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Lifelong Learning

Superintendent Remarks

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Superintendent Remarks: District works to educate all students in supportive schools

February 10, 2017

Public education is at the heart of our communities. Our students, teachers and community members have been reflecting on the value of an education from Moorhead Area Public Schools. Over the last few weeks, community members have discussed the skills, attributes and knowledge we want for graduates of Moorhead High School. As I listen, I hear our community members talk about students who are caring, collaborative and critical thinkers. We want those skills for all students.

As we continue to collect data from our focus groups, we will be able to define the educational program for Moorhead Schools. Our students have talked about great teachers and opportunities currently at Moorhead High School. Our community members have identified strengths like school pride, diversity of students, and caring, supportive staff. They also reflected on our positive community atmosphere and acceptance of others. More input will be gathered through a survey for parents and community members next month. Please look for an announcement and website information in March.

Our engagement process reminds us that our schools are a reflection of our society. This community includes people of all nationalities, all races and all religions. We welcome all learners who come through our doors. Our calling is to educate each and every student to fulfill our mission of developing the maximum potential of every learner to thrive in a changing world.

We prioritize a safe, welcoming and respectful community. We will continue to emphasize community building in our schools and support for students and their families. We will help all students achieve so they become productive and successful citizens.

We will continue to strive for a safe learning environment that is free of bullying, harassment and bias in all forms. Policies are in place to protect staff and students. We expect all staff and students to follow these policies. Our schools and community must continue to work together to ensure this safe environment.

The strength in our school district comes from our diversity. We welcome and share ideas in thoughtful and respectful dialogue. All are welcome and celebrated every day. Again we need to remember that we are all part of this community and all should feel safe and respected. We have a strong school district — one that honors all students.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Superintendent Remarks: With Thanks

November 22, 2016

We have so much to be thankful for in Moorhead Area Public Schools.

As I write this column, it is important that we thank our community for its support of our schools. We have strong, growing schools, which creates a strong community. We have school buildings where students are supported and taught about reading and writing, mathematics, social studies, science, arts, world language, physical education and wellness, and more. We are thankful we are able to provide these opportunities for all our students.

Our schools are taking shape and will open the fall of 2017. We will be able to welcome students to safe and secure schools. We will have enough room for all students and places where they can eat, play, learn and be active. We are so thankful for our community support. Through the hard work of all our teachers, administrators and staff, we have worked together to make our schools the best places for our students. We are thankful for the creativity, innovation and critical thinking of our staff as we designed new and remodeled learning spaces for all learners.

We are thankful for all our staff members who work hard every day to make sure our students have their needs met. We have staff members who go beyond their work time to support students. We are thankful for staff who continually work to improve their teaching to reach every students.

We are thankful for the staff who work hard every day to make sure our students get to school and are fed. We are thankful for staff who makes sure our students have their health needs met and clean and supportive environments in which to learn.

We are thankful for parents and community members who volunteer their time to serve on task forces and other committees to help provide direction and input into our school district. We are thankful we have community members and families who volunteer to read with students and help our teachers. We are thankful for our PTAC members who work hard to support our students and staff.

We are thankful for our community. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with our higher education institutions, our community leaders and our business leaders. They also help guide our work to develop the maximum potential of every learner to thrive in a changing world.

It does take our community together to educate our students.

We have so much to be thankful for in this district.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne Kovash, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Constructing Dreams: Moorhead Schools welcomes students for new year

September 1, 2016

This is an exciting time for Moorhead Area Public Schools. It’s time to welcome our students back to school, and I hope you are as excited for this year as I am. Last year, we worked together with our community to provide new facilities and learning spaces for our growing school population. We had planning and design discussions with parents, staff and students. Our goal is to have all our buildings ready for our future students and their learning. We’re ready as teachers, administrators and support staff to build on this success in the 2016-17 school year.

Our district is in a good period of growth. Our estimates show about a 1.5% to 2% growth in student population. Our staff members are working hard to make sure all students have the best learning environments and prepare for the transition to new and remodeled buildings. We are dedicated to making sure all students have their best year and are prepared for the next step in their educational program.

Next year we will open two new buildings. Dorothy Dodds Elementary School will be home to kindergarten through grade 4 students. Horizon Middle School West will be a wonderful place for students in grades 5-6 to learn and thrive. I know we have a lot of work to do. Our work will take patience, creativity, discussions and thoughtfulness, but together we will be ready to open the schools for all our students next fall.

We have developed community partnerships to provide mental health support services for students. These partnerships are vital for our students and our school community. All of our elementary schools and Horizon Middle School are part of a framework for responsible school citizenship called Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports or PBIS. This framework provides instruction for responsible behavior in our school environments and celebrates the positive behaviors in school. We are committed to providing safe and caring environments for all students. We also want to model the kind of caring and respectful society we want for all our students.

We have worked this summer to update the offices in the three elementary schools to provide a secure entrance with a new visitor management system for visitors to check in and out of the school. We will have more information in the next few weeks regarding these updates and new system. We are fortunate to have dedicated and hardworking individuals who provide the guidance and grit to get these projects completed for our students.

We all have to work together, but we truly believe the mission of Moorhead Area Public Schools is to develop the maximum potential of every student to thrive in a changing world. I hope families have an opportunity to visit our schools and see the great work our teachers and staff members have done to prepare for the 2016-17 school year. We are ready to have a great year as we are constructing dreams.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Superintendent Remarks: Year of achievement leads to summer of planning

June 1, 2016

The 2015-16 school year is coming to a close. This week we are celebrating the end of the school year with our graduates and staff members who are retiring or moving on to a new place in their lives. There is a feeling of sadness, yet an acknowledgement and celebration of all the accomplishments.

What a year this has been. We began our year with listening, planning and discussing the need for more space for the ever-increasing enrollment in the school year. We looked to the past for planning from community groups and from our rich school district history. With elementary classes in the 500-student range and the kindergarten class with 575 students, we knew we had to plan for the future. That future dream was realized on November 3, with the successful passage of the referendum. We spent the rest of the year planning and discussing our future schools, breaking ground on April 18 for the new grades 5-6 building and May 4 for the new K-4 school.

In the business of education, summer is a time of reflection on achievements during the past year and planning for the future with an eye on continuous improvement. We have many achievements to celebrate from a record 19 students qualifying for the national speech tournament to academic and athletic achievement honors. We celebrate with and for our staff and students. We continue to reflect on the systems that are needed for all students to achieve.

As we begin the summer break we are often asked, “I suppose you are looking forward to your summer break?” People are often surprised to learn administrators work over the summer. Summer work is different, as administrative teams work diligently to prepare for the next year, always mindful of how the coming year fits into the long-range plan for the district. This year we will not only be involved with the plans for learning and for our programming, but we also will be involved in the construction oversight of the new schools and remodeled entries to our schools. We are looking forward to this fall and to the fall of 2017.

Our planning includes addressing and being accountable for our strategic priorities. This includes high academic achievement for all students, a safe and healthy environment, a system of professional supervision for employees, and organizational and fiscal effectiveness. Our school board and administrators will wrestle with the many issues over the next few weeks and plan to continuously improve and maintain our system. While it’s a great time for Moorhead Schools, funding for the operation of our school district will be critical as we open new schools and plan for additional students. 

Summer learning loss is also a challenge for our students. I would like to challenge all students to take part in the summer opportunities offered throughout our community and on the Minnesota Department of Education website at http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/JustParent/SummerLearnOpp/index.html . Please fill out the summer reading pledge. I also would like to recognize every student who meets the reading challenge. We will have you submit the information to your school office in the fall. I encourage parents to set aside at least 20 minutes per day for reading. I remember the wonderful days of summer when I would sit in the shade on a blanket and read books. I hope all students will find that love of reading.

I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I can’t wait to see you all in the fall.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools


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Experiencing growth and excellence as we honor the past and shape the future

September 3, 2015

This is an exciting time in the history of Moorhead Area Public Schools. Our theme this year, “Honoring the Past and Shaping the Future,” depicts the excitement in our district.

Our enrollment reached a high of 7,000 students in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and we are on track to reach that target again soon. The future is bright for our community and schools. The last time the district saw a student enrollment of more than 6,000 students was in the mid 1990s. As with all school districts, our district has periods of growth and periods of decline. The late 1990s to the 2000s was a period of decline. At that time we experienced 11 years of enrollment decline before enrollment stabilized and began to grow. The growth in the schools began after closing smaller elementary schools and reorganizing to three elementary schools and one middle school to be more efficient. Closing small, inefficient schools saved the district money in operations, maintenance and utilities. The current schools opened 11 years ago in 2004. In the past 10 years the district has seen enrollment grow by more than 638 students, with more growth in the elementary grades.

As I write this, our elementary schools are all over capacity, and our middle school is at capacity. We are enrolling new students daily. We have not seen this type of enrollment growth in more than 20 years. We are excited to share our great schools and community with our new residents as well as those who have been with us for some time.

We have a strong tradition of excellence in our district. The stories of our student success are evident in our community, our region, our state, our nation and our world. Our graduates would not be successful if it were not for the support of the staff and teachers in our schools, our parents and our community.

It’s time to welcome our students back to school, and I hope you are as excited for this year as I am. As a district, we made great strides last year in preparing our students with 21st century skills. Our students are continuing to be challenged to meet their learning needs through the skills of collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity. We have hired a strong group of 67 new teachers and have continued to look for ways to support and celebrate the accomplishments of our students and staff.

While we honor many of our past traditions, we are looking to enhance our present traditions. Concerts, theater productions, athletic events, and many other activities in our school are exciting, and we invite community members to attend and see the excellence in our young people. We want you to be a part of our school community.

This year as a way of celebrating our schools, we are asking families to use social media on Tuesday, September 8 to spread the word about being proud members of the Moorhead Area Public Schools community. As part of this effort, take a picture of your student or students or groups of students returning to school. Tag #firstdaymoorheadschools or post to our school district Twitter (@MoorheadSchools) or Facebook site (/moorheadschools).

We must continue to work together to fulfill the mission of Moorhead Area Public Schools to develop the maximum potential of every student to thrive in a changing world. I hope you will visit our schools or find us online and see the great work our teachers and staff members have done to prepare for the 2015-16 school year. We are ready to honor the past and shape the future!

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools 

 
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Superintendent Remarks: School district and community facing opportunities for the future

May 28, 2015

The school year has flown by. Just a short time ago, it seemed we were beginning to think about spring and spring activities. I know at times during this spring we all wondered whether the sun would shine.

As we reach the end of the school year, we find the school district faced with great opportunities for the future. Our elementary schools are over capacity, but at all schools our staff has worked hard to make sure our schools are safe and secure and students feel a part of the school community. As parents we welcome your involvement and ways that we can work together to assure your students have every opportunity possible.

As students leave for the summer, staff will be working together to plan for the future. Teachers spend time in training and exploring ways to reach more students and to engage them in their school work. Administrators will be in training, learning about more ways to focus on safe and respectful schools as well as standards for behavior and academics. Administrators also will be refining skills in the area of evaluation and observations in the classroom to support staff as they continue to learn and grow.

Administrators and teachers will be working together to look at information about academics, including test data and other indications of academic achievement, and to discover new ways to reach each student. We are going to explore the opportunity gap that our students may encounter as they progress through school. Our priority has been for all students to be prepared to be able to be successful in any of the opportunities they may find as they leave our schools. Many of our students have been successful as they leave our schools and go on to the next level, however, we know the world is changing, and we are changing to make sure our students are successful in the future.

As we look back and honor our past, we remember the hard work of people before us who answered the need for more schools and strong educational programs for all students. We need to make sure we are ready to respond to the needs of our students today. We will ask for your support as we respond to our increased student enrollment with plans of building schools so every student has an adequate space to learn.

We hope you will learn more about the needs of our district this summer and fall as we provide information about the facility needs. The growth in our school district is expected to continue over the next 10 years, and we need to be ready to provide good facilities for elementary and middle school students.

We honor the work that has been done in the past, and we look forward to shaping the future of our district together. We look forward to the opportunity to work together with our community to make Moorhead Area Public Schools the best!

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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District addressing growth, space constraints and student needs: Join the discussion

October 31, 2014

Recent news articles tell the story of a growing community. Building permits are up in Moorhead, a new grocery store will be part of the south Moorhead community, and more houses and apartments are being built. This growth also is seen in Moorhead Area Public Schools. We have kindergarten, first and second grades each with about 500 students. In the late 1990s we had about 400 students in each grade. Our enrollment is no longer declining. It is growing, and so is our need for space. We have used every space possible for classrooms, and we continue to look for ways to be efficient in our planning and use of space.

We are excited about the future of Moorhead Area Public Schools and the future of Moorhead. Our families and students deserve appropriate facilities. We are excited about our facilities master planning process and will share information from the community task force’s work over the next few months. We need input from our community to help guide the path we will take into the future. Should we have a kindergarten center, should we build a new elementary school, should we add on to Horizon Middle School, should we build another middle school? Those are all questions we will wrestle with over the next few months. It is important to gain feedback from all community members to make the best decisions for our students’ future, our district’s future and the future of our community.

We also have to make sure that we keep providing opportunities for our students to be prepared for their future. We need to continue to discuss how technology is used in our schools and how do we engage and motivate our students to be prepared for their future. These will be questions that we need to consider over the next few months. We need to make sure our students have the best education they can possibly have to be prepared for a world that is constantly changing.

Last legislative session, the World’s Best Workforce legislation was added to Minnesota state law. Our district has worked over the last year to provide guidance and pathways for students to be college, career and life ready. Our students have opportunities to earn college credit while in high school through Advanced Placement classes and Post-Secondary Enrollment Options. Students can experience careers through a mentorship program or work experience program. Those experiences will be expanded, and we hope to provide more experiences for students to be collaborative and use critical thinking skills, creativity and communication skills. We want to make sure our students are well rounded and strong citizens in our communities.

At the State of the District session at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Probstfield Center for Education, I invite you to take part in the discussions about the future of our school district. RSVP by calling 218-284-3400. We will have the opportunity to talk and discuss the needs of our students and the community. I hope you will have time to meet with us and take part in the future of Moorhead Area Public Schools.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash, Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Moorhead Schools enters new school year with pride in our purpose

September 2, 2014

This is an exciting time for Moorhead Area Public Schools. It’s time to welcome our students back to school, and I hope you are as excited for this year as I am. As a district, we made great strides last year in preparing our students with 21st century skills. Our students are continuing to be challenged to meet their learning needs through the skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. We have hired a strong group of new teachers and have continued to look for ways to support and celebrate the accomplishments of our students and staff. We’re ready as teachers, administrators and support staff to build on this success in the 2014-15 school year.

Our teachers and administrators have been busy working over the summer learning about literacy and the best instruction in literacy, as well as aligning all curriculum areas. We continue to look for ways to improve communication with parents and the best ways to provide family support for the teaching and learning environment. Communication with our entire community is a priority and so is finding ways for the community to provide feedback to our district leaders. We continue to hold district information meetings and post articles on our website to provide information to all community members.

The district’s Facilities Master Planning Task Force will be a main focus this year as we look to community members to provide direction and vision with our facilities. We continue to work to have safe, equitable learning environments for all students. I hope you will consider serving on the facilities task force.

We are in a period of growth. Our estimates show about a 1.5% to 2% growth in student population. As you may know, our elementary schools are above maximum capacity. We are adding eight classrooms at Probstfield Center for Education to help with our current needs. However, that will not be enough in the long term. Our staff members are working hard to make sure all students have the best learning environments, but we need to develop our future plans. The facilities master planning will allow us to work with experts in the field of educational facilities to determine the best steps for Moorhead Schools as we move into the next 10 to 15 years. We need to work together with all community partners to develop plans.

Our district has developed community partnerships to provide mental health support services for students. These partnerships are vital for our students and our school community. All of our elementary schools and Horizon Middle School are part of a framework for responsible school citizenship called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports or PBIS. This framework provides instruction for responsible behavior in our school environments and celebrates the positive behaviors in school.

We must work together to carry out the mission of Moorhead Area Public Schools — to develop the maximum potential of every student to thrive in a changing world. I hope you will visit our schools and see the great work our teachers and staff members have done to prepare for the 2014-15 school year. We are ready to have a great year with pride in our purpose.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Partnerships support district and businesses

April 3, 2014

Our community is growing. With the addition of new retail outlets and a health center, Moorhead is experiencing more growth than we’ve seen in a while. Our residential growth is on the upswing, and increased numbers of students are enrolling in Moorhead Area Public Schools.

Our opportunities for partnerships provide a strong community foundation to support our schools. Did you know our automotive program at Moorhead High School has national certification and is advised by a group of business partners? Did you know our middle school STEM classes have benefited from a partnership with John Deere? We’ve been fortunate to have an engineer speak to our STEM students. Did you know our Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee includes parents, community members and business members?

Moorhead Area Public Schools benefits from strong business partners and appreciates what they bring to our schools. Not only do we have partnerships with businesses, but we also provide potential workers for area businesses. There is a strong relationship between strong schools and the community. It is a relationship that goes both ways and helps support each other.

We also have strong partnerships with the post-secondary education community. The district offers Post-Secondary Education Opportunities (PSEO) from our local institutions. Did you know students can take classes at M State, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia?

The district is discovering new ways to partner with our post-secondary institutions and business partners to offer exciting opportunities for Moorhead students.

Additionally, Moorhead Area Public Schools is partnering with other school districts. Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo school districts are working together to provide common experiences for teachers and students. All three districts are working with the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and United Way to provide opportunities for learning for our teachers. This summer, teachers will have the opportunity to learn together with other educators in our region. The learning will focus on technology, providing multiple ways for students to be an active part of their learning, and providing educators a deeper understanding of the community’s need for workers.

Our community has worked together to partner with us to provide educational opportunities for teachers and students. It is a great day to be a Spud!

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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Creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration important skills in digital age

February 14, 2014

Our students are living and competing in a digital age. An interesting list of cultural observations about this year’s college freshmen — last year’s high school seniors — comes from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. These students are connected to each other through cell phones, tablets and other digital devices. Most of the students will take a few courses taught online by a professor they will never meet through a university they have never visited.

A few items from the list I thought were interesting include: 

  • As these students started to crawl, so did the new across the bottom of the television screen;
  • Their screens keep getting smaller;
  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address;
  • They have never really needed to go to their friends’ houses so they could study together; and
  • They have always been able to plug into USB ports. 

As this list grows, I think of our kindergarten students and the world they know. Few students will have home phones; they’ve grown up using their parents’ cell phones. A tablet is a tool for learning, exploring and playing, and they are able to connect with others through video chats. This is the world of our students.

How do we as an educational institution respond to these changes in our students’ world?

We talk about the importance of 21st century skills. However, in using education jargon we may lose understanding of what is really needed for our students. We are talking about the skills students need to be able to compete in this digital society both at home and in the world at large.

When we talk about 21st century skills we are talking about ways of thinking, ways of working, tools for working and skills for living. The skills are not that different from what we have wanted for our students all along. The technology has changed, and we have become digitally connected. Students need to understand that while technology is powerful, there still are important skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

Creativity is a skill we have nurtured throughout the history of education. There are studies about the loss of creativity as a child progresses through school. We need to nurture that creativity through reading, through the arts and through active learning.

Critical thinking is an important part of education also. Students need to be able to tell the difference between opinion and facts, understand the vast amount of information available, and determine what information is based on fact and is useful.

Communication and collaboration are strong skills that need to be nurtured through our schools. These skills are useful for working and for everyday learning. As we become more individualized we need to be able to work together and collaborate. This may not always take place in one room, but collaboration and communication may be available through devices and other means of technology.

As a district, Moorhead Area Public Schools is working hard to make sure each student has the knowledge and skills he or she needs to be successful after high school. Whether these skills are labeled as 21st century skills, college and career ready, World’s Best Workforce or something else, we know we have to nurture these skills for our students’ future.

Our district goal demonstrates this commitment to each student. Each student will have the opportunity to acquire 21st century skills, knowledge and expertise to succeed in life and work in the 21st century. Specifically we are looking for maximum growth in basic skills, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication through innovative technology.

Together as a community we can educate our students to make sure they are ready to take on a future that is rapidly changing.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent
Moorhead Area Public Schools

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District aims to support all students and make a difference in their lives

November 27, 2013

The winter holiday season is approaching. Many people talk about holiday commercials, holiday meals, holiday store openings and other events. People celebrate Thanksgiving in different ways. Some plan a big family meal, some may volunteer time to share a meal with others, some may be working and some may not be able to afford a big Thanksgiving meal.

I think of our students and the different experiences they may have. The other day we were asked about the number of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. In the last few years, the number of eligible students in our district has increased, meaning more families and children in our community are facing poverty.

Moorhead Area Public Schools has programs in the schools to help children. One is our free and reduced-price meals program. We know students need to have good meals to learn. Schools provide breakfast and lunch, through a federal reimbursement system, to students who meet requirements. In our schools, those numbers also generate funding for additional learning support for students.

We also have a backpack program, supported mainly through donations, for students to receive food for the weekend. It may be hard for some of us to imagine, but we have children who do not have food over the weekend; their only food may come from the schools.

We also have an increase in students who are homeless. They may live in shelters, with other families or in many different conditions. Our community faces challenges as we meet the needs of these families.

Students face many challenges. Our goal as a school district is to provide equitable educational opportunities for all students — no matter where they sleep, whether they’ve had enough to eat or if they face other challenges. We need to support all our students.

Our staff works hard to support every student and educate students where they are. Students may need additional support to soar, to be challenged, to be engaged and to learn. Our teachers have the knowledge and skills to assist every child. Our goal is for all students to learn and feel safe at school. I believe our staff does an extraordinary job to make that happen for every student every day.

As we think about this holiday season, my hope is that we are challenged to make a difference in the life of a child. We can volunteer in the community and in our schools to make a difference. Everyone can be that difference, and I am thankful for a community that cares about students and wants all students to succeed.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Superintendent

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