Burnsville Chamber to host District 191 School Board candidate forum

Posted on September 18, 2018

Candidates for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Board of Education have been invited to participate in a forum at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, in the Burnsville Room, upper level, Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Parkway.

At the forum, candidates will introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience.

The five candidates for four four-year terms on the Board of Education are Abigail Alt, Lesley Chester, Jen Holweger, Scott Hume and Jim Schmid. All five will be on the ballot Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The forum will be sponsored by the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased to help provide this opportunity for voters to become informed on this important race,” said Chamber President Jennifer Harmening. “I encourage people to attend the forum or watch it on TV or on the district’s website.” 

The forum will be recorded and available for viewing on the district's website at and also on the district’s educational Channel 18.

Tagged school board

BHS preschool has openings for school year

Posted on September 18, 2018

Preschool Lab is a course offered at Burnsville High School for preschool children from the community.

High school students, under the direction of Family and Consumer Sciences teachers, gain experience teaching and working with children in a preschool setting.  

The preschool children will benefit from goal-oriented, small group, personalized learning in the areas of art, music, math, science and pre-reading presented through activities, games and learning centers.

Preschool Lab has multiple sessions for 2018-2019:

  • Morning session offered first semester (9:50-11:20 a.m.) Monday-Friday, beginning Oct. 8.
  • Morning (9:50-11:20 a.m.) and afternoon sessions offered second semester (12:10-1:35 p.m.). Dates are still to be announced.

The costs is $70 per session. Eligible preschool children are 3-5 years old and fully toilet-trained.

If you are interested in more information and enrollment in the program please call or email Heidi Eichten at 952-707-2115 or

Grant from Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will enhance classroom libraries at Harriet Bishop

Posted on September 18, 2018

The Harriet Bishop Elementary PTO has announced an $800 grant received from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The grant will be used to purchase classroom books as part of a literacy focus to engage reluctant readers and reflect the school’s diversity.

“We are grateful for the generosity of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and their support of this effort to provide all of our students with access to books featuring diverse protagonists and exciting formats like graphic novels,” said Erin Huber, Harriet Bishop second grade teacher.

This grant will add new books to each classroom library in the school. Providing books with diverse characters can help students see themselves in the literature and foster a larger interest in reading.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis and St. Paul. With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth, and good employer, the SMSC is committed to charitable donations, community partnerships, a healthy environment, and a strong economy. The SMSC and the SMSC Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino) are the largest employer in Scott County. Out of a Dakota tradition to help others, the SMSC has donated nearly $300 million to organizations and causes since opening the Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s and has contributed millions more to regional governments and infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer systems, and emergency services.

Harriet Bishop Elementary PTO

The Harriet Bishop Elementary PTO is a nonprofit with the mission of supporting and enhancing all learning opportunities for students at Harriet Bishop Elementary in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage  School District 191.

Posted in Community | Tagged harriet bishop, literacy, donation

District 191 secondary students receive library cards

Posted on September 18, 2018

All students in grades 6 through 12 in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 have library cards they can use in person or online with both the Dakota County and Scott County public library systems.

Students at Eagle Ridge, Metcalf and Nicollet Middle Schools, and Burnsville High School and Burnsville Alternative High School can easily access library resources including online one-on-one homework help, research tools, e-books, audiobooks, movies/TV DVDs, music CDs, translation services, electronic magazines and print books.

“I’m excited at the ways these resources are benefitting students and their learning,” said Doug Johnson, director of technology. “We’re very appreciative of this partnership with Dakota and Scott County public library systems that began last year.”

The cards will expire when students graduate from high school. Dakota County Library has made the cards fine-free for the materials from their libraries.

“Because all of our middle and high school students each have Chromebooks as personal learning devices, they can easily maximize use of the public library’s resources,” said Johnson. “We hope this encourages students to read, research and explore their interests all year round – including during the summer.”

Posted in Community | Tagged bhs, middle school, nicollet, eagle ridge, metcalf

Remarkable graduates join BHS Hall of Fame

Posted on September 17, 2018

2018 Hall of Fame Induction

Six Burnsville High School graduates were inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 14, during a ceremony in the school’s Mraz Center. Inductees were also be recognized at halftime at the evening’s home football game.   

They join 91 individuals, teams/organizations who have been inducted since the Hall of Fame was created in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary in 2006.

“Our six new inductees took the educational, artistic and athletic opportunities they enjoyed at Burnsville High School and built on them to become individuals who have made exceptional achievements in their careers as well as significant contributions to their communities at the local, state, national and international levels,” according to Vicki Roy, co-chair of the Hall of Fame committee. “They serve as positive role models for our students and let them see what opportunities they may have and what they may achieve in their futures.”

2018 inductees are:

Anne Abicht, Class of 1977, was a member of the BHS girls' tennis team, the first girls' golf team, and the girls' basketball team that won the 1977 Class AA State Championship. She lettered in all three sports and was awarded a “reverse letter” for lettering at least six times during her high school career. She earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications with a minor in journalism from the University of Minnesota and her master's degree in sports management from St. Cloud State University. Abicht was the first, and so far only, female to be named the director of athletic media relations at St. Cloud State University, serving in that position for 30 years. She has received numerous awards including being inducted into the 2015 St. Cloud University Athletic Hall of Fame and the 2016 College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame. Anne served as the U.S. Olympic Committee's press officer for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey team in Albertville, France. She has served on the Central Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross Board of Directors from 1989-2009, chairing the board in 2005-2006. She is also a member of the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee and is the secretary of the St. Cloud State Husky Booster Club. Abicht served as the media coordinator for the Minnesota North Star Games held in St. Cloud and Burnsville and on the Minnesota Special Olympics Opening Ceremony Organizing Committee when it took place in St. Cloud.

Dean LeBlanc, Class of 1988, was a member of the BHS Concert Band and the Jazz Ensemble. He was also a member of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony and a winner of the Schubert Club Solo Competition in 1987 and 1988. He graduated with a special performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and received a full scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music, earning a master’s degree in orchestral performance. LeBlanc was also a concerto competition winner at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1992. LeBlanc is now a clarinetist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra where he has played over 2,000 performances, including numerous “Live from Lincoln Center” recordings and telecasts. He can be heard on two Grammy Award-winning Met recordings of “The Tempest” and “Der Ring des Nibelungen.” He was the solo clarinetist for the Oscar-winning movie “True Grit” and for the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce.” He has appeared as a guest musician with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Bavarian State Opera, Mostly Mozart Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, to name a few, and he has performed in Carnegie Hall over 100 times and many other major concert halls around the world.

Loren Miller, Class of 1982, was a member of the National Honor Society at BHS. He played on the soccer team and was a member of the cross country skiing team. He was also a member of the orienteering team that earned state championships in 1977 and 1978. He served as Dakota County president and state secretary and ambassador for the 4-H Youth Program. He earned his bachelor's degree in biology and his master's and Ph.D. in fisheries at the University of Minnesota. Miller is the first and only fish geneticist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He developed the first of a highly informative type of genetic marker for four fish species, has authored or co-authored many journal articles and made presentations at more than 60 scientific meetings and universities in 15 states and 4 other countries. Miller has received a University of Minnesota Star Professional Academic Award and a DNR Fisheries Award for Overall Excellence. He served as president and division and national committee member for the American Fisheries Society. Miller has made classroom presentations on fishery sciences in Minneapolis, Roseville and Faribault schools. He also developed an after school orienteering program for a Minneapolis school and has coached soccer, baseball, basketball and lacrosse. He volunteers at the Ordway, Great River Greening, Gibb’s Farm Museum and the American Swedish Institute.

Amy Nelson Plumb, Class of 1980, earned four letters in swimming at BHS and played the flute in the band. She was a member of the National Honor Society and received the faculty scholarship upon graduation. Nelson attended St. Olaf College where she earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry (magna cum laude). She was Phi Beta Kappa, a member of the Chemistry Honor Society and Senior Women’s Honor Society. She went on to the Mayo Medical School where she received her degree in 1988 and was named the Outstanding Female Medical Student. Nelson then proceeded to the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health where she was a pediatric resident and chief resident becoming a board certified pediatrician in 1992. She has received the Outstanding General Pediatrician Award and the Charles E. Lobeck Medical Education Award as well as numerous patient experience and patient quality awards. She has volunteered at West Middleton Elementary School and Middleton High School where she volunteered with the cross country, track and tennis teams as well as the orchestra. Nelson has also been an active volunteer with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, receiving the Order of the Arrow Service Award.

Jason Wellington Sticht, Class of 1990, was first chair trumpet in the BHS Concert Band from 1987-1989. He also served as the president of the Church Youth Group Association for two years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and his master's with distinction from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Sticht joined the Marines in 1991. He was designated a naval aviator in 1999 and has piloted six different military aircraft over the years, travelling to 49 countries and 46 states. He was selected for command in 2012, for bonus command in 2013 and completed command assignments in 2014 and 2017. Sticht was appointed chief of staff for the deputy assistant secretary of defense in 2017. He was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal in 2003, the Air Force Commendation Medal in 2006, the Navy Commendation Medal in 2007 and 2010 and Meritorious Service Medals in 2013, 2014 and 2017. He was also made an Honorary Chief Petty Officer in 2017. In addition to his 27 years of military service, Sticht has been an active volunteer in the communities in which he and his family have lived, serving as a senior military inspector for high school JROTC annual military inspections in New York and New Jersey. He has also served as a church fundraiser volunteer, a homeless shelter volunteer and a soccer coach.

Jeffrey K. Van Nest, Class of 1986, was senior class vice president at BHS. He played on the 1984 state runners up and 1985 state champion football teams, serving as co-captain his senior year. Van Nest attended the University of Minnesota, earning his bachelor's degree in 1990. He attended the University of Wisconsin School of Law where he received his juris doctor degree with honors in 1994. He earned a master of laws degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Van Nest served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a trial defense counsel in the Naval Legal Services Office West in San Francisco, and as appellate defense counsel for the Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Review in Washington, D.C., and operations attorney for the National Security Agency in Fort Meade. He served as unit chief of the Counterterrorism Division and as chief of the Genocide War Crimes Unit at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Van Nest currently serves as the FBI Chief Division Counsel in the Minneapolis Division. He volunteers as the coordinator for the FBI Chasing the Dragon opioid awareness program and as a Ski Jammers youth ski coach.

Posted in Alumni, Student Success | Tagged bhs, hall of fame, alumni

Burnsville High School senior is a National Merit Semifinalist

Posted on September 14, 2018

Burnsville High School senior Will Trussell has achieved another national academic distinction.

He’s among fewer than one percent of U.S. 12th-grade students whose scores on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test have made them 2019 National Merit Semifinalists.

As a semifinalist, Will will be considered for finalist status (to be announced in February) and potential scholarships.

Last year, Will found out that he achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT exam, another  accomplishment that fewer than 0.1 percent of students nationwide obtain.

“For a student to achieve just one of these academic distinctions is amazing, but to have achieved both is truly remarkable,” said Principal Dave Helke. “We’re proud of Will and congratulate him on his success. We know he has a bright future ahead.”

“Will is an extremely motivated student,” said Kristina Aars, American history teacher at Burnsville. “He is naturally, extremely intelligent, but he also works very hard.”  

At Burnsville High School, William is involved in Quiz Bowl and Math League. He’s also in the marching band and theatre pit band.

“Being on the Quiz Bowl team and involved in Math League definitely helped with taking the test,” said Will. “I’m used to working under pressure and within time constraints while trying to remember theorems and formulas.”     

Will is applying to the University of Minnesota and is interested in studying engineering.

Posted in Academics, Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs

Residents invited to build community through food, conversation at Oct. 4 event

Posted on September 12, 2018

Community members will come together to enjoy a meal and engage in conversations about strengthening the community at a special event on Oct. 4 called “A Celebration of Healthy Communities.”

The event will use a well-established and intentional social interaction model to facilitate discussions about important issues in the District 191 community. Spanish and Somali interpreters will be present.

Presented in partnership by Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Community Education, Know Your Neighbor and the Burnsville YMCA, the event is schedule for 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 4 at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy.

All are welcome to attend and there is no cost to participate. Please register at

Posted in Community

Accountability report shows growth trends, need to continue efforts

Posted on August 30, 2018

Results from the new Minnesota schools accountability system show growth in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, especially in places where the district has had success personalizing learning for students and growing stronger relationships within the school community. Those are central elements of Vision One91, the district’s work to redesign schools to meet the needs of today’s learners.

The new accountability system – called North Star by the state Department of Education — takes a broader measurement of school effectiveness that reflects achievement on state standardized tests, as well as individual student growth on those tests, attendance rates and graduation rates.

Areas of Growth

New literacy curriculum, teaching model help elementary reading results

Year-to-Year growth for grade cohorts in reading.

Student cohorts – the groups of students as they move through the grades – showed growth from one year to the next on state tests. In 2017, 43.7 percent of third graders scored “proficient” on the reading test. As fourth graders in 2018, 44.6 percent of that group scored “proficient.”

Improvement for the 5th grade cohort was even more pronounced, going from 47.1 percent proficient the previous year to 55 percent proficient in 2018.

Third grade scores were up compared to last year, too, meaning more students are reading at grade level by third grade, which is a major indicator of future academic success.

“Using the new teaching model and curriculum, teachers are personalizing each student’s learning more,” said Dr. Jenna Mitchler, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for District 191. “It’s thanks to the efforts of the literacy steering committee and the work of our teachers to reach each and every student that we see positive results and can expect more growth in the future.”

Improvement in Middle School Reading and Math

At the middle school level, scores in reading and math went up among both 6th graders and 8th graders.

Recent changes at the middle schools have focused on providing more individualized attention and building stronger relationships between staff and students to ensure all students succeed. These include daily enrichment or interventions for all students, a daily advisory period for all students, expansion of AVID college prep to all three schools, and one-to-one Chromebooks that allow students to access high-quality resources, as well as collaboration and communication tools.

Improvement in High School Reading and Math

Scores on the state reading and math tests went up among 10th and 11th graders, respectively. District leaders pointed to the emphasis on using data to address individual student needs, as well as the Pathways model that has been engaging students and helped them become more focused on preparing to succeed in the future.

Building Strong Relationships

Mitchler highlighted District 191’s efforts to build stronger relationships between staff and students as a key reason for areas of growth, and specifically noted the work to become a culturally proficient schools system (CPSS). That district-wide work, now in its third year as part of Vision One91, focuses on understanding students’ strengths and building on them to ensure students are ready to succeed in their futures.

“Our focus is on addressing the needs of each student so that they can be ready to succeed at their next step, whether that’s kindergarten or middle school or going on to college and a career,” Mitchler said. “That means providing excellent resources, opportunities, curriculum and instruction. But that’s not enough without strong, trusting relationships between staff and students so they know they are welcome and valued in our schools.”

To learn more about CPSS in District 191, go to

Areas for Improvement & Next Steps

Some District 191 schools were identified for support based on missing targets for one or more measures in the North Star system. This means the state will provide some support with the schools’ plans for improvement.

The followings schools were prioritized for support by the state, listed with the measure for which they were identified.

  • Neill Elementary, Achievement for a Specific Group (Special Education)
  • Hidden Valley, Achievement in Math & Reading
  • Sky Oaks, Achievement and Progress in Math & Reading
  • Sioux Trail, Achievement for a Specific Group (Special Education)
  • Vista View, Achievement in Math
  • William Byrne, Achievement in Math & Reading
  • Burnsville High School, 4-year Graduation Rates for ELL, Hispanic & Special Education student groups
  • BAHS, 4-year Graduation Rates for All Students

District 191 was also identified for support based on achievement levels as measured by the MCA tests. However, student growth in both math and reading were high enough that the district was not identified for support on that measure.

District 191 will continue its work around building strong relationships and personalizing learning for students, which has shown positive results. New and expanded efforts this year include:

  • Providing staff with better access to student data so instruction meets student needs using a new tool called Viewpoint
  • Expanding efforts to provide targeted individual interventions to students
  • Curriculum review including math beginning this school year and science in 2019-20

Detailed results are available on the Minnesota Department of Education website at

Posted in Academics

Vista View teacher receives award from Minnesota Reading Corps

Posted on August 27, 2018

Mary Borrell, a special education teacher at Vista View Elementary, was among three outstanding individuals to receive the first-ever alumni awards presented in recognition of Minnesota Reading Corps’ 15th year and Minnesota Math Corps’ 10th year.

Award recipients were selected based on continued service after Reading Corps and Math Corps and their dedication to making a difference in their communities. Alumni who had completed their service during the 17-18 school year or earlier were eligible for the award.

Borrell served in Minnesota Reading Corps for two years at Vista View after earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Mankato State University.

“We're so proud of all the work Mary has done for our programs and continues to do for children and her community,” said Kelsey Cummings, a spokesperson for Minnesota Reading Corps. “We thank her for her service helping Minnesota students succeed.”

While in Reading Corps, Borrell began working on her Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) licensure through the University of St. Thomas. After her Reading Corps service ended, she was hired at Vista View in 2012, first as a 6th grade classroom teacher, then as a resource special education teacher, and finally as a teacher for students identified on the ASD spectrum.  

"Mary is a teacher leader and is beloved by fellow teachers, students and their families for her warmth, ability to make personal connections and expertise," said Cindy Crawford, a reading specialist at Vista View who nominated Borrell for the award. "She is a model for both students and teachers in learning and leadership; having served as an adviser for both student leadership and patrols, a coach for Girls on the Run and now on our district Cultural Proficiency team."

Borrell also serves on the district’s Writing Steering committee, as a special education lead teacher, and as advisor to the school’s Chess Club.

“Mary continues to be an enthusiastic ambassador for Minnesota Reading Corps; welcoming and supporting our tutors and sharing her positive experience for the program,” said Crawford.  

The Alumni Spirit of Service Awards were presented at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Aug. 14 in front of hundreds of people who will serve as reading or math tutors throughout the state during the upcoming school year. Borrell received a copy of “Going Places” by Paul Reynolds, who was the keynote speaker at the event, along with a certificate and alumni jacket.

Nicollet students share AVID experiences at national conference

Posted on August 27, 2018

Cody Hoang and Kaelyn Ambuehl pictured in front of a mural in downtown Minneapolis with music notes on a white wall.Two students from Nicollet Middle School were selected to be part of a four-day national conference attended by educators from around the country to learn more about Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) in June in Minneapolis.

The soon-to-be-seventh grade students, Kaelyn Ambuehl and Cody Hoang, are in the AVID college prep program at Nicollet. At the conference, they shared their experiences in AVID and their plans for the future. Speaking to teachers, counselors and principals, the two students showed the AVID methods they use including how to organize their binder, along with how to create Cornell notes and tutorial request forms. Kaelyn said they spent three days being leaders and demonstrating what AVID students should be.

"It is a huge honor for Kaelyn and Cody to have been selected from all the students that applied. They did an amazing job representing themselves and Nicollet Middle School,” said Amy Smalley, the school’s AVID coordinator. “All of us at Nicollet were so proud to see them speak so confidently about their AVID experiences in front of such large groups of educators."

At Nicollet, AVID is both a building-wide initiative and an elective class designed to help students prepare for and succeed in college by developing critical thinking and organizational skills. AVID schools also develop a school-wide “college-bound” culture among students.

Nicollet has been so successful with AVID that it has been named as an AVID National Demonstration School and serves as a model for other schools implementing the program.

Other teachers and administrators from Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 also attended the AVID conference.

Posted in Academics, Student Success | Tagged AVID, nicollet, middle school