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Week of January 27, 2020
2020 will be characterized as a very exciting journey for the Fergus Falls Public School District. We began the school year reviewing and modifying the district’s mission statement, its values and guiding beliefs. This work is important as it provides an organization with its moral compass. Essentially, it helps to ensure that an organization’s vision is always pointed in the right direction.
The mission of the Fergus Falls Public Schools is to prepare productive and engaged members of society by creating an environment where all students reach their full potential.
Integrity, Enthusiasm, Respect, Persistence, Empathy, Resilience, Responsibility, Innovation, Commitment & Creativity
We believe in a safe, supportive and respectful environment.
We believe in being committed to every student’s emotional, social and academic success and well-being. These conditions develop compassionate and curious minds.
We believe in providing students with challenging opportunities to reach their full potential as confident and responsible thinkers, problem-solvers and decision-makers.
We believe involvement in meaningful activities enriches a person’s life.
We believe we are stewards of our community’s resources and will offer efficient and effective learning spaces for students.
We believe in creating an environment where staff are engaged and valued.
We believe in open communication among students, staff, and families; and in cultivating strong community partnerships.
We believe learning is an active and lifelong process.
The next phase involved gathering information. We have data from multiple assessments that provide useful information about where we are at in relation to academic achievement. We took the Minnesota Student Survey results which gave us a detailed look into the daily experiences of our students. The district also developed its own internal survey for staff members. In addition, we distributed a survey from a school climate cohort we are participating in through the Minnesota Department of Education. This survey went out to our students (grades 3-12), families and staff. All of this data continues to be very useful to us in developing a clearer understanding of our strengths and weaknesses.
Week of December 16, 2019
It is hard to believe that 2019 is rapidly coming to a close. As the gray on my temples would attest, I am no longer a young man. Life’s experiences continue to change me. With the passing of years, I hope that I continue to gain wisdom, compassion and gratitude. Truly, life is both a journey and a blessing.
By nature, I am a reflective person. As I think about 2019 and the purpose of my life, I am keenly aware of my role and responsibility as an educator. It seems appropriate to share a personal story that has had a marked impact on my journey.
Although the event happened several years ago, I could still take you by the hand and lead you to the very spot in the gym where I was standing. It was Veteran’s Day. As always, the program was exceptional, containing a mixture of readings, speeches and music. The bleachers and folding chairs on the gym floor were all occupied. The atmosphere appropriately respectful as both school and community honored those who have so faithfully served and continue to serve our country.
Week of December 2, 2019
It is important for all organizations to periodically reflect on their mission, beliefs, vision and practices. The Fergus Falls Public School District is taking time this year to do just that. Our goal is to gather feedback on what we do well and on what we need to improve on. The data collected will help us to establish a vision for Otter education.
As part of this process, the district has been administering a series of surveys. The staff have taken a district-developed survey which provided a great deal of useful information. Last week, our students in grades 3-12 participated in a survey in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Education designed to provide us with data on what the educational experience is like as a student in Fergus Falls Public Schools.
Week of November 25, 2019
Across the nation, schools and communities just finished an observance of American Education Week. American Education Week has been in place for nearly 100 years - dating all the way back to 1921. It began through conversations between members of the National Education Association and the American Legion. It was born out of concerns that one quarter of the World War I draftees were illiterate and an additional 9 percent were physically unfit. To combat this, it was decided that a week be designated specifically to generate public support for education.
Locally, it was a wonderful time for us to be intentional in recognizing the contributions of the Fergus Falls Public Schools’ staff. We were very proud to honor Amy Beske, who teaches science at Kennedy Secondary School, as the Fergus Falls Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Amy is a wonderful example of a talented and dedicated teacher who makes a difference in the daily lives of her students.
We also had the opportunity to recognize the Fergus Falls Public Schools Support Staff of the Year nominees. Each is listed below with a few comments listed from the person who nominated them:
Week of 10/28/19
Every day, in a hundred small ways, our children ask, “Do you see me?” “Do you hear me?” “Do I matter?” Their behavior often mimics our response. L.R. Knost
Last week, Women United, sponsored “Chasing the Clouds Away” as part of their ongoing Conversations that Matter series. The topic was children’s mental health. Given my role with the school district and a background in mental health, I was asked to moderate a panel discussion. I was very honored to do so as children’s mental health remains a topic that is close to my heart.
I read some years ago that it is customary in some African villages to greet one another with the simple question, “How are the children?” The answer to that question gives the visitor an instant overview of life in the village.
Week of October 7, 2019
“There are no grownups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.” Pamela Druckerman
After you have been doing something in excess of twenty years, it feels like one should be able to claim the mantle of “expert.” Although I have been a parent for that long, I still find myself learning and, in some cases, making the same mistakes I have vowed to correct many times over. Somehow, the feeling of expertise has managed to elude me.
My mistakes? I would characterize them most typically as involving a lack of patience or, if I am really feeling contemplative, worry that job demands made me the poster child for the lyrics behind Harry Chapin’s, “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Does anyone else ever feel that way?
Week of September 23, 2019
What are your perceptions of school lunch? I have a confession to make - I nearly always enjoyed eating school lunch. Naturally, I had my favorites which usually involved mashed potatoes and gravy. One of my fondest elementary school memories was the smell of fresh-baked dinner rolls every morning. If you ate all of your lunch and were still hungry, you could go back up to the serving line and get a roll with a smear of peanut butter on it. Delicious!
Back in those days, there was one meal option and you either ate that, brought your own lunch to school or went hungry. When I arrived at college, I found that the dining experience had evolved significantly from what I had experienced in high school. There were a couple of entrée options, along with a large salad bar, water, milk, juice and pop to drink and a desert station. Plus - it was all you could eat!