September 11, 2016
Promises We Keep
In the spring of 2008, I accepted the offer to serve as superintendent of the White Bear Lake Area School District.
During my final interview with the school board, I promised to serve at least six years as superintendent; to move to the school district and be actively engaged in the community; and to do my best at leading this outstanding school district.
This is my forty-seventh "first week of school" since I graduated from college, and my ninth as school superintendent in the White Bear Lake Area Schools. As I watch and visit with students, staff, and parents this week, I am constantly reminded why I chose to be a teacher nearly fifty years ago, and grateful that I have been able to serve in leadership roles.
Our Opening Convocation to all staff on the last Monday in August was entitled "Promises We Keep." Through student music, words, and photos we reflected on the promises we keep to family, our profession, our colleagues, students, families, and our community.
During my nine years I have done my best to keep these promises. With this message, I want you all to know that effective with the end of my current contract, June 30, 2017, it is my wish to retire from my position of superintendent. I will continue to be fully committed to our work through that date, and thereafter help with the transitions to new leadership in any ways I can.
As we enter the 2016-17 school year, our district has: a strong financial position, with a balanced budget and AA bond rating; rising student test scores; more high school students challenging themselves with college and career classes; increasing enrollment; and outstanding leaders and staff across our District committed to serving our students and families. Our innovative partnerships, quality programs, and exceptional staff and students continue to bring our District recognition and support.
After June of 2017 I hope to take at least a brief break from full time work, something I have encouraged others to consider but not practiced myself, and then decide on next steps in my professional career.
I express my deepest appreciation to our school board members, leadership team, all staff and colleagues in every role and position, our students, families and community. This is remarkable school district and community.
For now, I promise to do all I can to help every student and staff member experience our "best year ever!"
Michael Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools
In Photos: The Bears are back!
It's that time of year again, when we welcome back our students and staff for another great school year - and there's no better way to kick things off than with our annual Opening Convocation event for staff! On Monday, August 29 district staff members packed the Community Auditorium for a variety of high-energy student performances, videos and uplifting speakers. This year's Convocation theme was "Promises We Keep," focusing on promises to profession, colleagues, students, families and community. This year's program was filled with musical performances - from the WBLAHS Drumline, to vocal performances from both current and former WBLAS students. Accompanying the student performances were promises from the School Board, the 2016 Teacher of the Year Philip Wacker, Superintendent Dr. Michael Lovett and guest speaker Tou Ger Bennett Xiong. A video of our students was also shown at this year's Convocation, taking the audience on a journey through, "A Day in the Life of a Bear." If you missed this year's event, you can now watch the entire program online and on our local cable channel.
Though this is a very exciting time, for some, heading back to school can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you're entering a new building like our sixth grade students and high school freshman. For this reason, White Bear Lake Area High School participates in the nationwide Link Crew Program, an organization with the sole purpose of helping freshmen feel more comfortable as well as help them achieve success in their first year of high school. The Link Crew freshman orientation, which took place the week before school was back in session, was designed to both welcome and support freshmen by assigning them junior or senior Link Leaders as mentors during their first year. The Link Leaders are hand-selected from a large pool of applicants and have met the qualifications of being a good role model and a positive leader on our campus. Link Leaders continue to meet with freshmen throughout the school year in their advisories to develop long-term relationships and lead students in a variety of activities to help them understand the importance of skills such as managing time, balancing priorities and creating positive relationships with peers. Similar to the Link Crew program, is our WEB orientation at the middle school level which stands for "Where Everybody Belongs." Eighth grade students apply and are chosen to help lead and mentor sixth grade students through their transition into middle school. Both Central and Sunrise took part in WEB orientation last week as an opportunity for all of our sixth grade students to meet new people and to learn from their peers how to make the most of their middle school experience.
Many White Bear Lake Area High School students were also getting a jump start on the school year through the district's first-ever 3C "Bootcamp." Nearly 100 WBLAHS students recently attended this day-long workshop, which was designed to prepare them for college level classes this school year. Teachers leading these courses facilitated the workshop for each core content area the district offers (Math, Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts). The goal was to provide our students with tools that will help them achieve success in their early college and AP courses. This was also an opportunity to introduce students to their course material and exams. The free bootcamp was open to all White Bear students entering grades 10-12 who are enrolled in a college level course for the 2016-17 school year. The focus of the workshop sessions was geared toward strengthening students' academic foundation and refining their advanced learning skills in general. This new workshop is something the district plans to offer for years to come.
Vadnais Heights Elementary also began welcoming in students before the official start of the school year with its annual neighborhood picnic. Dozens of students along with their families and Vadnais staff members spent the evening event getting to know one another, making crafts and playing outside. At the end of the event, backpacks with school supplies were distributed to students. Those there said the biggest highlight was seeing everyone reconnecting and sharing their excitement for another great school year.
There have been many facility updates over the summer, a welcoming surprise for many students and staff returning to their buildings for the first time since last spring. There were some larger scale projects including the new lockers at Central Middle School, roofing projects at Birch Lake and Lakeaires and the new gym floor at WBLAHS - South Campus (highlighted in previous issues of the e-newsletter), but you will also find some small, but noticeable changes at just about every one of our facilities. Entering Willow Lane Elementary you'll notice a more colorful office and atrium - the walls are now covered in colorful murals, artwork and inspiring messages welcoming students and staff into the building.
Many of our schools also underwent new landscaping projects - one of the biggest being at Matoska Elementary where they cleaned up some of the brush and added a beautiful swirling walking path/garden space. And remember last fall when all of Otter Lake Elementary's students planted seeds for a prairie? That's coming along, too! The wet summer helped the prairie plants put down their roots to successfully establish themselves in the 3.4-acre site. Throughout the summer, the area was mowed to keep weeds from flowering and to allow the sunlight to reach the new seedlings. This fall, classrooms will have opportunity for short service projects in the prairie, to help the native plants compete with the weeds. If you look out there now, you'll notice a new sign that explains the recent project and the partners who made it possible.
Video introductions and highlights
White Bear Lake Area Schools is proud to announce Tim Schochenmaier as the new principal of Central Middle School and Matt Langsdale as the new principal of Otter Lake Elementary. Before taking the helm at Central, Schochenmaier served as principal of Otter Lake Elementary. Langsdale comes to us from Rochester Public Schools.
Check out the two videos below that highlight these new principals!
62.4-second video updates
Take a look at our 62.4-second video updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools during the school year.
The WBLAHS Girls' Cross Country Team is off to a great start, finishing 3rd out of 29 teams at the St. Olaf Showcase, their first race of the season. The Boys' Cross Country Team finished seventh at the same meet. The Girls' Swim Team opened the season with two wins and a third-place finish in a four-team Duluth East meet.
Find a complete list of all WBLAHS Activities, Athletics and Fine Arts here.
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.
School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.
|September 12||Regular||7 p.m.||District Center|
|September 26||Work-study||5:30 p.m.||District Center|
|October 10||Regular||7 p.m.||District Center|
For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here.
- Promises We Keep
- In Photos: The Bears are back!
- Warm welcome
- What's new
- Video introductions and highlights
- 62.4-second video updates
- Activities updates
School Board News
- School Board Meetings
- General Information
The WBLAS Community Services and Recreation Department provides a wide range of services and opportunities that enhance the quality of life for all members of ISD 624.
- Seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.
- Child safety tips - In light of the recent happenings and strong focus on child safety, we wanted to highlight a great article posted on the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. Please take some time to read this link to find out ways to "Keep Kids Safe."
- Testing for lead in water - With testing for lead levels in water being an item in the news these days, we want to let our families know that our schools are tested every 5 years as recommended by the Department of Health. While it does not happen often, whenever a fixture does test high we immediately shut the fixture off and replace it with a lead free fixture. We then have the fixture retested to ensure it's safe before turning the water back on. Specific questions about the water testing process can be sent to Health and Safety Coordinator Dan Roeser.
- Harvest Bowl - Cheer on the Bears while fundraising for the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf at the upcoming Harvest Bowl football game Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m. against Stillwater! Bring three non-perishable food items to donate and receive free admission! Click here for the event flyer.
- WBLAHS - South Campus stadium guidelines - No backpacks, bags, outside beverages or food of any kind may be brought into the WBLAHS - South Campus stadium during any events. Thank you for your cooperation.
- FREE Community Baby Shower - You and your baby are invited to join other parents of new babies (birth to six months old) for a FREE Community Baby Shower happening Tuesday, October 18 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at Normandy Park Education Center. Click here for further details and to RSVP.
- Get to know NAMI - Hear first-hand how the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) affects the lives of children and adults with mental illness and their families at its upcoming event which will be held October 18 at 7 p.m. at District Center. Click here for further event details.
- Join the Parent Advisory Council for Special Education! The district is looking for parents who would like to participate on the PAC! The group meets three times during the 2016-17 school year, with the first meeting taking place Tuesday, October 4 from 6:30-8 p.m. For additional meeting information and more on the PAC, click here!
- Library Open House- The Ramsey County Public Library in White Bear Lake is hosting an exclusive open house for 624 families! The open house will take place Thursday, October 13 from 6-8 p.m. Get ready for games, door prizes, books and more!
- Attention Volunteers!On Location TV19 is seeking volunteers to help with its mobile productions covering a variety of school programs. Click here for details.
- The 2016-17 Activities Calendar can now be viewed online! A paper copy was mailed out to District families. Community members who would like a printed copy of the calendar can pick one up at their neighborhood school or District Center. A request can also be made by email to Jody Reber (please include your full name and address in the email so we can mail you a copy).
- 2016-17 and 2017-18 Academic Calendars were approved at the March 14 School Board meeting. The approved 2016-17 calendar can be found here. The approved 2017-18 calendar can be found here.
- Food Care Program - Willow Lane Elementary is now participating in the Food Care Program where children under the age of 18 can eat a free meal after school. The meals will be available at no separate charge to all enrolled children from 3:45-4:15 p.m. on school days. The goal of the program is to increase the opportunity for children to eat a variety of nutritious foods.
- One-stop online payments - The district offers a "one-stop" online payment system that enables families to make payments for food services, school activities and Community Education activities. The system also serves as the registration hub for middle school and high school activities. The system, new this summer, replaced multiple systems that are currently used for these purposes, including RevTrak, PayPams and ActiveNet.
- Stay connected! - Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - Facebook and Twitter.
- Calling all baby models- We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us here and you may find your little one featured in District publications!
- Additional resources:
- Resources to help with our limited English speaking families can be found here.
Senior Program Updates:
The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department.
- Upcoming events - There are a number of events happening this fall, including the Senior Center Open House which is happening Tuesday, September 20 from 1-3 p.m. Click here for a complete details.
- Dining to Donate fundraiser- Enjoy a meal that's filling and fulfilling! On Tuesday, September 20, Applebee's will be donating 15% of its proceeds to the WBL Lions Foundation/WBL Angel Fund when you eat at the 1018 Meadowlands Drive location in White Bear Lake.
- FREE Activity Pass for Senior Community members ( age 65+) - White Bear Lake Area Schools offer a variety of activities - home athletic contests, concerts, and theater productions to name a few. Join us! Call the Superintendent's Office at 651-407-7563 to request a FREE Activity Pass for home athletics events and a District Activities Calendar. Find the application here. The Activities Pass is available to residents of the White Bear Lake Area School District who are age 65 and older.
- Craft Corner Gift Shop at the Senior Center - Open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the gift shop is the perfect place to shop for a variety of beautiful, handcrafted items. With more than 100 consignees selling their personal crafts, there is much to choose from for purchase. If anyone, over the age of 55, has any love of creating crafts, we are in need of consignees to further our inventory. The Craft Corner Gift Shop is located at Normandy Park Education Center, 2484 County Road F East.
- Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.
- H2O for Life - The Race 2 Reduce initiative at H2O for Life is a collaboration of stakeholders working to educate about local water resources and water conservation. White Bear Lake Area Schools is a partner in this effort and is working to align curriculum to integrate these important topics into school.
- BearPower is a community-wide movement helping White Bear Lake area families eat well and be active. For more on this community partner and its upcoming events, click here.
- The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation (WBLAEF) is an independent, non-profit corporation promoting excellence in education in White Bear Area School District 624 schools.
- Save the Date! The Bear Legacy fundraising event will be held on Friday, October 14 at the North Oaks Country Club. More details to come. Click here for details!
- Bleed Orange and Black T-shirts - find out how to get one by contacting the Foundation Office (651-407-7696). Cost is $10
Support WBLAS Students
- The Community Service & Recreation flag football league will be playing at the WBLAHS - South Campus football stadium Tuesday, Sept. 20. The six K-1 grade teams will compete from 5:45-6:45 p.m., then the eight 2-3 grade teams will compete from 7-8 p.m. This is a special night for the kids, as it's the first time the flag football league will compete on varsity turf under the lights!
- Cheer on the WBLAHS varsity football team while fundraising for the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf at the upcoming Harvest Bowl WBLAHS football game Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m. against Stillwater! Bring three non-perishable food items to donate and receive free admission! Click here for the event flyer.
- Attend an event or two this spring by finding the event schedule in the 2016-17 Activities Calendar! If you do not have a child in school but you would like a copy of the district-wide activity listing, please contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 to request a mailed copy and request to be added to the Activities Calendar annual mailing list.
- Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.
Awards and Honors
- Otter Lake Elementary second grade teacher Sue Welsh recently received a Junio Achievement recognition award as its Elementary School Educator of the Year.
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.