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!"

 

Sincerely,

 

Michael Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In Photos: The Bears are back!

Warm welcome

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.

 

What's new

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.
 

Activities Updates

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 News

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
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.

Superintendent's Message

  • Promises We Keep


Student News

  • 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

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

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