Mission Bay High, San Diego, California
Bachelor of Science in History/Education, Northern Arizona University
Master of Science in Special Education, St. Cloud State University
Administration Licensure, St. Mary's University
Awards & Recognitions
2013—Park Brook Elementary, Celebration School, Minnesota Department of Education
2014—Health and Fitness Advocacy Award—Minnesota Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
2015—Educator Award of Excellence—The Loppet Foundation
2016—Mary O’Neill Determination Award—Twin Cities in Motion
Dear Park Brook Families,
February is Black History Month. The Park Brook Elementary staff will spend time during our workshop on February 4 deepening our understanding with our district’s Equity Foundational Training, and more importantly to further understand the systems in place in our society that have caused tragic discrepancies in the academic achievement of Students of Color, and White students. There are a whole host of other discrepancies as well. I am fully aware and learning more and more about the structures in place in our society, now and in the past, that have caused these discrepancies.
In my opinion, a number of schools that primarily serve Black Students across our nation, spend considerable time on math and reading interventions. (Research I have read in the past indicates that when students struggle with reading and/or math, time in interventions increases—which actually causes a decrease in achievement levels.) I then see that students do not enjoy school, are not being successful, and so on. However, it is not the students’ fault, but rather the schools for not creating an environment where students enjoy being, learn math and reading, but also develop their entire minds with many opportunities and experiences.
While I must admit that I thoroughly enjoy myself at the Loppet events, the Kidarod that is coming the Fun Runs, the purpose is not just about a place for students to be The purpose is to engage the students in school, increase their fitness levels, provide new opportunities and experiences, develop relationships, and ultimately, increase academic achievement. I so clearly remember the gasps of students and their eyes as they looked at the Minnesota State Capital when we ran the Twin Cities 5K in October.
I strive to create a school, not only where students learn, but a place where students enjoy coming and develop a love of learning. I want students to have fun, be creative, engage in all types of learning, rather than strictly focus on math and reading. I do want to have some of the strongest reading and math growth in the district.
I have been in awe of the creations students are making in our courtyard during recess. One-day-a-week during recess, each grade can send six students to the C-Lab, a place where students simply create. Students have been coloring water to freeze, and then we have supplemented with frozen water balloons, so that the students can create and use their imagination building sculptures for all to enjoy. It is absolutely amazing the designs the students are coming up with each day! Hopefully the weather will cooperate so these sculptures can be on display at our Winter Funland on February 22.
Paul Strand has been teaching woodworking at Park Brook for a number of years. This is not a reward, but rather core curriculum at Park Brook Elementary. Students must be exposed to new experiences so that they are prepared for their future. The students are learning new vocabulary, learning to use tools, ‘exercising’ their brains in different ways, and a different learning experience to enjoy.
If one wants to become physically strong, one cannot work just the biceps, but rather they must increase their overall fitness levels. The same is true of our brains. If we want to increase reading and math skills, we must increase the entire brain, not just the part that is used for reading.
It may seem odd that I began by talking about Black History Month and moved to some of our ‘unusual’ learning opportunities at Park Brook. I believe that the two are related. As a nation, the academic achievement levels of Black students compared to White students is unacceptable, and the same is true with our suspension data as a district and a nation. I want my students here at Park Brook to have every opportunity available to them. I want my students to know that school is for them, and a place that they thoroughly enjoy coming to each day. There are tremendous examples of Black Individuals, and individuals from every race, who have made wonderful contributions to our society. As we begin Black History Month, I begin by thinking about my precious students, and with a longing for them to know and be prepared to achieve their dreams.
Whenever I discuss race, I do not want my words taken the wrong way, as I have the best of intentions. If you have questions, I kindly ask that you call me so we can talk.
Math: Percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth in math on the MAP compared to other schools in the Osseo Area Schools:
*6th highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their goal of all schools,
*Highest percentage when looking at only Title I Schools,
*3rd grade had the highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their goal,
*Black students had the 2nd highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their goal,
*Hispanic students had the highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth,
*EL students had the second highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth,
*Special education students had the 3rd highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth,
*Students qualifying for free/reduced lunches had the highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth.
Reading: Percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth in reading on the MAP compared to other schools in the Osseo Area Schools:
*Tied for 6th highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth; highest percentage when looking only at Title I Schools,
*5th grade tied for 2nd highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth,
*Black students had the 2nd highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth,
*Students qualifying for free/reduced lunches tied for the highest growth with another school,
*Tied for fifth-highest percentile change.
During the 2015-2016 school year, according to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and the data from the Minnesota Department of Education:
*Out of 25 schools in the Osseo Area Schools, Park Brook ranked 22 out of the 25 for academic growth rate. (1 being the lowest growth, and 25 being the highest growth),
*Out of 25 schools in the Osseo Area Schools, Park Brook had the highest growth rate for closing the academic achievement gap,
*86% of Park Brook Elementary students ranked in the high growth rate in math,
*83% of Park Brook Elementary students ranked in the high growth rate in reading.
During the 2014-2015 school year, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth at Park Brook compared to the other 17 elementary schools in the Osseo Area Schools:
#1 in reading for EL students in schools that have EL programs, 3rd and 6th grades;
#2 in reading for all students;
#2 in math for students beginning in lowest quartile;
#3 in math for Black students;
#3 in reading for students beginning in highest quartile;
#4 in math for 3rd grade;
#5 in math for all students.
During the 2013-2014 school year, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding their expected growth at Park Brook compared to the other 17 elementary schools in the Osseo Area Schools:
#1 in reading for EL students in schools that have EL programs;
#2 in reading for all students, Hispanic students, and grades 4 and 5;
#2 in math for grade 3;
#3 in reading for grade 3;
#4 in math for Hispanic and White students.
Among all elementary schools in the district, Park Brook ranked among the highest in the percent of students who met academic growth goals in 2012-2013:
#1 in reading and #1 in math (grade 5);
#1 in reading and #2 in math (grade 6);
#2 in reading (all students);
#2 in reading (special education students);
#3 in math (all students).
During the 2011-12 school year, Park Brook posted the highest academic growth rate in reading for English Language Learners, sixth-graders, and students receiving free or reduced lunches.