Schools notebook: Free academy for MPS parents

Free academy for MPS parents

Minneapolis Public Schools hosts its first-ever Family Enrichment Network conference 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Oct. 24 at South High School, 3131 19th Ave. S., the district Office of Family Engagement announced.

Billed as a “parent academy,” the free event aims to strengthen ties between MPS parents and schools to improve student achievement. The conference includes enrichment sessions on early childhood education, race and schools, special education and lobbying for school funding, among others.

Lunch and childcare will be provided.

Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. the day of the event, and the keynote address begins at 10 a.m. Parents also may register online at the MPS.

Southwest student a National Achievement Scholarship semifinalist

LINDEN HILLS — Southwest High School senior Christian Savage was one of only 10 high school seniors in the state named a 2010 National Achievement Scholarship semifinalist, the district reported.

Established in 1964, the scholarship recognizes black high school students with records of outstanding academic achievement. Nationally, about 1,600 students were named semifinalists in the 2010 competition.

Finalists must complete an application, score well on the SAT and demonstrate a record of consistent academic achievement. Judges also consider the students’ participation in school activities, leadership ability, community involvement and educational goals.

About 1,300 students were expected to advance to the finalist stage of the scholarship competition, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation reported.

Finalists will be named in January. About 700 finalists are awarded a $2,500 scholarship, and another 100 are awarded corporate-sponsored scholarships.

A number of area students were named semifinalists in the related National Merit Scholarship competition.

Ten Minneapolis Public Schools seniors made the list, including eight students from Southwest: Ashley Bielinski, Isabella Dawis, Caroline Lauth, Mikayla MacNally, Rose Milavitz, Christopher Riddle, Ruth Styles and Mark Ulric.

The Blake School reported a list of 13 semifinalists, including Minneapolis residents Michael Carter, Lowell Fluke, Laura Hellman and Colin O’Neal.

AchieveMpls CEO steps down

Catherine Jordan, president and chief executive officer of AchieveMpls, the nonprofit fundraising partner of Minneapolis Public Schools, announced in September she was stepping down to join the Bush Foundation.

Susan Doherty, director of the AchieveMpls Career and College Initiative, was named interim president and CEO of the organization.

Jordan led AchieveMpls since it was founded in 2002 to partner with education, business, government and civic leaders in support of the district. She helped raise over $35 million for MPS, the district reported.

Various initiatives during Jordan’s tenure supported physical fitness, reading and the arts in district schools.

AchieveMpls manages several successful district programs, including STEP-UP, a summer employment program that places more than 1,200 high school students in jobs at local businesses and nonprofits.

The organization also funded Career and College Centers in all seven of the city’s traditional high schools and a number of alternative high school sites. Center coordinators, student counselor and community volunteers work with students in the center to plan their lives after high school.

AchieveMpls also supports several district programs, including Arts for Academic Achievement and GEMS, or Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science, an after-school program for fourth- to eighth-grade girls.

Jordan worked to merge the two organizations — Youth Trust and Minneapolis Public Schools Foundation — into AchieveMpls.

Parent council elections

District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) elections were scheduled for the Oct. 29 Area C Parent Advisory Council meeting at Clara Barton Open School, 4237 Colfax Ave. S.

The Area C Parent Advisory Council is a group of parents from Southwest-area public schools who meet monthly to discuss school issues. The body elects representatives to DPAC, a group of parents from across the district who meet regularly with the superintendent and district staff.

District student placement staff will be at the meeting to answer parent questions about school choices for next fall. A district restructuring that begins in fall 2010 means some students will have to switch schools.

The agenda for the October Area C meeting also includes a discussion of implementation of the new math curriculum, and a status update on the district’s curriculum audit. Associate Superintendent Marianne Norris, who oversees Area C schools for the district, will be present for a question-and-answer session.

The meeting runs 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Childcare and interpretation services for Spanish and Somali speakers are available.

The next Area C Parent Advisory Council meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. at San Miguel Middle School, 3800 Pleasant Ave. S.

A full schedule of DPAC and Area C meetings can be found on the district.