posted on 2/23/2012
Superintendent’s Update: News You Can Use
Posted: February 22, 2012
The arts are an essential part of the fabric of the Helena community. When Helena was named, “The Best Small Arts Town in America” it was not a surprise to those of us who live here. The Holter Museum of Art, Grandstreet Theatre, the Archie Bray Foundation, the Myrna Loy, the Montana Historical Society, and the Helena Symphony are just a few of the strands that weave an amazing tapestry earning Helena the “Best Small Arts Town” distinction.
As an educator and the Superintendent, I recognize the arts are also an essential part of every child’s education. There is a growing body of research that reveals learning in and through the arts improves student success across all subject areas. When you ask an adult what they remember about their own learning in school they often describe a performance, a painting, a song, or some other personal creation. Art is about connecting to the “whole child” – the mind, the body, and the heart. Arts education nurtures imagination and curiosity and equips students with a creative, competitive edge in an international economy.
Renowned author, Daniel Pink, describes our move from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age where workers who are guided by the right hemisphere of the brain will be in demand. Certainly the ability to think analytically, logically and sequentially will be important but so too will the ability to be inventive, empathetic, and creative.
We are able to provide rich art opportunities for our students thanks to our own talented art educators and our long-standing partnerships with all of the arts organizations in Helena who continually provide students opportunities to work with and learn from amazing artists and performers from around the world.
One recent and powerful example occurred over the course of the last two weeks at the Holter Museum of Art. The Museum’s Education Department under the direction of Sondra Hines and Hannah Gilbert hosted 322 Helena Public School students, 19 educators and 22 parent chaperones. All had the opportunity to learn from and work with Wanxin Zhang, an internationally recognized sculptor who is currently exhibiting his life-sized sculptures at the Holter.
Another example will happen tonight when PAL students attend the final dress rehearsal of Grandstreet Theatre’s upcoming play, “Almost, Maine.” Thanks to Tom Cordingley and the Kiwanis Club our students will be able to experience live theatre at no cost.
I want to express my gratitude to all of our art partners in Helena for helping us provide life-changing experiences for students. It is opportunities like the ones above and so many more that enrich the lives of our students as well as our community.
Keith L. Meyer, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools
Rocky Mountain Development Council Head Start
By: Patty Dahl, Head Start Program Director
Rocky Mountain Development Council, Inc. Head Start hosted the May Butler Center administrative team on Wednesday, February 8, 2011. As Head Start administrators we look forward to this annual visit to renew and energize our long-standing relationship with Helena Public Schools. “
School readiness was an area we focused on during the meeting. The Head Start Act of 2007, officially named Public Law 110-134 "Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007", emphasizes that (Head Start) agencies “…shall establish…program goals for improving school readiness of children participating in a program…including school readiness goals that are aligned with the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework [recently revised as The Head Start child Development and Early Learning Framework], State early learning standards as appropriate, and requirements and expectations of the schools the children will be attending.” Refer to Head Start Act, section 641A(g)(2)(A). RMDC Head Start is formalizing its school readiness goals into one “actual” document; there are additional pieces with regards to family engagement, health expectations, and transitions we want to include in our document.
We have been using the Creative Curriculum for Preschool with fidelity for the past five years and the child outcomes in Creative Curriculum mesh wonderfully with the expectations of the Head Start Act. Currently many of our “school readiness” goals are embedded in our focus area work plans so having an actual “user-friendly” School Readiness Goals document will allow us to pull all the information together succinctly. (More information on Head Start’s School Readiness Requirements can be found at Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center - Head Start (http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc), School Readiness tab and/or Policy and Regulation, Program Instructions, 2011 tabs.)
We’ve been fortunate to meet with Teresa Burson and several kindergarten teachers to review what the expectations will be for children when they finish kindergarten. At this time, we need to become more familiar with the requirements and expectations of the schools Head Start children will be attending. Future meetings are in the works to gather this information so we can ensure we’re working toward those expectations in our school readiness activities.
Other agenda topics included a discussion on data-sharing and technology, transportation, Special Services, home visits and family engagement, professional development, funding for both entities, and the Early Childhood Coalition’s work including the upcoming Week of the Young Child April 22-28, as well as a presentation on child outcomes through Teaching Strategies Gold®. Head Start recently received a Montana Striving Readers Project grant and details were discussed.
The morning ended with a tour of Head Start classrooms and Rocky Mountain Preschool at the Neighborhood Center……..and as my Dad always said, “A good time was had by all!”
Every day, every month, every year and every HPS site visit I am reminded how valuable it is for RMDC Head Start to have a positive, long-term, working relationship with its school districts….not all Head Start programs across the nation can boast of a partnership such as ours….thank you Helena Public Schools for your acknowledgement of the work Head Start does on behalf of children and families and our community.
Community Partnerships –A Great Connection Between Schools and Community
By: Sue Sweeney, Broadwater School Principal
Broadwater Elementary, along with several other elementary schools in the district, benefit from partnerships with community organizations such as Exploration Works throughout the year.
On January 31, Sarah Cameron, VISTA for the Helena School District, helped to arrange “Broadwater Night at Exploration Works!” Over 240 Broadwater family members joined the Broadwater staff, Explorations Works staff, and volunteers from Carroll College for a fun night at the museum.
“Oh, EYE See” was enjoyed by young and old as they ventured through the museum for a deeper understanding of the eye. Giant eyeballs, optical illusions, an anatomical eye model and an animal eye wall caught the “EYES” of our students as well as parents and other family members. Exploration Works provided an admission free night for our families. This was great fun, educational, and much appreciated by all!
This partnership, as well as others in the community, helps us get our families out in the community to enjoy what our great community has to offer! Thank you Exploration Works!
We are looking forward to partnering with the Montana Historical Society, the Holter, and others to bring similar programs to our students later this year. Helena-a great place to live and learn!
District Implements Software to Auto Update Computers – Don’t Turn Off Your Computer!
The District is implementing a program called Altirus that will automatically update software like Java and Flash while you are sleeping. The software will also install patches.
The key to making sure your machine receives the newest updates is to make sure you don’t turn it off. You can turn off your monitor but please leave your computer (cpu) on at all times, as energy and power are now being managed remotely.
If you have questions please contact your building tech staff or Misti at 324.2114.
Montana Board of Public Education High School Student Representative Position Open
By: Kelly Elder, C. R. Anderson Educator & State Student Council Leader
Each year, a Montana high school student is selected to serve as the student representative on the Montana Board of Public Education. This is a demanding position that requires a commitment well beyond that of most youth activities. It does, however, provide an amazing professional leadership experience to a responsible high school student.
The application may be found at the following website - http://www.kellyelder.net/ - just click on Student Council from the left-hand menu to review. MASC (Montana Association of Student Councils) Executive Director Jane Suberg's contact information is on the application; she can assist with any questions you may have.
This is an incredible opportunity for Montana youth. I've seen a number of young people grow immensely from their involvement with this board over the past decade. Please share you’re your students and encourage them to apply.
Lewis and Clark Library to Feature Student Art Work
By: Pad McCracken, Teen Services Librarian
The Lewis and Clark Library relocated their Young Adult collection and created wall space to allow rotating art exhibits featuring local teen artists. Capital High students are currently exhibiting their work. The Library would also like to have Helena High School, C. R. Anderson, and Helena Middle School student work as part of the rotating exhibits.
The space is large enough for 4-5 large pieces. Check it out at: http://www.facebook.com/lewisandclarklibraryteens. It is a couple of wall posts down.
For more information check out the links below:
You can also contact Pad McCracken, Teen Services Librarian, at 406.447.1690 x132 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Volunteer Nominations Open
Nominations of young volunteers are invited for Gloria Barron Prize.
Twenty young people in the United States between the ages of 8 and 18 will receive awards of $2,500 in recognition of their service on behalf of their communities and/or the environment....
Deadline: April 30, 2012
For more information:
High School Seniors Focus on Indian Culture and Government
By: Jan Jamruszka-Wilson, Indian Education Coordinator at CHS, HHS and PAL
In early February, American Government students at CHS, HHS and PAL attended the 5th annual Medicine Wheel Project, sponsored by the District’s Indian Education for All Department in partnership with the Montana Historical Society. Native American tribes use the Medicine Wheel traditionally to teach and to provide guidance in making choices throughout one’s life.
Using the Medicine Wheel as a metaphor for Helena’s Medicine Wheel Project, the School District aims to further the understanding of Montana Indian cultures, offering seniors an opportunity to explore traditional and contemporary aspects of Montana Indian culture and their interface with Montana and U.S. Government policies. This was the intent of the 1999 Montana Legislature when it passed the Indian Education for All act into law.
Most 12th graders will soon exercise their responsibilities as Montana voters. They will better serve Montana if they know about the historical interaction between Indian tribes and Montana and U.S. Governments. It is especially important to understand the contemporary issues of Montana Indians, since Native Americans made up 6.3 percent of Montana’s population in 2010.
The session Stereotypes of Indians in Society was the students’ top choice. Students said that Mike Jetty, OPI Indian Education Specialist, got their attention by talking about sports teams who named team mascots using abusive or offensive references to Native Americans. One of the students said, “I really never understood what the big deal was about stereotypes. Now I get it.”
Students attending the session Planting Seeds of Hope-Suicide Prevention were surprised that Montana was rated #3 nationally for the incidence of suicide. Bullying is a key factor in the prevalence of teen suicide. Other contributing factors are isolation and poverty. Students said it is important to bring this issue out into the open so it can be dealt with.
Other topics like Traditional Uses of Plants, Changing Roles of Indian Men and Women through Time, The Role of the Buffalo in Traditional and Contemporary Times, and Indian Boarding Schools grounded students in Indian life and history, and paved the way for understanding contemporary issues of Indians dealing with health, land use and stewardship, and relations between tribal governments and Montana and U.S. Governments.
Teachers and students participated in various classroom activities both before and after the Medicine Wheel Project that reviewed the Indian Education for All Essential Understandings, tied session subjects to class topics that have been taught this year, and examined the connection and relevancy of multi-cultural understanding to their lives.
Basketball – Varsity - Both Men and Women
• Feb. 28-March 3, 2012 Play-offs for High School Basketball
• March 8-10, 2012 State Basketball at MSU Bozeman
Grants & Funding Opportunities
Do Something Awards
Since 1996, DoSomething.org has honored the nation's best young world-changers. Maximum award: a community grant of $100,000, media coverage, and continued support from DoSomething.org.
Eligibility: youth ages 25 and under.
Deadline: March 1, 2012.
ESU: Fellowships for American High School Teachers
English-Speaking Union of the United States British Universities Summer School fellows have the opportunity to perform on the stage of the Globe Theatre during Teaching Shakespeare in Performance at Shakespeare's Globe, London, England. The University of Oxford offers a variety of English Literature courses, as well as courses in Creative Writing and History, Politics and Society. Scottish Universities International Summer School (SUISS) program, based in Edinburgh, offers Literature in Twentieth-Century Britain and Creative Writing. Maximum award: full or partial scholarship to study in Britain, which includes tuition, most meals, and dorm room with shared bath. Eligibility: high school teachers with five to fifteen years of experience who will teach the following year.
Deadline: March 2, 2012.
NABT: Ron Mardigian Biotechnology Teaching Award
The National Association of Biology Teachers Ron Mardigian Biotechnology Teaching Award (sponsored by Bio-Rad Laboratories) recognizes an educator who has demonstrates outstanding and creative teaching of biotechnology in the classroom. The award may be given for either a short-term series of activities or a long integration of biotechnology into the curriculum. The lessons must include active laboratory work and encompass major principles as well as processes of biotechnology. Topics may include any aspect of basic DNA or protein biotechnology or immunology or applied biotechnology in areas such as medical, forensic, plant and environmental biotechnology. Criteria for selection include creativity, scientific accuracy and currency, quality of laboratory practice and safety, ease of replication, benefit to students, and potential significance beyond the classroom. Maximum award: recognition; a one-year complimentary NABT membership; and $1,500 (up to $500 toward travel to the NABT Professional Development Conference, $500 in Bio-Rad materials, and $500 toward general science supplies). Eligibility: secondary school teachers or undergraduate college biology instructors.
Deadline: March 15, 2012