Schools notebook // New associate superintendent

New associate superintendent named for Southwest

Minneapolis Public Schools selected Theresa Battle to serve as associate superintendent for Zone 3 in September.

In that position, Battle will oversee schools in the district attendance zone that includes most of Southwest. She takes over from interim Zone 3 Associate Superintendent Bob McCauley, a former principal of Southwest High School.

The district reported Battle has 25 years of experience in education. She most recently served as project director of Ramp-Up to Readiness, a research-based college preparatory program for junior and senior high school students associated with the University of Minnesota College Readiness Consortium.

Battle previously worked in Osseo Area Schools as interim assistant superintendent for the Division of Leadership, Teaching and Learning. In 22 years with St. Paul Public Schools she worked in a variety of positions, including classroom teacher, special education facilitator and, for five years, principal of Highland Park Junior High School.

Former Zone 3 Associate Superintendent Marianne Norris retired after the 2009–2010 school year.

Alternative middle school program opens

STEVENS SQUARE — A new alternative middle school program opened Aug. 30 in the Loring-Nicollet Community Center, 1925 Nicollet Ave. S.

Project for Pride in Living’s MERC Alternative Middle School is only the second contract alternative school for middle grades students in the Minneapolis Public Schools district. A statement from Project for Pride in Living, or PPL, said the school was intended as “an option for those students who have found barriers to success in traditional schooling.”

PPL also operates MERC (Minnesota Employment Readiness Curriculum) Alternative High School out of Bethlehem Community Center in Whittier and Loring Nicollet Alternative High School out of the same Stevens Square neighborhood building as the middle school program.

PPL Communications Coordinator Jeremy Kennedy said the new middle school program opened with room for 32 students in two classrooms. The agency’s experience running its MERC Alternative High School program made it apparent an alternative educational setting would benefit younger students, as well, Kennedy said.

“Kids were coming in younger and younger,” he said.

About 300 middle school students dropped out in the district last year, he added.

The PPL statement said small class sizes in the middle school program would allow for students to receive more attention from teachers. The school’s curriculum meets state standards for graduation so that students could transfer back into a traditional school setting after successfully completing courses in the alternative middle school program.

A local non-profit agency founded in 1972, Project for Pride in Living works with low-income individuals and families to improve their self-sufficiency through housing, employment training, education and other program services, according to its mission statement.

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Art Buddies seeks fall volunteers

WHITTIER — Art Buddies is seeking creative adults to work with elementary school students during its nine-week fall program.

Art Buddies pairs artists and creative professionals from fields such as advertising, design and architecture with Minneapolis Public Schools students from low-income families. Adults work with students on art projects that help the students imagine future careers and goals.

Working one-on-one with students, the adults also expose the students to potential careers in creative fields. Up to 50 students are enrolled in Art Buddies at a time.

Veteran art director and designer Sue Crolick of the nonprofit Creatives for Causes founded the program in 1994. It has since paired over 1,500 students with 1,500 adults in its spring and fall sessions.

The program partnered with Whittier International Elementary School in 1998. Art Buddies workshops are 3:30 p.m.–5:45 p.m. Thursdays in the Whittier Park Building, 425 W. 26th St.

Visit artbuddies.org to apply by Sept. 23 or contact Stephanie at artbuddies@comcast.net with questions.

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Superintendent unveils new blog

New Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson published the first in what she said would be an ongoing series of blog posts on the district website Sept. 9.

The superintendent’s blog can be found online at wiki.mpls.k12.mn.us/groups/superintendent/.

Johnson’s district webpage also includes a map that tracks her visits to district schools.

She said just prior to the start of the school year she planned weekly visits to schools for what she called Homeroom with Superintendent Johnson. The visits are intended as an opportunity to meet and talk with school principals, teachers and staff.

Johnson became superintendent in July, taking over for Bill Green.