Inspire 199 - April 2017
Published on Apr 28, 2017 17:18

Inspire 199 Family Newsletter


The Inver Grove Heights School Board met on Monday, April 24, with the following items on the agenda:

District highlights

  • Inver Grove Heights Middle School Principal, Jodi Wendel, presented to the board about the Youth Frontiers events held for 5th and 7th graders. A 7th grader who participated in the 7th grade Courage Retreat and a Simley High School senior who has volunteered to help with Youth Frontiers events within the district spoke about the positive experience Youth Frontiers retreats offer for all students.
  • TriDistrict Community Education Youth Programs & Resource Development Coordinator, Annie Platek, presented for Volunteer Appreciation Week to thank the nearly 1,600 volunteers who have donated more than 3,700 hours to the district.

Consent agenda

  • Minutes from previous School Board meeting
  • Minutes from Special School Board meeting
  • Cash disbursements
  • Personnel transactions and donations
  • Gifts and grants
  • Extracurricular activities stipends for Link Crew and WEB (Where Everyone Belongs)

Information items

  • Superintendent Dave Bernhardson led a budget discussion with the school board.
  • Director of Learning, Teajai Anderson Schmidt provided the board with an Equity update.
  • Board committee reports
  • Membership reports
  • Action items
  • Approval of the ISD 199 School Board Meetings and Committee Meetings Schedule for 2017-2018

Meeting information and video of the April 24 meeting are available on the district website. Future school board meetings include a work session on Monday, May 8, and a regular meeting on May 15. Both meetings will be held at 5:30PM at the District Office, 2990 80th Street East in Inver Grove Heights.



Anything Goes Performances Through Sunday, April 30
Anything Goes
Join Simley Theatre for a good time on the high seas as they perform their spring musical, Cole Porter's “Anything Goes.” This classic musical follows a hilarious cast of ship passengers as they help their lovelorn friend win over a woman on board who is already engaged. 

Friday, April 28 at 7:00PM
Saturday, April 29 at 7:00PM
Sunday, April 30 at 2:00PM

Performances will run from Thursday, April 27-Sunday, April 30, at the Simley High School Performing Arts Center (2920 80th Street East in Inver Grove Heights). 

Children under 5 years old - $3
Students and senior citizens - $5
Adults - $10

Tickets for Simley High School’s musical production of “Anything Goes” are now on sale at Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Community Education office at 651-306-7870 or visiting the Community Education Office at 2990 80th Street East (ISD 199 District Office). Visit for more information.

Simley Teacher Chosen for Lake Huron Research Expedition

While some may be looking forward to a relaxing cruise this summer, Simley High School science teacher Lori Haak is excited to float across Lake Huron aboard the Lake Guardian research vessel. This March, Ms. Haak was accepted as one of only 15 teachers from the Great Lakes region to go on a week-long research expedition, the Shipboard Science Workshop. The accepted teachers will work alongside Great Lakes scientists, learn the newest techniques and equipment, and bring their knowledge and new curriculum back to students.

Before discovering her passion for teaching, Ms. Haak worked in water resources management, her first passion. So when she heard about the Shipboard Science Workshop for Great Lakes teachers, she said it was a natural fit.

“The workshop represents the perfect combination of my passions for preserving and protecting our water resources and teaching biology to high school students,” she said. “Because we will be doing scientific research aboard the Lake Guardian research vessel, I will be able to bring back relevant material with real, approachable data.”

Ms. Haak said the water quality research is especially important to Simley students because of their proximity to the Mississippi River. She wants to help them understand water resource protection and management because she believes it will become a central issue during their lifetimes.   

Though each spring Simley students get a hands-on look at water quality in the ponds on campus, Ms. Haak said she is eager to develop new, authentic ways to engage students in real science that directly affects their quality of life.

In addition to studying Lake Huron organisms and developing curriculum, she will also have an opportunity to learn about the lake’s biology, geology, chemistry, and human impacts from the Center for Great Lakes Literacy and to explore the NOAA Marine Sanctuary.

ISD 199 Accepted to Two Initiatives to Advance Programs

This month, ISD 199's College and Career Readiness Initiative was accepted by the Minnesota Department of Education as an Innovation Pilot Project and its schools were accepted as part of Equal Opportunity Schools' Lead Higher Initiative. The Innovation Pilot Project brings school districts together to share resources and develop more innovative ways to challenge and engage students, build connections between teachers and students, and provide more opportunities for staff professional development. Click here to read more about the Innovation Pilot Project.

As part of the Equal Opportunity Schools Lead Higher Initiative, ISD 199 will receive match-funded technical assistance from Equal Opportunity Schools to join the fewer than one percent of diverse schools in the country to close participation gaps in AP and IB programs. Click here to read about about the Lead Higher Initiative.

Pine Bend Teacher Earns Grant to Bring Music to the Community
Mrs. Klotz accepting CenturyLink grant
Pine Bend Elementary School music teacher Micah Klotz recently received a grant from CenturyLink. The grant provides funds for technology that will allow students to stream their performances to community members, locally and nationally, who are unable to attend because of health or distance.

In her proposal, Mrs. Klotz describes the multiple benefits of streaming student performances. Students will have an audience for their performances to help them understand the relevance of the curriculum, and they will build their 21st Century Skills, such as digital citizenship and communicating creatively. Community members will also benefit from the project as they will gain the chance to be a part of the school’s activities despite medical restrictions or distance. Mrs. Klotz also said the grant will give students an opportunity to interact with “many amazing voices [from the community] that have been softened due to age or medical issues.”

After using the grant to purchase high-quality equipment, such as a microphone and web cam, the class can use sites such as, Facebook Live, or Facetime to connect with their audiences, depending on the audience’s available technology.

Simley Student Chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalist
U.S. Presidential Scholar

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education invites high-achieving students across the country to apply to be 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 reception. Recently, Simley High School senior Moriah Elkin was chosen as a semifinalist for the honor.

In January, Moriah was chosen as a candidate to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar. She was one of 86 Minnesota candidates and approximately 4,000 candidates total. The U.S. Department of Education’s chose the original candidates based on ACT and SAT scores and reduced the pool of Minnesota candidates from 86 to 12 for the semifinalist round. Moriah was chosen as a semifinalist and will find out if she is a U.S. Presidential Scholar in May.

Hilltop Holds Inaugural Ladies of Hilltop Meeting
Ladies of Hilltop

Hilltop Elementary School held its very first Ladies of Hilltop meeting. A similar group as Hilltop's Boys to Men, the students met during lunch to talk about leadership and confidence. The ladies will hear from professional women in the community in the coming weeks as part of the program.

Simley Packs Thousands of Meals for ISD 199 Families and Local Individuals

Simley students help Harvest Pack
Simley High School’s Link Crew, which builds connections between students to create a more positive school culture, hosted a service event with Harvest Pack that will reach ISD 199 families and community members. Students packaged nutritious meals for the non-profit organization that will go to those in need within the ISD 199 School District and Dakota County.

Students came in throughout the day to participate, packing more than 20,700 meals by the end of the event. While helping their community, students also received Civics credit and National Honor Society and Link Crew members received community service hours.

Talking to Kids About Netflix's "13 Reasons Why"

Dear ISD 199 Families:

We are writing today to make you aware of a new Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why,” based on a fictional novel by Jay Asher. The series depicts the journey of a high school student who dies by suicide, leaving behind audiotapes detailing the events that she perceives led to her death. It is creating student conversations during the school day.

This series has been promoted as a tool to help young adults recognize their impact on others. The portrayal of mental illness in television and movies can be an effective way to reduce stigma around psychiatric issues. However, many mental health professionals are becoming increasingly concerned about the graphic nature of the series, the lack of dialogue regarding mental health supports, and the glamorization of suicide.

Inver Grove Heights Schools takes mental health and suicide prevention very seriously. We want to make sure families are aware of this program and the graphic nature of the content, which includes scenes showing sexual assaults and the actual suicide of a character (The program is rated MA for mature audiences). If you choose to watch the program, we encourage you to do so together and have conversations about these serious topics.

As always, if you have concerns about your child related to mental health or need additional resources, please contact your child’s school counselor.

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline number: 800-273-8255 (available 24 hours a day)
  • Dakota County Crisis line: 952-891-7171 (available 24 hours a day)

Families may find the resources below helpful:

Please contact your child’s school with any questions.

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 Simley Theatre’s “Anything Goes,” IGH Early Learning Center’s Family Literacy Night, and more.



  • April 27-30: Simley presents "Anything Goes," more information at
  • Friday, May 26: Early Release (Secondary schools dismiss at 11:05AM, elementary schools dismiss at 11:45AM)
  • Monday, May 29: NO SCHOOL for Memorial Day

2017-2018 Year at a Glance Calendar Now Available

On March 13, the ISD 199 Board approved a change to the Inver Grove Heights Middle School calendar. Students who will attend 7th and 8th grade next school year will start school on Wednesday, September 6, giving incoming 6th graders a day on September 5 to familiarize themselves with their new school. 
Click here to see the approved 2017-2018 calendar.