Around 656

Celebrating the great work of Faribault students and staff

A Falcon Green beacon of hope


By Superintendent Todd Sesker

This column appeared in the March 31 edition of the Daily News


This Monday, all Faribault Public Schools students in grades PreK-12 had the opportunity to attend school in person! Under normal circumstances, that fact would not be very noteworthy, but it hasn’t been a normal year.


It has been over a year since our students went on spring break, not knowing that the pandemic wouldn’t allow them to come back for the rest of the school year. Now, almost 12 months later to the day, the vast majority of our students and staff are back in one place, working and learning together. It has been a revealing, politically polarizing, and challenging year — and we have learned many, many lessons as a result of COVID-19.


The No. 1 thing I’ve learned is that our students and staff are resilient. As I walked through the middle school and high school Monday, I felt incredibly proud to be a part of this district.


The no-win decisions that our teams and our school board had to make this past year were some of the most difficult we have ever made, definitely the most difficult in my over 20 years as a superintendent.


I’ve learned that there are vastly differing views on how schools should respond during this public health crisis. Many people have voiced their support of our decisions and many have shared their disapproval. On one occasion a person told me, “I hope you get Covid” and the same day a parent called me to let me know how much they support me and understand these difficult decisions. Our board members have probably been involved in the same types of conversations. I stand behind the tough decisions of our Incident Command team, knowing they were all made based on sound data and with the health and safety of our students and staff as our top priority.


We know that over the last year many of our students experienced a loss of some part of their educational experience, whether it affected them academically or socially, or negatively impacted their mental health. We are making plans that include extended summer and fall programs that specifically target areas where students need help getting back on track.


Finally, I want to recognize our seniors. I am incredibly proud of them for everything they have endured. Our high school administrative team is currently working on plans for a prom and graduation so they can get back as much of their high school experience as possible. Our high school staff is committed to helping celebrate them and their time in Faribault Public Schools. They deserve this.


We still need your help as we push through the remainder of the school year. Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, and continue to practice all the mitigation measures recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health. We are finally together and the last thing we want is to have the schools go backwards again. Thank you for your support for all our kids in this great community.


It is great to be a Falcon!

Thank you!

Big picture
Faribault Public Schools sends a huge thank you to all the food service workers and volunteers who have distributed food to our students and families during the pandemic!

Ahmed, Abdul named Dell Scholars

Gudon Ahmed and Hanaan Abdul have both been named Dell Scholars.


This is a very prestigious and well-deserved honor for these outstanding students. There are only 500 Dell Scholars named throughout the entire country each year and it comes with a $20,000 annual scholarship, a Dell laptop, and personalized/multifaceted support for academic, financial, and emotional life challenges that may emerge. Both students received considerable support from their AVID teacher, Ms. Tricia Johnson as they completed the roughly 20-page scholarship application.


“We are so proud of Gudon and Hanaan”, said FHS Assistant Principal Shawn Peck. “They are both standout students - among the top students in their class - and are tremendous people of character. Their work ethic, perseverance, and dedication to achieving their goals and dreams is such an inspiration. I’m very excited to see what the future holds for them.”

These awards are part of a longer run of success for FHS Students. We have had 3 students earn Dell Scholar recognition in recent years: Katra Abdullahi (2018 graduate), Nimo Ali (2018 graduate), and Zahara Ali (2019 graduate). Tufah Abdullahi was a semi-finalist in 2018.

Staff Spotlight: Nate Molitor

Staff Spotlight: Nate Molitor, FMS Health/Physical Education Teacher

Hometown: Waterville, Minnesota

Education

I graduated from Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School. After high school, I attended Minnesota State University, Mankato where I majored in physical and health education with a minor in DAPE. Now I am currently working on completing my first year of my master’s program.

Career

In college, I worked as a direct support professional for three years. Once I graduated from college, I accepted a long-term health and physical education position with Le Sueur Henderson Public Schools. After this experience, I was fortunate enough to become a full-time teacher with FPS.

Additional roles in FPS

Along with teaching health and physical education at Faribault Middle School. I am also coaching middle school boys soccer, middle school boys/girls basketball, and I am assisting FPS athletes in the high school weight room this Spring.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

My hobbies outside of teaching include: basketball, football, weight training, reading, watching movies, and spending time with my family.

What's something interesting about you that not a lot of people know?

One interesting thing about me is that I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel to many places including Europe. I hope to be able to continue traveling in the future. Another interesting thing about me is that I recently got engaged.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?

I decided to pursue a career in education for a few reasons. First, I really wanted to work with and make a difference in many students' lives. I find it to be a great privilege that I am able to help shape and mold many of our future leaders. Secondly, I have a strong passion for personal health. I think it is very important that our future generations learn about the importance of staying physically active and making healthy decisions. Lastly, I have had the pleasure of having many influential teachers and coaches within my life. It is my hope that I can instill many of these great qualities and knowledge that I was taught from these individuals.

What do you enjoy most about working with students?

The best part of being a teacher is working with the students. Students always bring new insight, perspectives, and humor into the conversation. Each student brings with them their own unique positive characteristics that help establish a creative and ideal learning environment.

Share a bit about a fun project or innovative teaching method you've used in the past. What made it memorable for you?

In 8th grade health class, I utilize a project-based approach in many of my lessons. Students have shown great success in these projects, but three that stick out the most are the: mental health advocacy project, stress project, and the school self advocacy project. Within these projects students are able to collaborate with their peers, demonstrate their creativity, and demonstrate competency in the objectives for that day.

What do you enjoy about being part of Faribault Public Schools?

I have had an amazing experience working within Faribault Public Schools. Immediately when starting off my first year at FPS, I felt a part of a wonderful community. FPS provides a supportive, respectful, and productive environment. This includes an incredible leadership team and staff to collaborate with establishing an optimal working and learning environment for all.

Wildlife Field Biology offers hands-on learning opportunities for FHS students

Wildlife Field Biology: Hands-on learning opportunities for FHS students

FHS is supporting students in innovative ways

By Principal Jamie Bente

This column appeared in the April 14 edition of the Daily News


What a difference a few years make!


During my five years as principal, the staff at Faribault High School has been dedicated to transforming the school into one of the most innovative in southeast Minnesota. Thanks to the great generosity of our community through the passage of the seven-period day levy, the systems we’re putting in place to support our students, and the partnerships we’re forming within the community, Faribault High School sits poised to become one of the premier schools in the state.


Over the past year, we have started new career pathways to better prepare our students for life after high school. Our pathways in the areas of Engineering and Manufacturing, Business and Technology, Health and Human services, and Agriculture, are transforming what school looks like for our students and our community. Students now have the opportunity to take up to eight additional classes during their high school career and better understand what opportunities are available for them after high school, with the goal of helping them be college and career ready upon graduation.


But the ways we support students goes far beyond the classes we offer. We’ve created a schoolwide instructional framework, Falcon P.R.I.D.E, that outlines expectations, equitable grading policies, restorative discipline practices, and a focus on digital well-being while utilizing technology. This framework helps ensure we are creating school-wide systems that work for everyone.


We’re also focused on finding even more ways to support our students not just academically, but socially and emotionally. We launched the Ninth Grade Academy to provide additional support for our freshmen, opened The Nest student store to provide clothing and supplies for students in need, expanded our highly successful AVID program, launched the “Start with Hello” initiative to promote a positive school culture, and added academic interventionists and a chemical health specialist to give students the support they need to be successful.


We’ve also fostered partnerships to ensure students can access the support they need throughout the community. We work with Allina Health, Carleton College, HealthFinders, Northfield HCI, Live More Today, Growing Up Healthy, the Faribault Chamber of Commerce, South Central College, Faribault Youth Investment and Fernbrook Family Center, among many others to provide opportunities and do what’s best for our kids.


I’m so proud of the good work being done by the people who are actually implementing these changes: teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and other support staff. They are making a difference in the lives of the students and in our community.


This is an exciting time to be a Falcon. If you have any questions or would like a tour of Faribault High School or to meet with an administrator to discuss enrolling please reach out to us. And always remember: We Are Faribault!!!

Over 200 attend virtual read-aloud with Principal Louis

On Wednesday, April 14, Jefferson Elementary Principal Yesica Louis held a virtual student and family read aloud of the book I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes as part of national Drop Everything and Read Day. I Am Every Good Thing is about being proud of who we are. Between grades K-5, Jefferson had over 200 participants! Students were given activities to complete at home after the reading, which they could share with their families and teachers upon completing. These activities included creating art work or an I am poem that prompted students to reflect on all of the good aspects of themselves that made them who they are.

Grant brings more books into classrooms

Elementary and middle school students in Faribault Public Schools will soon have a much larger assortment of books to choose from in their classrooms.


Because the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) grant was extended a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional funding gave elementary and middle school teachers the opportunity to travel to Custom Education Solutions in Champlin last month and pick out books to offer students in their classrooms. Each teacher picked out more than 150 books, including some sets of single titles so students can engage in conversations around their books and work collaboratively in book clubs and literature circles.


Director of Teaching and Learning Tracy Corcoran described the outing as “like a teacher field trip to Barnes and Noble.”


“Our staff was super excited. It was like a shopping spree,” she said. “It created some really fun conversations about students, their interests, and the different authors and titles their kids are looking for. There was a lot of excitement and energy.”


Lincoln Elementary second-grade teacher Amy Scheeler said she didn’t know what to expect, but that the trip turned out to be a very positive experience because of the hospitality the group received, as well as the quantity and quality of the books they were able to choose from.


“We were so excited to have the opportunity to look through these rich texts and find books that represented our classroom diversity. We worked in our grade level teams to find books that had our classroom cultures, abilities and interests represented,” Scheeler said. “We also found books to enrich and meet standards taught in our curriculum. We are waiting anxiously to receive the books we so diligently hand picked and get them into our students hands. New books that represent our students will spark an energetic interest in the joy of reading.”

Staff Spotlight: Stacy Fox

Staff Spotlight: Stacy Fox, Special Education Teacher

Hometown: Lakeville

Education:

I graduated from Lakeville High School (yes...I'm that old where it was just one high school at the time) and then went to the University of Northern Iowa where I earned a BA in History Education. I really wanted to teach Special Education, so I earned an MA from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. And because I just loved school so much, I went on to earn a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Tech University.

Career:

My first job was a semester-long long-term sub in a level III EBD room. It was an adventure and made me see how much I love special education. I then worked at a charter school for a year as a Social Studies teacher. I realized I missed special ed and spent 2 years in Kasson Mantorville as an EBD teacher before coming to Faribault 8 years ago.

Additional roles in FPS:

I'm lucky enough to be part of our Equity Site Team. I love listening to the many perspectives and ideas from some really intelligent co-workers.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

When I finished grad school, I realized how much I love to read for fun. I love watching hockey at all levels from my daughter's U8 on up to the Minnesota Wild. Back in the good ol' days before COVID, I loved seeing live music and have some pretty good concert experiences. I finally worked up the courage to ride on my husband's motorcycle last summer and now that's something I enjoy too. Also, I'm a big geek (think Star Wars, Marvel comics, Star Trek).


What's something interesting about you that not a lot of people know?

Because I don't come off as the "outdoorsy type" I think it surprises folks to hear that at the top of my bucket list is to see all of the National Parks before I die (probably most looking forward to American Samoa National Park).


Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?

Oddly, I went to a "teacher college" but started fervently against the idea of becoming a teacher. I had an epiphany while I was pursuing a Computer Science major- I am not the type to sit behind a desk all day long. I need movement. I also really enjoyed when I was helping my fellow students, so I sort of slid into education. I am so glad I was so wrong about not wanting to be in education because this is the best job.

What do you enjoy most about working with students?

I love the relationship building and interactions I get to have with students. It's really important to me that they are humanized in school and getting to know who they are and what makes them who they are is the best part of my job.


Share a bit about a fun project or innovative teaching method you've used in the past. What made it memorable for you?

I've had the opportunity to build the curriculum for the Freshman Seminar. It's a class that teaches students the "soft skills" that are expected in life, but are rarely (if ever taught). I've had a chance to be really reflective on my own experience as a student and adult to see what I would have benefitted from if I had been taught!

What do you enjoy about being part of Faribault Public Schools?

The Faribault Public Schools are such a rad place to be. I work with stellar students who make me love my job, innovative teachers, and really supportive administrators. There is honestly no other place I would rather teach.

Developing leaders

Big picture
Activities director Keith Badger leads a seven-week leadership course for FHS students.

Alumni Update: Conor Ronayne, Class of 2010

Student activities and awards: Cross Country, Track and Field, Student Council, Band, Honor Society


Additional education: BS. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – University of Minnesota Duluth; MS. Chemistry – University of Minnesota Duluth; PhD. Integrated Biosciences – University of Minnesota

Career: Postdoctoral Research Fellow; Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School


Family: Wife Kelsey, Father Terry, Mother Renae, Sister Cailie, Brother Keenan, Dog Melvin

Current residence: Boston, MA


Who were some of your favorite teachers? Were there any experiences that inspire you or helped point you toward your chosen career path?

Jason Boggs - Chemistry. Where I first found an interest for chemistry. My experiences in that class were enjoyable. Mr. Boggs taught with a passion for both the subject matter and the students.


Laura Childs - Biology, Anatomy & Physiology. Where I first found an interest in biology and human health. Ms. Childs was kind, calm, and empathetic. Great teacher.


What are your favorite memories from attending Faribault schools?

Sporting events, homecoming festivities, Elementary School Track Day, Elementary Recess Football


What lessons did you learn in school have stuck with you and helped you be successful?

Approach new endeavors with grit and determination.


Live life with passion and curiosity.

Be kind.

STOPS students volunteer in The Nest

Big picture