ISD 709 News 11/19/21

From Assistant Superintendent Anthony Bonds

Dear Families:

First, I have some sad news to share. I want to let you know that John Magas's father passed away last night. Superintendent Magas is in Michigan supporting his family. We extend our deepest condolences and hopes for comfort and courage in the days ahead.

This week we join Dr. Heather Mueller, MN Education Commissioner, in urging our school community to continue to practice and follow COVID mitigation strategies.

Cases are continuing to rise in Minnesota and we see that reflected in our schools. While this is not what we wanted to have to focus on this school year it's our reality. Please know how much your efforts to get vaccinated, mask up, social distance, wash hands, quarantine and stay home when sick are appreciated. None of this is simple or easy but it makes a difference and can help support in-person learning for our students.

Like many school districts across the country, we continue to work tirelessly to recruit and hire bus drivers, substitutes, and other school personnel. If you know anyone interested in working in our schools, please encourage them to apply.

In the midst of challenges there are moments that bring heart and hope. Winonah Ojanen and the Misaabekong program lifted up in WDSE's Native Report. Artwork expressing Hopes and Dreams from Congdon Park Elementary. The Rock Your Mocs celebration at Denfeld High School. The work we do with young people is one of the reasons we all chose this profession. I'm grateful for the optimism and joy these moments bring.


Anthony Bonds

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email:


Misaabekong Teacher Recognized for Excellence

Gaagige Aanakwadikwe, also known as Winonah Ojanen, is a recipient of the Duluth News Tribune 20 Under 40 Award and was honored by the Duluth School Board for this accomplishment, congratulations!

Ms. Ojanen is a member of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe in Wisconsin and is an Ojibwe immersion teacher with the Misaabekong Immersion Program at Lowell Elementary. She also takes part in creating Ojibwe immersion curriculum for the program, with a special focus on science. The Duluth News Tribune 20 Under 40 Award recognizes high achievers younger than 40 from the greater Duluth community and who are successful in their chosen fields, role models in their careers or leaders in their business or community. In the newspaper’s feature, Ms. Ojanen says, "My friends, family, dreams, love for the Ojibwe language and culture, and my passion for learning astronomy are all deeply important to me. They are the inspiration for my journey of intertwining Ojibwe, science and teaching.”

Ms. Ojanen, you are an inspiration to all of us. Once again, congratulations on receiving this award, and thank you for your leadership and support of Duluth students and families.


MN Ed Commissioner Urges COVID Safety

Minnesota's Education Commissioner is urging families to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation strategies to keep schools safe and health. Dr. Heather Mueller says families can continue supporting their school communities by:

  • Wearing a mask to school
  • Getting vaccinated
  • Participating in regular COVID-19 testing
  • Practicing other important measures such as physical distancing and hand washing

As cases continue to rise in Minnesota, Commissioner Mueller reminds families that we must work together to keep our students safely learning in their classrooms.

“In March of 2020, no one could have predicted that COVID-19 and the Delta variant would still be affecting classrooms across Minnesota as the 2021-22 school year began,” says Commissioner Mueller. “We have learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic, and our priorities remain the same: first, maintaining the safety, health and wellness of our students, staff and families; and second, ensuring students can stay in their classrooms for safe in-person learning.”

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and the president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz, also sent a letter and a frequently asked questions document to school leaders and school board chairs to emphasize the importance of following the state’s Best Practice Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools.

COVID Vax For Ages 5 and Older

Free COVID Vaccinations Available for Ages 5 years and Older:

The Minnesota Department of Health has created a resource with information about COVID-19 vaccines for people under 18 years old.

The MN Dept of Health’s About COVID-19 Vaccine web page includes information on the vaccine and what to expect before, during and after vaccination.

The What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines document provides answers to many questions families may have.

COVID Safe Learning Plan

As the COVID pandemic continues, our schools continue to respond to ensure health and safety. The Safe Learning Plan reflects current local planning and is subject to change based on local, state and national guidance.

Details at www.ISD709.org/SafeLearningPlan

State and County Data:

Minnesota Weekly COVID Report - Includes Cases in PreK through Grade 12 School Buildings by County

Minnesota Situation Update

St. Louis County MN COVID-19 Dashboard

Invitation to Join EEAC

The Education Equity Advisory Committee (EEAC) is a Citizens Advisory Committee that provides recommendations and advice on matters of Education Equity to the Duluth Public School Board and district administrative personnel.

  • Such advice may regard planning, implementation, and/or evaluation of various district initiatives and plans such as the Achievement and Integration plan to ensure compliance with MN Statutes and Rules.
  • Participants may be students, families, staff, and community members (individuals, organizations, committees) willing to participate in an advisory capacity. It is a goal of the Office of Education Equity (OEE) and EEAC that participants of the committee will be representative of the diversity of our school district.
  • The first EEAC meeting will be from 5:00PM-8:00PM on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at Lincoln Park Middle School.

If you're interested, please reach out to the OEE with questions, comments and to RSVP so an accurate estimate for food, childcare, and transportation support needs can be created.

Phone: 218-336-8714 or email nathan.smith@isd709.org

Help High School Students Learn a Career!

The ISD 709 Construction Technology class seeks potential building projects in the line of sheds, garages or other possibilities for Second Semester 2022.

Especially interested in jobs that are within 10 minutes of either the Denfeld or Duluth East High School areas. Please contact the instructor Anthony.Leone@ISD709.org or leave a phone message at 336-8845 ext 4082.

#Inspire709 #LearnACareer




ISD 709 Nature Playscapes

ISD 709 Duluth Preschool is celebrating the grand opening of Nature Playscapes at three elementary schools November 22, 23 & 24.

  • Created using grant dollars and with help from 3 Owls Outdoor Play consultants, these innovative, engaging play spaces will increase outdoor opportunities for Duluth preschool students in neighborhoods with less access to green spaces.

  • Playscapes are landscape features that allow kids to play creatively with natural materials such as sand, water, hills, and logs.

  • Grant dollars also covered outdoor gear for students - rainsuits, rain boots, mittens and fleece neck gaiters.

  • Over 300 studies indicate that greenspace benefit the physical and mental health of the children and families who use them

  • Studies have found the type of play found in playscapes is more cooperative, creative, and engages more communication among students than a regular playground.

11/22: Myers Wilkins Elementary, 1027 N. 8th Avenue East, 9:15AM-10:00AM

11/23: Piedmont Elementary, 2827 Chambersburg Avenue, 9:15AM-10:00AM

11/24: Laura MacArthur Elementary, 720 N. Central Avenue, 9:15AM-10:00AM

Questions? Sherry.Williams@ISD709.org

We Need School Bus Drivers!

Make a difference by becoming a Duluth School Bus Driver, our schools need you. Apply today if you’re a school bus driver looking for work OR hold a CDL license or a valid drivers license with a good driving record (we’ll pay to train you!) OR a retired school bus driver willing to work this school year.

Starting Wage: $19.54/Hr, Excellent Single & Family Benefits

Duluth Public Schools is an equal opportunity employer.

Current Job Openings

Questions? Email: noncerthr@isd709.org or call (218) 336-8722

In The News

Native Report visited the Misaabekong Ojibwe Language Immersion program at Duluth Public Schools ISD 709's Lowell Elementary School to visit with teacher Winonah Ojanen - Gaagige Aanakwadikwe of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

WDSE-TV8 Native Report: Facebook Page

Piedmont Elementary School launched a ‘high altitude weather balloon’
as a special outdoor science project for data collecting.

KBJR - TV6: Watch the Video

WDIO-TV10: Watch the Video

Students from Ordean East MS, Lowell Elementary and Lincoln Park MS participated in the Girls on the Run program this fall, culminating in a 5K run.

KQDS-TV21: Watch the Video

WDIO-TV10: Watch the Video

Denfeld HS Rock Your Mocs

Rock Your Mocs is a worldwide Native American & Indigenous Peoples movement held annually during November and this year at Denfeld High School.

Thank you, JP Rennquist, for the photos and information.

From the Rock Your Mocs Facebook Page:

Rock Your Mocs is a positive opportunity to be united and celebrate tribal individuality by wearing moccasins. We honor our ancestors, and Indigenous peoples worldwide and commemorate National Native American Heritage Month. If a person doesn’t own mocs, can’t wear mocs, or perhaps their Tribe didn’t wear mocs, they may wear a Turquoise Awareness Ribbon instead. Participants post their photos for everyone to enjoy, sharing their stories and creating an “online photo album” by using the following hashtag: #RockYourMocs



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Duluth East Students Earn Academic Letters

Students at Duluth East High School who earned an Academic Letter during the 2020-2021 school year celebrated their accomplishment this month. To earn an Academic Letter students must maintain a 3.8 grade point average or higher during the school year and take four or more classes at Duluth East. 378 Duluth East students earned this academic honor! Congratulations Greyhounds!

Thank you, Michelle Riley and Jamie Savre for this info and photos.

#Inspire709 #GoHounds


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Congdon Students Honor Those Who Served

Thank you, veterans, for your service!

Thank you, Judith McKeever, for the photos.



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