It is exciting to be reaching the end of this very challenging school year. We feel hopeful for the fall and getting back to a more normal structure to our school.
This year we went into grade level classrooms because of covid, but we believe in and will go back to multi-age classrooms. Although kindergarten and grade 1 are self-contained, Grades 2 & 3 and Grades 4 & 5 will be combined in their classrooms. This year reinforced our feelings about multi-age and giving all our students access to friendships and learning across grade levels. We also plan on having Homeroom again, which will be a mix of grades K-5, 3 days a week. Homeroom is a time where we work on projects (blankets for a NIC Unit, delivering May baskets, etc) and we also build school communities by having all ages work together.
Jake has begun meeting with 4th graders to recruit new band members. 5th grade Band is a chance for all of our 5th graders to learn an instrument. We are proud that although District 656 does not offer band to 5th graders, Nerstrand School does. Thank you to Jake Kaukola for continuing with band lessons even during Covid! We will also continue to have PE everyday for all of our students, which is not true of many schools across Faribault. Thank you to Carmen Bonde for working hard to follow guidelines during covid (cleaning equipment between PE sessions, following guidelines with fidelity throughout this year).
Some of the many highlights that we will be bringing back in the fall are the following:
- Prairie Appreciation Day
- Discovery Day
- Faribault Homecoming Assembly
- Halloween Parade
- Community Lunch
- Classroom Field Trips for each of our 3 sections; Prairie (K-1-Children's Museum), Savannah (2-3 TBD)
- Winter Concert and PJ Day
- WOLFRIDGE trip for 5th graders and 4th grade field trip to Ramsey House/Hill House
- School Carnival
- Children's play at the Faribault High School
- Sock Hop
- All School Field Trip to the Minnesota History Museum
- All school field Day
- Community Lunch
- 5th grade field day
- Community Celebration
- Outdoor Band Concert
- May Day delivery
- School led Committees: Peace Garden, Ambassadors, Learn & Serve, School Spirit, Behavior Playground Committee, Spotlight (with visitors), Spotlight Lunches, Riverbend trips
Finally, teachers are excited and relieved to be able to teach in classrooms where students can work and learn together. There are many special traditions and projects that teachers plan over the year that had to be changed for covid. I am grateful to all of our teachers for the way they worked to adapt their lessons to covid guidelines and put so much effort into supporting children and families during this time. They became online teachers overnight and learned how to navigate learning management systems that in a typical year we would take hours of professional development training to master.
We also have wonderful paras that have supported students and teachers throughout this year in so many ways. Whether it was through childcare, one to one meetings with students, or helping to put together Distance Learning packets. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated paraprofessionals.
Our wonderful custodian, Mike Erickson worked tirelessly to keep up on the added cleaning protocols and keeping us up to date on expectations in the Faribault School District.
I will be forever thankful for our ICT Team this year; Barb Grote, Andrew Lubinski and Carmen Bonde. They kept current on mountains of weekly, sometimes daily, emails with safety guidelines for staff and students. They were key in our ability to avoid a covid outbreak. This year was a group effort on the part of our entire staff.
I know that our families have faced many challenges this year. Parents, guardians, grandparents were thrown into being homeschool teachers overnight, while still working. Other families may have lost jobs over this year and worked so very hard to keep their children learning in super challenging situations. Thank you to all of our families for your support over this past year.
We look forward to many new families joining us, as well as returning families to our Nerstrand Community next fall.
Happy Memorial weekend everyone. I hope you are able to relax and have time with your families!