Sleepy Eye Public School monthly column

Sleepy Eye Public School staff and students are soon to be returning to business as usual, after a well-deserved summer break, thanks to the flexible learning year. We are in our 10th year of starting early to the satisfaction of all us. So, what new tricks does our school have under its sleeve for the upcoming year? Let’s take a look at what new and ongoing things happening in 2019-20 in SEPS. Here are a few items that I will share with the readers: building and personnel updates, STEM initiative, 1:1 (one to one) technology, voluntary pre-K grant, all-day every day kindergarten, and finally our newest and most exciting idea of personalized learning.

We are very proud of how nicely our building is looking. Our elementary gymnasium is undergoing an HVAC upgrade that will provide better air quality in our gym as well as more comfort for our athletics related events. We completed our parking lot project just in time for school to start. During our research phase of the project we determined that concrete will provide us with long-term cost savings, so we chose concrete replacement versus asphalt. At this time I would like to thank our custodial staff for getting our building in top shape for the start of the school year. Great job!

We also have many new faces in our building. We successfully hired 11 new certified staff members who are excited and ready to go to work with our students. Please extend a warm welcome to all of them so their transition is successful.

We are getting brand new video score boards, by the start of our first home volleyball game, as well. A great thanks goes out to our basketball boosters who made this possible for us. Thanks to all the area businesses that are providing financial support for the project through advertisement opportunities.

We are very excited about our continued expansion of our STEM K-12 program. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Ms. Samantha Schmit in the elementary, and Mrs. Lauren Buckentine in the high school, are leading the program in our school. They both attended extensive summer trainings and have the certification and expertise in this area. We are part of the Project Lead the Way program that provides the training, curriculum, and materials, so our students can experiment with STEM.

Our IPad initiative is also continuing this year. All grades 7-12 students are now using IPad as the main learning tool. Our elementary students also have the opportunity to work on 1:1 devices that stay in school. We have IPad and laptop carts available to all of our young learners.

We are happy to report to our community that we are able to continue offering our expanded voluntary Pre-K program. Our school once again received the financial support from the State of Minnesota. The grant will allow us to continue offering a tuition free pre-school program for 4-year-olds. The program will offer 350 hours of pre-school program that includes free transportation to and from the school. We also made a transition into an all-day, every day, kindergarten program. We felt that having our preschoolers come more often, and with our transition to the personalized learning, it made perfect sense to make this switch.

Our personalized learning initiative also continues to gain more steam in our district. Our 2-4 grade span have done an excellent job of making the transition. We continue to improve the delivery and get more proficient with having a full year under our belt. We are adding K-2 and 5-6 grades to the PL project. The high school is also looking at parts of PL that work well with that grade span.

In closing I want to thank the Sleepy Eye community for the opportunity to serve your children and provide a well-rounded education opportunity for them. We have wonderful teachers on staff who will make your children excited about education. We are looking to have a great 2019-20 school year.