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Panther Post: School year off to a good start at Century

Kindergartner Lauren Cunningham uses a Smart Board to learn about the alphabet and interact with her classmates.

Dear Park Rapids Area Community,

Welcome back to school! I look forward to a great year of teaching and learning.

As we begin a new school year, let us reflect upon the mission of District 309. The mission is to work together to prepare today's learners for tomorrow's challenges through  sharing of ideas and acceptance of diversity, efficient use of resources, including staff, finances, curriculum, physical plant, technology and area wide support services, thereby providing for maximum academic and personal growth. Let us keep this in mind as another year begins.

As you may remember, all students in grades 3-8 took the MCA II's last May in reading and math. These important tests determine whether or not our school and district are making adequate yearly performance. We will share this data with you as soon as it becomes available for individual students. Data released from the MDE is running late this year due to the state shutdown. This data is important to our staff as we review curriculum, Minnesota standards and instructional strategies to meet the diverse needs of our students.

District 309 is very committed to the review and analysis of curriculum. This year K-12 teachers are using new reading and language arts curriculum. Professional development will be provided to all staff through monthly Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to ensure only research-based instructional strategies are used in our daily teaching. This year we'll be working on the review of the science standards and purchasing new materials in the spring. Teachers are constantly reviewing curriculum for all areas.

If you have been in a classroom lately, chances are you've noticed some new interactive technology that is being used daily. The amazing new tool you're seeing is a SMART board. SMART boards are very effective in actively engaging students and allowing them to learn like never before. All of a sudden they can access information quickly and from a variety of sources. It is our goal that all general education classrooms will have SMART boards by the end of the year. It is a lofty goal, but will be achieved this year.

Even after the bell rings, there are many activities and opportunities for students to learn. Our fall sports are in full swing, community education activities are available and after-school programs like After School Adventures and 8th Hour are available for our students. We offer a wide range of academic, athletic and social opportunities for all interests.

It is our goal to provide the best possible educational opportunities for your child. If you have any concerns or would like to visit about your child(ren), please do not hesitate to stop by our school. You may call the teachers or myself at any time. Take time to check out the District's website at www.parkrapids.k12. We look forward to a great school year!