The administrative team reported to the Houston School Board at their regular meeting, September 7, that the new school year was off to a great start. Each of the principals addressed the board, sharing changes and improvements at their school.
Elementary principal Angela McQuinn noted that there had been a lot of positive comments from parents with the online registration process deemed a big hit. Parents also appreciated the evening interview days and requested switching to two evenings instead of an evening and a day next year. They wanted the elementary to begin classes the same day as the middle school/high school.
McQuinn informed the board that there will be weekly newsletters for both staff and parents. She said the elementary website has been totally updated.
According to McQuinn, the first week was spent working on connections and relationships. The staff read the book “I Promise” by LeBron James, which includes positive and encouraging wording. Each classroom will have a charter.
The elementary will be piloting a fourth grade band this year. Students received the news with enthusiasm; most of the students in grades four through six have enrolled in band.
MNVA principal Angela Specketer shared that MNVA would be having a face-to-face open house in Plymouth the next day so parents, students and staff could meet in person. She was
excited to have Title I and ADSIS (alternative delivery of specialized instructional services) funding to use for interventions. MNVA has a math interventionist this year.
Specketer noted that MNVA was adding choir and band at the elementary level and choir at the middle school. (The middle school had added band last year.)
Electives at the high school were examined to make sure they were streamlined to a pathway so students can more easily choose appropriate classes. Two or three certification programs are available as well.
PLCs (professional learning communities) will all take place at the same time on the same day so different PLCs will be able to collaborate with each other.
MS/HS Principal Michael Mangan shared that activities during the teacher workshop week focused on collaboration and conversations so teachers could learn from each other.
Students gathered in the gym on their first day to hear Mangan’s message that everybody matters; everybody contributes to the school. Students and staff all help each other from day one. Mangan stresses that Houston School is a family. Working on PBIS, they went through the expectations at school.
Changes this year include a gifted and talented teacher; according to Mangan, there is a lot more support for SPED students this year. All activities are in full swing including athletics, a musical, and a new board game club.
Twenty students are taking a concurrent math class; they will earn high school and college credit for the class. A math trades class is also being taught. A film class elective is finding popularity among the students as they learn exactly what it entails.
Summit is at capacity; the school focuses on project-based learning. The attendance is nearly perfect at the school.
Twelve students are in the work-based learning class. This elective class was brought back to Houston at the request of students; it is taught by a teacher from La Crescent. Juniors and seniors are able to get credit for work and take asynchronous classes at their own time. The teacher visits them at their workplace to evaluate them.
School Board business at the meeting, the school board:
•Recognized Ron Evenson and Larry Jerviss as Hurricane Heroes for all their amazing work – helping with the recent BAM (Bicycling Around Minnesota) event, volunteering for many things around the school, and serving as great resources;
•Approved the e-learning plan which was designed to be accessible for all students;
•Set a special meeting for September 21 to set the proposed levy;
•Passed a resolution for Superintendent Mary Morem to be the IOwA (Identified Official
with Authority) for the school;
•Did a first reading of many school policies that had been affected by legislative updates;
•Accepted with gratitude donations totaling $1,770;
•Heard the ECFE kickoff will be a Barnyard Bash on September 25 with hayrides, wagon
rides and animals;
•Received a slide show of the recent MNVA Costa Rica trip;
•Heard from Morem that the news flier sent to residents had been well received; Morem encourages any residents who did not receive a flier to contact the school directly so they can get it and future mailings.
A special board meeting will be held September 21 to set the levy for next year and hold a closed meeting on negotiations. The next regular meeting of the Houston School Board will be Thursday, October 5 at 6 p.m. in the high school media center. The public is welcome to attend.