Inspire 199 - April 2016
Published on Apr 29, 2016 13:23

ISD 199


School Board news

Here are highlights from the April 25, 2016 ISD 199 School Board meeting:


District continues making progress on equity

  • District leaders have been working with the Minnesota State University, Mankato on development, advocacy and guidance on a myriad of diversity issues.
  • District leaders and staff have participated in training from Pacific Educational Group (PEG) called Beyond Diversity.  PEG is a resource center that organizes events that help participants better understand how to make their organizations free of oppression and to have productive conversations about race.
  • 80 teachers have or are currently participating in staff development with coaches from the National Urban Alliance.
  • Penny Baker, ISD 199’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and her team, have been analyzing the district’s equity data to get a better sense of where the district currently stands as well as what diversity trends are on the near-horizon.
  • During the meeting, Baker told the board that when administrators began to look deeply into the district’s racial equity status, their first conclusion was the need for a district-wide understanding of what racial equity means and what the district must do to confront its achievement gap.  Baker added she’s been pleased with the progress ISD 199 has made. 
  • “We’re on the right track,” Baker added.
  • Added Superintendent Dave Bernhardson: “Equity is in everything we do.” 


Progress continues on 2016-17 budget

Director of Business Services Brady Hoffman presented an update on the 2016-17 budget. Some of the highlights:

  • Hoffman and his staff are continuing to meet with administrators and principals to gather insights and information that will help formulate the budget.
  • During the coming weeks, Hoffman will meet with the district’s finance committee and the Board to provide budget updates and to gather input.
  • At the June 13, 2016 School Board Work Session, Hoffman will present a formal 2016-17 budget for review.
  • Within the current timeline, the Board is expected to vote on the proposed budget at its June 27, 2016 regular meeting.


Superintendent receives high marks

The School Board reviews the superintendent’s performance twice per year. Superintendent Dave Bernhardson’s first review of the year was recently completed and the Board shared their finding with the public at the April 25, 2016 meeting. Bernhardson was rated in three categories:

  • Leadership and Culture. In this category, the Board gave Bernhardson an “accomplished/distinguished” rating for creating a positive culture. The Board specifically highlighted his work on the district’s new strategic plan.
  • Organizational management. In this area, the Board gave Bernhardson an “accomplished” rating. The Board noted Bernhardson’s goal of implementing structures, practices and relationships to support the district office serving as a service center for the district’s schools.
  • Professional Development — Communication. Bernhardson earned a “distinguished” rating from the Board in this category. The Board praised Bernhardson for his willingness to engage with students, staff, families, local leaders and the community at large to promote ISD 199.


Into the Woods

The meeting kicked off with four cast members from the recent Simley production of Into the Woods. After the mini-performance, Board members praised the production and noted how nice it was to see a high-level production in the new Performing Arts Center.

Simley pride

ISD 199 is celebrating thanks to the news that Simley High School has once again made the Washington Post’s list of “Most Challenging High Schools.” For Minnesota schools, Simley climbed to 13th place from 19th place. And on the national scene, Simley’s ranking jumped from 1,059 to 754.

The Post bases the scores on the number of college-level tests given at a school during the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year. Other factors include the number of students who qualify for free and reduced meals and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test while in high school.

“I’m really inspired by the hard work and dedication of our students and staff,” Simley High School Principal Jerry Sakala said. “This is a great achievement and really speaks to how well Simley is preparing our students for life after high school.”

Superintendent Dave Bernhardson was also thrilled by the news. “My congratulations go out to everyone at Simley and ISD 199. It’s a great school with outstanding teachers and staff and truly engaged students. Simley’s achievement is another example of all the exciting things happening right now in our school district.” 


More accolades for Simley

Simley’s highly successful academic enhancement program was honored last week with a bronze in the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals Star of Innovation awards.

Simley began the academic enhancement program in 2007 to improve student academic performance and prepare underperforming students for college success. Over the course of that first year, the program consisted of 90-minute after school sessions. That first year 12 students participated. 

The program’s second year included a before school option and participation jumped to 35 students. During that second year, the program’s standards began to crystallize: students had to be committed to attendance, had to have clear goals for improving their academic standing and had to also be committed to pursuing a post-secondary option.

Simley Principal Jerry Sakala explained that with the start of each school year comes increased interest in the program.

“We see referrals to the program from counselors and administrators and we also get questions about the program from parents,” he said. “It’s clear the program’s value is recognized in the community. “

Currently there are nearly 50 students participating. About 90% of the students who have participated in the program since its inception have gone on to some form of post-secondary education.

Sakala praised teachers Susan Barnard and Michelle Niemi.

“They’re the team that really runs the program,” Sakala said. “They do an outstanding job and their commitment to their students and to the program is really inspiring.”

Superintendent Dave Bernhardson was also pleased with the news. 

“Simley has long been a school willing to embrace new ideas and new ways of delivering an outstanding education to it students,” he said. “When you have committed teachers like Susan and Michelle, and district-wide support, great achievements are always possible."

Leadership in action

Several Simley athletes participated in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Region 3AA Target Leadership Workshop on April 21.

ISD 199

The high-energy workshop provided an opportunity for student leaders involved in MSHSL athletics to receive additional leadership training with student leaders from other high schools.

A follow-up workshop is scheduled for this fall.

2016-17 school year taking shape

ISD 199’s 2016-17 academic calendar has been approved. The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 6.  and spring break is slated for March 27-31. Check out the calendar to help you plan for another great school year!

Click here to download the Calendar.

Click here to download the Calendar explanations.

Excellence in the arts

On March 15, Simley High School Bands hosted and participated in the MSHSL Region 3AA Instrumental Solo & Ensemble. Six schools were represented: Thomas Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, South St Paul, St Thomas, Henry Sibley and Simley.

Simley had 80 students participating in 96 entries. Each band student or ensemble prepared a musical selection and presented it to a judge. They were scored in the following areas; tone quality, intonation, rhythm, balance and blend, technique, interpretation, articulation and execution.

Congratulations to all the band students who participated in the MSHSL Region 3AA Solo & Ensemble. 52 students were rated "superior"; 32 students were rated "excellent"; 10 students were rated "good"; and two were rated "fair!"  

Abby Guggisberg, bassoon and Brittany Raab, flute and the flute quartet of Kissme Leenhiavu, Rachel Holtz, Brittany Raab and Abby Stein, were selected "best of site" from the judges. 

Pine Bend’s big heart

The Pine Bend Student Council recently volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. Way to go Pine Bend!

ISD 199

Seniors leave an impact

Three Simley seniors, Nathan Stone, Jake Myran and Billy Ross, donated $1,000 to Heat Soccer on March 13.

The boys, with a combined total of 28 years playing Heat soccer, raised the funds as part their National Honor Society senior project. The boys sold Simley soccer scarves, solicited business sponsorships per goal and per win, and held a free soccer camp for middle school age players accepting free will donations for it.

ISD 199

Welcome to NHS!

Simley High School celebrated its newest crop of National Honor Society members at a ceremony April 13 in the Performing Arts Center. During the ceremony, the current group of NHS members honored teachers, families and friends. During the school year, NHS members have given thousands of hours in volunteer time and many of those projects were highlighted during the ceremony.

ISD 199

Here are Simley’s new NHS members:

  • Kathryn Alojado

  • Kayla Anderson

  • Mario Armanious

  • Sylvia Ball

  • Wendy Bazan

  • Makena Berg

  • Grace Bezek

  • Amy Birkelo

  • Bailey Blomquist-Dege

  • Belen Castro-Diaz

  • Sophia Dahlke

  • Elizabeth Donovan

  • Anna Engleson

  • Cole Erdman

  • Sarah Evanson

  • Eric Ferry

  • Shelby Geiss

  • Abby Guggisberg

  • Austin Heimerl

  • Rachel Holst

  • Boula Ibrahim

  • Zac Johnson

  • Emma Johnson

  • Morgan Johnson

  • Jacob Juers

  • Mindy Kolodziejski

  • Kissme Leenhiavu

  • McKenna Lewis

  • Hanah Litz

  • Guresi Mena

  • Zac Miller

  • Nick Molstad

  • Nikki Muller

  • Jimmy Nguyen

  • Reegan Patnode

  • Han Phung

  • Elizabeth Ponto

  • Julia Remackel

  • Kyle Roche

  • Elizabeth Roubik

  • Asha Saraswate

  • Charlie Sayner

  • Hailey Scheffknecht

  • Lauryn Schneider

  • Angie Sell

  • Abby Stein

  • Jessick Stickley

  • Zoe Stone

  • Mackenzie Sullivan

  • Erin Sweeney

  • Hannah Thomas

  • Sebastian Torres-Gonzalez

  • Danielle Ungurian

  • Michaela Vondrum

  • Jamie Warrick

  • Alex Wurzer

  • Joualy Yang

  • Marcos Zachary


Thank you volunteers!

ISD 199 held its annual volunteer appreciation program April 14 and dozens of students, teachers, family members and community members came together to thank the many volunteers who help make the school district a successful place.

Superintendent Dave Bernhardson told the crowd that volunteers play a vital role everyday across the district. Annie Platek, youth programs and resource development coordinator, organized the event and noted it was a small gesture to remind volunteers that their efforts matter.

ISD 199

The event also featured a scene from Simley’s upcoming performance of Into the Woods as well as several speeches from students about what volunteers have meant to them during their educations.