Houston Elementary social worker Jessie Reed joined the school board at their regular March 2 board meeting to explain RULER, an emotional intelligence curriculum, being used at the elementary school. RULER, which stands for recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating, was developed by Yale.
To begin her presentation, Reed had the board jot down as many emotions as they could in a minute. The board struggled and no one was able to name 10 emotions; this is normal for people. Reed pointed out that we often don’t recognize and label out emotions.
Sharing a chart of 100 emotions organized by pleasantness and energy, Reed explained the organization and colors used to recognize and label emotions. Red represents low pleasantness and high energy; blue is low pleasantness and low energy; green is high pleasantness and low energy; yellow is high pleasantness and high energy. According to Reed, students are taking the curriculum in and using the language; this was obvious as board members with elementary kids mentioned their kids using the colors to describe their own and their parents’ emotions.
“Emotions matter,” Reed emphasized. “They influence memory, decision-making, creativity, and mental and physical well-being.” Reed stressed that emotions affect relationships at home and the workplace as well as in academics. She hopes to continue to roll out the program with the elementary staff. One of the benefits of the curriculum is that students will become able to recognize and then self regulate their emotions.
Elementary principal Rick Bartz commented, “Ideally we need to all speak the same language.”
In his elementary report, Bartz shared that the Exploradome, a traveling planetarium from the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum, had come to the school and each student got to experience it twice. Other recent happenings at the school included Read Across America Week and the 100th day of school.
Angela Specketer, MNVA principal, reported that additional student support is being provided. MIRRORS, a response team, looks at data and then proactively reaches out to struggling students.
Specketer noted that many courses have been added to support the assorted career pathways. MNVA is working to create clear, cohesive progressions through the electives to help guide students in course selections. In addition, MNVA is looking at adding a reading strategies course for middle school. Other recent course additions include extending band down to fifth grade, beginning a choir in the elementary and middle school, and a photography course.
High school principal Michael Mangan shared activities at the high school – state wrestling, robotics competition in Duluth, Knowledge Bowl competing at state, an upcoming trip to Nashville for music students as well as the quickly approaching prom and graduation.
March 16 will be registration day for students in seventh through tenth grades. Eleventh graders will register individually. Mangan informed the board that a senior seminar will be offered next year to provide seniors needed skills such as finances, credit cards, renting apartments, etc. An EMR class will be taught by Mr. Momsen. A drawing class will be offered also. A differentiated reading class will be available for eighth graders, while a foundational English course will be added for eleventh graders.
Mangan enthused that collaboration with MNVA on a dual enrollment algebra II course had gone well; seven Houston High students earned both high school and college credits in the course.
Mangan hopes to add a foreign language class; he is looking into the possibility of hiring and sharing a Spanish teacher with other area schools.
In other business, the board:
• Recognized paraprofessional Terri Gavin for her positive and encouraging work with students both in school, at lunch, and while supervising and greeting students at their arrival;
• Gave feedback to Superintendent Morem on her goals; NIckki Johnson suggested using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) wording for future goals;
• Approved the 2023-2024 calendar with school beginning after Labor Day and ending for students on May 29; possible Wednesday early-outs will be addressed after public input on the subject;
• Read a letter officially notifying HVED of Houston’s withdrawal from the group and discontinuance of HVED services effective May 31, 2023;
• Heard a building update that the elementary stage flooring was complete and last summer’s building project still had some roofing to be completed.
The next regular board meeting will be held in the high school media center at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 6. An additional workshopping board session will be held at 6 p.m. on March 16 to further discuss a proposed building referendum. The public is welcome to attend the meetings.
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