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GUEST COLUMN: Inspiring our future leaders

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We pride ourselves on ensuring every student in Brainerd public schools receives the educational foundation, rigor, and support he or she needs to be academically successful. But what is success? Realistically, we aren’t just nurturing good students. We are inspiring future adults who will someday lead our community. While success can be viewed through many lenses, it’s how we prepare our students for their future that counts.

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MONITORING PROGRESS — The primary purpose of an assessment is to improve student learning by monitoring a student’s progress, identifying strengths and weaknesses in a student’s learning, and motivating further learning.

• BHS students Nick Greatens and Adam Warren are semifinalists in the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program.

• Two hundred and ninety-four BHS students took 501 AP exams in May 2011. 80.3 percent of tests taken by these students were scored at a 3 or above, which is generally the threshold for college credit. The state average is 65.8 percent.

•Brainerd public schools students continue to outperform their peers in areas schools and the state on the MCAs. For example, grade 3 students scored an average 89.8 percent (state 78.5 percent) and grade 5 students scored an average 87 percent (state 80.3 percent) on reading. In written composition, Brainerd 9th grade students scored an average 95.5 percent (state 89.1 percent).

• Two hundred and thirty-seven students from BHS took the ACT this past year. The overall composite score for BHS is 23.8, which is higher than state (22.9) and national (21.1) averages.

CHALLENGING AND ENGAGING COURSEWORK  — We offer a wide range of courses that not only address the “core” skills a student must master but that also inspire a student’s individual interests and future aspirations.

• Agriculture students can earn college credit through the University of Minnesota through Horticulture Science and Introduction to Animal Science courses.

• More than 50 percent of 10th grade students are taking Pre-Advanced Placement (AP) English this year.

•More than 300 students completed a College in the Schools (CIS) course through Central Lakes College or the University of Minnesota last year for a total of more than 2,000 college credits. These courses are offered at Brainerd High School. Thirteen CIS courses will be offered this year including Medical Terminology, College Algebra, Accounting, College Physics, and College Speech.

• Eight BHS students - five from choir, two from band, and one from orchestra - were selected for the Minnesota Music Educators Association All State groups.

• The Warrior Outlet and Warrior Deli, which are run by students with disabilities, generated approximately $30,000 from sales last year.

• Every year students in the BHS Building Trades course learn all of the aspects of home construction when they work with local contractors and purchase local materials to build a house. The house is sold and any proceeds are folded back into the program.

SERVING OUR COMMUNITY — Brainerd Public Schools’ staff members work every day to teach students how to serve, volunteer, and become leaders in their school and community.

• Lowell students and families were involved in a coin drive and Read-a-Thon that raised $678 for the Brainerd Salvation Army Food Shelf and $1,299 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition, students have raised $16,576 over six years of participation in the “Jump Rope for Heart” fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

• The Nisswa Student Council sponsored a number of fundraisers including a United Way coin drive that raised $353, a collection of 289 lbs. of food for the Lakes Area Food Shelf, and a collection of 300 boxes of stuffing for the Salvation Army.

• The Forestview Middle School Builders Club has done everything from building benches for the Forestview Forest to donating coats for the Coats for Kids drive to selling flowers on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to raise money for those in need in our community.

In Brainerd public schools, almost 6,800 students in kindergarten through grade 12 are settling into the routines of the new school year and reconnecting with old friends. Whether it’s via assessments, coursework, or community service, our hallways are filled with students and staff who are seeking and achieving success

Deb Lechner is director of Teaching and Learning, Brainerd Public Schools.

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Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2010 and works as a online reporter, content editor and staff writer. She is a world traveler, accused idealist and California native now braving the winters of Central Minnesota. She believes in the power of human resolve and hopes to be part of something that makes history by bringing an end to injustice in the world. Sarah has worked as a criminal background researcher, high school civics teacher, grant writer, and contributing writer with Causecast.org — tackling every issue from global poverty to bio-degradable bicycles. Her favorite thing about living in Minnesota is July. Sarah left the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2014.
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