February 2015

February 2nd, 2015
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Happy February to everyone!  In this STEAM Stream Edition, I will review our recent week of activities for National School Choice Week.  In addition, I will also review the attendance policy, as many students and families have now experienced our first grading period with the letter grade reduction formula for students with 3 or more unexcused absences.  I will also discuss the school calendar and programmatic plans being discussed for school year 2015-2016.

National School Choice Week

Ms. Gohman and Ms. Dolge planned a great week of School Choice activities for our students and staff from January 26 to January 30, 2015.   We began last Monday with a kick-off and information sharing with the students; students and staff were also provided yellow cupcakes during lunch.  A special thanks to Karen Buxcel for making the day extra tasty.  On Tuesday, we had a poster contest and began a series of days in the community walking our school banner and bringing NCA materials to the local businesses. I want to thank Labraaten Transportation for providing our student-walkers service throughout the community.  In addition, a couple of our students, Traci Ackland and AJ Tersteeg had the privilege to be on the radio with radio personality, Dr. Lester Schuft.  The week concluded with poster winners, an all-yellow staff/student photo, yellow scarves, stickers, bring a friend to school day and a staff/student dodge-ball game.  By the time this edition reaches you, it is likely that the staff has already won this contestJ.

I want to thank Jason Strother, Rachel Goodrich, Jasmine Villella, Corbin Kidd, Taylor Kable, Collin Soderberg, Summer Nomeland, Katelyn Nomeland and Sara Puder for helping us with the banner walk and promotional material distribution.

Attendance Policy Reminder

Again, a reminder to all parents and students that NCA has a new attendance procedure.  Unfortunately, a few students and families were surprised by the grade reduction formula and the impact of unexcused absences.  Three (3) or more unexcused absences initiate a cycle of 1/3 letter grade reductions for every subsequent unexcused absence.  It is possible that a student receiving an academic grade of B, can receive an F as a final grade if too many unexcused absences are recorded.  For the time-being, parents can excuse their student(s).  However, parents must report an absence on the same morning, or it will be an unexcused absence.  NCA has an appeal process for families in which doctor’s notes and extenuating circumstances can be considered, but the burden of proof is the responsibility of the parents.  The appeal committee consists of parents, student(s), director, dean, social worker, advisor, and special education director.  Once appealed, the decision will be communicated within 5 school days.

School Calendar 2015-2016

We are in the final stages of seeking Board approval for the 2015-2016 school calendar.  The goal is to have the calendar approved at our next board meeting on February 18, 2015.  Next year’s calendar poses a special challenge since Labor Day is September 7, 2015.  This is a very late date; thus we are considering starting school one week before Labor Day so we can still end in the first week of June.  Minimally, 170+ student contact days must be in the calendar, as well as, an hourly requirement established by State Statute.  Charter Schools can begin earlier so we are seriously looking at this possibility.  We have discussed the length of holidays, E-terms, etc… to establish what is best for student learning.  The schedule is built with our (NCA) academic needs at the forefront.  Students are more learning receptive in August than they are in June due to the warming weather. Please email Mr. Becker with any parental comments regarding the calendar.  There are still a couple of weeks available to consider any and all feedback.

J-Term for 2015-2016?

We are considering a modification to next year’s schedule to include a January-Term (J-Term).  Replacing the fall, winter and spring e-terms and combining these for a 2-3 week e-term experience.  Benefits include reduced distractions throughout the year and opportunities for bigger and better E-term opportunities.  Again, any thoughts regarding this concept are welcome; please notify Mr. Becker at [email protected].

New STEAM-Team Staff Members

NCA is excited to have new staff join our team; they are Teresa Nowak, Mikailya Rutten, Tracy Hassan and Mary Horrocks.

Ms. Rutten replaces Mr. Wilenius as Science Teacher.  Ms. Rutten graduated from Bemidji State University and has a teaching license and degree in Chemistry Education. She enjoys the outdoors, traveling, sports, and physical fitness.

Ms. Nowak is a newly added paraprofessional.  Ms. Nowak is married and has five children.  They currently live on a farm in Silver Lake.

Ms. Hassan replaces Breanne Nelson as Special Education Teacher.  Ms. Hassan received her bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College and her Master’s degree from the University of Maryland.  Ms. Hassan, enjoys playing soccer, hiking and speaking Japanese.

Ms. Horrocks replaces Ms. Hendricks in Language Arts.  Ms. Horrocks graduated from the College of St. Benedict and has a teaching license in English.  Her hobbies and interests include the outdoors, traveling, yoga and reading.  Ms. Horrocks received her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Minnesota.

Para-Professional Week

Last Week we celebrated Para-Professional Week.  NCA appreciates the daily efforts and commitment of our para-professionals to help our students succeed.  Jocelyn Burchill, Vicky Klabunde, Teresa Nowak, Christina Ochs and Julie Puder are rock-solid assets for our school and students.  Thank you!

NWEA Testing

Last week, the students were busy taking the NWEA tests for the Winter Term.  Each student took four tests in the following areas:  Language Usage, Math, Reading, and Science.  This is the second time that the students took these tests this year.  They will be taking them for the third and final time for the year the beginning of April.  These tests aid the teachers and students in showing data over time.  Please contact Julie Gesinger, District Assessment Coordinator, with any further questions at [email protected].

All School Choir

Since taking over as choral director after the break, Julie Puder has been having a great time working with the students in choir.  We’ve been working to get back in the swing of singing and learning a few different languages along the way.  It won’t be long before we will be giving our second concert of the year.

The date for that concert will be February 24th, again at Maplewood Academy, at 7pm.

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