Vast array of school/community collaboration makes sense and cents

 Tales from 25 education leaders last week described enormous, encouraging local energy focused on helping young people.  This is a tribute to creative collaboration that’s taking place all over the state.  Here are a few examples.

Tom Heidemann, chair of the Anoka/Hennepin School Board told me that the district is saving $60,000 by working with Anoka County on holding elections.

Steve Massey, principal at Forest Lake Senior High School wrote, “We have a number of excellent partnerships. Our upper level French classes are involved in a Pen Pal Translation project where our students interpreted letters from elementary students into French  for students in a Nigerian elementary school.  In return, our students interpreted letters written by the students from Niger for the elementary students into English. The project has provided an excellent opportunity for our students to learn about Niger and the political issues facing the country.

Ben Kusch, principal at Farmington High School wrote, “One of the most significant partnerships that our school has is that between the high school and our local police department.  One of our student leadership groups, Tiger Leadership Club, in collaboration with the Farmington Police Department works at the high school to collect donations of money and toys to donate to area families in need during the holidays.  The police department collects food, as well as toys and donations.  The two groups then host a community “wrapping event” at one of the district schools, typically the high school, where gifts are wrapped, gift bags and meals are assembled, and then all are delivered to the families who without them might have a pretty bleak holiday.”

Scott Douglas, principal at Lakeville South High School explained, “Parents and community members are involved with our FIRST Robotics (FRC) competition.  Steve Ullrich, LSHS Technology Education teacher, involves parents in supporting our FRC team directly as mentors for mechanical and electrical designs as well as robotic programming.  Mentors from the community play an instrumental role in robot design and fabrication.  Alumni also serve as mentors.  Many parents come to the 10,000 Lakes Regional Competition to cheer us on and help in the pits. Parents and community members also donate components and materials towards our robotics program.”

Roman Pierskalla, principal, Rogers High School reported that the school “has a STRIVE Program that is sponsored by the Rogers Rotary Club.  A group of local business and professional men and women meet with, and mentor, approximately 25 students throughout the year.  Different life skills are addressed in order to help students get the most out of high school and life.  The program targets students that might need an incentive to do better academically as well as to help improve attendance.  Students are recognized at an end of year banquet with five scholarships given to students for best attendance as well as most improved grade point average.  Students seem to enjoy and learn from the “real life” experiences that are provided by Rotary members.

Vanessta Spark, director of Spectrum High School in Elk River wrote that the school “has service learning groups who partner with the community. We have a health awareness group who puts on an “Active Youth Day” in May. They partner with Elk River Park and Rec, Minnesota National Guard, and the Elk River YMCA.  Our hunger outreach group partners with Harvest Outreach to deliver food and clothing to the homeless. Our elderly service learning group partners with Guardian Angels to bring companionship and honor to the older people.”

John Wollersheim, Rosemount High School principal reported that the “Rosemount Rotary Club has already started a student of the month and STRIVE program.  STRIVE hooks up Rotary members with Rosemount High School students who could benefit from an adult mentor.”

Furthermore,  “principals of Rosemount Schools, the mayor, city administrators, 360 Communities Rep, YMCA Rep, Local pastors, RAAA, Parks and Rec Leaders meet once per month to discuss issues facing our community with emphasis on youth in the community.  We are currently studying Search Institutes Asset model as well as MN State Survey results to determine what initiatives our group could focus on for the well being of our community and youth.”

Finally, Wollersheim cited the “Rosemount Yellow Ribbon Group – Group of civic leaders (I am a member) meet once per month to discuss how we can make our community more supportive of military families that live in our community.”

Congratulations to the many Minnesotans who are working with educators and students.  These projects make sense, and cents.