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Menahga School to launch summer STEM programming

STEM specialist Chris Lake and industrial tech teacher Toby Weston discussed the new program at the board’s Nov. 22 meeting.

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Chris Lake was awarded the 2021 Innovation Award for K-6 technology and STEM curriculum at Menahga School District from the Minnesota Rural Education Association.

The Menahga School Board gave its blessing to a proposed STEM summer learning program.

STEM specialist Chris Lake and industrial tech teacher Toby Weston discussed the new program at the board’s Nov. 22 meeting. Music teacher Kryston Wiseley and another, as yet undetermined, teacher will also be involved.

In the elementary school summer learning classes, students will be coding and programming Mini Spheros, Spheros and Edison robots; building and coding with Vex IQ robot kits; 3D designing and printing, and developing MakerSpace solutions to real-world challenges. The proposed dates are Aug. 8-18.

The high school learning extensions will focus on manufacturing, 3D design and printing, laser

design and printing, plus computer-aided design (CAD) production, design and cutting with the plasma cutter and plasma engraver. The proposed dates are June 6-16.

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Superintendent Kevin Wellen said the two-week sessions would be four days per week with four-hour daily classes.

Wellen explained the two-year, summer STEM program will be funded by a portion of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III grant from the federal government, which requires a plan for in-person education related to learning loss.

The Menahga School District was allotted $223,938, Wellen said. The budget includes staffing, supplies and equipment costs, such as the proposed immediate purchase of three 3D printers, at a total cost of $35,363.

“As long as we use the technology in our summer programming, it can also be used throughout the school year, too,” Wellen said.

2021 Innovation Award

The Minnesota Rural Education Association recently honored Lake, who leads the district’s STEM curriculum, as a 2021 Innovation Program Award Winner.

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Chris Lake was awarded the 2021 Innovation Award for K-6 technology and STEM curriculum at Menahga School District from the Minnesota Rural Education Association.

Starting in preschool and kindergarten, Menahga students learn to drive Sphero balls and robots. In first and second grade, students begin basic coding, then start building challenge courses in fourth and fifth grade.

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A video showcasing Menahga can be viewed at www.mreavoice.org/menahga-stem-curriculum.

Elementary Principal Jeannie Mayer talks about how STEM has grown exponentially in the past six years at the school.

Lake said that she’s seen students change their perspective because of STEM. “It used to be that when something didn’t work it was a failure,” she said. “But now they’re realizing, no, just go back and repeat your steps and get better.”

Mayer says in the video, “Some kids don’t like to do reading and math, and kids who struggle in those areas really don’t like them. So if we can motivate them because they’re going to be in programs like this, little do they know how much learning they’re actually doing.”

Pay equity study

The board authorized Business Manager Kyle Bergem to engage Gallagher Consulting to complete a pay equity classification study.

In his board report, Wellen wrote, “The current pay equity study was done many years ago. The purpose is to ensure we are compensating all employees equitably according to training, responsibilities and duties. This study would make sure we are compliant in all areas, including positions we recently created.”

Bergem speculated the last study was completed around 2004 or 2005.

The board discussed postponing it, but ultimately decided the price would only go up.

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The motion stated the cost is not to exceed $8,000.

Superintendent search

The board voted to hire Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) as a consultant for their superintendent search.

In its proposal, MSBA noted that it has assisted more than 40 Minnesota schools find a new superintendent over the past two years.

Board chair Andrea Haverinen pointed out that MSBA works with the district for one year after a superintendent is hired.

MSBA’s estimated professional fee is $8,205.

The school board also:

  • Accepted letters of resignation from Lisa Dormanen, food service supervisor, effective Dec. 23; Charlie Dormanen, head custodian, effective Jan. 31, 2022 and Anna Hillukka, paraprofessional, effective Nov. 9.

  • Set the board’s 2022 organizational meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The board’s truth-in-taxation hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20 at the media center. The regular meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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