Liz Parr-Smestad inducted into Park Cottage Grove Hall of Fame
Congratulations to John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary physical educator Liz Parr-Smestad, who was inducted into the Park High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 22 in Cottage Grove.

Chelsea Heights collects 1,050 pounds of food for Neighborhood House
Kudos to Chelsea Heights Elementary for collecting 1,050 pounds of food for Neighborhood House. The holiday food drive was a great success.

Central teacher's sabbatical work aims to decrease achievement gap in science
Kathryn Vadnais, a Central High School biology teacher, is on a science education research sabbatical this year at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

She is leading a team of four college students who plan to be science teachers when they graduate. The team’s goal is to decrease the achievement gap in science by developing engaging, quantitative-data-producing classroom experiments.

A grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is funding the research. Their work is tied to MCA III science standards and ACT science test questions. This spring Kathryn will share the group’s work with interested SPPS teachers.

SPPS educators receive two $5,000 grants from NEA Foundation
Four SPPS educators have been awarded two $5,000 grants from the NEA Foundation to teach literacy through theater and to improve access to social studies content in high-needs schools.

Elodie Sontgerath and Mee Vang of Jackson Elementary School received their $5,000 grant to develop students’ literacy skills through participation in storytelling and creative drama. Through the grant, students will participate in the Neighborhood Bridges program in cooperation with the Children’s Theatre Company to create their own show to perform for their families, peers and community members.

Rebecca Biel and Laurence Brodeur, of the SPPS Office of Teaching and Learning, also received a $5,000 Student Achievement Grant to help the Social Studies Department at SPPS and the Minnesota International Center in supporting social studies in third grade. Participating schools are determined by a need for social studies support and the number of students in the free and reduced-price lunch program.

Nationwide, the NEA Foundation is awarding $168,000 in grants to 42 educators in 22 states.