ISD 709 News 10/8/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Families,

This week I’m reminded of the power of collaboration in the face of challenge. Each day I’ve been part of and witnessed examples of students, parents, teachers, administrators, staff and community partners coming together to seek and create solutions to the complexities we face.

This is a monumentally demanding time for education, parenting and being a student. As we increase the intensity and rigor of instruction and ask each other to step up in new and different ways it can be stressful. I’ve seen people tear up in frustration. The saving grace in instances where someone felt knocked down and ready to give up, there have been vast numbers of hands reaching out to pick them up. The power and humanity of our Duluth Public Schools community is breathtaking.

That sense of community and collaboration is the engine driving massive shifts in how we serve students. It’s Link Crew teams in both high schools helping students bond and connect, despite the distance. It’s teams of counselors and social workers reaching out to students and families in need. We witness it as food service employees load buses with meals and facilities staff clean buildings to ensure the people within are safe. We see it as teachers and students use Google Meet to build skills through project based learning and as teachers work together to create engaging content and load it into our learning management systems.

It’s said that new teams go through four cycles - forming, storming, norming and performing. This means people come together, hit some road bumps, figure out the structures and rules and then, really knock it out of the park. In many ways, the collaboration of our student and staff teams are going through similar cycles as we seek to continuously improve.

I believe in our staff teams. I believe in our students and families. And I am certain that the spirit of working together will lift us beyond the challenges of today to the greatness that is just around the corner. Thank you for all that you are doing - it is truly an inspiration.


John Magas

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

$150,000 Grant to Address Digital Divide

Duluth Digital Inclusion Partnership representatives gathered at Denfeld High School this week to announce a $150,000 award to help families and students who are experiencing the digital divide due to COVID-19. Funds come from the Partnership for a ConnectedMN and were awarded to LISC Duluth.

"This funding is critical to balancing safety and education while serving Duluth students and families most impacted by the digital divide," said Superintendent John Magas. "The Digital Inclusion community partnership is helping to provide much needed resources, including reliable internet access and technology support, to those who need it most.”

Those in attendance included:

  • Duluth Mayor Emily Larson
  • Superintendent of ISD709, John Magas
  • Pam Kramer, Executive Director of LISC Duluth (co-host of the Digital Partnership)
  • Elena Foshay, Director of Duluth Workforce Development (co-host of the Partnership)
  • Emily Edison, Executive Director of SOAR Career Solutions
  • Student Representatives of Denfeld Community School Leadership
  • Angel Nustad-Peluso, Director of Programs, Duluth Community Schools Collaborative

The Duluth Digital Inclusion Partnership began as conversations between community leaders about local needs due to disruptions from COVID-19. Community organizations working to help identify families facing digital barriers include Duluth Public Schools, Duluth Workforce Development, the Duluth Community Schools Collaborative, SOAR Career Solutions, and the TechUp program at Community Action Duluth, as well as many others.

Social Emotional Learning is Key

From Anthony Bonds, Assistant Superintendent

Social emotional learning is crucial, especially as we address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting people, helping them feel safe, building relationship skills and support systems are vital components of effective teaching and learning.

During the October Committee of the Whole meeting we received an excellent presentation from Callie DeVriendt, MSW, LICSW. Callie is the ISD 709 Mental Health Partnership Coordinator and Social, Emotional, Behavioral MTSS Coordinator for Lincoln Park Middle School.

View the Presentation

We heard an overview of training received by staff at the end of last school year; recognizing and supporting students mental health needs during distance learning; Tier 1, 2 and 3 Social Emotional Learning Supports; Co-Located Mental Health Partnerships and Additional Community Connections.

Many thanks to all who are working to build and improve SEL in our schools and community.

ISD 709 Family COVID Web Page

This web page is for ISD 709 families and includes helpful COVID response information. It's an effort to provide information on one landing page. Is there a link you'd like to see added? Let us know at Info@ISD709.org.


Find a Return to Learn link at the top of the district home page and each school home page.

Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Together we can create communities that are kinder, more inclusive and accepting for all. Find information and bullying prevention resources on state and ISD 709 School Climate webpages:

MN Department of Education

Duluth Public Schools

MN Principals Week

Governor Tim Walz proclaimed October 5-11 as Principals Week! Principals lead our school communities to provide a high-quality education for each student in a welcoming environment. Thank you to our Duluth Public School leaders and all of Minnesota’s principals for their dedicated work for students.

View the Proclamation
#Inspire709 #ThankAPrincipal

Thank You, Duluth Teachers

As we celebrate World Teachers Day, we recognize and lift up our Duluth educators. 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


DHH Parent Newsletter

The Duluth Deaf/Hard of Hearing educational team is planning to send out a regular newsletter to keep families up to date with events and supports in our area, resources for deaf/hard of hearing and other important information. Need help, have a fun idea you'd like to share, or event coming up? Feel free to reach out to your child's DHH teacher anytime.

View the Newsletter

Thank You, Irving Community Club

A big thank you to the Irving Community Club for donating $3,000 to support technology needs at Denfeld! Angelo Simone delivered the check to Principal Tom Tusken. The school is putting it to good use satisfying a number of needs, including purchase of 30 webcams to support distance learning.

#Inspire709 #CommunitySupport


A Mystery Boat from Lakewood Elementary

Lynn BeBeau discovered this little wooden boat on a remote beach on Lake Superior near Marquette, Michigan and took these beautiful photos. Lynn and the Great Lakes Ship Watcher Facebook group would like to know more about when the boat was launched.

Inscribed on the bottom:

"I am traveling to the ocean. Please put me back in the water. Will you send information on your whereabouts to: Lakewood School

Room 116 & 118 5207 N. Tischer Duluth, MN (scribbled out zip code) 53304" No date.

If you have information email kathleen.kaufman@isd709.org

#Inspire709 #solveamystery

Stowe Students Enjoy Outdoors

Students from Stowe Elementary spent time fishing through partnerships with the Gary New Duluth Recreation Center (GND REC) and the Duluth Police Department.

"With the pandemic it's really important to get kids outside," says Leslie Bucar, Site Coordinator for Stowe and Laura MacArthur Elementaries and Youth Director for GND REC. "It recharges their batteries, makes them better learners, better thinkers, builds resilience. The kids are loving it, I think they wish the fish would bite on every cast!"

Many thanks to GND Rec and the Duluth Police Department for providing this opportunity for children.

#Inspire709 #CommunityPartnerships


Follow Us For ISD 709 School News: