ensure that students in the program will continue to receive quality, high value training as part of their studies in automotive technology.

The Escalade will allow students to learn new technology that supports LED lighting, HID Lighting, rear view camera, park assist monitoring, heated seats, adjustable pedals , DVD player and GPS navigation systems.

We are grateful to all of our business partners for helping the High School Automotive Center stay on top of the latest technology and prepare our students for both employment and challenging academic options. A special thanks goes to General Motors Corporation; Tim McCluskey and Mark Hickman, instructors at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC); and the advisory board members for their work in securing this donation for the Automotive Center.

Located in the Linwood-Monroe Upper Building, the Saint Paul High School Automotive Center offers students from any SPPS high school the chance to earn college and high school credit while learning a skill that is well-paid and in high demand. The program is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and students can earn Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. Students can also participate in paid internships with automotive dealerships in the metro area.

To enroll, students should see the school counselor, or email Ron.rybicka@spps.org.

Dakota elder leads film discussion for students and community
Jim Miller, a Dakota elder from South Dakota, led a discussion based around the film Dakota 38 at the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) on February 27, and at Harding High School on February 28. In 1862, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato during the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The film recounts the story of the ride Jim organized to honor the spirits of these 38 men, the riders who participated, and the ongoing healing that is happening.

Dakota 38 was created in line with Native healing practices. In honor of that, the film is available for screening and viewing at no cost. Visit smoothfeather.org to see a trailer and download the film. For more information contact the MRC at mrc@spps.org.

Washington Technology NJROTC Cadets Participate in Underwater Robot Competition
Cadets from Washington Technology Magnet School will participate for the first time in the Minnesota SeaPerch competition on Saturday, March 15.

Fifty cadets from Washington’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps built and learned how to operate underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) for SeaPerch.

The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research gave a $1,600 grant for Washington students to buy 10 ROV kits. Cadets enrolled in the Naval Science class at Washington worked in groups to construct the low-cost, easy-to-repair ROVs, said Byron Toole, Senior Naval Science Instructor, who teaches the classes.

SPPS students explore careers through Community Education
On March 3, 131 SPPS students participated in the first Career Exploration Day sponsored by the Community Education Department. Students were able to choose one of three options:

  • Exploring Public Safety with Saint Paul Fire Fighters
  • Sports Business at Target Field
  • Engineering at the University of Minnesota Civil Engineering Department.

The District's 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant made this fun day affordable for all students.