Austin Packer Bulletin - 0112
Volume 1, Issue 12
It's a bit shocking to see we're suddenly in December, but here we are! Before we find ourselves any further down the calendar, take a minute and check out these two big updates!
Thank you to all the voters who made their voices heard on November 8. Our district offers an incredible variety of extracurricular activities and athletics, engaging students and helping them develop their full potential. Our students have the opportunity to take advantage of a wide range of enhanced learning options here at APS, from kindergarten through college-level courses.
We know in Austin that quality education is an investment, and APS has a long history of providing an excellent education for our students. We know that we can't cut our way to success. By voting for this referendum, the district will avoid significant budget cuts and maintain these important student programs and services. We've secured that future once again, and on behalf of students, current and present, thank you for putting education first.
Launch of Strategic Plan
As we continue the important work of launching our Strategic Plan, there is a quotation that I keep thinking about. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Our mission and vision are about changing the world, as well. Our mission at Austin Public Schools is to Inspire, Empower, and Accelerate–and our vision is to prepare all learners to make a difference in the world.
Making this happen is no small feat–our work on the Strategic Plan is already well underway. Right now, dedicated teams in our system are organizing this work–groups at the grade level, school site, district level, and school board are all working toward making our Strategic Plan a reality. It is hard work, and I want to thank them for their actions.
This semester, we've been getting into the school improvement plan, MTSS. Alongside this program, the Packer Profile, authentic learning, career pathways, and portfolio capstone are all on the front burners. We're after big things here–but work like this will take time, effort, and genuine cooperation to deliver the continuous improvement we're after at APS. In five years, we'll be doing the Packer Profile even better than we will this year–and that is exactly what we're out to achieve.
As we barrel through the Holidays, I'd like to say how grateful I am for our wonderful APS community, students, and staff. Thanks to everyone who makes Austin a great place to be and learn!
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
Elementary School Transition Updates
The Minnesota Department of Education's flexible learning year provides optional scheduling approaches for students and educators for a school year by building or program. Sumner Elementary School has utilized a 45/15 schedule for several years in the Austin Public Schools. Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, Sumner Elementary School will return to the same calendar as the other elementary schools in the district.
This means that beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, all Austin Public Schools will be on a traditional calendar when all students begin in the fall, have traditional breaks throughout the year, and have most of the summer off. This transition in schedule also means that all elementary students in the Austin Public Schools will eventually begin the process of adhering to attending their neighborhood elementary school. The elementary boundaries have not changed. This transition will involve several changes throughout the district, and we would like to share as much as possible with you here.
Minnesota State High School League Update
The Adoption of Programs Task Force, called by the Board of Directors in June of 2022, has further developed the description, application, and process for adding activities through an Emerging Status Process.
With the anticipation of the passage of the Emerging Status Process, the Board [MSHSL] will likely consider moving to approve Boys Volleyball for emerging status at the same meeting. Boys Volleyball is currently operating under the direction of the MN Boys Volleyball Association, with approximately 70 teams registered this year. If the emerging status is approved, it is likely to be for the 2023-2024 school year. Emerging status would mean that Boys Volleyball would operate for one more year, with the season in the spring and the season-ending competition to be operated according to its current rules. It would mean that the teams would register with the MSHSL, and students would be held to the eligibility rules the same as other programs. The Board [MSHSL] would also have the opportunity to assemble a group to review the most appropriate season for Boys Volleyball to be placed when it comes into full interscholastic status. See the full MSHSL newsletter here.
Register for Youth Mental Health First Aid Training
Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) will be hosting a variety of free, virtual training this fall. Anyone is welcome to register and attend.
Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) Training: YMHFA is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. YMHFA is designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.
YMHFA meets educator suicide prevention/mental illness training requirement per MN statute 122A.187 as determined by the district. This training is a blended training, meaning it includes both a self-paced component as well as a live, virtual component. Participants must complete 2 hours of self-paced pre-work before gaining access to the live, 5.5-hour training portion. By the end of the training, participants will be able to recognize and respond to the signs of mental health or addiction challenges or crises in young people aged 12-18.
Dates & times: Friday, December 9, 8:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m. or Friday, December 16, 8:30 a.m.– 2:00 p.m. Registration link.
The Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship
Since 2019, The Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship (THFAAS) has been awarded to over 545 Austin students attending Riverland Community College. THFAAS pays for students to earn a degree at Riverland for free. This scholarship covers tuition (up to 65 credits) and fees and includes a $2,000 stipend for required books and course materials. The scholarship amount varies for each Student, but it covers 100% of tuition and fees not fulfilled by federal and state grants. THFAAS is available for up to 5 years after high school graduation.
Students graduating from Austin Public Schools or Pacelli High School and who live within the Austin Public School enrollment district may be eligible for the scholarship by completing 50 volunteer hours within the community during high school and meeting at least one of the requirements below:
- Earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher
- Pass all courses with a GPA of 2.0 or higher in their Junior and Senior years of high school
- ACT composite score of 18 or higher
- ASVAB score of 31 or higher
- Successfully complete Riverland's Be Your Best college prep summer academy
- Enroll in an approved program of study at Riverland Community College and remain in good academic standing.
Students must complete the FAFSA or Dream Act application to receive THFAAS. The application can be completed as early as October 1 of the Student's senior year. For more details and information, please visit our website at www.austinassurance.org.
Inclusive Schools Week
During Inclusive Schools Week, it is important to commemorate the progress that schools have made in providing a quality education to an increasingly diverse student population including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economics status, cultural heritage language preference and other factors. Inclusive Schools Week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students and parents to discuss what else could be done to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.
This year, the Inclusive Schools Week’s theme is “Unity within Community—Inclusion Around the World.” United we are stronger to focus on our common need—inclusive practices in our schools and in our communities.
Let us stand together to address the challenges of this time as we continue to address the needs of our children for schools where all children belong, thrive, and are supported by their teachers, peers, family members and neighbors. Let’s learn more about the work of other organizations and groups in our community and share ideas, resources and support. Let’s teach our children by our actions how to treat others, how to communicate and build relationships, and how to work in harmony to address our common needs. None of us are alone in our efforts to support inclusive practices. Working together we stand stronger as we move closer to that vision of an inclusive world in 2022!
Austin sophomore elected to MAAPS state office
Austin Alternative Learning Center sophomore Camerohn Cox clearly knows what he wants to be. "I joined MAAPs Stars to help myself to be a better leader because I want to be a leader some day," Cox said from the classroom of Liza Kelly. "I want to be in the military some day." See the full article in Austin Daily Herald (ADH).
Tweeten is Noon Kiwanis Student of the Month
The Austin Noon Kiwanis, in conjunction with staff at Austin High School, has selected Nora Tweeten as their Student of the Month. Tweeten was quoted in the ADH, stating, "now as a senior, I hope to have my first normal year that involves full in-person learning and no masks," Tweeten said. "My time in high school has consisted of adapting to many different styles of learning, including distance learning, hybrid-style learning, and sitting in a classroom with masks on. While it has been a learning experience full of obstacles, it has taught me adaptability and to make the best of every situation."
Remote "E" Learning Days
A reminder this day refers to a school day where teachers and students communicate online instead of coming to school or setting up prior learning expectations, and the students continue their learning from home. Teachers can opt to do this off-campus or in their classrooms.
It's That Time of Year!
In this week's Alumni Spotlight, we catch up with alumnus Kaitlin Smith.
Are you an alumnus of Austin Public Schools? If so, we'd love to hear from you!
We're excited to hear about your accomplishments and are eager to share your successes and advice with our current students, families, and the Austin community. Please take a few minutes to complete the quick questionnaire at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/alumni-spotlight regarding your current position and your career trajectory.
Thanks, and we look forward to hearing all your wonderful stories!
At Austin Public Schools, our mission is to inspire, empower, and accelerate every one of our learners, and we know that the only way for us to reach this goal is through the efforts of all our incredibly hard-working staff.
In this week’s Staff Spotlight, we’re highlighting Neveln 3rd Grade teacher Shelly Weinmann.
"Shelly is invested in every student she teaches. Her ability to build positive relationships with every student while also providing a safe environment that supports social and academic success is admirable!"
If you’d like to nominate an outstanding Austin Public Schools staff member for our weekly Staff Spotlight, please take a moment to fill out the form at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/staff-spotlight. It only takes a minute and can truly make someone’s day. Thanks!
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Please consider joining Superintendent Page at the Coffee House on Main, 329 Main Street North, for Coffee and Conversation!
December 7 - 10:00 – 10:45 AM
January 5 - 7:00 – 7:45 AM
February 9 – 7:00 – 7:45 AM
March 30 – 7:00 – 7:45 AM
*Dates are subject to change
Or you can contact me at email@example.com or call 507-460-1900 to schedule an appointment.
Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 10:00 AM
329 Main Street North, Austin, MN, USA
In The News
- Breaking through: Freshman becomes first boy to compete for APDT
- 'They just start crying': Student food insecurity and debt rising across Minnesota
- How Minnesota's largest districts are teaching struggling readers