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Students in grades 6-12 have completed their 1st quarter of study this year and it is evident they have been working very hard. In the middle school, 75% of our students achieved GPAs of 3.0 or higher. In the high school, 62% of students achieved a 3.0 GPA or higher. In fact, there was a 56% jump in the number of high school students that achieved a GPA of 3.5 or better this 1st quarter compared to last year.
We have added 2 more new students since October and have filled requests for 2 more families to receive enrollment packets.
We are receiving many contacts from school district administrators, social workers, teachers and families throughout the state of Minnesota, neighboring states and the international community asking for our expertise on matters relating to the education of deaf and hard of hearing students. We are glad to act as a resource for current information. People indicate they have heard so many good things about MSAD and are eager to learn more. Many of these contacts also result in new students.
Mark your calendars for the GPSD Basketball Tournament hosted this year by MSAD from February 9-11. Look for more information on our website as the date near.
On behalf of the students, faculty and staff at MSAD, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Welcome to the 2011-2012 school year. Our enrollment this year is at 144 students with at least 5 more applications pending. Our new playgrounds are in use now and we are very pleased with the equipment and layout. Our gymnasium has a beautiful new lighting system that we're very appreciative of. We enjoyed a wonderful Homecoming weekend with the MSAD Volleyball team taking a 3-0 win and our Football team winning 40-9 over the Missouri Eagles. We're glad so many of you could join us!
Our parent/family sign language classes have begun once again. This year they are held in Quinn Hall from 6:00-7:00 every Tuesday that school is open. Childcare is available for children up through age 4.
We've also resumed our monthly Literacy Night program which occurs in Tate Hall from 6:00-7:00 the last school day Monday of each month (with the exception of the October program which is scheduled for the 24th).
The next event is our annual Scarecrow Festival which starts on October 27 and ends on October 31. This year the theme is "Cultures of the World." If you need an application form, please contact my office and we'll make sure you receive one.
That brings us to our 2nd Family Learning Event now scheduled for Saturday, November 5, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The theme this time will focus on "Thriving in Middle School." What is the middle school experience all about? Well, we've talked with our students and have received some valuable insight from them that we can share with you. Another important aspect of middle school is how parents can start now preparing their students for various transitions. The transition from middle school to high school is significant; and the transition from high school to post-secondary education or the workforce can be very confusing. Starting early makes it easier for both students and parents/guardians. This event is free of charge. Please contact my office if you would like to receive registration information.
We hope you are able to join in with some or all of these activities. Happy fall!
Last month, we held our first Family Learning Event under the theme of Safety and Technology. Family Learning Events are free of charge and open to families of Deaf or Hard of Hearing students throughout the state. Approximately half of the participants were from non-MSAD families.
On-site child care services were provided under the direction of one of our early childhood teachers, Brittney Stanek. Parents were very pleased with what we had arranged to serve the needs of the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing siblings.
We opened with a panel of adults with varying backgrounds sharing their stories and discussing challenges faced and barriers in education. Then audience participation took over giving everyone a chance to develop parent-to-parent connections.
After a delicious lunch, tours and socialization time, our key presenter was Dave Eisenmann, Director of Instructional Technology and Media Services at the Minnetonka Public Schools. Dave has been educating students, staff, parents and the greater community about technology and safety issues for the past three years. He has spoken to thousands of middle and high school students, parents and teachers throughout the state. He has also presented at numerous local and national conferences on this topic. He was very well received with many positive parent comments on the information he shared.
We ended this event reuniting parents with their children to enjoy a demonstration of a hearing service dog. With participants giving this event the highest possible rating, we look forward to expanding our audience with our next Family Learning Event planned for the fall of 2011.
I have some wonderful news to share with you! MSAD has won a grant for $35,000 to use with our Project Lead The Way program! Thanks to Beth Hamilton, one of our PLTW teachers, for her hard work in grant writing, we will be able to advance this program for years to come. First semester we taught Design and Modeling. Second semester we added Robotics and Automation.
We continue to receive donations for our new playground. To date we have more than $20,000 (goal of $70,000) and have established a committee to receive bids using the $20,000 to start it off. Our PTHAA is selling HoopsMania tickets for the new playground fundraising. HoopsMania is a sweepstakes based on college basketball’s postseason championship tournament. Each ticket costs $10 and you will have 28 chances to win prizes ranging from $20 to $2,000! You may buy tickets from Lisa Skjeveland, Amy Amundsen, Keith Baker, or Roxie Mitchell.
Planning for our Family Learning Event is on track. Very soon we will distribute more information along with a registration form for the April 9th event. This event is open to all Minnesota families of deaf or hard of hearing children. Free childcare is available and all siblings and other family members are welcome to join in the fun!
Mark your calendar for MSAD's first annual family learning event scheduled for Saturday, April 9. Last month we distributed a survey regarding the family learning event the MSAD Site Council is organizing. This survey was also sent to non-MSAD families through the Minnesota Hands and Voices newsletter. We have received numerous responses and appreciate the feedback. This event will be held on Saturday April 9th and is open to all Minnesota families with deaf or hard of hearing children. We’ll keep you posted on this fun and educational activity as plans are made.
"The Best Kept Secret in the State?" This statement was used to describe MSAD in an article in the Minnesota Hands and Voices "Focus" newsletter. In the article, parents shared their opinions and stories about their child's experiences at MSAD. Read all about it!
The Playground Fundraiser has passed the $20,000 amount. In addition to numerous Minnesota Sertoma clubs donating significant amounts, individuals and families have stepped up with donations as well. Every little bit is appreciated! If you'd like to donate, please make checks payable to the MSAD PTHAA and send them to my office.
It's hard to believe that this is the last week of school before winter break and that 2011 is just a few weeks away. Our Holiday Program is set for Friday, 12/17, at 9:30 a.m. in the Noyes Auditorium. Hope to see you there!
Cochlear Implants: We were recently asked about the services MSAD provides for students with Cochlear Implants.
We currently offer a full range of services for students, post-activation (when the implant is connected and turned on). Services for children with cochlear implants may include: Training in auditory perception, using visual cues, improving speech, developing language, managing communication, managing hearing aids and assistive listening devices. We are able to fully support use of cochlear implants, including counseling for families, troubleshooting any mechanical problems that may arise, MAPping the devices, and managing repairs and replacements for students. It is important to remember that each child is a unique individual. Through a combination of formal assessments, observations, and consults with family members, we are able to determine which skills will become the focus of speech/language therapy or auditory training sessions. The MSAD program is managed in cooperation with both Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota Medical Center, the primary pediatric cochlear implant facilities in Minnesota.
On behalf of everyone at MSAD, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Recently, we had a wonderful opportunity to help the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind (MSAB) through a difficult situation. Due to heavy rains causing highly saturated ground conditions during October, it was necessary to evacuate their main building. We were more than happy to house the MSAB students and staff during the 2-week period. Parents, you can be proud of your children for their actions in making MSAB students feel welcome.
Our Project Lead the Way (PLTW) classes launched their first rockets recently. After first designing their aircraft on the computer, they took it to the next step and actually built what they designed. We learned that some designs were better suited to flight than others and why. It was a rather windy day and the students soon discovered just how far their creations could go.
MSAD recently received a $500 donation from the St. James Sertoma club. Roxie Mitchell and Rachel Baker will be in St. James for a community presentation on November 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Gallaudet University will present information to our Juniors and Seniors on November 5th. NTID was here in October as well. Please let us know if you are planning a college visit and need to miss school.
What a beautiful autumn we’ve had so far. Our campus is ablaze with color as the leaves change for the season. The Homecoming weekend was a wonderful event – many of you were there and we were glad to see you! Currently, we have 22 entries to our Scarecrow Festival and everyone is busy constructing their masterpiece scarecrows!
The next Parent-Teacher-Houseparent-Alumni Association (PTHAA) meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Quinn Hall Auditorium.
We continue to work towards the addition of a new playground on campus. The Sertoma organization is assisting us with funding through a state-wide request for each local Sertoma club to make a one-time 20% donation. Thank you Sertoma!
Thanks to a Target Library Grant, we have just added 70+ new books to our library collection. And speaking of Target – if you already have a Target charge card (or plan to open up an account), please remember to designate MSAD as your school recipient. Every time you use your Target card, 1% of your purchase amount will be donated to the educational program here as cash. Please take a moment to look at the Take Charge of Education information on the Target.com website.
Welcome to the new school year at MSAD! We are very happy to see everyone back on campus. Our starting enrollment was 131 and we are expecting 4 more students yet this fall.
This week we are celebrating Deaf Awareness week and Homecoming with Spirit Week. Monday students filled the hallways wearing various college related t-shirts and sweatshirts. Tuesday was farmer day; today is Weird Day; Thursday will be movie character day; and Friday is maroon and gold day. Look for a future issue of "The Companion" to see more.
Accountability is a most popular buzzword in today's educational climate. It is something parents and state regulations are requiring more and more of their educational programs.
As you may have noticed elsewhere on this site, MSAD is extremely proud to have once again earned dual accreditation with both AdvancED and CEASD. We completed the AdvancED certification process on March 30 and the CEASD process on April 14, 2010.
The worldwide AdvancED accreditation process is open to all public and private schools. Typically, the accreditation team is comprised of teachers and principals. However, for MSAD's team, people were chosen based on their backgrounds: Bridget Serig, Director of Academic Programs for the South Central Service Cooperative; Diane Larson, Reading Specialist and retired Administrator for the Owatonna Public Schools; Nancy Diener, American Sign Language and Deaf Studies Instructor at the University of MN Duluth; and Dr. Neal Nickerson, Professor Emeritus, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy &Development, Educational Administration at the University of Minnesota.
The CEASD (Council for the Education and Administration for Schools and programs for the Deaf) accreditation is available only to schools for the Deaf. Schools or programs are accredited on the basis of their growth in student performance in addition to meeting CEASD accreditation standards.
Going through this accreditation process is voluntary and we do it because we want the public to know that we do examine what we do and are willing to allow others to critique our programs and services so that we can continue to improve.
We want you to know that all of our students, staff, parents, alumni, and friends share in our accomplishments. It is through your input and hard work that we are able to serve the needs of our students with pride!
Spring is almost here (or is it wishful thinking?). Right now at least it's 40 degrees and sunny.
Parent Volunteer forms are now available to download from our website. Working through the MSAD Site Council, we have been able to come up with a procedure to allow parents to volunteer at school. In the future, we may allow others to volunteer as well but right now, only parents may do so. If you have a special skill to share or just want to help out, we hope you will let us know by completing the forms and sending them to me at school.
Thank you to everyone that completed a survey for us. We have compiled the data and are preparing to share it through the accreditation process. We hope to share information presented for accreditation with you via our website this summer.
Spring Break for MSAD is the week of March 22-26. From April 8-10, we hope you can join us for some fun with the MSAD Little Theater's production of "Rest Assured." Also, on April 16 we are planning an ASL day so look for more information on that as it draws nearer the date.
I would like to let everyone know that this is a renewal year for our accreditation certification. Throughout the years, we have put an incredible amount of work into our accreditation process and the results have been well worth it. With this process starting anew this year, we continue the work in keeping our standards high and doing what's best for our students. To that end, our Mission Statement follows:
"The Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in collaboration with students, families and school districts creates a comprehensive, learning and signing community in a residential environment. MSAD prepares deaf and hard of hearing students to reach their fullest potential by promoting communicative, intellectual, social, physical, and emotional development in every aspect of its programs."
Surveys will be out on our website by November. The purpose of these surveys is to gather information to be used with our accreditation recertification coming up. The input we receive from parents, alumni and other stakeholder groups is invaluable in providing direction for the future of MSAD.
The 2009-2010 school year officially begins in just 3 weeks! We are very excited about a number of things.
Our new student enrollment has exploded this year and we're ready to serve! At this time, we have enrolled 18 new students with 4 more expected. We ended last year with 135 students and expect to start this school year around 140 students. The last few years we have started the school year with a few less than we ended the previous year with due to large graduating classes, etc. Even though we graduated 18 students last June, we will start the year with more students. Past data shows that we typically add 10-12 additional new students throughout the school year as well. This will be a great year at MSAD!
Our Early Childhood program has grown to the point that we've added a 2nd section. Our groups are now divided into the birth to age 3 sections and a section of age 4 students. For the older students we have added a 5th day to the school week (M-F), while the 2-3 year olds come to school from Monday – Thursday. The little ones under age 2 receive services at home on Fridays.
MSAD is the only program for deaf students in Minnesota that has achieved dual accreditation from both the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf as well as the North Central Association on Accreditation and School Improvement. We have worked hard to achieve this status. Accreditation standards require that each school has a clear vision and purpose; has effective and responsive leadership; has a rigorous curriculum taught through sound, research-based methods; collects, reports, and uses performance results; provides adequate resources and support for its educational programs; and values and communicates with its stakeholders. We are very proud of our faculty and staff members for meeting these requirements.
A few items in the construction update category: A new security system has been installed outdoors with visual alarms for severe weather. We will have a keyless entry system into the buildings which further enhances security. A new sprinkler system has been installed in the gymnasium and Rodman halls. The areas between Smith and Quinn have new sidewalks and landscaping. The pre-design of boys' dorm continues to move forward. We are very grateful for the assistance from Mr. Hans Bauman from Gallaudet in guiding the process. It's an exciting opportunity for our school to provide appropriate spaces geared toward the needs of the deaf. The renovation of our football field with fencing, new sod, scoreboard and goal posts gives us a completely new look – join us for the Homecoming vs. Iowa on September 26.
I think of all the changes that have transpired this year. A few of the notable happenings at MSAD include classrooms now equipped with interactive white boards, VP's placed to every Deaf/HH teacher's classroom for equal communication accessibility, and a new Social Studies and Science curriculum implemented. In addition, MSAD participated for the first time ever in the State-wide One Act Play competition placing third. Our Site Council created marvelous marketing tools for MSAD including the sharing of parent experiences, an informational fact sheet relating to the most frequently asked questions and a video with parent and alumni interviews. All this will be available on the MSAD website.
I would like to recognize our 2009 graduates. While it was a day filled with mixed emotions, sorrow for leaving friends and excitement for the future, it was a wonderful day. We were so honored to have Dr. Frank Turk as the commencement speaker. I am sure his words of wisdom shall hold a strong meaning for our seniors.
The class of 2009 consisted of 19 students. We are pleased to announce that eight MSAD graduates will be attending Gallaudet University in the fall, three MSAD graduates have selected Technical Colleges in Minnesota and two students will continue on to transition programs.
With the school year completed, we are now preparing for our summer program in July. The summer program dates are July 12th through the 24th. Our theme for this year will be “Go Green”.
In closing, we wish you a relaxing, enjoyable and safe summer.
April 17, 2009
Congratulations to Sarah Foulks for being awarded the 2009 Teacher of the Year through FOX 9 News and M & I Bank. We are very proud to have her with us.
Our Open House is coming up on Monday, April 27. We are also hosting a carnival that day for your enjoyment. All families and visitors welcome.
For everyone that has been patiently waiting for information on our 2009 Summer program, it's here! Applications are due by May 1, after which a waiting list will be started on a first-come / first-serve basis. You may notice a change in our activity fee structure. While the purpose of our summer program is educational, parents have the option of paying the $100 activity fee thus allowing their student to participate in off-campus activities. Alternative activities will be in place for students not participating in the off-campus activities.
Another change this year is that both the K-7 and the 8-12 summer programs will be held during the same two weeks. Programming will be different for each group just as it is during the regular school year.
We are offering the Driver Education course once again this year. This program is for students 15 and older. The fee is $320 for both classroom and behind-the-wheel programs. Spaces are limited so be sure to get your application in early.
We've passed the 100th school day mark and as spring break approaches, we look forward to a good break with, hopefully, good weather too! You may read more about how our elementary students celebrated the 100th day in the February issue of "The Companion."
Parents - we need YOU. Please consider becoming involved in the Parent-Teacher-Houseparent-Alumni Association (PTHAA). The next meeting is on Tuesday, March 17th at 7:00 p.m. in Smith Hall. It's a great opportunity for parents, alumni and MSAD teachers/staff to work together for the benefit of our students. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more information.
Have you been enjoying our monthly Literacy Nights? There are only two nights left this school year with the next one scheduled for March 30th followed by one on April 27th. Early Childhood and Elementary Students, friends and families are welcome to participate in these fun activities centered around the book of the month. An ASL storyteller reads each book bringing to life the characters as well as the content. It's so much fun that the students don't even realize they're learning!
I can't believe February is half over and March is just around the corner. At the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, our enrollment is up to 137 currently attending students with service provided to an additional 28 students. This number includes outreach assistance and our summer programs.
Our Student Body Government (SBG) organizations in both the high school and middle school are going strong. The students meet with me at least once a month. One of our high school students developed a portfolio regarding holding an activity sponsored by SBG. This portfolio was very impressive and covered most everything. It was a fine example of how this organization is teaching our students new skills that can carry over into their adult lives. The Middle School group conducted a food drive in December after which food items were gathered and delivered to the Faribault Food Shelf.
Our Website has new things planned. Look for videos with each department represented explaining what programs and services we have to offer. These will be shown with multiple communication styles including sign language, voice over and captioned text.
Voice Over Internet Phones (VOIP) have been installed at MSAD. This means that the MSAD phone numbers have changed completely. (New Phone List) Some of the new Video Phones (VPs) have already been installed with the new cables for the rest of the VPs coming in next week.
This year's summer programs will be combined and held from July 12-24. Please be aware if you have students that normally attend the June program, it will be in July this year. Check back soon for additional information.
ActivBoards have been installed in all classrooms and all teachers are using them. They are great! It seems limitless what can be done and students are really enjoying the new methods.
Our Character Education program along with PeaceBuilders activities with students has really been positive. PraiseNotes are handed out often by staff to students. Lively discussions on various topics are affecting many positive changes among student interaction.