Blog

April Family Update

Dear Families,

 

As we move into the final weeks of the school year, I hope you are doing well.  Although the Covid-19 case rates are rising in Rice County I still feel hopeful that Nerstrand School can continue in person schooling until the end of the year.  

 

Our next big challenge will be classroom quarantines.  If a child or staff member in a particular class is diagnosed with Covid-19, that classroom will have to go into a possible 14 day quarantine.  This recently occurred with our 3rd graders.  If your child(ren)’s classroom has to go into quarantine, we will organize a contactless pickup on the earliest school day after we announce the quarantine.  Teachers will have work for students on the day of pickupSince our classrooms have distance learning experience, teachers will be able to keep learning going with little interruption to the schedule.  

 

We realize that the majority of families do not love Distance Learning.  However, teachers have a professional responsibility to keep learning happening for all of our students this year.  We are all sick and tired of the effect the pandemic has had on this school year but teachers are still teaching to students during a quarantine.  We expect that children will be online each day and working along with their classmates.  Incomplete work will be expected to be completed when students return to school.  

 

It continues to be essential that families follow the CDC guidelines of mask wearing and social distancing so that we can stay in session.  Please help us to make sure we can stay in person!

 

I am pleased to report that we have had few broken chromebooks and chargers this year.  We do appreciate families giving any kind of donation when things get lost or broken.  

 

As we move into spring, we look forward to warm weather and being able to be outside more.  We are also enjoying having Liz Nelson teaching art to our classrooms.  Liz will be working here until May 11th.  We will have another digital art show sent out to families.  All of the children look forward to her lessons and it has been a bright spot in a hard year.  

 

I will also be sending more information about end of the year assessments, specifically the State tests (MCA’s) given to all 3rd-5th graders.  Classroom teachers will be giving more specifics about testing days, but families can help their children by making sure they are well rested before test days.

 

I am excited that we have completed another month in this hard year.  Thank you for all of your support and help in making this year the best it can possibly be under difficult circumstances.

 

Sincerely,

Maggie

 

Fall Enrollment from Maggie Kiley

Dear Nerstrand Families,
 
This time of the year is when schools are thinking about fall enrollment.  All public schools across the state have had a COVID-19 impact on enrollment and Nerstrand is no different.  Although we saw a drop in enrollment because of COVID-19,  because of our sound financial management we are able to weather this decrease without having to make big changes to our staff or structure.  I am always grateful for the expertise of our business manager, Keith Johnson.  Keith has been in this role for many years and has received financial awards from both the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and our authorizer, Novation Educational Opportunities (NEO).  Because of his financial management we have a sound fund balance that will allow us to keep our high quality programming.  
 
Traditionally our Kindergarten classroom has more than enough potential students, and that is the case for next fall.  However, we do have openings in other grade levels within the school.  I am asking that families help spread the word that we have openings, as many times families in the area assume that we do not have openings.  Your help with getting the word out would be greatly appreciated.  
 
We know that the pandemic will still have some impact on our school year next year.  We don't know exactly how things will look.  However, we are dedicated to keeping school in person and adapting our traditions to fit with any guidelines that may be required.  
 
I am grateful to all of our families that have gone through this journey with us.  Your support has been essential during this time.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Maggie Kiley, M.A.Ed.
Director
Nerstrand School 
Independent School District #4055
507-333-6854
The Little School in the Big Woods

Friday, January 29, 2021

Good afternoon Nerstrand Families,

We are looking forward to welcoming back our 3rd-5th grade students next Tuesday, 2/2/21.  Monday is a no school day for students, as it is a Teacher Workday.  It will be wonderful to have grades Kindergarten through Grade Five here in-person! 

We have had a relatively smooth transition with bringing back grades kindergarten-2nd.  I was a classroom teacher for many years, and coming back from the winter break always felt a bit like starting the school year.    This year, with all of the changes we have had to make, it is even more so.  We know that some children are feeling excited to come back and others may be nervous.  Please reassure students that all of our staff are looking forward to having them back in the building.  We have some upcoming RiverBend trips scheduled and we look forward to bringing back some traditions (hello talent show!) this spring.  

The teachers and I will be meeting on Monday and one item is to discuss how we handle students out on quarantine/isolation.  We want to make sure that students are still learning and so we will be making more specific plans, but you will be working with your child's teacher on this if this situation arises.  

Barb asked me to include the following information in this email:

Pandemic-EBT Benefits for Families

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals may be eligible for Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) to purchase food for days they are not in the school building. To be considered, households must submit an application for free or reduced-price meals for the 2020-21 school year or be approved for Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Families who received P-EBT benefits last summer are not automatically eligible; eligibility is based on the current school year. Benefits may be retroactive to September 2020, depending on when eligibility for free or reduced-price meals is determined. To ensure you qualify for the most benefits, please submit your application as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. 

Here is important information about a Food Drive for the Faribault High School Children's Play we typically go to watch in January of each year. Please consider helping with this food drive!  Thank you. Here is what we recieved from Paul Johnson at the Faribault High School:

Every year over the past twenty plus years, the FHS Children’s Theatre production has collected non-perishable food items from the local elementary schools and high school students in lieu of charged admission to the production. We sorted the donations and delivered them to the Faribault Food Shelf. When Covid-19 forced them to close at the mall, we will still be supporting the community through the St. Vincent DePaul Society with food donations.

With the pandemic this year, we will not be able to have the elementary students come to the Michael J. Hanson Performing Arts Center for performances. We still will produce a show, record it, and distribute a performance of Goose-Napped a Virtual Play by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus for elementary students’ (and community’s) entertainment.

We also plan to continue giving back to our community. We will have a “Stuff the Bus” drive and so we are asking for your help.  We will gladly drop off boxes at your school on MONDAY, January 25.   We hope you will accept a challenge and encourage students and staff to participate in collecting non-perishable food items to fill the boxes. They will be picked up on Thursday, February 4th, so we only have 3 school days to bring in donations!  Let's fill all our boxes! Thank you so much!

 

Finally, please continue to follow the guidelines of mask wearing and social distancing.  My hope is that we will be able to stay in person for the remainder of the year.  However, that will only be possible if we work together to keep everyone safe. 

 
I hope you have a great weekend!
 
Sincerely,
Maggie

November Blog

The first Eagles Nest of the year is a milestone and gives families a peak into activities within classrooms.   Although classrooms are busy throughout the building, the music room is especially active, as Jake prepares the students for this year's first fall concert on 11/26/19.  It is sure to be a wonderful evening and exciting to see and hear Jake's first concert at our school.  We have quite a few other activities going on around the building besides the music concert.  Art Adventures has started and will be meeting with all classrooms.  Thank you to Cara Waddell, Nicole Kadrlich and Becky Ford for visiting classrooms and training for this program.  Special thanks to Cara for keeping this tradition going at Nerstrand.  We also have Ken Lonquist doing a 3 day residency in the music room the first week of December.  Finally, we will be putting up the teepee and all classrooms will be visiting it during the week of December 9th.  Big thanks to Larry Richie for hosting the teepee event at Nerstrand School again.  
 

  Thank you to all of our families for your continued support of our school!,

October Blog

Dear Families,

We are well and truly into this school year now, and students seem more settled into their routines.  Hopefully your family has made the transition back to school smoothly.

Our Discovery Day went particularly well this year.  The weather was beautiful, students were engaged, we had great volunteers, and the activities were fun and interesting.  The theme this year was studying Native Americans. We will continue this study and during the first week of December, we will be putting up our tepee and learning more about the Dakota Indians, and how they lived in the past.  Recently there has been more discussion about how schools study Native Americans, and that children see them as people from the past and don't realize that they are alive and living their lives as modern people today. Although we will explore the Dakota past while the tepee is up, in classrooms we will also discuss how they are modern people, and not just relegated to the past.  We will look at their contributions to society and famous Indians of today, such as Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, the first Indian woman to hold a statewide office in Minnesota. Dakota Indian culture is rich in tradition, and we want to make sure our students realize there are still Indians living and contributing to our country. We will also be having a Native American speaker come to Nerstrand to talk and work with students.  I am excited about our updating this curriculum for our students.

I also wanted to give a shout out to our amazing PE teacher, Carmen Bonde.  Carmen has been updating her PE curriculum using the SPARK program. The focus of SPARK is the development of healthy lifestyles, motor skills, movement knowledge, and social & personal skills.

It is expected that SPARK Physical Education/Physical Activity students will:

  • Enjoy and seek out physical activity.

  • Develop and maintain acceptable levels of physical fitness.

  • Develop a variety of basic movement and manipulative skills so they will experience success and feel comfortable during present and future physical activity pursuits.

  • Develop the ability to get along with others in movement environments (e.g., share space and equipment, employ the “golden rule” of competition: be a good sport and demonstrate cooperative behavior).

I am always impressed with how much focus Carmen puts into good sportsmanship and problem solving during her PE classes.  She truly believes in children’s ability to work together, when given the tools, and the time. Cooperation is a large part of what she is teaching, as well as physical fitness.  There are just a lot of good things going on in Carmen’s PE classes everyday.  

Hopefully your family is able to enjoy this beautiful time of year.  Thank you for your support of our school!

Best,

Maggie

 

Our First Eagles' Nest of the Year

The first Eagles Nest of the year is always a milestone and gives families a peak into activities within classrooms.  This month will also include our first set of Report Cards.  Although classrooms are busy throughout the building, the music room is especially active, as Matthew prepares the students for this year's first musical program on December 14th.  It will be an Americana theme with old songs from the past that I remember from my childhood.  It is sure to be a wonderful evening on December 14th.  We will also be having our Migration Day on 11/15. Monarchs and storks will migrate to their winter homes courtesy of the 1st graders (monarchs) and the Woodlands students (storks). We also have a new addition to the Peace Garden: artic terns. Out Savannah students will be in charge of “migrating” these terns each year. The tern have been designed by Nerstrand students, and built by the Peace Garden Students. The Peace Garden keeps evolving and changing, and is a central focus of our school. We are so grateful for Larry Richie bringing the idea of the Peace Garden to Nerstrand.

 Enjoy the first issue of the Eagles Nest.  Thank you to all of our families for your continued support of our school!Best,

Maggie

 

First Eagles' Nest of the Year

The first Eagles Nest of the year is always a milestone and gives families a peak into activities within classrooms.  This month will also include our first set of Report Cards.  Although classrooms are busy throughout the building, the music room is especially active, as Matthew prepares the students for this year's first musical program on December 14th.  It will be an Americana theme with old songs from the past that I remember from my childhood.  It is sure to be a wonderful evening on December 14th.  We will also be having our Migration Day on 11/15. Monarchs and storks will migrate to their winter homes courtesy of the 1st graders (monarchs) and the Woodlands students (storks). We also have a new addition to the Peace Garden: artic terns. Out Savannah students will be in charge of “migrating” these terns each year. The tern have been designed by Nerstrand students, and built by the Peace Garden Students. The Peace Garden keeps evolving and changing, and is a central focus of our school. We are so grateful for Larry Richie bringing the idea of the Peace Garden to Nerstrand.

Enjoy the first issue of the Eagles Nest.  Thank you to all of our families for your continued support of our school!Best,

Maggie

 

A Day in the Big Woods

On Friday our school spent the day in the Big Woods State Park for our 26th Discovery Day.  This traditional day of outdoor learning is one of the highlights of the entire year.  Each year we have a theme, this year was migration, and use it as the springboard for each of the 4 activities the students are involved in during the day.  It is also a day in which we group children in K-5 "families" so that they learn together according to their intellectual development level.  It was a bit of a chilly start, but by the afternoon the sun was out in the park, and the beginning colors of autumn were all around us.  It's a wonderful sight to see 149 students in the woods for the entire day!

Another tradition that is rolled into this day, is our annual walk to the park.  On Discovery Day grades 1-5 do the walk, but then on the last day of school the kinders join us, and walk the entire way.  This 2 mile walk, twice a year, is one of the ways that we mark our time together.  That last day walk completes a circle of time that we have spent together and is a symbol of the journey we have taken together as a school community.  At a time where more and more students spend time indoors looking at screens, we hold on tightly to traditions that involve physical activity in the outdoors for our students.  The physical activity doesn't end with the walk to the park, at the park 3 of the rotations also involve movement.  One rotation is to walk to the falls and back, another was the obstacle course and the third physical station was the Migration Headache game.  Matthew Keseley and Paula Shroyer led the walk to the falls 4 times on Friday as well as walking to the park with students.  They had gotten in just under 20,000 steps by the end of the day!  I am always surprised by how energetic our students are the entire day, even with all the movement.  Teachers assume that students get a good nights sleep after Discovery Day!

This year, we had around 45 parents/grandparents/guardians come and volunteer with Discovery Day.  It was a wonderful outpouring of support for this tradition.  It is a day that couldn't happen without many volunteers, and it was a great success.  Thank you to all of the volunteers.  
 
We will have many more exciting opportunities to learn this year

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