For ISD 709 Faculty & Staff 12/4/20
From John Magas, Superintendent
This week, a package arrived for me here at the district office. I was surprised to see that it was a “survival package” from my mom, who lives in Michigan. Despite being nearly 80 and suffering from Parkinsons and other ailments, she is always thinking of others.
Opening the box, I found a couple of kitchen items, a cheese grater, some dried oregano from her garden and a Tupperware container with a couple of brownies. With my first bite, I was transported by flavors of pure cocoa, sugar and butter, made from my Grandma Mildred’s recipe.
Mildred had lived through her own pandemic, the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed an estimated 675,000 Americans. As an 11 year old, I wondered what her experience had been like as she faced those hardships, many that we are facing now.
She made it through, however. By the summer of 1919, the pandemic came to an end.
She became an elementary teacher in the early 1930s. At that time, as a female teacher, she needed to be “secretly married” during her workweek, but headed to her home and husband in Kalamazoo on the weekends. She went on to have kids, travel through the Southwest, making Super-8 movies of the Grand Canyon that inspired my love of travel. And, she came up with the best brownie recipe the world has ever known!
Why am I sharing this? Because it is important to remember a few things:
We will get through this challenge together. We have and will have losses, suffering, and struggles, but brighter times will also come.
We need to take time to check in on one another.
We have to remember to be thankful for small moments of joy.
There will be brownies.
I hope that each of you are able to enjoy a few moments of joy each day, that may even seem a bit richer despite the challenges. (And… if you really need it…it turns out that the magic recipe of my youth was on the side of the chocolate syrup can the whole time.)
If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: Superintendents@isd709.org
Rockridge Academy: Distance Learning Dec 7 - 11
We are transitioning Rockridge Academy to distance learning and closing the building for one week beginning Monday December 7 through Friday December 11. We expect Rockridge Day Treatment students will resume in-person hybrid learning Monday, December 14. Rockridge Academy is responding to a staffing shortage related in part to COVID and the need for quarantines.
We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. Rockridge families who have questions can be referred to Jacob.Hintsala@ISD709.org.
Update: Interim Director of Human Resources
Bruce Watkins will serve as Interim Director of Human Resources until a permanent candidate is hired. Mr. Watkins accepted the temporary appointment following a confirmation interview and approval by the Duluth School Board with a contract through June 2021.
His most recent experience includes Interim Superintendent and Interim Director of Human Resources for Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools; Interim Director of Partner for Student Success; Interim Superintendent for Elk River Public Schools, among others. Mr. Watkins holds and Educational Administration 6th Year Degree from the University of MN - Duluth, a Masters in Educational Administration from St. Cloud University and a Bachelor of Science in Speech and English.
Deadline Dec 7: COVID Housing Assistance
MDE Public Comment Through December 13
The Minnesota Department of Education will be revising data collection systems to allow public schools district and charter schools greater flexibility in reporting students’ gender identity, including the option to designate a gender other than male or female.
View the Gender Identity Data Collection and Reporting document to learn more. Minnesotans are invited to comment on the implementation process between November 30, 2020 and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 13, 2020.
Sources of Strength - Week 4
When we feel stressed, Healthy Activities can lift our mood and help us gain clarity and unwind. Healthy Activities can be social, physical, and/or emotional. Stress often does not go away on its own. We have to actively engage in Healthy Activities to lower our stress response. Create a household bucket list of activities you can do together. These might be new skills, favorite pastimes or ideas for bringing calm into your home and in your life.
Conversation starters for you at home:
What healthy activities help you feel joy?
What are things you do to help you energize?
Share a story of how you used an activity to cope with a difficult situation.
Activities for students to do at home:
Watch the Panda Cam at the National Zoo! Link below
Learn to do yoga.
Get outside and go for a walk or run.
Fun activities and links can be found here:
Help Desk for Students, Families
Duluth Public Schools families and students have access to Help Desk support during digital learning. Help Desk Hotline 218-336-8732.
The Help Desk will be able to assist students and parents with questions related to district technical support issues, for example:
- District Chromebook support
- District AT&T hotspot support
- System login questions
- Limited personal devices and internet support
- Limited Digital Curriculum support
Please Continue to Report Positive COVID Results
>>Students who test positive should report their result to their school health office.
>>Staff who test positive should report their result to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your help and support as we address the pandemic.
MN Dept of Health: COVID Exposure Notifications
HELP SUPPORT SCHOOL FUNDING! DEADLINE DEC 15
Families, please fill out the Free/Reduced Price Lunch Application to help support millions in important school funding!
Approved Free & Reduced Price Lunch applications generate state funding that provides important services and programs for Duluth students. A decline in approved applications now can result in loss of millions of dollars in school funding and less programs and services for students in the next school year.
In addition to providing free meals for children, approved applications may also qualify students for discounted or free extra-curricular activity fees.
It's easy and confidential, apply any time, 24/7.
Questions? Call 218-336-8707, we're happy to help.
Community Partnership: Brave Art
Duluth Public Schools is continuing to partner with PAVSA this year and their Brave Art Initiative.
Do you know some students that love to express themselves through art? If so, we invite you to pass along this awesome opportunity for youth to share their Art with the community during the annual Brave Art event that's held every January.
What is Brave Art?
Brave Art is a free community art fair that is dedicated to raising awareness about resiliency through creativity and artistic expression. The event allows youth and other members of the community to create and submit a piece of artwork that shows what being brave means to them.
Ok, how do you participate?
After that, Mel Alavar (the director of Brave Art) will follow up with the youth to give them some more information on how to submit their artwork and potentially have it featured in a storefront in the Twin Ports.
If you have any questions about the event, please reach out to Jacob.Laurent@ISD709.org
Climate Coordinator Duluth Public Schools - ISD 709 or Mel Alavar at email@example.com.
US Senate Youth Application: Extended to Dec 22
The 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program will be held in an online format for 2021.
- Completed application packets may be mailed to the Minnesota Department of Education or emailed as attachments. See full mailing address on the application or submit application documents via email to: mde.USSYP@state.mn.us
- Deadline Extended: Applications must be postmarked or emailed by Tuesday, December 22, 2020.
The program brochure and application form are available on the program website. Each secondary school may nominate one student for the program. For more information, contact: U.S. Senate Youth Program Coordinator for Minnesota Email: mde.USSYP@state.mn.us
ISD 709 News
Duluth East Student Achieves ACT Success
Congratulations, Haakon Pihlaja, Duluth East! Haakon achieved the highest possible score on the ACT exam, a 36. Nationwide, over 1.67 million students have taken the ACT this year and 5,579 scored a 36.
Virtual Field TripDuluth Public Schools' art education students had an opportunity to take part in a fourth Virtual Field Trip in November. Printmaker Tyler Green treated students to a tour of Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis. Students watched the design, inking and printmaking process, and interacted with other artists working in the facility. They experienced ideas and themes of a variety of printmakers in Highpoint's gallery.
Congdon Park and Pick Library BooksThe school had a great turnout, students enjoyed choosing library books at school, all grades welcome. Participants were asked to:
- Come in one family at a time
- Wear a mask
- Sanitize hands
- Return books
- Choose new books
- Check out with Mrs. Miller
KEY Zone and Tier 1 Childcare, Indoors & OutdoorsPhotos from the first week at Lowell Tier 1 childcare and KEY Zone. The children have done well getting on their Google meets, working on Seesaw, making crafts, having fun outside, and sledding.