Strong instructional strategies and a schoolwide focus on student success are evident at Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville, according to Commissioner Brenda Cassellius of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) who visited the school on Jan. 5.
She was there to recognize the school for being a Reward School, among the top 15 percent of Minnesota schools that qualify for federal Title 1 funding.
This year, 119 schools earned the Reward School designation based on results of the Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR), the state's measurement of school performance. Only 14 schools — including Gideon Pond — have achieved that designation for a fifth consecutive time.
In her visits to Reward Schools, Cassellius has found that Reward Schools share similarities. For example, relationships are strong between staff members and students and their families. All adults in the schools feel like every student is theirs so they feel responsible and work together to support the success of every student. Most Reward Schools also have Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) in place. The program sets clear schoolwide expectations for behavior and creates a respectful and supportive climate that positively impacts student achievement.
“It became clear in her visits that Gideon Pond displays these Reward School characteristics like strong relationships and PBIS,” said Principal Chris Bellmont. “Our students and staff members can be proud of the consistent success they have achieved for the past five years that makes our school a leader in Minnesota.”
Cassellius is encouraging other schools in the state to tour Reward Schools to see the strategies that make them so successful.
While at Gideon Pond, Cassellius met with a group of students and also with instructional staff members. Three students took her on a tour of the school that includes visits to classrooms, the media center and the lunchroom.