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For a total of four mornings during the school year at Fridley Public Schools, students arrive two hours later than their usual school starting times. Teachers have spent those two hours without students getting professional development training, and parents have known ahead of time to plan accordingly so that their children make it to school on time. And while this has been the norm for years, a change has come to Fridley. Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, late starts at Fridley Public Schools will be a thing of the past.
The Fridley School Board approved a revised 2015-2016 school calendar at its January 20, 2015 meeting and the significant change in the revised calendar is the elimination of late start days. In the past, the district calendar has included 4 two-hour late start days for students, and each year, the two hour late starts gave teachers and staff a total of 8 hours for professional development training. Those late start hours will now be combined into one full day where students will be out of school and teachers will participate in training.
Imina Oftedahl, the district’s director of educational services said that the changes to the 2015-16 calendar were made in response to feedback from families regarding the disruptive nature of scheduling late starts throughout the year. “The input from principals and teachers about the impact of late starts on instruction and the need for staff for extended periods of collaborative professional development time were also important factors in making this decision,” she said.
The new calendar removes the challenge for families to adjust their schedules for work, transportation and child care during the late start days. The revised calendar now creates a uniform attendance schedule for all schools and provides multiple opportunities for teachers to engage in professional development activities.
“The school district wanted to be responsive to the needs of families in eliminating the late start schedule, and still provide the opportunity for on-going professional development for staff,” said Oftedahl.
Fridley High School's Performing Arts Club will host its 2nd Annual Fine Arts Festival on March 10, 2015 in the high school auditorium. The festival will start at 7pm and will showcase the Improv Troupe, Spoken Word Club, musical performances from the high school's jazz band and choir, and several visual artists will also showcase their work. This event is free and all are invited to attend and enjoy.
Hayes Elementary School music teacher Karin Beckstrand is one of 123 candidates that have been shortlisted for the 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. The individual who wins this award will represent Minnesota in the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.
A veteran educator with more than 22 years experience in Minnesota’s public schools, Beckstrand joined Fridley Public Schools in 1997 as a music teacher at Fridley High School. She later transferred to Hayes Elementary School in 2002 where since then; she has continued to expand the music knowledge of students in grades K- 4.
“I am honored to represent Fridley as a candidate for MN Teacher of the Year,” said Beckstrand. “Every day I get to come to work at a career I love. I don’t teach music, I teach children and I love it.”
Beckstrand loves teaching children. Her passion for helping young minds grasp new knowledge, concepts and skills is often mirrored in the dawning light in her students’ eyes as their minds make tangible connections between music theory and the incredible sound of notes and harmony on various instruments in Karin’s music room.
Karin has been recommended as an instructional leader for two consecutive years and this is evidence of the high quality of her work and respect accorded her by her peers at Hayes Elementary. In addition to her role as instructional leader and teacher, Karin goes above and beyond, always seeking ways to give her students within the building and the entire district opportunities to enhance their learning and well being. Karin seems to have endless passion and energy for her students. She teaches after school Learning Academy, is a volunteer organizer for our district’s Kids in Action which holds an annual 5K fun run for our school community. The Kids in Action fun run supports our elementary schools community service action projects both locally and globally. Karin was also one of the first to volunteer as a building leader for our district’s first Back to School Resource Fair where hundreds of students attended and received free back packs full of school supplies for the new school year.
The 2010-2011 Hayes Teacher of the Year, Beckstrand is a member of numerous organizations, including Minnesota Music Educators Association and National Music Educators Association. She is also a multiple grant award recipient including Education Minnesota Grant, Fridley Schools Foundation grant, and numerous Target Field Trip grants. An avid runner, Beckstrand is a RRCA Certified Run Coach and an ACE Certified Group Fitness instructor. She has also presented at TIES, the Minnesota Educators Association Mid-Winter conference in 2013, 2014. She will present again at this year’s conference on February 12 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Students at Hayes Elementary School and Fridley Middle School had a unique opportunity to explore the universe when the Bell Museum of Natural History brought the Exploradome to each school on January 16 and January 20 respectively.
Third and fourth grade classes at Hayes took turns visiting the Exploradome that can accommodate 20-30 students at a time. Students entered the dome, laid down on their backs, looked up at the dome ceiling and prepared to zip past the planets in our universe at a simulated speed of light. Students in grades 5-8 also shared the same immersive learning experience at their school on January 20.
Komperud also added that as people look up at the stars, they are often struck by how vast the cosmos is. Students, now able to see the planets closer and larger than they have ever seen them before, had many questions for Sarah Komperud, Planetarium Educator for the Bell Museum of Natural History. Komperud who run the presentation at both school guided the students through the tour of our universe and answered questions such as why Uranus has different colors, what the planet is made off, and why some states got some light in the winter time.
“I am very impressed with the level of intelligent questions from the students,” said Komperud. “The students are clearly intelligently thinking through the discoveries they are making through this learning experience.”
This incredible learning opportunity was made possible for our students through a grant by the Xcel Energy. Stevenson Elementary School’s ExploraDome event will take place in April 2015.