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Construction, AVID, tech tools among the many changes in District 191 this year

New places
There aren’t many changes to school buildings for the 2015-16 school year, but there are plenty coming for the 2016-17 school year as Vision One91 becomes reality. Construction is now underway at Burnsville High School, expanding the school to accommodate grades 9-12 beginning in September 2016. Renovation is also underway in the lower level of Diamondhead Education Center to expand and improve programming for the district’s youngest learners from newborns to preschoolers. Design teams of teachers and administrators are planning academic changes for early childhood, elementary, middle schools and high school. Keep up-to-date on all the preparations by clicking on the Vision One91 medallion at

New learning tool
Although funding from the Vision One91 technology levy won’t arrive until the 2016-17 school year, District 191 is moving forward with one tech tool that will be at the center of all the others. Schoology has been selected as the new “learning management system,” a web-accessible tool that acts as a home base for all things academic. For students, it offers a place to receive and turn in homework, participate in online discussions, monitor their grades and upcoming work, and develop their own portfolios. For teachers, it houses curriculum resources like lesson plans, texts, assessments and much more. Use of Schoology will begin in a limited way as a pilot project, and then expand districtwide.

Chromebook pilot project in Social Studies
Secondary social studies, grades 7-12 at all schools, was chosen as a pilot subject this year with Schoology because it’s undergoing a curriculum review this year. Those teachers are receiving training this summer and throughout the school year. Social studies classrooms will also be outfitted with Chromebooks so that all students can access the resources available through Schoology.

New programs
AVID, a college prep program, will expand to Metcalf and Eagle Ridge Junior Highs. AVID started in our district a few years ago at Nicollet Junior High and then expanded to Burnsville High School and Burnsville Alternative High School.

New faces
There will be about 50 teachers new to the district along with 35 other new employees (in various categories). Three elementary schools will have principals that are new to them but well-known in District 191. Kristine Black, formerly at Gideon Pond Elementary, is now principal at Hidden Valley Elementary in Savage. Jon Bonneville, who was at Hidden Valley, is now principal at Sky Oaks Elementary in Burnsville. Chris Bellmont, who was an associate principal at Burnsville High School, is now the principal at Gideon Pond Elementary. Bill Derden, who was the associate principal at Burnsville Alternative High School, is now an associate principal at Burnsville High School. Each of them is excited to get to know the students, families and staff members at their new schools.

BHS mentoring program
The #BurnsvilleStrong initiative will be involved in a new transition program to welcome and support new students at Burnsville High School, starting this year. Students going into 11th and 12th grades are attending training this summer to serve as peer mentors.Organizers hope the program will further expand in the 2016-17 school year to welcome and support 9th grade students when they become part of the redesigned Burnsville High School serving grades 9-12 together.   

“As we gear up for 2016-17, we feel as though a program of this nature will foster positivity, respect, and make Burnsville High School an even greater place to learn and grow,” said Jen Waller, a BHS teacher who is involved with #BurnsvilleStrong.

“With all of our seniors being here on one campus for the 2016-17 school year, the opportunities to develop their leadership and mentoring skills to support and guide our incoming 9th graders are endless,” said Principal Dave Helke. “It’s exciting to look forward to the leadership potential of having all seniors at the main campus all day to create a supportive 9-12 school community.”

New AP class
Addition of AP Literature & Composition in 11th grade taught by Marie Hansen

New scoreboard at Pates Stadium
Football games before school starts (two home games before school starts) - new add-on coming to scoreboard with video capability with students creating video content.  

Happy anniversaries
Metcalf Junior High and Gideon Pond Elementary will celebrate their 50th anniversaries while Harriet Bishop Elementary will observe its 20th!

Marion W. Savage
The Buddy Bench, a legacy project of last year’s 6th grade class, will become part of the anti-bullying/respect work at Marion W. Savage Elementary School.

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 13:04