Gifted Services at Fargo Public Schools

Duchscher, AnnBy Gifted Services Coordinator Ann Duchscher

What is Giftedness?
The quick response is that there is, as yet, no universally agreed upon answer to this question.  Giftedness, intelligence, and talent are fluid concepts and may look different in different contexts and cultures. Gifted children may develop asynchronously: their minds are often ahead of their physical growth, and specific cognitive and social-emotional functions can develop unevenly.  Some children with exceptional aptitude may not demonstrate outstanding levels of achievement due to environmental circumstances such as limited opportunities to learn as a result of poverty, discrimination, or cultural barriers, or due to physical or learning disabilities. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) does not subscribe to any one theory of the nature of human abilities or their origins. They assert there are children who demonstrate high performance, or who have the potential to do so, and that we have a responsibility to provide optimal educational experiences for talents to flourish in as many children as possible, for the benefit of the individual and the community.

There are many definitions of giftedness as put forth by educational researchers in the field. They may be categorized from a single measure of giftedness (IQ) to a broadened conception that includes multiple criteria. A definition of giftedness is the foundation upon which an educational program for gifted children is built. The specific abilities included in a definition determine the kinds of identification criteria that are used to select children for a program and the kinds of educational services that are provided to those children.

How does Fargo Public Schools (FPS) define giftedness?
The FPS Gifted Services department was designed in consultation with Karen Rogers, PhD and her research in the field of gifted education.  To assist Fargo Public Schools in designing a service model, Dr. Rogers used a definition of giftedness articulated by researcher François Gagné. Gagné suggests that “gifts” or “giftedness” refers to the innate ability or capacity in some domain of ability, whether it is intellectual, perceptual, physical, creative, or social. It is something a child is born with. Every child is born with some ability or capacity—what we could call a strength—a gifted child is born with a comparatively greater degree of this ability or potential. Gagné then defines “talents” as extraordinary performance in a field of human endeavor.  A simple way to think of this might be that gifts are described as potential and talents as performance. 

How does FPS Gifted Services identify and serve gifted and talented students?
The name of the Fargo Public School department that identifies and serves gifted and talented students is called “Gifted Services.”  The department was purposefully so named to de-emphasize that we do not function as an isolated program that a student is either in or out of, but rather to emphasize that we offer multiple approaches and strategies to meeting the needs of students with high ability. These research-based approaches indicate successful application to an individual student would increase that student’s growth and performance in school. These services have the greatest impact on student achievement and academic growth when they are applied in a shared capacity between the Gifted Services teacher, the classroom teacher, the student and the parent.

FPS Gifted Services offers a menu of formalized services to grades 1-5, and also extends a portion of the full menu of services to kindergarten (early entrance) and middle school (cluster grouping and math acceleration).  Approximately 8 – 10 percent of a building’s student population receives one or more gifted services.

For more program information, check out the FPS Gifted Services website, which includes our mission and vision, services listing, and referral process.

Secondary Boundary Changes

photo portrait of Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey SchatzBy Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Schatz

 

 

 

 

At the March 24 Board meeting, the Board of Education approved new attendance boundaries for FPS secondary schools, which will go into effect for the 2016-17 school year. This action by our School Board completes a conversation that has been occurring for more than a year.

Why are these boundary changes necessary?
Administration and the Board have been reviewing and planning how to proactively address the growing student enrollment numbers on the south side of Fargo and the decreasing student enrollment numbers on the north side of Fargo. Our city is growing and changing.  Enrollment projections show the south side schools will reach or exceed capacity within the next five years, while the enrollments at North High School and Ben Franklin Middle School continue to decline. A shift in boundaries at the secondary level is needed to maintain academic and co-curricular programming at all secondary schools and ensure we offer an equitable education to all Fargo students. Finally, balancing enrollment numbers will assist in maintaining favorable class sizes in the high growth areas.

secondary_boundary_maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what is the plan?
On March 24, the Board approved the implementation plan for the boundary changes, which is a phase-in plan starting in 2016-17. Options have been put in place for families to keep siblings together for their secondary experiences through a new petition process. Administration added this to our plan after receiving feedback last summer from families. Building principals will work with our families to meet their needs as much as possible. (For answers to frequently asked questions related to the implementation plan and the boundary changes, click here.)

Additionally, with the creation of Ed Clapp Elementary School (opening fall 2015) and Eagles Elementary School (opening fall 2016) in the mid-southern part of Fargo, elementary boundary lines will be changing to create attendance areas for these new schools. These in-fill schools will:

  • Create elementary schools where Fargo citizens already live.
  • Reduce the enrollments for Kennedy, Centennial, and Bennett Elementary Schools, as we proactively plan for growth in these far southern areas of the city.
  • Stabilize elementary boundary lines in the mid-southern part of Fargo.

To see what these changes will bring for our boundaries, visit the Boundary Maps page of our District website.

I acknowledge the fact that change is not easy.  Changes to attendance boundaries are difficult at best and impacts our families and students.  However, we need to proactively plan for the reality of our changing city and the fast paced growth in the southern regions of Fargo.  By doing so, we can ensure full use of our existing facilities, maintain favorable class sizes, and provide equitable opportunities for all students.

A Culture of Excellence

Fargo Public Schools (FPS) Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Schatz opened the 2014-15 school year with these words:

“It is an immense privilege to be the ones charged with educating the youth of Fargo. I encourage each one of us to remember this daily and to make each day special for the students entrusted in our care. If we surround our students with a culture of excellence, they will learn to mirror back the same.”
̶  Cabinet Column to all FPS staff members, August 28, 2014

It continues the theme of “creating a culture of excellence” that Superintendent Schatz introduced in Fall 2013.

To support FPS administration and educators in maintaining that culture of excellence in all 22 of our school buildings, principals have access to a limited pool of funds established in 2013 for Culture Grants. The funds may be used to provide projects and activities, or purchase programming and equipment to carry out that task of modeling and encouraging excellence amongst FPS staff, our students, and their families. Administrators apply for funding through a written application process, and all requests are reviewed by Associate Superintendent Dr. Robert Grosz and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rachael Agre.

Culture Grants awarded during the 2013-14 school year included:

  • Two building-wide events that brought together students of all ages (Pre-K – Grade 12) at Agassiz.
  • Student recognition programs at Carl Ben Eielson Middle and Longfellow Elementary Schools that publicly reinforced positive student behaviors.
  • Diversity and respect education programs at Roosevelt and McKinley Elementary Schools.
  • ELL Parents Night at South High School that welcomed incoming ELL families and students.
  • Signage, doorway clings, and painted murals that proclaim school mottos at North High, Discovery Middle, and Washington Elementary Schools.

    One of Washington Elementary School's mottos, painted on the main hallway wall to remind staff and students to model excellent behavior.

    One of Washington Elementary School’s mottos, painted on the main hallway wall to remind staff and students to model excellent behavior.

Culture Grants awarded for the current 2014-15 school year include:

  • The first-ever Day of Compassion at Jefferson Elementary, a kindness retreat for fourth and fifth graders.
  • Lewis & Clark Elementary staff conducted a book study using Top 20 Teachers and invited co-author Willow Sweeney to present an in-service training about above-the-line versus below-the-line thinking.
  • Purchase of The Incredible, Flexible You and Zones of Regulation, social skills curriculum and materials, for McKinley Elementary School.
  • Clara Barton-Hawthorn Elementary Lunch Buddy Program matches up students and volunteers from the school’s Adopt-A-School business partner to enjoy a school cafeteria meal together and provide mentorship for the students.
  • Character Challenge and Leadership Skills Training for South High sophomores and juniors.
  • Davies High School ninth grade Respect Retreat.
  • North High School staff all read the book Teach Like A Champion to further develop their staff philosophy that “Every student deserves a Champion.”

    Gratitude group activity from Jefferson Elementary School's first ever Day of Compassion.

    Gratitude group activity from Jefferson Elementary School’s first ever Day of Compassion.

If you have an idea for establishing, encouraging, or maintaining a culture of excellence to surround our students, please visit with your school building principal. Together we can effect positive change in the world by nurturing and encouraging generations of emerging leaders.

Mathletes® and More…

trophy cupMATHCOUNTS is a national math enrichment, coaching, and competition program designed to improve math skills among U.S. middle school students. The North Dakota state competition was held on March 2 in Bismarck, ND. Congratulations to the Fargo Public Schools (FPS) students who took top honors in school team, individual, and regional team levels.

View the full list of MATHCOUNTS state winners. The top four mathletes® will  represent North Dakota at the 2015 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition in Boston, MA, May 7 through 10.

 

trophy cupCongratulations to all of the Fargo Public Schools students who placed in the 2015 North Dakota PTA Reflections Contest, using the theme “The World Would Be A Better Place If… .” Nine contest categories were swept by FPS students. There were 12 first place awards earned by FPS students and in total, 31 out of 40 placements were awarded to FPS students.

See the list of all 2015 Reflections winners.

All North Dakota winners will be honored at the annual ND PTA State Assembly Luncheon in Fargo on March 28.

 

NDPTAlogo_125The public is invited to participate in the North Dakota PTA State Assembly, which will be held on Saturday, March 28 at the Fargo Country Club, 509 South 26th Avenue, Fargo. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by a business meeting and town hall session starting at 9:00 a.m.

The 2015 ND PTA Reflections Winners will be honored at the assembly luncheon; tickets are $10 (for those 12 and under) and $15 (for those 13 and older). Register online to attend the luncheon.

 

Trollwood’s Summer Programs Launch in 73 days!

By Trollwood Performing Arts School Executive Director Kathy Anderson

photo portrait of Kathy AndersonWe are only 73 days away from summer!  With over 400 students already registered for the Trollwood summer season, the excitement is building for what is sure to be a “Supercalifragilistic” summer.

Here’s what you can look forward to this summer:

Trollwood_logo_125Once again, Trollwood is offering nine unique arts educational programs during the summer months, composed of numerous classes and performance opportunities for students from ages 6 through 20.  Detailed information, including registration information, can be found on our web site www.trollwood.org.

April 1 marks the deadline for our “Early Registration Discount,” saving students up to $50 on registration fees if registered by this date.  We will be holding a special registration open house at Bluestem Center for the Arts on Thursday, March 26 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Marcil Commons to answer questions, drop off registration forms and payments, or pick up scholarship and Student Leadership applications.

graphic logoof amry poppins holding open umbrella over words Coming to Trollwood Summer 2015The 2015 Mainstage Musical production of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins will hit the Bluestem Amphitheater on July 15.  We recently completed auditions for Mary Poppins with nearly 100 young people participating in the process and 56 making the final cast list.  In addition, there are opportunities for students to be part of both the orchestra and technical crews.

Our Totally Trollwood Musical for middle school students will present Shrek Jr. This program will take place at North High School in July with performances August 4 & 5.  The cast opportunities for this program have reached capacity, but opportunities to participate as a member of the technical crew is still a possibility.

girl adjusting spotlight in catwalk over large outdoor stageOur Trollwood Academy and Conservatory programs consist of over 40 classes in the performing and production arts for high school students of all skill levels.  In addition, Totally Trollwood Academy offers a special curriculum for the middle school student to explore opportunities in theatre arts.  High school aged students may also apply for acceptance in our Student Leadership program where they will have the opportunity to work side by side with professional artists and receive mentorship from an artist in their chosen discipline.

This summer we will offer 12 week-long sessions of ArtSpark for the elementary aged student.  This is a very popular program that provides young people an opportunity to explore the world of theatre and receive basic training in dance, acting, and vocal music.  This program culminates with a public performance. Sessions are filling quickly!

In addition to all of these educational options, we are also getting ready to announce the Jade Presents 2015 Summer Concert Series that will take place in the beautiful Bluestem Amphitheater.  We will look forward to sharing this news with you soon!

FPS Values Its Volunteers

Volunteers within the Fargo Public Schools come in many shapes and sizes, are different ages, and from many backgrounds. Some serve as an extra pair of hands in a classroom, a guest speaker, or an academic coach for a struggling student. All of them, however, serve as a role model and positive life influencer – very important work.

Just ask Linda Boyd, a retired corporate manager who has been a North Dakota Reading Corps volunteer at Bennett Elementary School for two years now. “At the end of the day, I feel rich inside, knowing I’ve made a real connection for the kids in their reading skills.”

young boy and adult woman look at open binder while seated together at  a tableBoyd volunteers for 20 hours per week at Bennett as a reading coach to ten students. They meet one-on-one for
20-minute sessions, and run through reading interventions tailored to each student’s reading level and needs. “The goal is to see these students making learning progress, that they are trending upward in their skills,” said Boyd.

North Dakota Reading Corps is an AmeriCorps program, and is administered by the Southeast Education Cooperative. Reading coaches are volunteers, although they are compensated with an hourly living wage. Program volunteers undergo a background check and receive extensive training prior to being assigned to a school. Boyd shared, “The training I received was fabulous. So thorough. You learn techniques and exactly what to do before working with the kids, so you understand and comprehend. Nothing is left to chance. I feel very confident that I know what to do with the students.”

young boy reaches up to paste star on large wall chartIn addition to the “official” Reading Corps accountability and progress reports Boyd fills out, she has also created a progress chart for her students, and each session ends with the student adding a star along their rocket journey to reading success. The students are proud to track their positive progress. “The best part of being a volunteer is that the kids are fun and so honest – they let you know how you are doing and if you keep their interest.”

 

The student’s life isn’t the only one enriched by the relationship and volunteering experience. Boyd points back to one of her reading students. “When a student works hard and reaches a goal and squeals, so delighted with themselves, that’s something to do a happy dance for.” Who wouldn’t want to dance with joy and pride in celebration of accomplishing such important work?

Fargo Public Schools utilizes a variety of volunteers in most of its 23 schools. Many are parents who serve through a PTA, others are service club members or business representatives, and a small number are retired citizens. We thank each one of them for the important work they are doing for and with our students.

For more information about the volunteering opportunities available within the Fargo Public Schools, contact the following representatives:

Adopt-A-School – Fargo Public Schools Development Foundation
Carol Johnson, Executive Director, 701.446 or mfroeber@gfmedc.com

A local business or organization is paired with a school, and employees are utilized to help out in classrooms, with school activities, and at family events. Projects and involvement varies by each school.

FM Speakers Bureau – Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation
Missy Froeber, Executive Assistant, 701.364.1900 or mfroeber@gfmedc.com

Businesses and community business leaders volunteer their time and expertise to speak to K – 12 classrooms on a wide range of business, industry, and career topics.

Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest – www.jaum.org
Lisa Metzger, District Manager, 701.241.8628 or lisam@jaum.org

Community business men and women visit classrooms to share the entrepreneurial spirit and business principles.

ND Reading Corps, an AmeriCorps program – Southeast Education Cooperative
Jolene Garty, Volunteer Coordinator, 701.446.3173 or gartyj@ndseec.com

This program trains and places reading coaches for 20 hours per week within an elementary school. Volunteers are paid an hourly living wage.

RSVP+North Dakotawww.rsvpnd.com
Teresa Huff, Fargo Coordinator, 701.231.9753 or teresa.huff@ndsu.edu

This agency administers the Foster Grandparent program, which places a senior citizen at a school to mentor elementary students in a classroom setting.

Legislative Update from School Board President

By Fargo Board of Education President Robin Nelson

Nelson, Robin

We are just past the halfway point of the 2015 North Dakota legislative session. The Fargo Board of Education members and administrative staff are following approximately 80 bills as they progress through committee hearings to each floor for debate and voting. A few weeks ago, the school districts of Fargo and West Fargo jointly hosted an informational breakfast in Bismarck for our respective legislators.

 

Here are four topics upon which the Board of Education is focusing the largest efforts:

English Language Learner Students
Along with Fargo, districts such as West Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck are seeing a sizable influx of ELL students. For obvious reasons, it takes additional and targeted resources to help these children as they learn the English language, assimilate into our culture and oftentimes overcome various traumas. Without additional funding to give these children the services they need and deserve, we are forced to pull funding from other district programming. We are advocating for supplemental funding for this increasing statewide population.

Early Childhood Education
The general benefits of early childhood education and its impact upon student success are indisputable. There are a handful of bills that address increased resources for the Headstart program and further alignment of educational standards. The bill most likely to survive requires joining the forces of K – 12 districts, local childcare providers, and the related funding and oversight. Partnerships amongst for-profit, non-profit, and government funded entities will be formed if this bill passes. It is a complicated but extremely worthwhile discussion, and one in which we will continue to actively participate.

Fund Balance Limits UPDATE: This bill was soundly defeated.
There is a bill to limit school district ending general fund balances to 10% in addition to limiting all other funds (health insurance reserve, food services, etc.) to 1.5%. Our internal board policy is to maintain no lower than a 15% general fund balance. Severely limited fund balances would adversely affect school district operations.

Due to the timing of cash receipts, it is vital to maintain cash flow in order to operate our district. In addition, national financial rating firms (Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s) that assign us ratings similar to a personal credit score, suggest we maintain a minimum of a 15% ending fund balance. This demonstrated financial responsibility allows us to secure the most favorable interest rates and subsequently save money for the District. Our health insurance reserve fund serves as a good example of how fund limits could directly affect district employees. If this fund is limited to 1.5%, we predict it will affect our ability to offer the lower cost, self-insured plans currently available to FPS employees.

Guns on School Property and at School Sponsored Events
Our District is categorically opposed to citizens or District staff carrying guns on school property. At the same time, we respect that rural districts do not have as timely access to police or sheriff services as urban districts.  One bill allowing the carrying of concealed weapons with district oversight quickly passed the House and will now proceed to the Senate. There was another bill that would provide funding for Student Resource Officers in smaller districts. Our district supported the latter, but unfortunately it was defeated. We, along with law enforcement departments, will be testifying against the remaining conceal and carry bill.

 

If you have any questions regarding these legislative issues, you may email Fargo School Board President  Robin Nelson at NelsonR@fargo.k12.nd.us .

Construction Season

By Fargo Public Schools Business Manager Broc Lietz

Photo portrait of Fargo Public Schools Business Manager Broc LietzNow that it is spring, Fargo Public Schools (FPS) had turned the calendar to North Dakota’s “second” season: Construction Season. Fargo Public Schools is in the second full year of its Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) which was approved during the 2013-14 fiscal year. The LRFP called for several capital projects that are now in full motion. This article provides an update for these projects.

 

Ed Clapp Elementary
In collaboration with the City of Fargo, Fargo Park District, Bethel Church, and a privately owned apartment complex, FPS is completing an in-fill project for a new elementary school located in Ed Clapp Park at 31st Avenue South and 28th Street, which will bear the name Ed Clapp Elementary. Construction began in the spring of 2014 and is scheduled to complete mid-to-late July of 2015, in time for the start of the 2015-16 school year. This project is progressing on schedule. The new elementary will be a four-section school, with a boundary that provides needed relief to current enrollment at Centennial, Kennedy, and Lewis & Clark Elementary Schools. The total project is expected to cost approximately $15 million. For a pictorial tour of the progress, please visit the Ed Clapp Elementary website.

Clapp_exterior_brick_facade_458

Eagles Center
The LRFP provided a roadmap for a 3-section elementary school to be located at the current Eagles Center. This was projected to be completed for fiscal year 2016-17; however, recent zoning changes in the City of Fargo impacted the enrollment at Lincoln Elementary, which necessitated moving the implementation of the Eagles Center project ahead to 2016-17. At their February 24 meeting, the Board of Education authorized FPS administration to proceed with plans for an addition to the current Eagles Center to provide for a 3-section elementary school at this site to be opened in the fall of 2016. The preliminary plans call for modest remodeling of the current facility to provide for a media center, computer center, and special service spaces, and an approximately 39,000 square foot addition to provide for additional classroom space, gymnasium, kitchen, commons, and administrative offices. The estimated project cost is $9 million and it will have an attendance area that provides relief for current enrollment at Lincoln, Bennett, and Centennial Elementary Schools.

South Fargo Land Purchase
Another component of the LRFP includes pursuing options to purchase property in south Fargo, somewhere between 52nd Avenue South and 76th Avenue South, for future construction of an elementary school. It is not uncommon for a school district to purchase land in advance of development to ensure there is a location for future growth. Generally speaking, as developers begin developing land, there are allowances for parks, but rarely Oeprations Cetnerare there allowances for public schools. The LRFP puts FPS in a positon to make a purchase to prepare for city growth when it occurs. The addition to Eagles will likely delay the need for construction, but securing the land is necessary in the current fiscal year and positions FPS to be ready for expansion when it occurs within our existing school boundaries.

Operations Center
The final construction project actually came to light late in the development of the LRFP, which is the need to relocate the current FPS Warehouse/Central Kitchen/Trades Operations for the District. This project has become known as the “Operations Center.” The City of Fargo is proceeding with a downtown project to build a permanent flood wall along 2nd Street. This project requires acquisition of several downtown properties, including our current warehouse facility. The District has been in ongoing negotiations with the City regarding the project and continues to look at best solutions for our long-term needs. Ultimately, FPS will have a new central Operations Center; however, the exact location and extent of this center is currently unknown. Plans are being developed to make this move right on time for our ongoing operational needs. It is our hope that the new Operations Center would be up and running by the fall of 2016, but there is much work to do to finalize this project.

 

If you have any questions regarding ongoing capital projects at Fargo Public Schools, please contact Broc Lietz at 701.446.1026 or email him at lietzb@fargo.k12.nd.us.

A Day in the Life of an ELL Social Worker

By Tamara Hofmann

Do you love to travel? I do, and I have the privilege of traveling the world without ever packing a bag or stepping one foot into Hector International Airport as an English Language Learning (ELL) social worker for the Fargo Public Schools (FPS). Please, let me explain.

Tamara Hofmann holding Patience and  VirtueI spend my time building relationships and rapport with families from countries all over the world. As I travel from home to home and assist with the needs of our ELL families, I experience their cultures on an individual and personal level; their families become my family! Fargo Public Schools has two social workers who serve nearly 800 ELL students who currently attend FPS schools. These students represent 58 countries with more than 44 languages spoken. Pretty amazing, right? Many people do not realize how diverse Fargo has become.

Some may wonder how social workers differ from counselors. School counselors serve in the schools to provide academic, career, college readiness, and personal/social competencies to all students through a school counseling program.  Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need. Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. We help to prevent crisis and counsel individuals, families and communities to cope more effectively with life’s stresses.  Because of our unique skills and roles within the school system, counselors and social workers make great partners.

Social workers support the ELL community, including students and families with the advantage of more than one language in their home. We follow families and work with students of all ages – kindergarten through 12th grade. This provides a unique opportunity to build strong relationships with the whole family over many years.

Bhutanese DancersYou may wonder how can we possibly work with so many languages and cultures? It is important for people to understand that social workers can’t possibly know everything, and we recognize that from the beginning. We are especially thankful for interpreters that assist us every day. We go into each situation on an individual basis, meeting the needs of that student and their family.

As you can imagine, ELL families may experience challenges on their journey to America and may face many adjustment issues once they arrive. Social workers are a bridge between home and school. We are often asked what a typical day is like as an ELL social worker. This is a difficult question, as our job description basically encompasses doing whatever it takes for a child to be successful in school.”  Our job is different every day and flexibility is very important.

Home visits play a major part in our day and this is where our world travel begins and then extends throughout our schools and community. On any given day we may experience African culture by meeting with families from Liberia, Somalia, and the Congo. Our journey continues to Asia to visit with Bhutanese students and families from the refugee camps in Nepal to discuss upcoming parent/teacher conferences. Next, we receive an email that a Vietnamese student needs assistance with transportation to a meeting. Throw in a call from a teacher or principal to assist with a need that was brought to their attention, such as a sick student. Add in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting in the counseling office, and then we end our day on a journey to Iraq to get to know a new family that recently arrived in the United States. This is just one of numerous combinations of tasks we may be asked to do in a day, but you get the idea.

ELL Parents & social workers celebrating with a cakeHospitality is very important to many cultures and they often offer tea, coffee or other cultural items to us when we visit. It is often extremely insulting to refuse their generosity. I have yet to have one of my hosts allow me to put my cup in the sink no matter how hard I try to do it. Home visits create an opportunity to establish relationships with students and families. Through these visits, we encourage parent and student participation in school activities and events as well as educate families about community and school resources available to assist the families.  Connecting and bridging resources plays a major role in our day.

Often our work happens behind the scenes within our community. We attend appointments with families and empower them to take care of their child’s physical and emotional needs. We often observe students in the classroom setting and help parents understand their role in the school community. As families face other issues that negatively affect stability and educational success such as housing, homelessness, finances, family stress, legal issues, etc., we come alongside to empower them to advocate for themselves, and if they are not able to, we serve as an advocate for them as well.

The variety of tasks an ELL social worker completes in a day is infinite, depending on the needs of each student and their family. I am totally blessed to have this job and I often think it is too fulfilling to be a called a “job.” At the end of the week I know we have accomplished much!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Just remember, we have the whole world in our backyard and I encourage and challenge you to take an ELL journey of your own if the opportunity presents itself. You will not regret it and you will be forever changed because of it. Safe travels!

 

March Holiday Alerts:

March 5 is Magha Puja Day, a Buddhist holiday that marks an event early in the Buddha’s teaching life when a group of 1,250 enlightened saints, ordained by the Buddha, gathered to pay their respect to him.

March 6 is Holi, a Hindu and Sikh spring religious festival observed in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, along with other countries that have large Hindu and Sikh populations. People celebrate Holi by throwing colored powder and water at each other. Bonfires are lit the day before in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika carried him into the fire.

March 28 is Ram Navami, a Hindu festival commemorating the birth of Lord Rama, a popular deity in Hinduism. People celebrate the holiday by sharing stories and visiting temples.

March 29 is Palm Sunday, a holiday recognized by Christians to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of the Christian Holy Week.

April 4 through 11 is Pesach / Passover, a week-long Jewish observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. General practices include family gatherings, ritualized meals called Seders, reading of the Haggadah, lighting of Yahrzeit memorial candle at sundown on the last night. Pesach begins at sundown of the first day. Recommended accommodations include avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the first two and last two days of the holiday, provide food accommodation as requested. Kosher restrictions apply.

April 5 is Easter, a Christian/Roman Catholic and Protestant annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. General practices include celebratory meals, family gatherings, distribution of colored eggs, baskets and chocolate bunnies. It is a celebration of renewal. Easter Sunday is determined by the Gregorian calendar, which regulates the ceremonial cycle of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.

March is MUSIC IN OUR SCHOOLS Month

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato

Kids whose imaginations are sparked by the arts are more engaged in school. The arts aren’t just extras, but are part of a well-rounded education.” ― President Barack Obama

From Plato to Obama, leaders have spoken in support of the arts and how they are an integral part of life. March has been designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM®), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation. NAfME, representing more than 75,000 active, retired, and pre-service music teachers and 60,000 honor students and supporters.

North High Jazz Band performs in school hallway

Facts About Music

  • When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. Music is the only activity that uses the whole brain. When you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.
  • Listening to music while working out measurably improves physical performance.
  • Your favorite song is probably your favorite because you associate it with an emotional event in your life.
  • Music can be so powerful it can affect your mood, brainwaves, and even your heartbeat! It turns out that when we listen to music our body physically reacts to the sounds we hear.
  • Music is helpful for patients with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke victims, and people with anxiety and depression. Music can help overcome bradykinesia (difficulty initiating movement, often linked to Parkinson’s) by triggering neurons that translate the music into organized movement. Music therapy has proven to be effective in restoring the loss of language in patients with aphasia (impaired speech) that results from brain injury after a stroke.

For more fun facts about music, visit Music Fun Facts on Pinterest.

Discovery Middle School 7th grade choir

Because of the priority of the arts in the Fargo Public Schools and the Fargo community, we have been recognized as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in America by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) eleven out of the last fourteen years.

Here are some great music web sites for parents, teachers, and students: