Braham School Board hears update on Professional Learning Committee

Delwayne Hahn
Contributing Writer

The Braham School Board heard from Lori Lemieux and Tracy Fix on behalf of the Professional Learning Committee Team during is Feb. 27 meeting.

Dan McGowan, right, presents Braham School Board Chairman Steven Eklund with a check for $1,000 at the Feb. 27 board meeting as Mike Warner, left, looks on. Warner and McGowan are marketing representatives of the Great Lakes Organizing Committee of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council. Photos by Delwayne Hahn
Dan McGowan, right, presents Braham School Board Chairman Steven Eklund with a check for $1,000 at the Feb. 27 board meeting as Mike Warner, left, looks on. Warner and McGowan are marketing representatives of the Great Lakes Organizing Committee of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council. Photos by Delwayne Hahn

Lemieux, a fourth-grade teacher presenting for the third- and fourth-grade, reported, “Collaboratively we have been working on the reading and math alignment.”

This year, she said the assessments have been more project based, involving biographies and dioramas. Based on these and other assessments, the students are placed in appropriate groups. She commended, especially, the guest readers who come into the third-grade classroom.

In third- and fourth-grade, the students are regularly asked to reflect on their week: “what they have learned, what they still don’t know, what was meaningful to them.” The information gained helps to assess the students in ways that go beyond traditional testing.

Fix, reporting for the fifth- and sixth-grade PLC, reported, “One of the things we have been working on this year are ways to give students a little more oomph to get them to read.” One of the ways is a program called Reading Through the Solar System. In this program, reading is measured by word count and the word count is then translated into miles from the sun and between the planets in our solar system.

“We already have students who are at a million words,” Fix said. Along the way there are incentives. For example, “at 50,000 words you can earn a bookmark and a pencil; 125,000 words, a lemonade; 500,000 words, an ice cream sundae. As they go on, the rewards just get bigger and better,” Fix said.

The Braham Senior High School choir presented a five-number set of songs at the Winter Choir Concert Feb. 27 at the high school. The 19-member group is directed and accompanied by Katie Thies, (seated at the piano) who also teaches elementary music in the district as well as Echelon, an extracurricular choir. The set included popular and traditional songs ranging from spirituals to a traditional Irish parting song.
The Braham Senior High School choir presented a five-number set of songs at the Winter Choir Concert Feb. 27 at the high school. The 19-member group is directed and accompanied by Katie Thies, (seated at the piano) who also teaches elementary music in the district as well as Echelon, an extracurricular choir. The set included popular and traditional songs ranging from spirituals to a traditional Irish parting song.

At the end there is a pizza party for anyone reading a million words and for 2 million a $5 gift card.

“The kids really look forward to it and are constantly asking ‘how many words does this book have, how many words am I at?’” Fix said.

There is also another incentive program wherein students earn points that may be used to buy items at a “store.”

Braham Elementary Principal Jeff Eklund recognized first-grade teacher Katie Blomdahl, Fix and Lemieux for their work on the School of Excellence program and indicated a school survey has been sent out and results are being compiled.

Eklund also gave kudos to Jen Lundin, Korey Sybrant, Fix, Blomdahl and Lemieux for their work on the Bomber Pride Assembly and to Nickie Nelson, elementary TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) award winner.

“Nickie makes the library a fun and inviting place to visit,” Eklund stated.

Superintendent Ken Gagner highlighted the Bomber Boost free after-school program for students who may need extra help with their studies.

Alto soloist Emma Wessel, left, at microphone, closes the junior high portion of the Winter Choir Concert held at Braham High School Feb. 27. Wessel sang  “At Last,” the 1941 song written for the movie Sun Valley Serenade and popularized by Etta James 20 years later. The song closed a six-number set.
Alto soloist Emma Wessel, left, at microphone, closes the junior high portion of the Winter Choir Concert held at Braham High School Feb. 27. Wessel sang
“At Last,” the 1941 song written for the movie Sun Valley Serenade and popularized by Etta James 20 years later. The song closed a six-number set.

“Our kids here three days a week have an hour after school where they have a licensed teacher to provide them with help,” Gagner said. The program has resulted in high praise from the teachers who are involved, overcoming some initial skepticism about the program with a few.”

Eklund said the 70-plus students involved in the Bomber Boost program is the highest number “since I have been here.”

Surprise donation
The Braham School Board received a surprise gift of $1,000 at its meeting last week.

Dan McGowan and Mike Werner representing the Great Lakes Regional Organizing Committee of the state’s Building and Construction Trades Council presented the check to the board.

They explained the gift was the result of someone signing up at the committee’s vendor booth at the recent school boards convention. Two entries were drawn to receive $1,000, and Braham was one of the two.

The gift, according to the press release provided, is designed to “promote career pathways for high school students to consider the construction industry as a viable career choice while the industry looks to the next generation of construction workers.” The grant is “intended for schools to support their career curriculum but can be used in any way that the school district feels appropriate.”

In other action:
• Certificates of appreciation were presented to School Board members in recognition of their service.

• Payment of $7,847 was authorized from the facilities bond to complete the flooring in the multi-purpose gym.

• The board approved providing a letter of support for the Braham Schools to apply for a Minnesota Safe Routes grant. The grant would provide aid in identifying areas of the city where sidewalks are needed for students to walk safely to school. A second phase of the grant would lead to actual infrastructure changes to provide the sidewalks. The Braham City Council took similar action at its meeting earlier in February.

The next meeting of the board will be at 7 p.m. March 20.