Sup Scoop- Making Connections

Sup Scoop- Making Connections
Posted on 01/20/2020
Sup Scoop

It’s no surprise that in the global society we live in today, where connections are made near and far, that a school district operates successfully in much the same manner; at least by today’s standards. When I attended Elmore Elementary school many, many years ago, I recall a classroom where the only adult in the room was the teacher, there was one recess supervisor, and one cook preparing and serving lunch. I would occasionally run into a custodian or two in the hallways and almost never interacted with the principal. Back then, we perhaps had an occasional volunteer who may have assisted with vision and hearing screening, otherwise, the majority of our adult interactions came from our one classroom teacher. If you would have asked me back then what a school board does, my response probably would have been something like this, “What’s a school board?” 

Today, the school experience is much, much different from my experience all those years ago, and that’s a good thing. School districts now have regular - and frequent - volunteers who grace our hallways every day. We have volunteers who come in and read to our classes, assist with reading or math individually with students, or volunteer in whatever area is needed that day. These volunteers have come to be a very important part of school districts today - and not just to the staff, to our students. The connections and relationships that are built between students and our volunteers often become some of the most important in these halls. Just ask Lenne Holland - a retired BEA teacher who volunteers daily, even to this day. The smile that is on her face from seeing “her kids” every day is priceless, as are the smiles of the kids she works with! 

If you would have asked me all those years ago in Elmore if I had ever had a student teacher, my response would have been similar to above, I probably would have asked, “What’s a student teacher?” The path to becoming a teacher has changed dramatically over the years, as well it should with any career that looks to improve along the way. Student teachers have become a very important part of school districts in today’s world. For someone who is interested in entering the teaching profession, s/he will partake in what is known as student teaching the last semester of schooling. This is where the student will work in a licensed teacher’s classroom and eventually, do all the planning, preparation, instructing, and grading in that classroom in an effort to learn exactly what it takes to be a teacher. For a college student, this is often the scariest and most exciting time of their path to becoming a teacher. For districts, this is arguably one of the most important relationships we can develop as we try to fill a market of retiring teachers. It is no secret that the market for teachers is scarce; add in rural MN to that equation and the market becomes exponentially more scarce; on top of that, if a district is looking for Special Education, Math, Science, or Industrial Arts, well, good luck. As such, it becomes integral for our district to develop relationships with local colleges and universities so they will place their student teachers here at BEA. Our hope is that these student teachers find BEA just the place they want to be, and one day become teachers employed by BEA. That’s why it is incredibly exciting that we have three - yes, three! - student teachers here at BEA this Spring! A big, BEA welcome to Megan Langworthy - student teaching with Mr. Sturtz in Special Education; Ellie Tonder - student teaching with Mrs. Brower in English Language Arts; and BEA Alum, Sara Fredrickson - student teaching with Mrs. Berkner in Media Specialist! We are so very excited to have you all!

I simply cannot speak to how school districts operate today without addressing the important role of the School Board. All those years ago when I was in elementary school, I’m sure the governance model was much the same for school districts then as it is now. One big difference that I personally see, however, is how the administration and school boards make an effort to be much more involved - with students, staff, and community - as well as stay up to date with current issues in education. Last week, the Blue Earth Area School Board and I attended the annual Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) Leadership Conference. This conference plays an important role for school boards all over the state. It is our chance to get educated on a plethora of topics that face schools today, hold round table discussions with experts, and hear keynote speakers talk about the importance and direct impact of a quality education. It was also at last week’s conference that MSBA chose to recognize School Board members who have serviced school districts for a unique amount of time. I’m delighted to share that our very own Frankie Bly was honored at this conference for his 20 years of service on the BEA School Board. Twenty years on the school board puts Frankie in a very small percentage of past and present board members across the state. This is quite unusual and noteworthy to honor those people across the state who have put in that amount of time on a school board! However, that is not where Frankie’s many years of service actually began for BEA. Frankie was actually a BEA elementary teacher for 30 years prior to his service on the school board. Thus, Frankie’s years of service to our district actually equals more than 50! To try and put into words the amount of impact Frankie has had on our students and district would be impossible, but it’s also worth noting that BEA - and many of our students - would not be where we are today without the 50+ years of service by Frankie. For that, we cannot simply thank you enough, Frankie! 

One of my previous blog posts this year was titled “It Takes a Village.” This blog could have certainly been titled that as well. To be successful and impactful to our students, it truly takes many resources outside the school district walls. From volunteers (thank you, Lenne and others!) to student teachers (welcome to Megan, Ellie, and Sara!) to our school board (congratulations to Frankie on his 20 years!), our school district simply wouldn’t be the incredible place it is today. With that, we thank you all!

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