Inspire 199 - May 2017
Published on May 31, 2017 17:16

Inspire 199 Family Newsletter


The Inver Grove Heights School Board met on Monday, May 15, with the following items on the agenda:

District highlights

  • Superintendent Dave Bernhardson and the Student Advisory Council presented the board with a district highlight on their final meeting of the 2016-2017 school year. They discussed a food survey and a technology survey they participated in on April 27.

  • Activities Director Will Short presented a mid-season review of spring athletics and activities. Several athletes were able to highlight their seasons and are part of the May 17 Spring Student Recognition event.

  • TriDistrict Community Education Youth Programs & Resource Development Coordinator, Annie Platek, and the Spartan Kids Care & Youth Enrichment Coordinator, Erica Tollefson, presented a district highlight on community education youth & spring activities. Cast and crew from Anything goes were in attendance as well as the Spanish Club vice president.
Consent agenda
  • Minutes from previous School Board meeting

  • Minutes from Special School Board meeting

  • Cash disbursements

  • Personnel transactions and donations

  • Gifts and grants
Information items
  • The Policy Committee introduced specific policies for their first reading for review.

  • ISD 199 Director of Business Services, Heather Aune, presented a budget update for 2017-2018.

  • Board committee reports

  • Membership reports
Action items
  • Approval of the Resolution to Approve Simley High School’s Membership in the 2017-2018 Minnesota State High School League.

  • Approval of the Resolution to Approve Dave Berhardson as the MDE Identified Official with Authority for ISD 199.
Meeting information and video of the May 15 meeting are available on the district website. Future school board meetings include a work session on Monday, June 12, and a regular meeting on June 26. Both meetings will be held at 5:30PM at the District Office, 2990 80th Street East in Inver Grove Heights.



Simley High School Earns Washington Post Award for 9th Year in a Row
Of the more than 22,000 high schools in the U.S., The Washington Post ranked 2,300 in the top 12 percent, naming them to the annual list of America’s Most Challenging High Schools. For the 9th year in a row, Simley High School has been ranked as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools. Only 26 Minnesota high schools were chosen, and according to the rankings, Simley is in the top 4 percent of high schools nationally.

America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks school through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates. Click here to read more about The Washington Post’s 2017 list of America’s Most Challenging Schools.

Senior Named U.S. Presidential Scholar
U.S. Presidential Scholar

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education invites high-achieving students across the country to apply to become U.S. Presidential Scholars. The scholar program selects up to 161 students to recognize for their academic accomplishments. Finalists earn an expenses-paid trip to the White House and a reception. This May, Simley High School senior Moriah Elkin was chosen as one of only two U.S. Presidential Scholars from Minnesota.

In January, Moriah was one of 86 U.S. Presidential Scholar candidates from Minnesota and approximately 4,000 candidates nationwide. The pool of candidates decreased to 12 Minnesota semifinalists in April. In May, Moriah became the first Simley student to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. When she was notified that she would be honored as a Scholar, Moriah chose Simley history teacher Tom Goetz as her most influential teacher. Mr. Goetz will be honored as a Distinguished Teacher as part of the U.S. Presidential Scholar Program.

Student Writes a Book for Principal Ihns
Student author, his teacher, and his principal
Pine Bend Elementary School 3rd grader, Michael, wrote and illustrated a book about Principal Ted Ihns. Michael participated in a book club with Mr. Ihns throughout the school year, and this month, he surprised Principal Ihns at a special book club where he read and acted out his book. Michael also surprised Principal Ihns with a slushy, his favorite treat. 

Teacher Selected for National NEA Foundation Fellowship

Simley High School resource room teacher Colleen Parker was recently accepted for the National Education Association (NEA) Global Learning Fellowship. The year-long fellowship includes online coursework, resources and webinars, a professional development workshop, and an international field study to equip educators to effectively prepare students for global citizenship, advance their district’s instruction on global citizenship, and close global achievement gaps. Out of 450 applicants, only 49 educators were chosen for this opportunity. As an accepted fellow, Ms. Parker will have a chance to attend a conference in Washington D.C. this October and travel to South Africa in July 2018 to solidify her learning.

Elementary Schoolers Perform at Annual Talent Shows
A student plays piano at the Talent Show
Hilltop, Pine Bend, and Salem Hills elementary schools held Talents Shows recently. Students sang, danced, did gymnastics routines, magic tricks, comedy sketches, and more.

Click here to watch Hilltop's Talent Show.

Click here to watch Pine Bend Talent Show.

Click here to watch the Salem Hills Talent Show.

Students Sign Intent to Continue Their Educations After Graduation
A senior writes what she will do after graduation

Simley High School seniors signed their intent to continue their education after graduation during Senior Signing Day. They enjoyed cupcakes, signed each other’s yearbooks, and celebrated their accomplishments. Each senior also received a postcard they had written as a freshman about their life philosophies.

Meet ISD 199's New American Indian Liaison

ISD 199 is happy to introduce its new American Indian Cultural Liaison, Chad Poitra. Mr. Poitra will split his time between ISD 199 and South St. Paul Public Schools thanks to specific funding for the position from the Minnesota Department of Education. He will provide academic support for American Indian students and help the school districts provide a safe, culturally appropriate learning environment for them. Mr. Poitra also aims to help parents support their educational goals for their children.

Mr. Poitra, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota, has been involved in the Twin Cities American Indian community for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked as an American Indian Community Liaison for ISD 197 and Robbinsdale School District and has helped American Indian businesses and tribal nations on economic and business development initiatives.

His wife, Kim, is also involved in the community, working as a psychotherapist at the American Indian Women’s Resource Center. Besides his work in the community, Mr. Poitra enjoys coaching softball, baseball, and basketball as well as playing golf.

Families can learn more about Mr. Poitra on June 4 at an introductory event at Lincoln Center Elementary School from 1:00 - 3:00 PM. Click here to see the introductory event flier. Mr. Poitra has already begun work at ISD 199 and SSPPS, working at Inver Grove Heights Schools on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday.

Updates to Coming July 1

Website Update for
On July 1, 2017, the Inver Grove Heights Schools website,, will be updated to provide a more user friendly experience for students, staff, families, and community members. Though the website will look different, the biggest changes will be better navigation, updated and accurate information, and mobile friendly webpages.

Those who use the website can expect a cleaner design and simplified navigation. The district has also worked to clean up information on the website to remove duplicated or out-of-date information. The website update is scheduled to be implemented on July 1 to make sure the improved website will be ready well before the start of the new school year.

ISD 199 Recommended Video
Sleep researcher Wendy Troxel explains research behind teen sleep. Click here to watch Ms. Troxel's TED Talk: Why School Should Start Later for Teens.

For more District News, visit and click the “News and Events” tab.

Check out the Inver Grove Heights Community Schools Facebook page for photos, updates, and more!
-This month, see photos of the elementary Track and Field Days, video of Pine Bend's school dance for good behavior, and more.



  • Thursday, June 8: LAST DAY of school and Early Release (Secondary schools dismiss at 11:05AM, elementary schools dismiss at 11:45AM)
  • Friday, June 9, 7 PM, Simley High School: High School Graduation
  • Saturday, July 1: update

2017-2018 Year at a Glance Calendar Now Available

The first day of school for elementary school students, 6th graders, and 9th graders will be September 5. 
Click here to see the approved 2017-2018 calendar.