11 SPPS buildings vie for Walk/Bike to School Day traveling trophy
This year, 11 SPPS buildings are vying for the Walk/Bike to School Day Traveling Trophy. Those buildings participated on Oct. 7 in the annual Walk/Bike to School Day, an international event aimed at building awareness for more walkable communities. Since starting in 1997, the day-long event has expanded to more than 40 countries. Stay tuned to find out where the trophy will take up residence for the next seven months.

11 SPPS Buildings that Participated in Walk/Bike to School Day

  • Highland Park Elementary School
  • Benjamin E. Mays Elementary School
  • Capitol Hill Magnet School
  • Open World Learning
  • Hubbs Center
  • Hazel Park Preparatory Academy
  • Eastern Heights Elementary School
  • St. Anthony Park Elementary School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • 1730 W. 7th (Community Ed)
  • Hamline Elementary School

Phalen Lake teacher named MN Latino Teacher of the Year
Juanita Ortiz, a LCD/Latino Culture Teacher at Phalen Lake Hmong Magnet School, is Minnesota’s Latino Teacher of the Year.

Ortiz, who has taught at SPPS for 10 years, was nominated for the award by Navigate MN, a resource organization created to help immigrant students in Minnesota pursue higher education.
Ortiz received the award at the Navigate MN Minnesotanos ceremony on Oct. 1 at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. She was nominated by a member of Navigate who speaks each year to Latino parents at Phalen.

Video: Mr. Holland's Opus donation brings excitement to music students at Washington Technology Magnet School
Excitement filled the orchestra room at Washington Technology Magnet School last month as students opened gifts of 39 new and refurbished string instruments from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

The donated instruments, worth $35,000, enabled the school to start a beginning orchestra class, as well as make music education available to more Washington Tech students. The school’s music teacher, Jennifer Erickson, applied for the award.

SPPS Career and Technical Education supporter honored at statewide conference
Bekah Kent, who chairs the Career and Technical Education Business Advisory Committee at SPPS, received the Minnesota Association for Career and Technical Administrators (MACTA) Outstanding Advisory Member Award. Bekah has been an integral part of advancing the mission of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at SPPS for more than 10 years.

Kent, who works as Director of Strategic Grant Initiatives at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, commutes to SPPS to lead the CTE Advisory Board, overseeing all ten CTE program areas. Kathy Kittel, CTE Program Manager at SPPS, presented the award to Kent at the MACTA fall conference.

Humboldt Principal honored with statewide Administrator Award
Michael Sodomka, Principal at Humboldt High School, received the Minnesota Association for Career and Technical Administrators (MACTA) Administrator Award. Sodomka has been a Career and Technical Education (CTE) leader at SPPS with an environmental focus.

Through his initiatives, Sodomka hired an agriculture and natural resources teacher, and then helped expand the program to two additional high schools and five teachers. He also has worked with unions and building trades to bring Construct Tomorrow to SPPS, which is a program that gives students hands-on experiences with building trades.

Sodomka also introduced nursing assistant and the emergency medical responder programs at SPPS, as well as the Academy of Information Technology, a four-year program designed to assist students in acquiring certifications and college credit in information technology. Manufacturing and welding also will be added at Humboldt High School.

Dan Mesick, a POSA in the Office of College and Career Readiness, and Julie Ketterling, a TOSA in CTE, presented the award to Sodomka at the MACTA fall conference.

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

Last week “I Am SPPS” featured:

  • Quayven, a student at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus
  • Jennifer, mother of Linwood Monroe Arts Plus student, Lucas
  • Bobbie Johnson, Principal at Hamline Elementary and Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion