The District Insider
Volume 10, Issue 5 | December 2022
Bry, Schmisek Receive Employee of the Quarter Awards
Sarah Bry and Cassandra Schmisek have been selected as the classified and certified employees of the 1st quarter at Grand Forks Public Schools.
Bry (certified) and Schmisek (classified) each received a plaque from the Grand Forks School Board. In gratitude for their impact on the school system and students, they also received a $200 monetary award from the Grand Forks Foundation for Education.
Created in 2019, the purpose of the award program is to recognize excellence as accomplished by certified and classified employees. To be considered for the award, the employee must be a valuable asset to the school community by completing their job duties to the highest standard and displaying a commitment to students/parents/guardians, as well as the school/program/school system.
Bry is an instructional coach (IDC) at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. In his nomination, Principal Loren Hoheisel said, “Sarah somehow always knows just what others need for support without being overbearing. Being an IDC, Sarah strives to see things through the lens of teachers, students, and families to best understand where support is needed and how to assist. She takes initiative to help with academic and instructional needs, social-emotional needs, technology needs, school needs, district needs, family needs, and any and all other needs that surface.
In a separate nomination, colleague Jamie Toutenhoofd said, “Sarah goes above and beyond in her role. She is a mentor, a facilitator, a confidante, and a role model. She helps complete curriculum-based assessments, provides small group instruction, mentors new and veteran teachers, and is very skilled at each of these things. She wears many, many hats at Lewis and Clark, and does each job very well.”
Schmisek is a special education paraprofessional at Grand Forks Central High School. In her nomination, colleague Summer Quamme, said, “There are many examples of Cassie’s commitment to her students, but I will share one of my favorites. She works with a young man who is non-verbal. However, he does use some sign language to communicate. Cassie immediately started teaching herself signs so that she could try to communicate with the student. She even made a Grand Forks Central T-shirt with the letter signs under each word so that the student could possibly understand her shirt.”
Colleague Marie DeMarce Garner shared in her nomination, “Cassie has stepped up in every way we have asked since she was hired. She has been an invaluable asset to our department and all of our students, both special education students and any other student in a classroom she has supported. She has a wonderful ability to connect with students and build relationships with them. Cassie works incredibly well with any staff member she is paired with. She has been diligent about providing regular updates and information, often immediately.”
Twining School Receives Technology and Engineering Award
Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School has been selected to receive the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association's (ITEEA) 2023 Elementary Program Excellence Award for North Dakota!
The Program Excellence Award program is designed to recognize superior K-12 technology and engineering education programs worldwide. The award-winning programs serve as a standard for comparison and models for developing other programs.
In October 2022, Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School received a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). The grant provided the school with the college and career-ready resources necessary to successfully expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming, as well as provided opportunities for staff to receive professional development in STEM.
“The DoDEA grant has been a game changer at Twining. We are teaching our students to use the knowledge and skills they are learning about science, technology, engineering, and math and apply that knowledge to solve real-world problems,” said Elizabeth Berger, instructional design coach at the school. “We are teaching them how to collaborate with others and practice critical thinking all while doing hands-on learning. We are preparing them for the future, regardless of what they decide to do as adults.”
ITEEA will recognize the school at its annual conference, to be held in Minneapolis from April 12-15, 2023.
Foundation for Education Awards $12,777 for Local School Projects
The Grand Forks Foundation for Education, Inc. is awarding $12,777 through 13 grants this fall to help fund a variety of enrichment projects in Grand Forks Public Schools.
The Mini-Grants have been funded through the Foundation for Education since 1992. Awards are usually for classroom-level or grade-level projects. All areas of curriculum and all grade levels are eligible for Mini-Grants.
Early Childhood Education
- $533 – Heather Chatham, Ben Franklin Elementary, “Equity in Sensory Learning in Early Childhood Special Education” project, to purchase sensory materials for the classroom.
- $893 – Heidi Neubert, Phoenix Elementary, “Literacy Exploration for Early Learners” project, to purchase a variety of early literacy tools like magnetic letters, alphabet puzzles, and more.
- $403 – LeeAnn Miller, Lake Agassiz Elementary, “1st Grade Brain Bins” project. Funds will be used to purchase open-ended materials (Magna-Tiles®, blocks, Lego®, etc.) for students to explore, create, build, and learn at the beginning of each school day.
- $551 – Martie Wesley, Winship Elementary, “Building Background and Raising Voices” project, to purchase picture books for the school that builds background knowledge and vocabulary, from government and citizenship to Earth science and economics.
- $559 – Lynneah Boyer, Lake Agassiz Elementary, “Lake Agassiz Recorders” project, to purchase a classroom set of recorders to be used by 4th grade music students. The instruments will be cleaned and reused year after year.
- $1,260 – Christine Dewey, Winship Elementary, “Community Connection: Be the Light” project. This award will fund several community service and engagement projects at every grade level. Examples include a Valley Senior Living music performance by kindergarten/1st graders, Northland Rescue Mission backpack program stuffing with 4th and 5th graders.
- $652 – Hannah Vonasek, Valley Middle, “Barren Grounds Read Aloud Kits” grant. These funds will be used to purchase copies of the book, Barren Ground, for 7th grade English students. This book is about two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, who are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- $715 – Tiffany Olson, Schroeder Middle, “Learning Modalities in Math Class” grant to purchase a classroom iPad®, Apple TV®, and accessories to be used as an interactive tool to present materials and model the mathematical process from around the classroom.
- $581 – Nancy Greenwood, Grand Forks Central, “Warped Art” grant. These funds will be used to purchase various supplies (looms, yarn, tools, etc.) to teach the technique of weaving, surface design, and hand-sewn textiles in art classes.
- $650 – Kelly Entzel, Community, “Promoting Student Connections with Literature and Quality Time” project. These funds will be used to purchase materials to create a free library where students can pick up a book to take home.
- $865 – Maren Dewar, Grand Forks Central, “Student Playwriting and Directing Workshop” project, to purchase various playwriting and directing materials. Not all students are actors, this will provide an opportunity for them to be involved in writing, directing, and technical aspects.
- $1,715 – Erika Feole, Grand Forks Central and Red River, “Literacy Leads to Language Acquisition 3.0” project. These funds will be used to purchase additional Spanish, German, and French books for students to use for independent reading in their foreign language classes, improving their reading comprehension.
- $1,700 – Missy Miedema (Grand Forks Central) and $1,700 – Trisha Smith, (Red River), “Stealing Back Our Teen’s Stolen Focus” grant. These funds will be used to purchase six classroom sets of the book Stolen Focus to be read by all 9th grade ELA students. The students will then conduct research on brain health and development, and share their findings with other students, their parents, and the community in a “Brain Fair” during parent-teacher conferences in February.
Grand Forks Public Schools Receives Choice-Ready Grants
Grand Forks Public Schools has received $52,612 in grants for choice-ready programs within the school system.
The grants were awarded by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to strengthen the choice-ready framework and enable more students to graduate choice ready.
Grand Forks Central and Red River high schools each received a $20,000 grant for the development of a choice-ready dashboard that is user-friendly for all stakeholders. A version of this dashboard currently exists and is being utilized within Fargo Public Schools. Several larger districts within the state are combining their choice-ready grants to expand the dashboard as a statewide resource.
“The proposed choice-ready dashboard will be designed to meet the needs of our high schools to manage data related to the choice-ready indicators, as well as provide the ability to engage students and parents in monitoring their progress towards completion,” said Eric Ripley, executive director of career and technical education and technology at Grand Forks Public Schools.
The Grand Forks Area Career and Technical Education Center received $12,612 for supporting bus transportation costs for career exploration activities, industry credential costs for students, coordination of work-based learning experiences, and development of student and parent/guardian choice-ready educational items, including posters, brochures, and promotional videos.
Now Accepting Nominations: GFPS Teacher of the Year
The purpose of the GFPS Teacher of the Year program is to celebrate the work of a classroom teacher who teaches students in kindergarten through 12th grade. To be considered for the award, the nominee must:
Be an expert in their field who guides students of all backgrounds and abilities in their quest for excellence;
Collaborate with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success;
Demonstrate leadership, innovation, and lifelong learning skills in and outside of the classroom; and
Present themselves in an engaging and articulate way.
Nominations may be completed by any parent/guardian, teacher, student, administrator, or community member. The nomination period opened on November 28, 2022, and will close at end of the day on December 15, 2022. Selection committee members will first individually review the applications and then reach a consensus on the GFPS Teacher of the Year.
The award recipient will receive a plaque from the Grand Forks School Board, a cash award from the Grand Forks Foundation for Education, and will be recognized at an upcoming Grand Forks School Board meeting. Their name and information will also be forwarded to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction for consideration as the 2023-2024 North Dakota Teacher of the Year.
McMillan Receives Recovery Invented Award
Cindy McMillan, substance abuse counselor at Grand Forks Public Schools, received the Zezula Award during the sixth annual Recovery Reinvented conference, held November 3 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
Recovery Reinvented is a daylong event focused on reinventing recovery by eliminating the stigma of addiction.
The Zezula award recognizes an individual who uses their skills and knowledge to help others through servant leadership, sharing compassion and empathy, and empowering others to be the best version of themselves
McMillan received the award for her leadership as a middle school and high school substance abuse counselor, working tirelessly on behalf of students and their families, meeting them for alcohol and drug evaluations, and one-on-one counseling.
The event included more than 700 in-person attendees as well as over 900 online viewers who spanned the state and nation. There were several keynote speakers, including Dr. Bruce Perry, trauma expert and author of “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.”
Shown above (left-to-right): Governor Doug Burgum, McMillan, First Lady Kathryn Burgum (photo courtesy Loren Hoheisel).
Food Drive Success
Job well done to the National Honor Society at Red River High School! They recently completed a food drive with the Salvation Army, collecting a total of 887 food items. Shown above delivering the donations are 2022-2023 Executive Board members Matti Moe, Hannah Holte, and Jada Jenson (photo and information courtesy Emily Parrill).
"This October, we were given the humbling opportunity to tour the Altru Cancer Center to gain a deeper understanding of a patient’s difficult journey as they embark on their battle against cancer. Altru’s kind staff shared their state-of-the-art facility while making real connections with our athletes about how impactful their donation truly is during a patient’s cancer battle. We are so grateful to all that supported this amazing collaboration between our high schools that amounted to an incredible $10,357.25 donation to Altru’s Filling the Gap Program" (photo and information courtesy Heather Chatham, head coach of the Red River volleyball team).
Examples of Excellence
Congratulations to the nine seniors named district nominees for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program: Kaylee Anderson (Grand Forks Central), Logan Arason (Red River), Jonah Dafoe (Red River), Noura Elhamadany (Red River), Matthew Evans (Red River), Brett Feller (Red River), Alina Golovko (Grand Forks Central), Kaylee Kirkeby (Grand Forks Central), and Clarkson Sande (Red River). The state department will review all applications before selecting up to five state applicants to advance to the Commission on Presidential Scholars.
Congratulations to the following football players on being named to the North Dakota High School Coaches Association 11A Football All-State Roster: Logan Arason (Red River, First Team Offense), Hudson Flom (Red River, Second Team), Jayden Haake (Grand Forks Central, Second Team), Dylan LaMont (Grand Forks Central, First Team Offense), Lawson Lotysz (Red River, First Team Offense), Quinn Nelson (Red River, Second Team), Pearce Parks (Red River, Second Team), Jack Simmers (Grand Forks Central, First Team Offense).
Congratulations to Hannah Litzinger, Red River High School, on being named to the 2022 Class A Volleyball All-State Team, as selected by the North Dakota High School Coaches Association.
In our mission to support students, we are always looking to join forces with partners and organizations that help expand our impact. We are excited to re-introduce our partner, Purposity! This platform allows us to share specific needs, get those needs met, and focus on the long-term goals of those we serve.
You can lend a hand to a local student with just a few clicks. When you are notified about a need from Grand Forks Public Schools, you’ll be able to read the individual’s story and decide if you’ll help right from your phone. To be a part of Purposity, download the Purposity app or visit https://www.purposity.com/organization/GrandForksPublicSchools.
For more information, please visit https://www.gfschools.org/Page/8712.
- December 12: Grand Forks School Board meeting (Mark Sanford Education Center, 6 p.m.)
- December 14: Early Release (Twining/middle/high schools: 1 p.m., elementary schools: 1:30 p.m.)
- December 20: Grand Forks Air Force Base School Board meeting (Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School, 12 p.m.)
- December 22-January 2: No School (Holiday Break)
- December 23, 26, and January 2: District Office Closed
- January 3, 2023: School Resumes K-12
Text of photo above: GFC Winter Play. Over the River and Through the Woods by Joe DiPetro. December 1-3 at 7 p.m., GFC Blackbox Theatre.
Text of photo above: Red River Winter Play. Finding Corey Taylor. December 8-10 at 7 p.m., December 11 at 2 p.m., RRHS Performance Hall.