Schools notebook // Two more enter District 4 School Board race

Both a nonprofit administrator and a Bryn Mawr Community School teacher recently announced their intention to seek the District 4 seat on the School Board this fall, bringing that race to a total of three candidates.

Josh Reimnitz, co-executive director of Students Today Leaders Forever, and third-grade teacher Sara Miele are running to represent a district that includes all of Southwest north of Lake Street, plus the East Calhoun neighborhood, parts of downtown and some of the Harrison neighborhood. Darrell Washington, parent of a Whittier International Elementary School student and manager of the city’s Real Estate Development Services unit, was the first to announce his candidacy for the District 4 seat earlier this year.

Reimnitz, a Bismark, N.D., native, graduated from North Dakota State University and then moved to Atlanta, where he taught fourth grade from 2008 to 2010 through Teach for America. He now lives in the Elliot Park neighborhood and is one of three co-executive directors of his Minneapolis-based nonprofit, which was founded by University of Minnesota students in 2003 and provides opportunities for college, high school and middle school students to engage in service.

“I’m very excited and passionate about education,” Reimnitz said, adding his teaching experience in Atlanta “provides the background for me wanting to run today.”

This is the Elliot Park resident’s first campaign for public office — not counting a successful run for NDSU student body president. At 26, he is the youngest announced candidate running for School Board.

Miele recently accepted an early retirement offer that will end a 20-year career with Minneapolis Public Schools, mostly spent working as a teacher in Montessori programs and with schools in North Minneapolis. She was a social worker for 17 years working mainly with the unemployed before enrolling at St. Catherine University to earn a teaching degree.

“I think it’s time for me to think about another way for supporting children,” Miele said. “I’m not ready to leave that mission, and the School Board seems to be the next level of support for the kids in the city of Minneapolis.”

Miele aims to follow the path of Lydia Lee, a former School Board member who resigned Jan. 1 citing family commitments. Lee was a middle school math teacher before joining the board, and Miele said the perspective of a district teacher was “not being heard since Lydia left.”

“Lydia Lee was a teacher and spoke for teachers — and for math programs and girls and things like that — in a very ground up way,” she said. “… I think that’s a voice that we need to hear.”

Asked about their priorities if elected, Reimnitz said he’d work to close the district’s achievement gap, and emphasized the important role of “positive leaders” at home and school in inspiring student growth. Miele said she’d try to find ways to reduce class sizes, possibly by expanding opportunities for non-licensed staff to help in classrooms, and advocate for ending the funding shifts at the state legislature that delay payments to schools.

Reimnitz, Miele and Washington all planned to seek the DFL endorsement at the May 19 city convention.

Blake student is a Gates Millennium Scholar

LOWRY HILL — John Chipoco, a senior at The Blake School, was one of 1,000 student nationwide recently named a 2012 Gates Millennium Scholar, the school announced in May.

Chipoco was one of just 10 Minnesotans awarded the scholarship this year. Edison High School senior Ngoc Luong was another of the state’s winners.

Administered by the United Negro College Fund, the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to financial support, scholarship winners receive “leadership development opportunities, mentoring (and) academic and social support,” according to the scholarship announcement.

The Gates scholarship award amounts vary, but they support the recipient through completion of an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university of the student’s choice.

Magazine rates Southwest best in state

Southwest High School placed no. 1 in Minnesota and 163rd overall in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s best high schools, released in May.

The 2012 rankings included nearly 22,000 schools from every state (except Nebraska) and the District of Columbia. Schools were evaluated based on state assessments and their students’ participation in college-prep courses.

Southwest’s top ranking was based on high student participation in the International Baccalaureate program and a relatively high passing rate on the IB exams.

The magazine ranked South 24th in Minnesota (948th overall) and Patrick Henry 28th best in the state (997th overall).

Athena Award winners announced

The 2012 Athena Awards were presented to 53 female high school athletes from area schools, including one senior from each of Minneapolis’ seven traditional schools, in a May 4 ceremony.

Awards went to Tatyana Pashibin of Southwest High School and Khadijah Segura of Washburn. Other Minneapolis award winners included Lylia Lee of Edison, Rumyana Hulmequist of Patrick Henry, Trene Epps of North, Kadejah Young of Roosevelt and Lucy Hennen of South.

It was the 40th anniversary of the Minneapolis Athena Awards Committee, which annually recognizes high school athletes at city and suburban schools and was formed to support women’s participation in sports following the 1972 adoption of Title IX.

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