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Seven new things in District 191 for 2019-20

Snow won’t stop learning

Severe weather will be less disruptive this year, with District 191 implementing a new plan for “Flexible Learning Days.” Under the plan, the first cancellation due to weather during a school year will remain a traditional cancellation. After that, Flexible Learning Days would kick in.

On a Flexible Learning Day, teachers, administrators and other licensed professionals will be available by email or Schoology from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. to answer questions, provide guidance or otherwise engage students.

  • For grades 6-12, teachers will publish lessons by 9 a.m. using Schoology, the district’s online learning system, so students can access courses and complete assigned work.

  • For grades PreK-5, students will complete portions of selected learning activities created and distributed in advance by their teachers.

Parents and students should watch for more information as the school year gets underway.

New banners for work on behavior

Eight schools in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 will have banners on display this fall, recognizing them as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Sustaining Exemplar schools. 

PBIS is an approach where schools use evidence-based practices to enhance academic and social outcomes for all students. It helps establish clear expectations, common language and practices, and systems of positive feedback to help develop a strong school community.

The Sustaining Exemplar schools for this year are Gideon Pond, Harriet Bishop, Hidden Valley, Marion W. Savage, Neill, Sioux Trail, and Sky Oaks elementary schools and Eagle Ridge Middle School. In addition, District 191 was recognized as a "District Progressing towards Sustaining Implementation," making it one of only six districts statewide to be honored for its work around PBIS.

New middle school math, elementary writing curriculum

Middle school students will see some new math materials and lessons this year, as District 191 fully launches a new curriculum called “enVisionmath 2.0.” The new curriculum emphasizes conceptual understanding and procedural skills through problem solving, interactive experiences, and visual learning. District staff cited its enVisionmath’s robust intervention system as a primary benefit, and noted that it supports teachers in customizing assignments and activities to support all learners. 

At the elementary level, teachers will be using “Being a Writer” writing curriculum, which complements recent literacy curriculum adoptions of Making Meaning and Being a Reader. Using a workshop model, the Being a Writer program teaches the writing process while developing motivation for the craft of writing through immersion in various writing genres. Students will have the opportunity to write regularly with passion and intent, building an understanding of and appreciation for the skills and conventions of writing. The curriculum also interweaves academic and social skill development. 

Class will help community members earn bus driver’s license

District 191’s School for Adults will launch a new class this fall to support community members looking to earn their bus driving license. The class was piloted last spring and was developed with the support of the district’s transportation provider Schmitty & Sons. The class fills two community needs: providing training so community members can secure better paying jobs and helping to fill a shortage of high-quality bus drivers. 

Vista View Family Learning Academy

Vista View Elementary School will launch the Vista View Family Learning Academy, designed to build strong relationships and partnerships with families. Academy participants will address topics including homework, parent-teacher conferences, report cards, academic support at home, and social/emotional learning. “At Vista View we believe parents/guardians are each child's first teachers and that the family, as defined by each culture, is the primary system of support in the education of children,” says Principal Jeff Nepsund. “We recognize the need to facilitate learning together with our families in order to achieve greater student success!”

New faces in principals’ offices

Two elementary schools – William Byrne and Edward Neill – will have new principals this fall. 

Lyle Bomsta, who had been the principal at Byrne for nine years, takes over the leadership of Neill Elementary. Bomsta started his career in education as an elementary teacher in Brooklyn Park and has experience as a technology integrationist and assistant principal. He has his master’s degree in educational leadership. 

Mohamed Selim is new to District 191 and will be the interim principal at Byrne this year. Selim was chosen through an interview process that included district administrators, teachers, support staff and parents. Most recently, he was the assistant director of Tesfa International School in Columbia Heights, and has experience as a teacher, dean and math coordinator. He comes to Byrne with a track record of improving student achievement. 

New playground at Harriet Bishop

Thanks to the generosity of the school’s families, the Harriet Bishop Parent-Teacher Organization providing funding for new additions to the playground ahead of the 2019-20 school year. New equipment includes multiple swings, a climbing wall, a new bench, a picnic table with a built-in chess board, and a gaga ball pit. Principal Ken Essay said the additions will provide more opportunities to bring families together both during and outside the regular school day, and it’s already starting to do just that. 

Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 - 15:23