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Fall/Winter Edition 2013

ISD 273

Edina Public Schools News

Personalized Learning the Focus for Next Generation’s Success Secondary academic study looks at how to implement customized and flexible learning options for all students As part of the district’s implementation of the 2012-15 Strategic Plan, Edina Public Schools (EPS) has conducted a Secondary Academic Program Study to develop a grade 6-12 customized learning system that combines innovative choice and quality with accelerated and flexible learning. Since last fall, the District has conducted surveys with parents, staff, students and community members, led focus groups and brainstorming sessions, and held parent and community dialogues in an effort to develop the next generation of its secondary schools.

throughout the process and have an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions. With over 320 face-to-face interactions and 750 online survey responses received, Smasal said the number of people engaged in the study has surpassed the district’s expectations. “We want to hear from all of our families that represent the diversity in our schools,” Smasal Credit: Jake Freeman, EHS Zephyrus said. “Sharing with the community that they are a part of the process stakeholders of the District have to say and how of the study is what will make the outcome those ideas will be implemented. The process a success and provide us with the best is ongoing, and as refinements are made, the methods to implement the feedback for future committee will return to stakeholders for a final generations of Edina Public Schools students.” review before presenting its recommendations

“We have a lot of good stuff going in Edina and we want to maintain that excellence at the core,” said Randy Smasal, Director of Teaching and Learning for EPS. “From there we want to continue to think The feedback collected of ways that we can “Our goal is to continue to from teachers, students advance the quality engage all students at a high and parents, as well as of our teachers and research gathered from learning of our students level so that they are very around the world on above and beyond motivated to explore their innovative 21st century that core to areas of secondary schools, are advanced excellence so spark and passions and to get major factors in how that our students have the best education they can.” the team of school and a full complement of district administrators opportunities that will position them well for will develop options for future EPS secondary the complex world that awaits them.” schools. Since the latest round of survey and Smasal noted that a key part of the study is input sessions in January, the committee page ad 111212 printer.pdf 1 has 11/13/12 1:08 evaluating PM ensuring thatPIP all 8x2 stakeholders are to involved been busy what valued









to the School Board later this spring. “We have a lot of people engaged in the process and we want to continue to engage them as we refine the options and they evolve into recommendations,” Smasal said. “Our goal is to continue to engage all students in their learning at a high level so that they are very motivated to explore their spark and passions and to get the best education they can.” Smasal noted that through the secondary study, the District has been able to define personalized learning as the extent to which Continues on page 3

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Superintendent’s Column

All for All: Edina Public Schools plans for the Future by Ric Dressen, Superintendent

Edina Public Schools will need “all of us,” the entire community, to ensure “all of our learners” are successful.

Edina Public Schools has launched our strategic plan that casts a vision for our education We will strive to strengthen our partnerships community for 2015 and beyond. The plan with families and community to find new ways provides an outstanding roadmap, which we can support and connect with all of our builds on our successes learners. We will access of today and pursues creative communication VISION 2015 the possibilities of tools to strengthen this EPS will continue to be among tomorrow. This plan teaming relationship. the premier school districts both Among Edina’s is shaped through a strong vision statement nationally and internationally. Our greatest strengths that recognizes our high expectations in academics, is our commitment commitment to being art, extracurricular-activities and to engaging as a among the premier community to serve our community involvement best school districts, both youth. Edina is already prepare each learner to achieve at a national and nationally recognized international level. success in college, career and life. by America’s Promise for this success, and MISSION DRIVEN we are going to have to call on this strength Our district’s mission remains a constant for us if we are to accomplish our vision for the next and is the foundation of everything we do in generation of Edina Public Schools. our services, programs and work. This mission has inspired, guided and promoted excellence EDUCATING ALL LEARNERS since it was formalized by the School Board in Edina Public Schools is recognized for our 1989. I believe the three key components of educational excellence. This remains our top the mission have long been the priorities of priority and we must ensure this high quality this district – working in partnership to educate of success for all of our learners. As with many all individuals to thrive in society. This mission communities in Minnesota and across the will well serve our community and our learners country, Edina is changing. Our learners are as we implement this updated strategic plan more diverse, and we must effectively respond during the second decade of the 21st Century. to all of their needs. This diversity is occurring in a variety of demographic groupings – age, In an effort to better embed the mission into income, race and culture. It is our responsibility all that we do, we have sharpened it to three as a district and a community that we ensure critical, easy to remember words – All for All. all members of our school district community

The Mission of the Edina Public Schools, working in partnership with the family and the community, is to educate all individuals to be responsible, lifelong learners who possess the skills, knowledge, creativity, self-worth, and ethical values necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing, culturally diverse, global society.

Learning: Edina Public Schools News is published by the Edina Public Schools (ISD 273) Communications Department and is distributed to residents of the District. The cost to produce Learning is largely offset by community advertisers. For more informartion, contact the Communications Department at

have access to this tradition of excellence and the opportunities that an Edina Public Schools education affords. Among our challenges to achieving this mission are learning and opportunity gaps that exist among our various student groups. We must close this gap! A top priority of the strategic plan is to advance the learning of all our students and at the same time provide services and programs that will close the gap to ensure success for all learners. Edina will continue to use a personalized learning approach in our instruction to reach this priority. This approach accesses and uses educational data and best practices to plan instruction, cultivates relationships with learners and their families, and responds flexibly to meet the unique needs of each learner. This concept of All for All is not new. It has been part of our district mission for over 20 years. We will continue to base our decisions and planning in what is best for all students, including those that are in our schools now, and those that we will serve in the future. I am excited to work with everyone to bring this vision to a reality for all of our learners. I know we will accomplish the challenges that lie before us, as has been our tradition, with great community effort and a strong focus on young people and their future through education.

Edina Public Schools Board of Education Randy Meyer, Chair Idith Almog Cathy Cella Regina Neville Sarah Patzloff Lonni Skrentner Leny Wallen-Friedman Contact the School Board at

More stories and a complete calendar of events can be found at

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Personalized Learning cont.

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the customization of instruction affords the student a degree of choice about what is learned, when it is learned, and how it is learned. As digital resources are exploding in today’s learning environments, Smasal said that the District welcomes the idea of accessing learning regardless of where it occurs and acknowledges that it is no longer confined to just the hours a student is in school. The District is not only looking at personalized learning from the student perspective, but also for staff. According to Smasal, looking at how EPS personalizes training for its teachers and staff is also a key component to building the next generation of secondary schools. As the committee works through the research collected, Smasal said that some options being explored are more incremental in nature and will be able to be implemented in the near future (e.g. next year), while other, more transformative options will require a more phased-in approach over the next few years. “We know that this will not happen overnight. The goal of the secondary study and the strategic plan as a whole is to focus on our schools three to five years from now,” said Superintendent Ric Dressen. “Just as major companies and organizations constantly look at ways to improve and evolve for future customers, so too must we look at the needs of the students we serve today and in the future. Edina Public Schools is recognized nationally and internationally as a high quality school district. Our goal is not to disregard that tradition, but rather to build on our tradition of excellence so that we can continue to offer high quality educational experiences for all learners.”


F ebruary 22-23 EHS POPS Concert, 7:00 p.m., Fick Auditorium 25 School Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m., ECC 349 26 Masterworks Choral Concert, 6:00 & 8:00 p.m., Fick Auditorium 28 Edina Family Center workshop, “It’s That Easy - Parents as Sexuality Educators”, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., ECC 351. Call 952-858-3908 28 EHS POPS Concert, 7:00 p.m., Fick Auditorium March

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EHS POPS Concert, 7:00 p.m., Fick Auditorium Parent Communication Network (PCN) Forum, 7:00 p.m., EPAC Parent/Teacher Conferences, schedules vary per school No School - Teacher Inservice School Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m., ECC 349 Edina High School College Fair, 6:00 p.m., EHS Gym End of Third Quarter No School - Spring Break

No School - Spring Break School Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m., ECC 349 Parent Communication Network (PCN) Forum, 7:00 p.m., Countryside Edina Reads - A Thinking Man’s Bully, 7:00 p.m. Edina Senior Center Edina Reads is a community-wide reading program that encourages active reading, lifelong learning, and thoughtful conversation. Please join us for a conversation on the novel A Thinking Man’s Bully by Michael Adelberg. Former Edina High School teacher Betsy Cussler will lead the discussion. Copies of the book are available at the Edina Library.

For a complete list of upcoming events, visit us online at

To learn more, visit secondary-study. | 3

District News eLearning2 Integrates Teaching and Student Engagement Through Technology Ninth grade students engage in initiative to build upon skills in digital learning environment As part of its strategic plan to tailor the learning experience for all students, Edina Public Schools (EPS) has launched a new initiative called eLearning2. The goals of eLearning2 go beyond focusing on the technology device itself to recognizing that it is the combination of great teachers and personal technology that will really take learning to the next level for current and future students. To help ensure all students have access to personal technologies that can enhance their learning, the District has partnered with Best Buy in a special pilot program. Starting second semester, the eLearning2 initiative is being piloted in grade nine at both Edina middle schools. The program encourages students to utilize their own personal learning device to further engage and inspire them in their learning. “We know that learning today does and should occur anytime, anywhere, and anyhow, and is not limited by what happens in the classroom,” said Superintendent Ric Dressen. “Through this exciting partnership with Best Buy, we are able to provide more access for our families to get the device and support that is right for their student’s unique interests and learning styles.”

EPS believes that the addition of the personal learning devices in the classroom will build upon its commitment to instruction that is student driven.

a technology component, the key to unlocking student enthusiasm for learning is the combination of quality instruction and personal technology.

“This student-centered initiative gives our kids the choice and ownership of choosing a learning device that will strengthen their academics and prepare them for high school and beyond,” said Tim Berndt, Technology Specialist for EPS, who is coordinating the eLearning2 program. “Teachers will be able to provide more creative, global opportunities in the way they design their curriculum and assignments as instant access to resources is available online 24/7.”

“The power of eLearning2 is in the integration of these two critical factors. By looking both at how teachers teach and how learners learn, we can take education to the next level,” he said. “With the help of great community partners like Best Buy, we are able to ensure all students have access to the tools they need to thrive in a rapidly changing, culturally diverse, global society.”

Since August, grade nine teachers have been engaged in professional development to transform their teaching in ways that incorporate more digital learning opportunities. During their trainings, teachers were able to collaborate with one another, learn about the device management process, and design curriculum for students to allow choice in how they complete projects and assignments. Dressen said that while not every lesson, in every class, on every day needs to include

With the eLearning2 initiative, students are learning how to use personal technologies to expand their abilities to communicate, collaborate, problem solve, and create — all critical skills for today’s learning and tomorrow’s workforce. The eLearning2 pilot will continue through the spring with family and community meetings in March to discuss the experience so far, and will likely be expanded to additional grade levels in 2013-14. To learn more, visit elearning2.

A Day in the Life

Buzz Rehnberg, Grade 11 n11:35 am: Checks Moodle “Week at a Glance” for Blended U.S. Literature to see the assignments for the day

Two EHS students share how they use technology throughout their day to keep up on class and homework

n12:02 pm: Watches screencasts for AP Economics on his laptop

by Anna Ellingboe, EHS Zephyrus

n1:06 pm: Reviews the AP Biology textbook on his laptop during blended time

Dennis Bao, Grade 10 Credit: Jake Freeman, EHS Zephyrus

n9:32 am: Uses the calculator app on his iPhone to do calculations in chemistry

n10:35 am: Reviews the online chapter outline right before an Advanced Placement (AP) World History test using his iPhone n11:30 am: Uses the Quizlet app to study for monthly English vocab quizzes n1:10 pm: Translates and defines words using the Word-Reference app during Spanish 4|

n2:15 pm: Creates a Prezi for a Principles of Engineering project n4:00 pm: Contacts teachers through Edina Google Apps email

Credit: Jake Freeman, EHS Zephyrus

n3:10 pm: Records all homework assignments due the next day in his reminders app on his iPhone n6:30 pm: Begins math homework using online textbook n7:30 pm: Uses Google Docs to collaborate with his APUSH group n8:30 pm: Checks Twitter for updates from Blended U.S. Literature teacher, Ms. Burnside n9:00 pm: Goes on Moodle to listen to an audio assignment for Enriched Spanish IV n9:30 pm: Checks his grades and progress in SchoolView before going to bed

Be Remarkable!

Concord teacher earns national award for engaging science lesson

A sampling of recent EPS successes Edina High School girls tennis team nets 16th State Championships Hornet’s sweet 16 victory enters the record books as the most consecutive state championships in the nation for girls tennis Hornet cross-country teams take second and third at state The boys team finished in second place, and the girls team brought home third. Edina teacher becomes ‘Google Certified’ Google™ selected Tracy Purdy, grade four teacher at Concord Elementary, to participate in the 2012 Google Teacher Academy 42 EHS seniors earn National Merit recognition Recognitions include National Merit Finalists, Semi-finalists, and Commended Students, and a National Hispanic Recognition Student

Edina Public Schools congratulates Concord fifth grade teacher Chris Tower on his receipt of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary Teachers. Tower’s winning lesson highlighted the work he did to establish and maintain a community garden at Concord. Last summer, 150 pounds of the garden’s produce were donated to a local food shelf, while the remaining product was sold to the community, netting $500 to help sustain the project. “The lesson plan was a natural process to have the kids see the actual results of their fruit and vegetables grow in the garden,” Tower said. “I’m honored to have been recognized for the work I’ve done, but the award is not so much for me as it is for the kids’ commitment to have the garden thrive.” Tower said his fourth and fifth grade lesson plan evolved from a need to connect the district’s science curriculum to the world, and a desire to help students realize what a difference they could make in their own community. “Chris does a great job of creating community in his classroom and does a superior job of getting his students excited about learning,” Concord Principal Rick Sansted said. “His work on the Concord community produce garden is a great example of how his work as a science educator has positively contributed to the Edina community.”

Normandale Elementary named 2012 National Blue Ribbon School French Immersion School one of seven Minnesota schools to earn recognition For third year in a row, Edina named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People Annual competition recognizes communities that prioritize youth education and well-being


Tower was nominated for the award by EPS Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Isabelle Punchard. She noted the main criterion for the selection of Tower was how his lesson reflects National Science Education Standards.

“Chris is a passionate, dedicated and selfless educator who has tirelessly worked to make science meaningful for students,” Punchard said. “He has the rare gift of motivating students of all backgrounds because he cares about them, and he engages them with innovative and authentic lessons.”

Tower’s students wrote letters to neighbors telling them of the garden and how they could support it at the local farmers market. At the market, students had the chance to build upon their math and marketing skills by selling the products and handling money. Each week during the summer, students and their families adopted the garden to keep it going, inspiring many of them to start their own gardens at home. Next fall, Tower plans to work with ninth grade South View Middle School Family and Consumer Science (FACS) students as they prepare food from the harvest, and partner with South View Media Specialist Cathy Heller and her students on the herbs and products they produce as part of their indoor tower garden project.

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Got Fruit? Edina’s new lunch menu brings more fruits and vegetables to the table Thanks in part to new regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the lunches in Edina Public Schools (EPS) have received a nutritional boost. For the first time in 15 years, the USDA made significant changes to school meal regulations, requiring schools to follow the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Throughout the District, lunch trays are full of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables, and students are learning more about what it means to eat a balanced meal. “Edina Public Schools has always worked hard at providing healthy, balanced school meals,” said Mary Lombardi, EPS food service general manager. “The biggest change that

families will notice is the new requirement that students have to take a fruit or vegetable with their lunch. Some other changes include implementing controls on portion sizes, including providing smaller bread items and adding more whole grains.” Lombardi noted that over 50 percent of the grains offered are now whole grain, and they are serving pastas made with 100 percent whole wheat. According to the the USDA guidelines, every meal should consist of five components: grains, meat or protein, fruit, vegetable, and milk. In EPS lunches, that means students must select at least three of the five components, including a fruit or vegetable.

“You will see some new menu items, and some old menu items, all including healthier ingredients and an emphasis on eating a healthy, balanced meal,” noted Lombardi. “One way we can do this is to look at preparing more of our school meals from scratch, thus reducing the number of pre-processed foods that we purchase, which, while sometimes less expensive, are often less nutritious.”

Cornelia’s 32nd Annual Craft Bazaar connects creativity and charitable giving Edina pride and holiday spirit was shining bright in the halls of Cornelia Elementary in December as fifth grade students held their 32nd annual Craft Bazaar, with proceeds going to a local charity. From pillowcases to pet rocks, and from duct tape art to snow globes, students produced original craft projects to make and sell for the event. “The creativity is amazing,” said Cornelia parent Debra Abegbenro. According to Abegbenro, students were charged with coming up with an idea for their project and then had it approved by their teacher. Students worked on the handcrafted goods on their own

time up until the day before the event. The event welcomed fellow students, parents and community members, providing students with an opportunity to practice their entrepreneurial and money management skills, all for a good cause. With an average price of two dollars per item, Cornelia fifth graders sold over 1,900 items to earn $3,871, which they then donated to Feed My Starving Children. “The annual Craft Bazaar is a great community building event,” said Chris Holden, Cornelia Principal. “It provides the opportunity for fifth grade students to not only create and market their own product, but to also give back to a charity of their choosing.”

District finances remain stable in uncertain economic climate In October, the District learned that once again it had received a clean opinion from its financial auditors. Positive financial news continued in December when the School Board certified its annual levy, which will result in a decrease for local taxpayers in 2013 thanks in large part to the retiring of some district bonds and overall changes in property values. And in January, the District learned that the international credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, was continuing its Aaa bond rating for Edina Public Schools, the highest rating awarded. EPS is one of only three school districts in Minnesota to earn the Aaa rating. “Edina Public Schools continues its strong educational and financial history, balancing

our fiscal responsibilities while maximizing available resources to provide quality educational services for all learners,” said Margo Bauck, Director of Business Services. “Our focus, as we look to the future, is to continue to look for efficiencies where possible so that we can continue to target our resources on students and learning for all.” Bauck noted that budget planning is already underway for the 2013-14 school year. In January, the School Board approved budget parameters. The budget development process will proceed throughout the spring, with a final budget presented to the Board for approval in June. Bauck said that throughout the process, the District will look at how best to allocate

its time and resources and align them to the District’s strategic plan. Superintendent Ric Dressen noted that while the district’s financial situation is stable, the long-term outlook is concerning as fixed costs continue to outpace revenue. “While we are proud of our strong financial base, we know that we must continue to look at how we can use our resources in ways that allow us to adapt to the changing needs of our students, families and community,” said Dressen. “Our community has entrusted us with their tax dollars, and it is our responsibility to continue to be good fiscal stewards and invest these dollars wisely in quality educational experiences for all students.”

Community News Adults ‘Go Global’ with World Language Courses Travel. Cognitive stimulation. Personal growth and cultural understanding. These are just a few of the reasons participants cite for enrolling in French, Spanish and German language courses offered through Edina Community Education. Barbara Morrison (pictured at right with instructor Marianne Ramos Schulze-Schreiber and members of this fall’s Spanish 1 class) is polishing her language skills so she can better engage with clients at VEAP, where she serves as an active volunteer. “About 45% of our clients at VEAP are children, and many of them speak languages other than English. I want to be able to speak with them and make them feel welcome,” she said. Other participants sign on for the challenge of learning a new language because they are planning foreign travel and want deeper and more meaningful interactions with local residents. “Knowing a bit about the language helps travellers get off the beaten path,” said Schulze-Schreiber, who speaks four languages fluently and recently began studying a fifth. “Languages also open doors to understanding people — their cultures, worldviews and ways of thinking.”

When should children see see When should children When should children see The intellectual challenge is another reason many participants gravitate toward When should children an see an orthodontist? anorthodontist? orthodontist? language classes. Contrary to common stereotypes, recent studies show that there is no decline in ability to learn as adults get older, and foreign language an orthodontist? study offers benefits that extend beyond the classroom, including keeping minds and memory sharp, increasing self-confidence, and building connections with others who share similar interests.

Check with

Are you motivated to learn a world language? Watch for your next opportunity in the Spring/Summer Adult Community Education catalog, available mid-March online and in the mail.

Edina Family Center earns four-star Parent Aware rating The District’s Edina Family Center preschool program for three to five year olds has earned the highest, 4-star rating from Parent Aware, a program that helps parents in Minnesota find quality childcare, preschool and early education providers. Ratings are granted on a scale of one to four stars, measuring best practices in early education that are focused on helping children succeed in kindergarten and beyond. To earn the four-star rating, programs must use a curriculum that is aligned with the Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIP) and conduct assessments using an approved tool with all children at least twice a year.

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Fall/Winter Edition 2013 5701 Normandale Road Edina MN 55424

Dated Material

Stay Connected Learning only comes out three times a year. Great stories happen everyday. Stay connected. Sign-up for the Edina In the Know weekly e-newsletter at

Edina Education Fund Show & Tell Luncheon Show & Tell Luncheon Showcases Student Success The 4th annual Edina Education Fund Show & Tell Luncheon allowed over 350 community members to learn about the Edina Ed Fund and district-wide initiatives, including Project Lead the Way, Edina High School & South View Writing Centers, Valley View Math Center, Cornelia’s Camp Read-aLot, and Ecademy. The event raised $90,000 for the Edina Ed Fund, which provides grants and support of innovative programs in Edina Public Schools. Learn more about keeping innovation alive in Edina Public Schools at


Learning Newsletter - Fall/Winter 2013  

Learning: Edina Public Schools News

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