It is hard to believe we are already halfway through the school year. Continuing an emphasis on the importance of daily attendance, I thought the following information would be of interest. Minnesota has a compulsory school attendance law which outlines various expectations and requirements. This information is contained in Minnesota Statute 120A.22 COMPULSORY INSTRUCTION.
Subdivision 1. Parental responsibility.
The parent of a child is primarily responsible for assuring that the child acquires knowledge and skills that are essential for effective citizenship.
Subd. 4. School defined.
For the purpose of compulsory attendance, a "school" means a public school, as defined in section 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, 13, and 17, or a nonpublic school, church or religious organization, or home school in which a child is provided instruction in compliance with this section and section 120A.24.
Subd. 5. Ages and terms.
The Minnesota School Board Association held its annual leadership conference in Minneapolis last week. The conference provides school board members and superintendents an opportunity to expand both knowledge and skills through a variety of keynote speakers, roundtable discussions and breakout sessions. It is a valuable opportunity to “sharpen the saw.”
The keynote address, presented by Dr. Adolph Brown, was titled, Reflective Leaders are Effective Leaders. His address accomplished its intention by highlighting our predisposition for assumptions and judgment. The tactic he used was somewhat reminiscent of a Russian nesting doll.
As Dr. Brown was introduced, a nattily dressed man strode onto the stage. He said a few words and then broke into dance. I immediately thought he was surprisingly limber for a middle-aged college professor. After a few minutes, another younger-looking man wearing a long white smock and trendy pants walked onto the stage. His hair was tightly braided and stuck out all over. I am sure I was not alone wondering how he would be incorporated into Dr. Brown’s keynote. As it turned out, the younger-looking man was the real Dr. Adolph Brown. The first gentleman turned out to be his godson who has been on tour with some big names in the music industry, which explained the dancing skills.
“Engage!” This was the signature “phrase” of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the Star Trek Next Generation television series. Engage meant that the Enterprise would once again embark on a grand adventure. All hands on deck. If you happened to hold the post as the chief engineering officer, “engage” also meant that you better be prepared to perform some miracle to keep the ship operational due to a never ending siege of conflicts and catastrophes. From the original series, this role was best personified by the unforgettable Scotty.
Engage stands as a pretty good word with which to launch 2023. It implies commitment. It demands being present and involved. It means accepting responsibility for the process of life’s journey and its outcome.
Under the phrase “It Takes A Village,” our community’s children receive support from a wide variety of sources. This column will highlight the work of a few – the 544 Education Foundation, Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars, Otters Elementary PTO, and the booster clubs. While we partner with each of these organizations, they are all managed independently through various boards and committees.
The 544 Education Foundation is a great place to start. It was founded in 2000. Their mission is to raise, invest and grant money through a charitable foundation to support educational programs. The 544 Education Foundation is a strong partner. This fall they funded twenty-seven grant requests totaling just under $37,000! They also provide scholarships to graduating seniors. They also fully funded 107 classroom wish list requests and nearly fully funded one additional request. That’s pretty remarkable!
This week’s column is about school climate and culture, student behavior and district process and protocols.
Within our “brick and mortar” buildings, we have over 2,500 students enrolled in our school district. This is larger than the vast majority of cities in Minnesota and, when adding in the staff, makes the population of the school district about the size of the city of Staples. With a population that size, how do we maintain an excellent learning environment?
It starts with establishing climate and culture. Each building starts fresh each year by building relationships with our students and communicating expectations. These expectations include how students should conduct themselves in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria and recess. They include how we should treat each other. Students do best when expectations are consistent. Although there may be a few nuances here and there, generally speaking each classroom models similar expectations. All school employees play a role in being strong, positive role models for students and making sure that students are following the expectations. As you might expect, there are also many reminders to students that take place throughout the school year.