Austin Packer Bulletin - 0120
Volume 1, Issue 20
February is Minnesota School Board Recognition Month. It's a great time to recognize our elected community members who selflessly give their time and energy in support of high-quality public schooling for our youth. School board members of the Austin Public School are entrusted by this community with responsibility for an annual budget of $100 million, 5200 students, over 750 employees and eight buildings.
School boards are charged with making decisions that can sometimes be quite difficult or require sifting through a great deal of information. They also bear responsibility for developing a vision that will guide the school district for years to come. Through collaboration as a team, and with school district staff, their governance and advocacy are building the future of education in Minnesota.
This February, we're encouraging all members of the community to thank a board member. Please thank them for volunteering their time and playing a critical civic role that helps form the bedrock of our democracy — public education. As a crucial bridge between the local community and the school district, their efforts are instrumental in helping all of us realize the hopes and dreams we have for the children of our community.
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
2023 Minnesota Teacher of the Year
The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program, now in its 59th year, is the oldest and most prestigious recognition program in Minnesota to honor excellence in education.
Congratulations to Jessica Bernand and Heather Ruzek, two of our very own, on their nominations!
This past Wednesday, Austin teachers Lisa Lage, Jessica Stanley, and Ryan Stanley received 2022-2023 Outstanding Educator Awards from Southeast Service Cooperative's STEM Forward!
STEM Forward is a collaborative group of southeast Minnesota K-12 school districts, post-secondary partners, and community businesses IBM, Mayo Clinic, The Hormel Institute, and Workforce Development, Inc, who work together to promote STEM excellence in our K-12 schools.
Congratulations to Austin 6th grader Carter Peterson on placing in the top 12 in the Regional Spelling Bee on Tuesday, February 7, at the Wood Lake Meeting Center in Rochester.
59 students from 29 districts throughout southeast Minnesota competed in two Regional Spelling Bees, and the top 6 from each will move on to the Spelling Bee Final on Tuesday, February 21, at 9:00 AM. The Grand Champion of the Final will advance to the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Pictured (L to R): Carter Peterson, Ruthie Carlson, and Gavin Mayers, Austin's district spelling bee finalists.
Juneteenth Minnesota's Newest Holiday
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday on Friday, February 3.
Juneteenth, or June 19, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans. It marks the day — two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — that a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free. Though celebrated by Black Americans for 150 years, Juneteenth only became a federal holiday in 2021 after the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests. See the full story here.
The Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship
The Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship (THFAAS) is a scholarship (free money) that students can use while earning a full-time or part-time education at Riverland Community College. This scholarship covers tuition (65 credits), fees, and includes a stipend for needed books and class materials. The scholarship amount varies for each student, but it will cover 100% of tuition and fees not fulfilled by federal grants or state grants. THFAAS has a potential savings of over $12,000 for college education costs! Learn more about this incredible opportunity here.
Truth Is Austin
Austin Public Schools was represented in Washington, D.C., at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Leadership Forum. CADCA's National Leadership Forum is a four-day conference packed with multiple adult and youth-oriented opportunities to learn the latest strategies to fight substance misuse and hear from nationally-known experts and policymakers and a day dedicated to Capitol Hill events. Learn more here.
Austin High School Drama Club
The Austin High School drama club presents "Sally Cotter and the Censored Stone" February 23 & 24 at 7:00 pm and February 25 & 26 at 2:00 pm. All shows at Ellis Middle School auditorium. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for youth.
School Counselors Week
Do you know what school counselors really do? Spoiler alert: It's a lot. This week, we're
celebrating their dedication to all students.
Science Olympiad Team
- Ellen Ekins and Claudia McDonald: Astronomy (4th)
- Vivianna Kelley and Nadia Hummel: Cell Biology (4th)
- Vivianna Kelley, Meicy Liu, and Nadia Hummel: Code Busters (2nd)
- David Vu and Ellen Ekins: Experimental Design (2nd)
- David Vu: Forestry (1st)
Health Care Coverage
Minnesota families who rely on MinnesotaCare or Medicaid for their health care coverage will receive paperwork to renew coverage from the Department of Human Services in the next 16 months. Renewals were paused during the pandemic. The most important thing families need to do right now to avoid a gap in coverage is to ensure the Department of Human Services (DHS) can reach them through the mail.
Please help us ensure every family has the information to renew their health care coverage. Families can find information about what to do at DHS's Don't Risk a Gap in Your Health Insurance.
School Mental Health Best Practices
MDE's Project AWARE and COMPASS teams are partnering to host several free, virtual School Mental Health Best Practices trainings this spring. The intended audience is anyone interested in enhancing their systems of support for student mental health and wellbeing. Trainings will be facilitated by Project AWARE's COMPASS School Climate & Mental Health staff.
- Foundations of Comprehensive School Mental Health: Feb. 14, 9–10:30 a.m. CST; Registration Link. In this training, participants will develop an understanding of the definition, core features and value of comprehensive school mental health systems.
- Teaming: Feb. 27, 9–10:30 a.m. CST; Registration Link. This session will focus on teaming. By the end of this module, participants will be able to define a school mental health team and at least three functions of school mental health teams, describe at least three reasons why school mental health teams are valuable, and describe best practices for teaming.
- Needs Assessment & Resource Mapping: March 22, 9–10:30 a.m. CST; Registration Link. This session will focus on needs assessment and resource mapping.
Reminder: Elementary School Transition Updates
The Minnesota Department of Education's flexible learning year provides optional scheduling approaches for students and educators for a school year by building or program. Sumner Elementary School has utilized a 45/15 schedule for several years in the Austin Public Schools. Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, Sumner Elementary School will return to the same calendar as the other elementary schools in the District.
This means that beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, all Austin Public Schools will be on a traditional calendar when all students begin in the fall, have traditional breaks throughout the year, and have most of the summer off. This transition in schedule also means that all elementary students in the Austin Public Schools will eventually begin the process of adhering to attending their neighborhood elementary school. The elementary boundaries have not changed. This transition will involve several changes throughout the District, and we would like to share as much as possible with you here.
In this week's Alumni Spotlight, we catch up with alumna Jasmin Deitrick.
Are you an alumnus of Austin Public Schools? If so, we'd love to hear from you!
We're excited to hear about your accomplishments and are eager to share your successes and advice with our current students, families, and the Austin community. Please take a few minutes to complete the quick questionnaire at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/alumni-spotlight regarding your current position and your career trajectory.
Thanks, and we look forward to hearing all your wonderful stories!
At Austin Public Schools, our mission is to inspire, empower, and accelerate every one of our learners, and we know that the only way for us to reach this goal is through the efforts of all our incredibly hard-working staff.
In this week’s Staff Spotlight, we’re highlighting Woodson Kindergarten Center teacher Crystal Pepper.
"Mrs. Pepper is an amazing human being. She cares deeply for every child who walks into her classroom. Her ability to reach every student is unmatched."
If you’d like to nominate an outstanding Austin Public Schools staff member for our weekly Staff Spotlight, please take a moment to fill out the form at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/staff-spotlight. It only takes a minute and can truly make someone’s day. Thanks!
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Please consider joining Superintendent Page at the Coffee House on Main, 329 Main Street North, for Coffee and Conversation!
March 30 – 7:00 – 7:45 AM
April 4 - 7:00 - 7:45 AM
May 29 - 7:00 - 7:45 AM
*Dates are subject to change
Or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 507-460-1900 to schedule an appointment.