Letter to the Editor: Ensuring quality education is a collaborative effort
In my role as president of the 500-plus member West Fargo Education Association, I have the unique opportunity to interact with teachers, administrators and support staff throughout our schools. I have discovered that there are many exciting and innovative events happening right now in the West Fargo Public School District! Here are just a few highlights:
The Lodoen Kindergarten Center staff came out in force during the West Fest parade in a joint effort with the West Fargo Education Association to hand out pencils to our students. The Osgood Kindergarten Center did a "Hats for Minot" where students could wear hats for the week and bring in donations. They raised $381.
The West Fargo High School, STEM and Aurora Elementary will be piloting PD360 in their schools this year. PD360 is an online, on-demand video library of professional teacher development resources that leverages technology to make professional learning more effective, convenient, and sustainable. Aurora is a Professional Learning Community who is united in their commitment to student learning. They share a vision, participate in decision making and work and learn collaboratively.
Last spring Westside received a grant from Modern Woodman for a beautification project. With the help of the Westside student council, they purchased and planted several trees and plants. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Cole Bachmeier was responsible for planting 273 trees on the west side of the building to provide shelter for our Westside Walkers (the morning walking club).
Berger and Eastwood are "School-wide" Title I schools in the first year of implementation. Both schools received the top tier grant this year of $115,000 each from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. This program aims to improve student achievement for all children. Eastwood was recognized by DPI as one of the state's top grants last year and was a model for other districts to follow.
At Cheney Middle School, music teacher Sue Morken has started a "hip hop" dance group that meets two mornings a week. Fiona Brendumuhl recently held the first Student Council meeting with no less than 50 students participating. Eric Espinoza and Courtney Weck have begun work on this year's fall musical production, slated for Nov. 3 and 4.
West Fargo High School staff have committed to sending home two positive pieces of communication for every student per month. By doing this, school staff is focusing on building existing relationships and developing new ones. Student groups are (also) off and running at Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center where FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and Student Council have been active in sponsoring activities for the student body and planning service projects in the community.
Michelle Ristvedt, math teacher at Community High School, was one of two area "Philanthropy and Youth" advisors given the honor of attending the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo. At this event, participants ponder ideas and issues that shape and challenge our times. "Philanthropy and Youth" is a collaboration between seventeen area high schools and a private family foundation.
Seven elementary schools are participating in USDA's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program which provides fresh produce to all students during morning milk break four days a week. Cheney Middle School is receiving American grown produce purchased with USDA commodity funds through a Department of Defense distribution system. This program has greatly enhanced the selection of fruits and vegetables in the salad bars at Cheney Middle School.
Along with all of these new and exciting opportunities, the School Board, community and district staff is working collaboratively with architects to plan several new school building projects. This would not have been possible without the financial support of our school district patrons! We, the teachers and support staff members of the West Fargo Education Association look forward to a continued and collaborative relationship among all of you who make it your business to assure our students the best possible learning opportunities. It is indeed a joint effort! Thank you and we wish the best for all of our students this school year and in the future.