The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 7, 2012

St. James school set to follow new plan



“Money isn’t everything, but boy can we do a lot with what we’re given,” Beck said.

Already in place as of last year is a half-time curriculum coordinator, who has conducted an assessment of the math curriculum with teachers. A Northside Principal Advisory Council at Northside also was resurrected.

Teachers at the school are being given time to work in professional learning communities or PLCs, which means collaboration among teachers and administrators to share ideas about what’s working, what’s not and how to move forward with a shared vision.

“In the past, that’s been one of our issues is, ‘How do you find the time to do that?’ This grant will pay for our staff to have the time,” said Supt. Becky Cselovszki after the grant came through.

Beck said weekly PLC time is vital.

“(We are) looking at the standards,” Beck said. “What do we need to teach? How do we teach it? How do we assess it?”

Among the numerous other improvement efforts, a “superintendent’s cabinet” of administrators, managers and coordinators was started, as well as a Parent Advisory Committee for the district.

A data coach will be working with reading, math, Title I and English Language Learner staff, as well as classroom teachers, to identify students needing math and reading intervention.

Beck said the staff is looking at the Priority School designation as an opportunity, not as a bad label.

“There is a renewed energy to make sure our children learn and that we increase our test scores simultaneously,” Beck said. “That plan isn’t just my plan, it’s truly the school’s plan.”

Beck said the efforts will be reflected in spring test scores.

“We will see gains this spring. Absolutely. I can tell you that right now,” she said.

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