The Houston School Board was joined by two new student members at their regular November 3 meeting. Priya Kingsley and Ashtyn Meyer will be representing the Houston students on the school board. Both girls noted their goal was to share the student perspective while on the board. They quickly acknowledged they had little previous knowledge of the board and how it works.
Hannah Weichert was recognized by Superintendent Mary Morem as a Hurricane Hero. Morem applauded Hannah for her “triple dutying” in volleyball, dance practice, and being a leader in the community.
Last year the school board set four pillars for the continuous improvement for the school. They had chosen connections and relationships, growth, student achievement, and partnerships and real-world learning.
At this meeting, the board was presented a slide show detailing and celebrating achievements from the educators’ and leadership’s perspectives. In connections, the educators pointed out community and parent communication and engagement as well as teacher support with resources and the use of PLCs. Growth was seen with the return to normalcy after Covid, the after-school programming, and students themselves knowing their own learning targets.
Student achievement was recognized in being a Blue Ribbon School and the student learning in both literacy and math. Partnerships were noted by the educators in the work with the Owl Center, the local library, Valley View Nursing Home, and the food shelf. Real-world learning was obvious in local workplace learning at Stinson’s Meats, Cox Hardware, Root River Market, and Rushford State Bank, workplace learning partnership with La Crescent, and distance learning as well as field trips, real-world and relevant experiences.
Following the presentation of the educators’ perspectives, Morem asked the board what they were proud of about the school. Gene Lundak shared meeting all the staff at the picnic during the start of the year workshops. Mimi Carlson was proud of how all the new buildings were being used extensively by the school and public.
Mark Swenson was proud of how the school returned to normal after Covid; Josh Norlien shared his pride at the numerous offerings Houston is able to have considering the size of the school. Richard Erdmann shared his delight in how the students and staff have been working together through all the recent changes.
Priya Kingsley commented that teachers are a “lot more real” since Covid; they are open to creating connections with the students.
Gene Lundak added his pride in the clean and well taken care of grounds and thanked the groundskeeper and maintenance staff.
From the audience, a parent commented that she appreciates the teachers and coaches supporting the students and their community involvement.
The board accepted generous donations from the community: DLC gave $1,100 for a batting cage; River Neuharth gave $40 and the Knights of Columbus gave $1,125 for the backpack program; Darrel R. Ives gave $200 for miscellaneous; the American Legion Post 423 gave $250 for new cheerleading uniforms and $4,100 for the Washington, D.C. trip; Kathleen Nelson gave $14 to the Drama Club.
In other business the board:
• Learned that the community engagement team has met three times now; at this point, its purpose has been to simply gather community input;
• Heard that HVED has officially been notified that after school year 2023-2024 Houston will no longer be a member of HVED;
• Learned the Pathway to Success Program will get underway at the beginning of second semester with enrolled MNVA students; they will graduate with a two year degree in education as well as a high school degree;
• Were reminded that the board would have a special meeting November 17 to canvass the votes for the school board.
The next regular Houston School Board meeting will be December 1, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. in the high school media center. The meetings may also be viewed using the link on the school’s webpage. The public is welcome to attend; a public comment period is available for guests.