From the Office of the Superintendent May 8, 2020

Weekly Briefing for ISD 709 Faculty & Staff

Dear Colleagues,

Each day, as we work through the changes and challenges associated with the pandemic, I find new inspiration in the work of Duluth Public Schools employees. With grace and calm, without fanfare, people across all departments are stepping up and doing what needs to be done for the benefit of children, families and our community.

I cannot say it enough - the work each of you is doing to provide distance learning, child care, food service, cleaning our schools, ensuring our health and safety, making certain our school district functions effectively, is amazing.

None of this is easy. What we're all asked to do is challenging, sometimes uncertain and sometimes changes over time. I know you miss being with your students, your colleagues, and the smiles and laughter that often come with togetherness. Please know that your efforts are appreciated.

As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, I especially want to thank our faculty for their efforts during this time. For continuing to ask the what, why, and how questions that keep our students curious. For reaching out in a myriad of ways to ensure that we are connecting with students and families. And for caring for every student-- your efforts make a difference in the lives of students, their families, and the whole community.

Kind regards,


If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: Superintendents@ISD709.org. Twitter: @billgronseth


2020 Gold Star Teacher VIRTUAL Award Ceremony

Wed May 27, 2020 7:00PM

Live Streamed on the Duluth Public School Board's YouTube Web Page

We have outstanding teachers in the Duluth Public Schools. This virtual event honors all teachers and this year will lift up several inspiring middle and high school teachers.

The final Gold Star Teacher Award recipient will be announced live during the event, they'll receive $5,000 from the Goldfine Family and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

This is the 14th year for the Gold Star Teacher Awards.

National Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8

Thank You, Duluth Teachers

Teachers change the lives of children every day. And with the abrupt end to the physical school year, our teachers have done even more to continue education with distance learning. All to ensure every student has the tools they need to reach their full potential.

Many thanks to our dedicated faculty for supporting students and families, making a difference in children's well-being and success and for their incredible efforts as we continue education in this time of pandemic.
#Inspire709 #ThankATeacher

National School Nurse Day May 6, 2020

Thank You, Duluth School Nurses
Celebrating National School Nurse Day - this year, more than ever, all members of our school communities, school nurses included, have been required to take on unprecedented roles and adapt quickly to changes in their jobs. During a time of pandemic, many thanks for the experience, skill and authoritative voice of these health care professionals. They help keep us up to date on the latest from the MN Department of Health, screen children, advise and train our staff and families on the best ways to prevent illness and so much more.

MN School Age Care Day May 7, 2020

Thank You, Duluth School Age Care Workers

This week, Governor Tim Walz proclaimed May 7 School-Age Care Workers Day.

"From the start of distance learning planning during the state’s COVID-19 response, Minnesota’s schools have provided care for thousands of children of critical workers each day.

This care is essential so that our frontline workers can continue serving Minnesotans in industries such as health care, emergency response, retail, food, transportation, and more. Staff in our schools, from paraprofessionals to teachers to school-age care specialists, are providing this service while also managing other aspects of their jobs. This incredible, important work by our school-age care providers deserves our praise, gratitude, and recognition."

From the Mn Association for Children's Mental Health

Mental Health Month & Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Resources, news articles and other information in an effort to further support you and your children. Thank you for all you do!

News & Resources

+ Helping Children Cope with Changes Caused by COVID-19 (available in 10 languages)

+ Disparities in Distance Learning

+ Implications of COVID-19 for LGBTQ Youth

+ Resources to Protect Kids During COVID-19

+ Connecting with Kids & Teens Via Telehealth

+ Addressing Racism During COVID-19

+ 4 Ways to Stop Myths About Mental Health

+ Youth MOVE MN - Amplifying Youth Voices to Raise Mental Health Awareness

FREE WEBINAR: Helping Children Manage COVID-19 Realities, examines children's experiences during the pandemic and explores potential strategies for mitigating the challenges of living through this crisis.

Anne Gearity, PhD, LICSW

Learn more & watch the webinar.

On-Demand Trainings

Learn at your own pace and earn CEHs anytime, anywhere with our on-demand learning opportunities, including topics such as:

+ Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

+ Suicide Prevention

+ Trauma

+ Eating Disorders

+ Anxiety

+ and more

Access Additional Resources at www.macmh.org

Register Now for September 2020 Kindergarten!

Families are encouraged to register now for September 2020 Kindergarten. Enroll online any time or download paper forms and bring to school.

ISD 709 Elementary Schools

How to Enroll/Begin Online Registration

Kindergarten Informational Flyer

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools - let's make sure we're letting everyone else know, too! Share your school, student, staff accomplishments, projects and events with Kathleen.Kaufman@ISD709.org, they'll be used in email newsletters, social media, websites and other communication venues.

Facilities Staff Go the Extra Mile

Many thanks to our facilities & maintenance staff for the work they do each day, cleaning and sanitizing buildings and schools throughout the pandemic.

"They care about keeping buildings safe," says Heather Ashbaugh, Supervisor of Building Operations. "They impress me every day, with ideas that go over and above MDH and CDC guidelines. They work in the buildings, they know the buildings and what needs to be done."

"We care, we're here to make this a clean, safe environment," says Thomas Esse, Chief Engineer for Duluth East High School. "My crew goes the extra mile, we do what we have to do to take every situation into consideration."

Like all of us, Esse says, "We'll be happy when the normal times start again and the kids are back."


Denfeld Students Make All-State, Qualify for Nationals

Congratulations Abigail Longnaker and Sydney Rabold, named to the All-State Speech Team by the Minnesota Speech Coaches Association. Qualifications to achieve this appointment are strict - they must be a 4 year member of the team, have competed at the MSHSL State Speech Tournament two years and have placed in the top 6 speakers in their event in 8 tournaments over two seasons.

Both of these seniors also qualified for the National Tournament of Champions that would have been held this month in Houston, Texas. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this event has been cancelled.

Thank you, Jill Lofald, for the photo and information.



Duluth to Light Lift Bridge Different Colors to Honor Class of 2020

The City of Duluth will light the Aerial Lift Bridge different colors to honor the Class of 2020. Each high school and college got to pick the colors, and the bridge will be lit on the night of what should have been their graduation ceremonies.

"I can't help that celebration continue. We can't host graduations in a safe capacity right now," Mayor Emily Larson said. "But I do want to help honor the hard work of our students, the support that's offered from these campuses and just share and show a pride by this community in you and your achievement."

  • May 9 - UMD maroon and gold
  • May 10 - CSS blue and gold
  • May 18 - LSC teal blue
  • June 2 - Area Learning Center royal blue
  • June 3 - Duluth East red
  • June 4 - Denfeld maroon and gold
  • June 5 - Lakeview Christian Academy blue
  • June 6 - Harbor City blue and white
  • June 7 - Marshall gold

Recent upgrades to LED lights on the bridge allow the city to change the color more easily.


Duluth News Tribune

Honoring the Class of 2020

Teachers and staff from Duluth East High School delivered celebratory signs to the Class of 2020. The deliveries were covered by the Duluth News Tribune. Similar activities are taking place at Denfeld High School this week, with WDSE TV following to record video for the school's Virtual Graduation Ceremony.

Duluth News Tribune



Hunter Pride, Community Yard Signs for Sale
While members of Denfeld's Class of 2020 are receiving free signs this week, Denfeld is also offering "Hunter Pride Community Wide" signs for sale for $10 to the general public starting Friday May 8 and running daily from 10:00AM to 1:00PM at the Denfeld High School main entrance while supplies last. Exact change preferred. Thanks for helping to spread the Hunter spirit!

Ordean East Students Earn Honors at State
Students took part in the 2020 Minnesota State History Day Virtual Competition. They researched and created their entries beginning in October and were given the additional challenge of developing technology skills required to enter their projects.
>>Congratulations Abigail Linsten, Hannah Mason, Molly McNamee, Garin Hackbarth, Samuel Phillips, Tavin Roth and Aleta Anderson, earning Honorable Mentions!
>>Congratulations Esme Kershaw, August Capps, Kenna Huot, Jacqueline Brock, Macey Kelley, Kora Webster, Maddie Singer & Ceili Otis, earning a spot in state competition.
State History Day 2020 is a virtual contest through first and final rounds of competition. All judging is done remotely.
Thank you, Glenn Tracey, for the photos and info.
Stowe Students Spread Kindness

Students have been spreading kindness in our Stowe community and around Duluth through art. One student painted Little Rocks, leaving them at hospitals, post-offices, schools, nature trails and lake walks to brighten the day of people who find them.

Thank you, Aimee Radetzke, for the photos and information.



Myers-Wilkins Staff Support Students, Families

"During this time apart where students and teachers are not able to have one on one time in the classroom, teachers paraded and held signs to support the kids with words of encouragement."




Surprise for Lowell Principal

Teachers and staff provided a parade for school leader Jen Larva. Happy School Principals Day, many thanks to our Duluth principals - and what a nice surprise for Ms. Larva!




Bike To School Day

Lincoln Park Middle School Principal Brian Kazmierczak and Assistant Principal Barry Fischer took part in Bike to School Day this week. They rode 24.3 miles in 1 hour and 37 minutes!

#wtg #yourock #sleepwelltonight @walkbiketoschoolday


Students Share Thanks

Some Duluth East Greyhounds remembered and left messages for teachers and staff this week. (School officials have been assured they kept social distance and the photos were shared with staff since they weren’t at school to see it in person.)
Prepping Packets

Denfeld paraprofessionals, busy building packets for students. They play an important role in distance learning for Duluth students, many thanks for all they do.



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