Harding Activities Director Inducted into MSHSL Hall of Fame
Longtime Harding Senior High School Activities Director Gerry Keenan was recently inducted into the 2015 Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame.

Keenan, a lifelong Saint Paul resident, has been working at Saint Paul Public Schools for six decades, according to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). He’s been the Activities Director at Harding since 1996 and has hosted the school’s morning news for more than a decade. Keenan also serves as the chair of the district’s athletic administrative council. Under his leadership, he’s credited with saving middle school athletics in Saint Paul amid a budget crunch. He’s also participated on the several MSHSL committees, as well as other athletic associations.

Keenan graduated in 1955 from St. Paul Wilson High School. He began his teaching career in 1960 at Mechanic Arts, where he also coached boys basketball. Keenan began teaching at Harding in 1975. His many awards and recognitions include the State Award of Merit from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and induction into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

He was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame on Oct. 25.

Como Park Boys Soccer Team Heads Back to State Tournament
For the fourth time in four years, the Como Park Cougars are playing in the Minnesota State High School League’s Class A Boys Soccer Tournament.

After a challenging regular season, the Cougars have found their form and put together a post-season run through the Section 4A Tournament, culminating with a 3-0 win over Mounds Park Academy in the section finals on Oct. 23.

“The boys struggled early in the season with a really competitive schedule,” said Como Park Activities Director Mike Searles. “There were a lot of ties and close games that could have gone either way, but now they’re clicking and having a really great run in the post-season.”

Saint Paul Firefighters Outfit 650 SPPS Students with Winter Coats for Operation Warm
About 650 children from low-income families will be outfitted with brand-new winter coats this year, thanks to Saint Paul Firefighters Local 21. Firefighters fundraise in order to personally fit each child, Saint Paul Firefighter Colin Oglesbee said. Firefighters help select the child’s favorite color and write their name in the interior tag of their new coat, which reads, “Made Just for You.”

“There are literally thousands of volunteer hours that go into fundraising and organizing this event,” Oglesbee said. “The distribution day is the big payoff. It makes it all worthwhile when we get to see the smile on the kids’ faces.” The first of two coat celebrations happened Oct. 26 at Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary School. The second coat celebration will happen next month at Riverview West Side School of Excellence.

Board of Education recognizes outstanding work by SPPS employees
The SPPS Board of Education each month recognizes outstanding work by SPPS employees and students. Here are the employees and schools recognized Oct. 20 by the Board:

October Recognitions

  • Gina Lesser, a social studies teacher at Washington Technology Magnet, is the winner of the 2014-15 Norma Rowe Model UN Teacher Award. The award is given to an outstanding Model UN teacher each year. Lesser has been a teacher at Washington Technology Magnet for five years. This will also be the fifth year that she will teach the Model United Nations program. She currently teaches eighth grade global studies and high school sociology and psychology.
  • Juanita Ortiz, an LCD/Latino Culture Teacher at Phalen Lake Hmong Magnet School, is Minnesota’s Latino Teacher of the Year. Ortiz has taught at SPPS for 10 years. She 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.
  • Karen Pappas, a first grade teacher at Four Seasons Elementary, was recognized with WCCO’s Excellent Educator award. On a recent Wednesday morning, WCCO barged into her classroom with camera rolling and surprised her with special guests such as family members and former co-workers.
  • Mary Dorow, a third grade teacher at Como Park Elementary, was honored with the 3M Innovative Economic Educator Award. The Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) will honor Dorow this month at its annual EconFest celebration. The award recognizes educators who create lessons that approach the teaching of economics with creativity at the elementary and secondary levels.

SPPS staff, student 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:

  • Jennifer Geng, a social worker at Cherokee Heights Elementary
  • Jonathan, a seventh-grader at Hazel Park Preparatory Academy
  • Misti Germundson, an adaptive physical education teacher and the GSA advisor at Hazel Park Preparatory Academy