Notes 10-09-13

  • Attended by: Jim Litwin, Jenn Mears, Sara Fabel, Mark Castillo, Rick Olson, Jeff Larson, Amy Kircher, Andy Zimney

    • Tell about a time when you were new to a group/ neighborhood/ town/school. What was it like and how were you welcomed?


    Integration into JH parent community has been a challenge. Feels fragmented. Moved into Horace Mann at winter unexpectedly- talking to District was not easy, experience in office was responsive, and then neighbor yelling hi. Felt welcomed. First Kindergartener and new to school- spent a lot of time observing and figuring where and how to engage. May have been perceived as aloof, but parents welcomed us in. Entered school after teaching 13 years at a different school- noticed involvement of parents, provided supplies, materials, computers. Moved into a boarding school with kids from urban (Milwaukee, Chicago, Gary, Lansing, etc) and small town/rural. Had to become a class, classmates, and friends. Challenging and growthful. Moving into first school with a child who had special needs. Relied on staff to bring us into that school while other children were brought into Horace Mann by the staff. Need to reach out for our new families. Changed schools at 6th grade, but don’t remember how I was helped. Had a big get-together and dinner at a neighbor’s house even before we closed. Whole bunch of neighbors attended. Tradition has continued. Neighbors look out for each other.

    • Overview of the purpose of Connections Council and Its Role

    Advise- help Principal make the best decisions

    Engage- way to help/be part of school community

    Communicate- seek information from school stakeholders and get information out to community

    • Playground Improvements

    Need to improve drainage under playground structures and sand. Change the sand into a cleaner, safer option like wood chip. Keep defined sand play space for younger students. Fix handicap surface by the swing. Update playground implement in northwest corner of sand

    Benches need repair or replacement. Possibly add benches. Put in pavers underneath the picnic table. May be fundraiser.  PTA is willing to look at ways to support and assist. Seeking grant funding through St. Paul City Council member Chris Tolbert by December. It functions as a community playground. Will match us up to $30,000 if we receive the grant. Will do a Survey Monkey to the school community in the next month. Will also present at a staff meeting. Please give us questions or concerns. Still seeking fundraising opportunities.

    • Classroom size, school structure, transition to Strong Schools Strong Communities
    • Within the day school community-building efforts
    • Outreach efforts to new families

    Going to Highwood Hills for experience and learning. Are there Somali groups with whom we could make connections? Formal power with the men, informal power with the women. Connect with Linda Terry-Baughman about race and engagement. Amy will see if there are any college students looking to volunteer and translate announcements/phone messages.

    • Hiring

    Will continue to request help with interviewing from Connections Council members. Was able to interview and hire two new Teaching Assistants.

    • JH Transition

    45 minutes to get match. SSW not returning phone calls. Didn’t feel like a community. Didn’t need to be welcomed, but needed information. How big would classes be, how would things be set up. Willing to help them think through how to help families.

    Next Meeting: Wednesday, December 11 5:00pm