Schools notebook // Johnson releases “transition plan

Johnson releases 
transition plan

Deputy Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson in March released her plan to transition into the district’s top job July 1.

That’s when Johnson will take over from current Superintendent Bill Green. A history professor on leave from Augsburg College, Green announced in July he would step down this summer to return to teaching and writing.

Johnson’s five-point plan outlined the steps she planned to take in the four months leading up to her move to the superintendent’s office: meeting with district stakeholders, including students, staff and parents; strengthening ties with the School Board and developing goals for the 2010–2011 school year; evaluating the structure of district administration; assessing principal and teacher engagement with district initiatives; and strengthening communication.

(The transition plan can be read online at mpls.k12.mn.us.)

In her meetings with district stakeholders, Johnson indicated she was especially interested in hearing input on district reform efforts, including the district’s five-year strategic plan, a district reorganization effort known as Changing School Options and the North Side Initiative, an effort to improve schools and attendance rates in that part of the city.

Johnson may consider changes to district administration and will make appointments to her senior administrative team. While she continues to evaluate teacher workload, Johnson also announced an immediate reduction in district initiatives.

Johnson emphasized transparency in her effort to improve district communications. She promised bi-weekly updates on the transition for the School Board and community, as well as a 100-day plan for her first three months in office.

The School Board announced in January it would forego a national search for superintendent candidates and named Johnson its only candidate to lead the district. That followed a series of 24 listening sessions Board members held to gather input on selecting superintendent candidates and meetings with students, local business leaders and community groups.

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Art Buddies seeking 
creative volunteers

Art Buddies, a program that pairs creative professionals with elementary school students, is recruiting volunteers for its spring session at Whittier International Elementary School.

Since 1994 Art Buddies has used art projects to get young people to reflect on their interests and imagine future careers. Volunteers come from creative fields like advertising, design and architecture.

Creatives for Causes, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit charitable foundation, sponsors Art Buddies. Those interested in volunteering for the program must fill out an application at artbuddies.org by April 1.

Art Buddies meets 3:30 p.m.–5:45 p.m. Thursday in six sessions from April 15–May 20 at Whittier Recreation Center, 
425 W. 26th St.

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Chores for earthquake relief

The massive January 12 earthquake that leveled buildings in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince and other cities in that impoverished country was followed by an outpouring of financial support from around the world.

The students in Janet Johnson’s first-grade classroom at Burroughs Community School wanted contribute to relief efforts, too. The only problem: Most first-graders’ financial resources are limited to what the tooth fairy left under the pillow last week.

So, the students in Johnson’s class set about earning the money they would eventually donate to UNICEF, one of the organizations providing relief in Haiti.

“I really wanted this to be a kid-driven project and not a parent, ‘here’s-two-dollars-and give-it-to-them’ project,” Johnson said. “… They had to earn the money and then take the money they earned and donate it, so they could see they made a difference.”

The chore drive coincided with Burroughs students’ annual visit to the Nobel Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg College. UNICEF is a past recipient of the prize.

“Our goal was for each child to raise maybe $5,” Johnson said.

They doubled that mark. The 26 students in her classroom raised $264.19 between late January and early March.

To raise the funds, students took care of younger siblings, shoveled sidewalks, helped make dinner and completed other household chores. Some raided their piggy banks and one student even turned over some tooth fairy money, Johnson said.

They also talked about the situation in Haiti in class “as much as first-graders can handle,” she added.

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Anwatin IB authorized

BRYN MAWR — Anwatin Middle School and Southwest High School will jointly offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme for students in grades 6–10, Minneapolis Public Schools announced March 15.

Officials from the international educational program authorized the schools 
to begin using the curriculum when school starts this fall. Southwest already offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for students in grades 11–12.

The district also expanded the attendance area for Anwatin to include students living in the Kenwood, Jefferson and Lyndale community school attendance areas. Students living in those attendance areas who previously would have attended Anthony Middle School now may choose Anwatin for next fall, said Courtney Cushing-Kiernat, project manager for the district’s reorganization plan, Changing School Options.