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Inside schooling decisions

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Get a glimpse into the lives of local families who are navigating through the many educational choices available today, and forging a path that fits their families.

The Schabert family

PRIVATE School:
Maternity of Mary Saint Andrew Catholic School (MMSA)

Meet Traci Schabert, who currently sends two boys, Alex (grade 8) and Andrew (grade 2) to MMSA, and has two MMSA graduates, Jack (grade 12) and Mary (grade 10).
Why did you select this school?
We joined the school community when our oldest could, at three years old. Jack is almost 18 now. We have had a child at MMSA every year since 2005. We chose MMSA because of the love and passion we received from the teachers and staff. They all truly loved working together, were passionate about the kids and were all dedicated to helping us identify our children’s talents and help with the areas they struggled with.
What do you appreciate most?
All of our children are so different. One of our children truly struggled with some classes. The teachers went above and beyond helping by staying late, coming in early, emailing us, calling and doing what was needed to help her not only get to grade level but to exceed. She is now taking accelerated classes in high school in these subjects. We have another child who was bored at school because it was too easy for him. Mrs. Warden has been working with him and a few other students who need excellent stead math. He will be going to high school in the fall, and he will taking precalculus as a freshman.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
Skills needed are not just school subjects like math and science. Compassion, understanding, teamwork, community and understanding one another are all things that are greatly needed.
Share your school hacks or tips.
As soon as our kids could crawl I had a plastic laundry basket filled with board books in our living room. They could crawl over, pull, chew, play and look at these books. They learned to love books from this stage on. As kindergartners we made special trips to get their own library cards and made regular trips letting them pile large numbers of books in our book bags.

 

IMMERSION SCHOOL:
Yinghua Academy

Meet Starr Eggen Lim, who is married to Albert. Her daughter Lily is now in 11th grade at Highland Park High School, and daughter Magdalena is currently a ninth grader at Highland Park High School. They are at Highland because Yinghua Academy has an agreement that kids can continue their Chinese education at an appropriate level at Highland Park in St. Paul.
Why did you select this school?
Being that our children are Asian and adopted, it was a good fit as they would learn much about their birth culture as well as having Asian role models and influence.
What do you appreciate most?
Having my kids learn to read, write and speak Mandarin has so many advantages. If they ever chose to search for their birth parents, or even wanted to live or experience their birth country, having the language and cultural understanding would help to cross over so many barriers that could inhibit that from happening. I also wanted to give them the opportunity to feel at ease around other kids in college who may be international students from their birth country, whereby they could understand and feel a part of that community. Yinghua Academy not only provided this backdrop for my kids, but also having a second language like Mandarin allows so many doors to be opened for them. When learning a second language at the tender age of five, kids absorb things so much easier. Having the ability to read, write and speak can open potential careers opportunities, as well. The school’s academic expectations are quite rigorous and kids have adapted well into all kinds of high school experiences.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
As far as the most important skills for kids to learn, I would think preparing them to be global citizens is a priority. Language immersion does help to accomplish this. Critical thinking is probably one of the most important skills for kids to learn as our current administration (in my opinion) has become so harsh on scientific research, facts, and the media in general. Learning how to decipher facts from fiction and how to ask questions is critical to our society’s survival as a democracy.

CHARTER School:
Career Pathways

Meet Kelina Morgan, whose daughter Nasi is in ninth grade at Career Pathways.
Why did you select this school?
I chose Career Pathways for her because it was close to my employer, and it offered a non-traditional way of learning, with small class sizes.
What do you appreciate most?
Career Pathways also is a welcoming place with diversity of race, culture, religion, and sexual orientation. It’s a place where my daughter feels a sense of belonging. We’ve lived in various cities, including Vadnais Heights and Somerset, Wis. It was important to me that she attended a school where the staff and students welcome diversity.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
I believe that acceptance and appreciation for differences is a valuable skill to learn, as well as life skills needed to find and maintain a career if college is not the choice.
Share your school hacks or tips.
Because education is important to us and can open many doors, our family hacks on how to help kids learn are 1) read to kids early and daily, 2) require they read at least 20 minutes five days a week, and 3) purchase workbooks for their next grade level that they complete over the summer breaks to continue learning.

PUBLIC SCHOOL:
Como Park Senior High

Angela Rein is mother to Como Park Senior High School students Eloise (senior), Nicholas, (junior), and teven (freman); and 2018 graduate Maureen. Lucille is a seventh grader at Murray Middle School.
Why did you select this school?
All five children attended Crossroads Elementary, Montessori and then Murray Middle School. We chose Murray and Como because their father, Mark, is an alum. All of the children thus far have benefited from the AP classes offered at Como Park Senior High. I would like to add, that as a parent of five children, all three schools did a fantastic job of recognizing each Rein child as a their own individual. The staff never compared the younger ones to the older ones.
What do you appreciate most?
I love the sense of community at both Murray Middle School and at Como Park High School. Como Park High School has so much diversity. I feel that is so important in learning how to work with people in the adult world. I’ve always liked the leadership at both Murray and Como, along with the dedication of the teachers. The teachers have always been available to work with the kids either before or after school. Communication with the parents has been fantastic at both schools. Crossroads was great with communicating with parents, too.
What are the challenges?
Funding is always an issue with public schools. Class sizes can be quite large at times, although it is better this year.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
Time management; responsibilities for one’s actions; to feel comfortable to ask for help when needed; how to navigate the internet for reliable sources; and respect for “Everyone.”
Share your school hacks:
My kids need to be self-sufficient. I guide them when asked for help. I receive notifications of missing assignments, but it is up the student to do the work and turn it in. Turning it in seems to be the difficult part for some. You cannot force a child to study, but you can help them understand the end result. Each child is unique and has their own destiny. I cannot determine that, only the child has control over that. Each child has their own pathway. It is important for parents to understand that the pathway belongs to the child, not the parent. I find that to be the hardest thing in regards to parenting.

HOMESCHOOL

Carrie Pomeroy is mom to Bridger, grade 11, who has been homeschooled his entire education and is now attending the University of Minnesota for PSEO; and Cassidy, grade 8, who was homeschooled for part of her education and is now attends Edvisions Off-Campus, an online, project-based charter school.
Why did you select these options?
Before I had children, I taught homeschooled students through the Loft Literary Center back in the mid ‘90s and early 2000s. I got to know several families very well over the course of almost a decade of work with them, and I was just really inspired by the freedom and flexibility these families had to learn at their own pace, as well as their freedom to pursue learning in a way that seemed very effective and enjoyable for their kids. I remembered feeling so often when I was in school that I was just watching the clock and counting down the days until the weekend or until vacation, and what I noticed about these homeschooled kids I was working with was that they seemed so happy and engaged in what they were doing; there was a feeling of flow in their endeavors and a self-directedness that was pretty exciting and infectious. I talked to my husband about it, and we both thought homeschooling was worth a try. We asked our kids every year if they wanted to check out school, but my son never did. My daughter’s work at Edvisions Off-Campus for the last two years has been a natural extension of homeschooling. As she hit her middle-school years, she wanted more accountability and structure for her learning, but she didn’t want that accountability from me. She also knew that I’m not that great at providing structure. Now, with input from her EdVisions advisors, she creates projects to learn about subjects that interest her and decides how she’ll demonstrate her learning, whether through a research paper, a slideshow, a timeline, or whatever she and her advisors decide would help her grow in her learning. She also has to manage her own time and make sure she’s putting in the work to get her projects done in a timely way and earn credits in a variety of subjects. It’s a really good fit for her learning style and personality.
What do you appreciate most?
When I waited until they were ready to learn something and genuinely interested, they seemed to retain so much more of what they learned than when I forced learning because of some artificial, imposed timeline for when they “should” learn something.
I especially appreciated that after years of being read out loud to many hours a day, both my kids taught themselves to read using Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield comic books. That was so empowering and pain-free! They learned to read “late” by school standards, around age seven, but went from being pre-readers to fluent readers very, very quickly, and they are now avid, voracious readers and curious, thoughtful writers.
Now that my son is attending college classes at the U for PSEO, my daughter is attending EdVisions, and they are both thriving, I wish I could go back and reassure my past self that things were going to work out OK. There was a lot of anxiety for me about choosing this path, so it feels really good to be on this side of our homeschooling journey rather than just starting out. .
What are the challenges?
Many people think that a drawback of homeschooling is a lack of socialization, but that really hasn’t been a problem for us in the ways that many might think it would be. Both my kids have been able to make friends both in the homeschooling community and outside of it, with people of many different ages. My daughter has learned to work as part of a group as an Irish dancer, a martial artist, and by acting in plays, as well as doing volunteer work in our community. My son has also volunteered locally, something I think is really important.
Share your school hacks or tips.
The biggest one for me is being attentive, noticing what interests my kids, and finding ways to help them learn more, find mentors and resources, and go more deeply into that interest, while also knowing when it’s time to back off and not lean too hard into making everything a teachable moment.
Another really important thing for me has been being aware that sometimes even when they don’t seem like they’re really learning or doing something educational, they may actually be doing something really valuable to their growth. For instance, my son has always loved video games. When he was younger, he got pretty involved on online gaming forums discussing gaming techniques and strategies and helping mediate disputes among other gamers. That really built his writing skills, even though that kind of writing wasn’t a traditionally academic pursuit. Eventually, he also started writing game-inspired fiction. Now, I really think his experiences with writing about video games for an audience of other interested gamers have profoundly shaped his abilities as a writer. He understood from an early age that writing needed to be clear, concise, organized, and interesting to capture and hold other people’s attention; I don’t think we always learn those things from more abstract academic writing assignments that we just do for a grade.

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Advanced Placement awards, girls’ soccer wins city title

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Eric Erickson

The Como Park Cougars girls’ soccer team captured the St. Paul City Conference Championship with an undefeated 6-0 conference record. They clinched the title with a victory on Senior Night, held at Como on Sept. 25. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

The National Advanced Placement (AP) Exam results administered by the College Board in 2019 were released to school coordinators in September. The information revealed that Como students earned hundreds of college credits. AP scores are categorized on a five-point scale for each test taken in a specific subject, with colleges and universities generally awarding credit for scores of 3, 4 or 5.
The College Board also released its individual student awards which are based on multiple exams across a variety of disciplines being passed at high levels. “AP Scholar” status is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. Como AP Scholars include: Najma Ali, Kajsa Andersson, Ruby Beckman, Edward Bie, Amira Boler, Ian Brudnak-Voss, Roan Buck, Bridger Carlson, Chiamaka Chijioke, Bruce Deal, Adina DeGaetano, Raef Eddins, Thomas Freberg, Alexandra Harris, Hannah Hausman, Olivia Helmin, Willow Hollister-LaPointe, Kiersten Howatt, Nicholas Jacobsen, Harrison Kerr, Reagan Kerr, Zach Konkol, Aditi Kulkarni, Stella LaCroix-Dalluhn, Abigail Levin, Theo Lucy, Khyri Lueben, Carter Moorman, Claire Olson, Emilie Pagel, Janey Post, Serena Raths, Jack Schumacher, Isak Stillwell-Jardine, Sawyer Wall, Audrey Westerberg, and Justine Wulff.
The AP Scholar with Honor award is granted to students who earn an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams. Como AP Scholars with Honor include: Sunniva Berg, Carter Brown, William Farley, Elijah Frese, Naddi Jillo, Joseph Newman, Lila Seeba, Mira Seeba, and Emma Wolters.
The AP Scholar with Distinction is granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Como AP Scholars with Distinction include: Aiyanna Aeikens, Henrie Friesen, William Gray, Chloe Hollister-Lapointe, Jackson Lee, Celia Olson, Eloise Rein, Mason Salverda, Peter Schik, Antero Sivula, and Marco Tabacman.
National AP Scholar is a classification granted to students in the U.S. who earn an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. Como’s National AP Scholars are Isaac Harker and Alistair Pattison.
Como’s long-established AP program continues to challenge and support students opting to study rigorous courses of their choosing at the college level in over 20 subjects taught by College Board certified Como teachers.

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Hamline Elementary September 2019

Hamline Elementary September 2019

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jessica Kopp

Family room

Hamline Elementary Fall Festival – Saturday, Oct. 5, noon-4:30 p.m. at Hancock Rec Center
It’s almost time for the 6th annual Hamline Elementary Fall Festival! Stop by for good, cheap food, games and activities, community resources, and a chance to meet and hang out with your neighbors. Confirmed entertainment includes Babatunde Lea, Center for Irish Music Youth Ensemble, O’Shea Irish Dancers, and local duo Mac & Cheese. Big thanks to community partners Hamline Midway Coalition, Hamline University, Hancock Recreation Center, and Celtic Junction for helping us share this free, family-friendly event with our Hamline Midway neighbors. See you in October!
The Family Room at Hamline Elementary, just steps from the main office, is a sunny and lively space.
Home to most of our full-service community school programming and resources, it’s completely run and supported by Hamline families and staff. Designed to be multi-purpose, this family-friendly space has room to work, gather, and relax. With work stations equipped with computers and Internet access, plenty of cozy places to sit, and a play area for little ones, it’s a pretty popular place. We’re so grateful to neighbors who have supported our efforts the last two years and as the new school year gets underway, we’d like to invite you to keep that love flowing! Donations can be delivered to the school between 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Here’s how you can help:
-Community Closet: we accept donations of clothing, shoes, and outerwear for all ages. Please be sure items are clean and ready to wear. This saves a step for families using our community closet and volunteers who receive and organize donations.
-Community Pantry: we accept donations of 1) non-perishable food items including canned meat, soups, fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, pasta, oatmeal, and microwaveable meals, 2) household items including dish soap, laundry detergent, facial issue, and toilet tissue, 3) baby products including diapers, wipes, baby soap, and diaper cream, and 4) personal care items including toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, feminine care products, face and body lotion, hair care products for all hair types, soap, and lip balm. Donations of backpacks and school supplies are also accepted.
-Family Room Hospitality: we accept donations of coffee, tea, creamer and sweetener packets, hot cocoa packets, breakfast bars, and packages of goldfish crackers and raisins. We also accept reusable coffee mugs, plates and flatware to be used and enjoyed by families and guests visiting the Family Room.

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Garden to Cafeteria launched

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

On Aug. 19, 16 St. Paul School district teachers, staff, University of Minnesota representatives in food safety and gardens, and representatives from Urban Roots toured three different SPPS school gardens to learn more about the Garden to Cafeteria (G2C) program.
“It is a chance to get the students in touch with their food and know where it comes from. It promotes healthy living, not only nutritionally, but in actively gardening in the fall and the spring,” said Kirsten Saylor, SPPS garden coordinator. Garden to Cafeteria is a program that will start this year, where these teachers, trained in the process of safely harvesting and handling food, will start to bring the student grown and student harvested food, like cherry tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, and other vegetables into their cafeteria in a way that is safe for students to eat.
There are 24 of school gardens/orchards in SPPS, and this group of teachers went to visit several of them to learn more about the process of starting a garden, sustaining a garden, and how to properly bring the food into the supply chain of the school cafeteria for the salad bar.
Kris Wirtz, school cafeteria supervisor at Murray, was willing to pilot the protocols last spring at Murray with student grown lettuce. She, along with Mr. Chase, a science teacher who had students grow lettuce in the school, supervised the students in harvesting, washing, and prepping it for the lunch line salad bar. “If we are going to promote sustainability in the district, this is a great way to teach it, and the team has come up with a set of protocols that will assure food safety and provide a paper trail of what food was harvested when and how it was served,” she said.
Over the past two years over 500 pounds of produce has been donated to the local food shelf out of the Murray garden. Teacher Tim Chase, who has been working with students on the garden, is excited to bring the food into the cafeteria, and hopes to use food, agriculture, sustainability, and culture to build understanding across the diverse population at Murray.
“We will be inviting several local chefs into the classroom too to tie culture and food together with hopes that the thread of sustainability is a natural way of thinking in many cultures when it comes to food,” he said.

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New charter school in former Central Lutheran

New charter school in former Central Lutheran

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Michelle Cambrice

Ten years in the making, a group of engaged educators will open a new charter school called The Journey School this fall.
The Journey School, which is currently accepting enrollment for students K-2, was the brainchild of long-time educators Michelle Cambrice and Scott Gostchock. Their goal was to make a positive difference in the community for children and families through a quality, caring, family-centered education and environment.
“Our dream to open a school where any student has the opportunity to succeed has become a reality, and we’re so excited to share our vision with the community,“ said Cambrice, who has been appointed as the school’s first diriector.
This dream garnered momentum when The Journey School leased the former Central Lutheran School building at 775 Lexington Parkway in St. Paul, which closed last year. The building has gone through renovations to prepare for opening in the fall.
“The Journey School is located in a diverse area where we can reach more children and provide resources,” Cambrice said. “Choosing the right school for a child is one of the most important decisions parents will make. At The Journey School, we will partner with parents and the communiity to equip each student with the knowledge and skillls necessary for their life-long journey of learning.”
In addition to offering dasses for students K-2, The Journey School has also partnered with Head Start to provide childcare.
The Journey School is hosting three open house events at the newly renovated building Aug. 10, 17 and 24. All open house events are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Families are welcome to, tour the new school, get to know the staff and school board, and enroll their student(s).
Learn more by calling 612-389-1579 or browse www.thejourneyschool.org.

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Como FFA

Como High: Gibson Foundation, cooking in Paris, FFA, and swimmers on MPR

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Ms. Gbolo in Paris

Hope Heals camps

Como staff members Mr. Donnell Gibson and Ms. Kristy Pierce have successfully expanded a thriving summer program to serve St. Paul students and alumni. The Gibson Foundation is going strong in its fourth summer, running the Hope Heals basketball camps and hosting an inaugural tournament at the St. Bernard’s gym.
Over 60 boys and girls, ages 6-13, attend camp sessions at Arlington Hills Rec Center. They meet twice a week for the course of six weeks. One hundred-forty high school students and St. Paul college-age alumni meet at Washington Technology Magnet for free play, socializing, and check-ins with Gibson Foundation leaders and community supporters. The multi-age grouping lends itself to mentoring as high school students learn what it takes to study and play at the next level.
Other program leaders include Ronnie Smith (new Como girls assistant coach), Shawn Phillips (Como boys j.v. coach), and Olanda England (Como staff and girls j.v. coach). Como alum Louis Carter is the lead coach for the young age group, and current Como student Ronnie Porter also mentors the youngsters.

Culinary arts institute
Como teacher Ms. Courtney Gbolo traveled to Paris, France to take classes at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute from July 20-Aug, 5. Gbolo earned a grant through the St. Paul Fund for Teachers that sponsored her travel and study.
Gbolo’s classes at Le Cordon Bleu included The Art of Cooking Like A Chef, The Secrets of Choux Pastry, Tart Making, Bread Making, Sauces, and Pastry Art. Gbolo says she’s been energized by the hands-on curriculum and is extremely grateful for the opportunity that was made possible by the St. Paul Foundation.
Looking ahead to the school year, Gbolo is eager to incorporate ideas and recipes from her summer learning and share her passion with Como students in her Culinary Arts classes and Culinary Club.

Como FFA

Future farmers
Students from Como Park’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) helped with the “Farmer for the Day” exhibit at the Ramsey County Fair in July. The students taught young children about agricultural products made in Minnesota.

Swimmers on MPR
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) produced a well-received feature story about competitive swimming, wrapped into historical patterns of participation. The subjects of the feature were Como teacher Justin Mann, and Como student Aaron Ramsey.
Mann teaches social studies and is the assistant boys’ swim coach. Ramsey will be a junior and is a varsity swimmer. They are two examples of leaders who are “broadening the circle” and raising awareness that swimming is a skill and activity available for all.
Both were interviewed for radio and digital print features, and filmed for the social media links and videos that MPR produced. Ramsey said that swimming used to cause him some fear and anxiety, but he’s gained confidence through competitive swimming. “I feel at home in the water. I’m always itching to get back in the water. And I’ve decided to become a lifeguard and help people,” Ramsey said.

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Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew School to participate in literacy partnership with Groves Academy

Posted on 24 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew School student Morgan Nguyen hard at work. (Photo submitted)

Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew School has been selected by Catholic Schools Center of Excelence (CSCOE) as one of 18 Catholic elementary schools to participate in a literacy partnership with Groves Academy.
CSCOE helps Catholic elementary schools enhance educational excellence and increase their enrollments, and Groves Academy advocates for evidence-based literacy instruction for all students in the state of Minnesota.
“We are excited to be one of the 18 schools selected to pilot this unique partnership between CSCOE and Groves Academy and we thank CSCOE for their generous support to make this happen,” said Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew School Principal Maggie Quast.
The Groves Literacy Framework™ is a comprehensive, three-year program for reading and spelling instruction designed to prevent reading problems using evidence-based practices supported by scientific research. Weekly classroom coaching, monthly team meetings and other teacher supports are key to the Framework’s success.
“Our goal is to have each and every child in our Catholic elelmentary schools be fluent readers and spellers by the end of third grade. The Framework not only helps the typical student excel, it can identify students who struggle and provide them with the support they need to be successful,” said CSCOE president Gail Dorn. “We believe that the Groves approach is the best and most successful in the country and we want to partner with the very best!”
The remaining 17 schools in the partnership will be brought on in year two and three. Criteria for selection included: school size, location, student demographics, leadership capacity and 100 percent teacher buy-in.

About Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew School
Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew School in St. Paul serves students in grades Pre-K – 8. “We celebrate and pride ourselves on 65 years of educating students in the beautiful and historic Como Park neighborhood,” said Quast. “Our mission: In answering the call of Jesus Christ, Maternity of Mary – St. Andrew Catholic School is dedicated to providing a Catholic education that develops the unique God-given gifts of each student. In partnership with engaged families and a supportive parish community, the school provides an environment that inspires and upholds academic excellence, spiritual growth, service, and social responsibility.”
CSCOEis a nonprofit organization with a two-part mission: to help Catholic elementary schools enhance excellence and to increase student enrollment.

ABOUT GROVES ACADEMY
Groves Academy is a nonprofit organization that serves students with dyslexia, ADHD and similar learning disabilities through their school and learning center. Groves also partners with schools in the community to share the Groves Literacy Framework™, their evidence-based approach to literacy instruction.

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