Friday, December 10, 2010

Mr. Akin x 2

This may be frightening to many of you - especially those who don't want to see "the principal" - there are now two "Mr. Akins" at Sioux Trail!
My birthday was on Tuesday and  I was presented with the second Mr.Akin.

This is additional evidence that Sioux Trail is filled with a variety of creative individuals and that Sioux Trail staff have an active sense of humor.

Internet Safety

Several Sioux Trail staff members attended a technology conference earlier this week and brought back a plethora of information.  We've been sharing relevant pieces with different groups and this website with ideas around internet safety is one that we wanted to share with our families.

Internet Safety

Friday, November 26, 2010


The link to the pencil survey has been repaired - please try again!  Thank you for the emails notifying me of the problems.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Pencil Slogan!

It is time to vote for a new slogan for the Sioux Trail pencils!  I'm going to keep the voting for a new slogan open for a little while to collect some votes!  Vote as often as you like and pass the word!

Click here Pencil Survey:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Academic Risk Takers

On Friday, November 19 we hosted the 2010 Sioux Trail Spelling Bee.  We had 19 contestants and ended up with two finalists and an alternate.  We live in a culture that makes a big deal about athletes and athletic competitions, but does not draw the same level of attention to academic endeavors.  I doubt my blog post is going to get the attention that our competitors deserve, but I'm going to do my part to recognize their hard work.  I am very proud of these students for getting up in front of a large group of parents, staff and their peers to do their best with spelling words that got more and more challenging.  This is a terrific example of risk taking and they did an outstanding job. One of our jobs as educators is to encourage students to try new things, take risks and put their best foot forward.  During the day our classrooms provide a safe place to do this and then we set up opportunities for students to step forward and take a chance. Congratulations to all of our contestants and to Tania and Rachel who will serve as the Sioux Trail representatives at the ISD 191 district spelling bee.

Sioux Trail Spelling Bees stats:
Number of contestants: 19
Total Number of Words: 152
Total Time: 130 minutes
Words removed from the competition: Alumni (the contestant asked for a definition and we discovered a different spelling (Alumnae) in the dictionary!)
Some of the words that stumped our contestants: premonition, connote, sympathize, nucleus

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Pencils

When I was hired as the principal at Sioux Trail Elementary School I wanted to share my excitement with all of the staff and students. I did this by purchasing pencils with the statement "Proud to be a Panther" I am still very proud to be a Panther, but that original set of pencils I brought with me are almost gone. I can't believe they have lasted this long (over three years!). The pencils are given away to student, staff or anyone else that can use one.

I'm seeking ideas for what is written on the new set of pencils that I order.

    * The ideas should be related to Sioux Trail Elementary School
    * The message should be positive
    * The message needs to be a single line and fit on a pencil
I will collect the ideas and then post a survey on the Panther Pages blog.

There are some choices you can choose from, or better yet, write your idea!

Thank you,
Mr. Akin
The form has some ideas, but I really want to get some original ideas.  I'll collect the ideas and set up a survey to vote for the best ones.

Got an idea? Please go to: New Pencil Ideas

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

By the Numbers

I wanted to share two impressive numbers from Sioux Trail.

The first number is 95.13%.  We completed our 2010 fall parent-teacher conferences last week and Sioux Trail teachers met with 95.13% of families.  This equals 374 successful conferences and goes a long way towards student success.  As I have written before student success is not going happen as well by one or two people, but will be more easily accomplished by many of us working together.  I call this "the triangle of success" and the triangle is composed of three groups (the student, parents / guardians and school staff) working in tandem towards the goal of increased student achievement.  At our fall conferences teachers focused on reviewing student data and setting goals for improvement and identifying the roles of three sides of "the triangle of success".  Thank you for being an active participant in our work towards student success.

The second number is $10,900.  $10,900 is the first total of money raised for Sioux Trail from our fall PTO organized fundraiser and it will only get larger as online orders are finalized. The order pick-up was at Sioux Trail on Tuesday, October 26 from 3-6pm and the fund-raiser liaison from the Chippe Shoppe (Denise) commented that she had never seen a pick-up go as well as ours did.   Thank you to everyone who participated in this fundraiser and made it the wonderful success that it was. The PTO will decide how to spend the money, but you can be guaranteed that it will directed towards one group - Sioux Trail students.  If you want to have input on how the money is spent please join us at a Sioux Trail PTO meeting.  The next meeting is on Thursday, October 28 at 6:30 pm in the Sioux Trail Media Center. Thank you for your ongoing support.  The photo is of students who received the reward of a lunch in a limo.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sioux Trail Clean Up Day

 I think this qualifies as our third school-wide clean up and it was another terrific success!  As you can see from the photo we had a small, but very powerful team of volunteers.  Mr. Khamratthanome also joined us, but you can't see him because he was the photographer for our group shot.  During our afternoon we completed several projects:
  • Pulled weeds from all of the landscaping beds
  • Shortened two of the landscaping beds because shorted landscaping beds = fewer weeds to pull!
  • Cut down all of the plant life to prepare for winter and then new growth in the spring
  • Ate some terrific homemade treats
If you missed this event stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to help take care of your school. Thanks to everyone who donated their time, tools, energy and treats.  Sioux Trail looks better because of you!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Burnsville Firefighters Visit the Trail

Burnsville firefighters were at Sioux Trail today promoting fire safety with students in Kindergarten, second grade and fourth grade.  Firefighter Tim did an outstanding job and encourages families to visit the Burnsville Fire Department Open House.  The Open House is on Tuesday, October 12 from 5:30-8:30 pm at Bursnville fire Station #1.  Use the link fior more information.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Day Made Better

Yesterday at 10:20 a small group of adults interrupted Miss Mulvahill's 4th grade classroom to deliver good news!  Katie was the recipient of approximately $1,000 in classroom office supplies.  The photos that are included with the blog do a job highlighting the some of the supplies that were donated by Office Max and the chair was one of the items.  The box included items like a camera, scissors, computer software, tape, post-its chalk, pencils, paper and many other wonderful items. 

Anyone can nominate a deserving teacher and Office Max makes the donations to recognize the large amount of money that individual teachers invest in their own classrooms.  The organizers hope that over time they will be able to provide adequate supplies so that teachers do not have to purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets.The nominations are made through the Adopt a Classroom organization at:

Katie was nominated because as a new teacher she doesn't have the same level of materials an experienced teacher has access to.  Katie is a dedicated and hard working teacher with the natural ability to gain the respect of her student and push them to their full ability. Congratulations Katie!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is Mr. Akin really a firefighter?

Last week several students were asking me whether I was really I firefighter.  When I said yes, the follow-up question, are you are "real" firefighter?  The answer to that is also "yes".  I thought I'd take a minute to share a little more about me and what is happening when I'm not at school.  Read on if you are interested.

I have served as a Lakeville firefighter since 2002.  Lakeville has a structure similar to that of a volunteer department, but it is technically a paid on call department because each firefighter gets paid when we respond to a call.  We currently get paid $10/call, irregardless of how long the call is so you can see that none of us are making a living as a firefighter.  The per call rate is meant to offset gas, mileage and other minor expenses.  Lakeville firefighters complete the same training that our full-time counterparts complete and we strive to provide professional emergency response to the residents of Lakeville.

In addition to serving as a firefighter I also serve as an engineer for my station and the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the department.  Station engineers are responsible for maintaining equipment, taking care of the apparatus (aka fire trucks) and driving.  The video clip at the top of the post is evidence of what the PIO does, which includes hosting a bimonthly cable TV show (On Call), coordinating public events and assisting with some department functions.  You can watch all of the On Call shows that you want to on the city of Lakeville website or by searching 'City of Lakeville" in i-Tunes and downloading our podcast.

I'm proud to be a Lakeville firefighter, enjoy providing a public service and thoroughly enjoy talking about our work, so if you have questions.please let me know.  I wouldn't be a good firefighter if I didn't remind you  to check your smoke detector batteries monthly and then change the batteries when you set your clocks during daylight savings time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


We're successfully implementing TRAIL Cards at Sioux Trail. This is a project focused on intermittent positive reinforcement. As adults we are very good catching children at making mistakes, but we're not as good at recognizing and reinforcing positive choices. All staff have TRAIL cards with them and can give them to students at any time they are "caught" making a good choice or going above and beyond. I have had students stop me in the hall and share what they got "caught" doing and are really proud of simple things. At the end of the day today a student stopped me and told me that he received a TRAIL card for clearing the lunch table in the cafeteria, another student got a card for going back and cleaning up a mess that she didn't make, a second grader was "caught" holding the door open for her class. The intent isn't to recognize students every time they follow directions or make a good choice, because we expect that, but instead we're trying to reinforce those good choices, with intermittent reinforcement. There are lots of choices for students when they have a TRAIL Card including entering it into a drawing for a monthly lunch with me (I call these TRAIL Blazer Club Meetings), reading the Pledge of Allegiance on Monday mornings or simply keeping the card to remember their good choices. Today I just added some plastic "charms" in school colors. I'm hoping that students will wear these with pride and spread the word about making good choices at the Trail!

You might be asking - why does he keep capitalizing TRAIL? Because I turned "trail" into an acronym or acrostic poem. On the first day of school I invited students to share what TRAIL means to them with me. I told them that to me TRAIL means:
T eamwork
R esponsibility
A cademic Excellence
I ntegrity
L earning

What does TRAIL mean to your student? Have them write it or draw for me and I'll add it to the bulletin board in the office.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

MAP Assessments

Beginning on Monday, September 20 Sioux Trail students in grades 1-6 will begin taking the MAP Assessment. MAP is the Measure of Academic Progress and is a product of NWEA. The Northwest Evaluation Association is non-profit organization dedicated to helping students succeed by providing data through research proven assessments.

I am very excited that we started using this tool three years ago and continue to use it. MAP is a leveled assessment that students take on a computer. Students will go to the computer lab with their entire class during their scheduled time over the next two weeks. There are two sections of the test that we are using, reading and math, and each section of the test has approximately 40 questions. The MAP program delivers leveled questions, so that each student is answering questions that are at his / her instructional level. For students who are taking the test for the first time to program will start giving them questions based on their grade level, but for students who have previously taken the test at Sioux Trail the program will use their last score to determine the difficulty of the next question.

The benefits of this approach are simple, but highly effective. Because the test is computer based students and teachers will see results immediately at the end of the testing session. You may even hear your child talk about their test results on the same day they complete the reading or math MAP. The score from MAP is called a RIT (Rausch Interval Unit). RIT is an equal-interval measure, like an inch or ounce, and RIT measures understanding regardless of grade level, so the information helps to track a student’s progress from year to year. Using a computer-based assessment also allows students to interact with the program and the primary version of the test (used with first graders in ISD 191) allows student to move items using "drag and drop" tools.

The leveled approach aligns well with the Sioux Trail approach which is facilitating success. Because each question is delivered at the student's instructional level they are likely to feel confident answering the questions and they'll keep trying. As questions are answered successfully more difficult questions are delivered and if answers are incorrect the program adjusts by delivering an easier question.

Because the tests measures the student's instructional level teachers can make immediate application of the results. MAP is closely aligned to the Minnesota State Standards so we're not working towards a different target. NWEA supports MAP with a number of reports that we will share with you at conferences and a broad set of options classroom teachers can use. Student is ISD 191 take MAP two separate times, once in the fall and once in the spring.

Here are two internet resources that may be helpful:
Math games based on the RIT (MAP Score):
NWEA Site:

As always you may contact any member of the Sioux Trail staff for additional information.

Friday, September 10, 2010


This photo full of smiling faces was taken on Tuesday morning, but we retained our smiles throughout the week and we're off on a great start to a successful school year.

As I wind things up for the week and reflect back on our wonderful first week I am grateful to a hard working group of staff willing to whatever it takes to facilitate student achievement and student success. Success on the TRAIL is not only a measure of how hard our staff work, but it is also a measure of how hard our parents work and your dedication and commitment to helping students go the next step. Finally, our students are incredible - we have a group of inquisitive students who truly believe they can be their best and work to their full potential every day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Simple Goal

A short time ago I set a goal for 20 blog followers. That target has been hit and I'm excited to know that you are out there and interested in the happenings at Sioux Trail. 20 followers was great place to start, but it isn't the limit, please keep spreading the word about this accessible communication tool. Please post or email me your comments and share your thoughts with me. Thank you!

Exciting Day!

The first day of school is always an exciting day and I look forward to it each year. As a teacher and now as a principal, I always get very excited about our first day together. On September 7 all the Sioux Trail students in first through sixth grade will join us and then our Kindergarten students join the group on September 9 and we will be ready to formally resume our mission.

We've gone through the transitions from me and the custodial staff alone in the building, to Mrs. Cenci joining us and then all of the teachers joined us last week. The building is ready to go and all of the people who make a Sioux Trail the wonderful educational community that it is are excited and ready to work hard towards continued personal and educational success. I hope that the summer break has been restful for all and we'll resume our work on Tuesday.

I had an enjoyable summer, which included a great trip to Montana. Despite having an enjoyable summer I question the need for a three month vacation from school. Changing that is out of my control right now, but leading a group of staff dedicated to ensuring student success and increased academic achievement for all students in well within my control and something that I am passionate about. This work is not done in isolation but by working within what I call the "triangle of success". The "triangle of success" is formed by school staff, the student and the parents or family working together to support and achieve increased academic achievement.

As we kickoff the first day of school, we're making one side of triangle very visible by wearing our new Sioux Trail shirts. The purchase was made possible by our PTO and money raised through Spring school photos. The shirts make our pride in Sioux Trail very clear as well as the new name for Sioux Trail staff - Trail Guides.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Technology Integration

This week we took several Sioux Trail classrooms to the next level of instructional technology. District maintenance staff finished installing six interactive white boards in our classrooms. The interactive white board (SMART is the brand name) allows users to interact with the display on the screen. We used building budget funds to purchase four boards, the PTO purchased one with proceeds from one of our book fairs and the sixth SMART board was acquired through a grant. In order to have a SMART board installed in their classroom, teachers had to apply and specify how using an interactive white board would impact teaching and learning in their classrooms. Teachers also had to specify how they would obtain professional development so they would know how to use the SMART Board in the most effective manner. Each SMART board is approximately $1200 and requires an LCD projector to work. Through a combination of building and PTO resources,as well as several generous financial donations, we finished purchasing and installing LCD projectors this summer. Unlike the two elementary magnet schools, which had access to special budgets and were able to purchase this type of technology all at once, we have been making wise use of building resources, teaming with our PTO and gradually adding technology tools to classrooms. I doubt the process of increasing access to technological tools will stop anytime soon as there are always additional tech tools that we want students and teachers to have access to. We are also adding document cameras (watch for a future post on these), sound field technology and student response systems to teaching spaces.

For the 2010-11 school year there are SMART boards in rooms 110, 118 (Science), 203, 204, 205, 206, 208 and several Special Education classrooms. If you think this type of technology is important in the work that we do please let your child's teacher know that!

Friday, August 20, 2010

TRAIL Blazer Club

Dear Panther Pages Reader,

You are invited to join Sioux Trail students for a monthly meeting of the Sioux Trail "TRAIL Blazer Club". I believe that being successful fuels our willingness to try new things and be the best we can be. At Sioux Trail our primary goal is increased student achievement and one of the ways we achieve this is by helping students be successful.

One of the methods we are using to recognize success is through "TRAIL cards". Students who are "caught" making good choices may receive a TRAIL Card at any time during the school year from any Sioux Trail staff member. These cards contain messages which offer positive reinforcement and encourage students to continue making good choices. Students have several options when they receive a TRAIL card. One of the options is entering the TRAIL Card in a drawing for lunch with special guest and me at a monthly meeting of the TRAIL Blazer Club.

There will be a meeting of the TRAIL Blazer Club each month and I'm inviting adult members of the Siuox Trail community to join me at a meeting(s). We will be meeting during student lunch times and there will be four to eight students per grade level each time. The meetings are approximately two hours long as students will rotating in during their half-hour lunch times. When we meet students will share what types of good choices they are making, learn about you and what types of choices you have made to be successful. In the beginning of the school year I will share with students what the acronym TRAIL means to me and we'll discuss what it means to them at the TRAIL Blazer Club meetings.

Students will be providing their own lunch, but I'll be providing a treat for dessert and lunch for our special guests. I hope that we will have a wide variety of special guests and if you are interested please let me know and I will email you the meeting schedule. There are two meetings each month which provides for an uninterrupted meeting for each grade level. In addition to inviting all of our blog readers I have extended the invitation the ISD 191 school board members, ISD 191 distrct administration and elected state and national officials. If you are able to join us please contact me and let me know which month(s) you'd like to participate.

Thank you,
Taber Akin

To Blog or . . .

With 11 followers I think the answer is "to blog"! Thank you Panther Pages followers.

Within a week we have grown from 3 followers (of which I was one!) to 11. Here is the next question - can we continue the growth and achieve 20 followers of the Sioux Trail Panther Pages blog? Thanks blog followers!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Dear Panther Pages Readers -
The challenge is on - I want to increase the number of "followers" on the Panther Pages blog! I sent out an email on Friday and we increased from three followers to five followers! That pales in comparison to a blog that I read this morning, Dangerously Irrelevant, with 19,000 followers! The scope is, of course, a little different as Scott is blogging about the national issue of technology use in schools and I'm blogging about life at a small (but great) elementary school in Minnesota. Irregardless of that, the challenge is on - I want to increase the number of people who follow this blog. Why? A large number of followers increases my desire to keep the blog up to date because I know that you are reading what I write. You are always welcome to post comments and keep me informed of what you think.
  • If you have not already signed up as a follower please sign up TODAY!
  • If you are already a follower please email this blog on to friends, family members and other members of the Sioux Trail community.
Thank you!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fire Lane

In the scope of everything that takes place at an elementary school the identification and establishment of a fire lane isn't the most important thing we do. But, that is exactly the project that was completed at Sioux Trail this morning. So you ask, if this isn't a big deal, why is he taking time to blog about it?

I'm writing about this because this simple act is restructuring how student transportation will flow around Sioux Trail and my hope is that clear frequent communication will make this transition easier for all involved. In the spring the Burnsville Fire Marshal contacted me to inquire about where our fire lane was and how it was marked. After we established that there was no place labeled as fire lane, decided where it should be and established a plan to get it set up I started looking at how this minor change would impact out traffic flow.

In previous years we had used the front of school as a parking area and a student pick-up area. As many of our parents know from first hand experience this section of the school was sometimes double and triple parked. Now that over half of this paved area is a fire lane, reserved for emergency vehicles, no non-emergency vehicle may park in the designated fire lane at any time.

For those of you who are parents and who will visit Sioux Trail I will be mailing you a map that outlines the plan for Sioux Trail traffic flow and includes a visual. Here are the three basic outside areas of the school and how they will be used for student traffic flow.

The area immediately in front of Sioux Trail is for bus drop off and pick up only. Buses will use the area in front of Sioux Trail to drop students off in the morning. Buses will pick students up in the same area at the end of the day. This area is for bus pick up and drop off only. Because part of this area has been designated as a fire lane there is limited visitor parking during the school day. There is no parking in this area during student arrival and dismissal

The rear parking lot will host parent pick up and drop off. The sidewalk along the rear parking lot is used for student drop off. Vehicles may not be parked and unattended along the sidewalk, but may load and unload students along the sidewalk. Visitors who are coming in to Sioux Trail with their children should use the visitor parking spaces.
  • In the morning students may be dropped off between 8:10 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
  • In the afternoon students need to be picked up between 2:55 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
The small parking lot on the Northwest side of Sioux Trail is for buses only. This is a no parking zone.

I know this is a change, but by spreading the word I hope that this an easy transition. If you have questions please send me an email at:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leadership Day

Our new Assistant Superintendent, Chris Lindholm, invited ISD 191 principals to participate in Leadership Day. Leadership Day is organized by a professor at Iowa State University, Scott McLeod. The purpose of Leadership Day is the following: On Friday, July 30, 2010, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, etc.

I readily admit that I don't know everything about technology and some of the Leadership Day blogs that I read included vocabulary and terms that are new to me. I do believe that technology is an important instructional tool that, when used effectively, can have a positive impact on student achievement. We are making strides at Sioux Trail to increase access to instructional technology and the essential professional development that must go with the hardware or software purchase. Additionally, I'm observing positive changes throughout the district in regard to instructional technology.

Many of the Leadership Day blogs that I read (I admit that I didn't read them all) seemed to have a negative bend toward them so I'm going to go in the opposite direction. I'm going to take a couple minutes to share some of our recent successes in related to technology in ISD 191.

Dedicated tech funding: We continue to have a small, but dedicated source of funding for technology. I believe the amount varies slightly from school to school, but this stream of funding provides resources for a five year rotation of computers and the opportunity to introduce other
instructional technology tools. At Sioux Trail we have been able to maintain a five year rotation in two student computer labs as well as staff computers, offer teachers a choice between a laptop and a desktop, add document cameras to classrooms and begin purchasing interactive white boards.

Collaboration: At Sioux Trail we have a very active PTO who work hard on behalf of all Sioux Trail families. Our PTO Board collaborated with staff to purchase and install LCD projectors in every teaching space within two years. We have accomplished the purchasing part and now the electrician has to complete his part (we submitted the work request in December . . . ). Every teaching space will have an LCD projector and we will have accomplished the goal in just over one year! The PTO set aside every extra cent they had, dedicated fundraisers to increased access to technology and we focused building funds on the same purpose. While it was very frustrating to see the district elementary magnet schools provided with classrooms sets of LCD projectors, interactive white boards and other tools while we had to pinch pennies; it feels very good to know that we can accomplish something like this and I have a great deal of pride in the fact that we worked hard to provide these tools.

New leadership with a focus in instructional technology: Our new Assistant Superintendent is a techie! I have had more conversations about technology with a cabinet member in the last month than I have had in the previous three years I've been a principal in ISD 191. Chris has taught me some new things, I now have all my blogs set up in a reader account and I'm sure there will be a lot more new and exciting things to come. In previous years, several elementary principals had advocated for the inclusion of professional development around technology in the district professional development plans, but despite the presentation of data, repeated conversations and the obvious need for technology professional development (I thought it was obvious!) our pleas feel on deaf ears. I do not expect miracles, but I am excited to hear what this conversation sounds like with a techie leading district professional development.

Access to professional development: Despite the fact that technology is missing from the district professional development plan there are some areas of success. When the district put out a bid for new interactive white boards the director of professional development and the director of technology asked vendors to include professional development as a part of the bid. The result at Sioux Trail is that the six classroom teachers who have access to an interactive white board will get a formal introduction to the tool. This is a small, but great step, in the right direction.

Opportunities to experiment with different types of tools: Our district is trying to establish guidelines for a what a standard ISD 191 classroom looks like. They haven't quite put the money behind the ideas, but while the work is underway there are opportunities to experiment with different types of sound field technologies, various brands of interactive white boards or other tools. This freedom promotes the opportunity to constantly explore and learn about new technologies and new opportunities.

My personal and professional goal is to keeping making forward progress and to keep learning. I hope that by doping that I become better instructional leader and set the example for others.

Thanks to Scott and Chris for getting for getting my synapses firing!

Monday, July 26, 2010

"The Countdown"

Yes, it is back up and counting - counting down! 8 of you guessed correctly, the mystery number on the marquis in front of Sioux Trail is the number of days left until school starts. As of today's blog post that number has dropped to 43! Enjoy those summer days and make every day a wonderful day!

I'm always excited about school and if I could, I'd have a much shorter break and keep school in session longer than 173 days. Why am I excited about school? I'm excited because when we are working together around a common goal we can do incredible things. I'll use the 2009-10 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) results as an example.

Here our overall MCA results

2008-09: 78.65% of Sioux Trail students were proficient
2009-10: 82.6 % of our students were proficient, an increase of 4 percentage points!

But we didn't stop with reading, there was also noticeable growth in mathematics:

2008-09: 76.16% of Sioux Trail students were proficient
2009-10: 85.4% of Sioux Trail students were proficient, an increase of 9 percentage points!

Under the "No Child Left Behind" Act all public schools are required to make annual progress towards having all students proficient on the MCAs by 2013. Here is additional good news -
at the end of the 2008-09 school year we were identified as not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 6 areas.

In Reading we did not make AYP for the following subgroups: Black Student and Special Education students
In Math we did not make AYP for the following subgroups: Black, English as a Second Language students, student eligible for Free or Reduced Price Lunch and Special Education students

Are you asking how this is good news? The answer is in the the 2009-10 results.
We are making Adequate Yearly Progress in 17 out of 18 areas, great improvement from 2008-09. The one area that we are not making AYP in is Special Education Reading.

I'm excited to get back to work and to keep guiding students on the TRAIL to student success and we do have some work to do. Because are not making AYP in one area we will be writing a federally required school improvement plan, families may choose the sent their child to another ISD 191 school and we must keep moving forward. I welcome these challenges and I'm excited to continue working together as a large team with one goal - student success.

I'm counting down to another successful school year and I look forward to working with all staff, students, families and our community to make it happen again.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Marquis Mystery

As you drive by Sioux Trail during the summer months you will hopefully notice two things about our marquis.
1. We continue to keep it up to date with ongoing school activities
2. One of the numbers doesn't belong

If you look at the sign you'll notice a number is out of place - it isn't a date so what is it?

Use the tool on the right to enter your guess! The answer will be presented in a future blog post.

Here is a hint - the number changes every day and it gets smaller!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sioux Trail Mission Statement

Several groups of people helped design the Sioux Trail Mission Statement and I'm proud to post it here. We will use this statement to guide our work and it will also be a very visible statement so that we can be held accountable to.

The Sioux Trail Elementary School mission statement is:
Sioux Trail Elementary is a diverse learning environment focused on ensuring academic and personal success of all students through collaboration with students, staff, families and our community.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Employee of the Year

Yesterday (May 27), Barb was surprised as she returned to the office from lunch. The delivery team was Superintendent Randy Clegg, Executive Director of Human Resources Sue Grissom, and Communications Director Ruth Dunn. Barb was truly surprised and it was wonderful to reward her for all of her hard work.

Their selection is based upon outstanding job performance and attitude as well as the ways their actions have benefited students, colleagues and the school district. Barb was nominated by her peers and chosen by the district selection committee.

Congratulations Barb!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Countdown Begins . . .

Were you thinking you we would have a countdown until the end of the 2009-10 school year? some people might be, but on our marquis we've started the countdown until the beginning of school in September. According to Mr. Glende's calculation on May 30 there will be 100 days until the first day of the 2010-11 school year!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On a mission

Sioux Trail staff have been exploring exactly what our mission is and we've been working to put that into words. When in you are in the building on a regular basis you can see that we are on a mission and we work hard with all of our students. We're engaging in the challenge of putting our daily work into a short concise statement. Here are some of our rough drafts.

  • Sioux Trail Elementary in collaborations with students, staff, and community, will strive to provide a warm, welcoming environment where diverse learners are instilled with rich opportunities for lifelong learning.
  • The Sioux Trail community is a safe and engaging learning environment focused on ensuring the success of all students.
  • Sioux Trail is a diverse, caring community of learners where each student achieves his or her full potential in an atmosphere of respect and an acceptance of personal responsibility.
  • Here, at Sioux Trail, our highly qualified staff aim to meet high expectations set forth through school and state standards while establishing rapport with the community, families and students through diverse and rigorous learning.
  • The Sioux Trail learning community believes that in order to be the best we can be we need to be connected, capable and we must contribute.
  • Sioux Trail is growing a garden of lifelong learners
  • To engage students and families in a focused learning environment which supports and promotes positive learning behaviors / attitudes and leads all to individual success in life.
  • Sioux Trail provides an inclusive, safe, nurturing community for all. Sioux Trail staff, in collaboration with families, volunteers, students and community strives to educate each student to reach their full potential as life-long learners.
  • Challenging the whole child in a diverse community of learners so they become caring responsible leaders.
  • Sioux Trail is a student centered community of students, parents, and educational professionals dedicated/focused on educating the whole child-academically, emotionally, socially and preparing all students for success. We believe all children can learn and all learners will experience challenge and success daily at Sioux Trail.
What is missing? Sioux Trail Elementary School is a community and represents the work of a large group of people. I will be sharing our work at the May 27 PTO meeting as well. If you have thoughts or ideas please post a comment or send me an email at:

Minnesota Weather

Our swings in weather are having an interesting effect on the Sioux Trail Lost & Found. We laid out several items on tables this week because some of the lost & found boxes are overflowing. The sweatshirt box and the coat hooks have a large number of items in them. We're in the part of the year where you need a coat when you leave the house in the morning, but when you go home in the afternoon it is warm enough to go without a coat. At Sioux Trail that means we end up with a growing pile of forgotten items. Please encourage your student to check the lost & found for missing items. All items that remain at the end of the year will be donated to a charity that can use them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Sioux Trail Chess Team won the the Title of Top South Suburban Chess Team in two areas!
Our Chess team won the primary (K-3) and elementary (4-6) championships. The tournament was last weekend (April 24) and I'm very proud of our players and their coach, Mr. Kleven.

Here is the team with the newest additions to our trophy case.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thank You!

Tuesday, April 27 is Volunteer Drive Thru or as the sign says Community Thank You! Sioux Trail staff set aside an hour of the morning to pass out Donut Star donuts and Caribou coffee to anyone who helps make Sioux Trail the wonderful school that it is. We're optimistic that we'll get more folks to stop in so we bought more donuts and coffee this year. Students have prepared thank you cards that will get distributed along with the breakfast treat.

Please drive thru between 7am and 8am on Tuesday, April 27 and let us say thank you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Make Over Complete!

I'm sure that many of you have been checking the blog frequently for updates on the "wooden guy" make-over! It is complete and two of our "wooden guys" have retrofitted bases and a brand new coat of paint. The "green guy" was blue and the "orange guy" used to be a peach color, but it was also splattered with something blue!

Behind the newly made-over "wooden guys" are two more that need to be "adopted", and repainted! This could be a great family project and it is an easy way to support Sioux Trail.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I hope no one filed a missing persons report! On Friday I absconded with two of our "wooden guys". Sioux Trail has four of these creations and they are wonderful tools. We've used them for a wide-variety of things, from helping display lost clothing, promoting the food sold during carnival and welcoming students back to school. I don't know who made them, but they become an invaluable part of Sioux Trail.

This weekend I brought one home (the blue guy) because the base had broken off and it could no longer be repaired. I am rebuilding the base and then it will get a new coat of paint. In order to rebuild the base I had to borrow another wooden guy to get the correct dimensions. I'm not sure how to describe this color, it is probably what Crayola used to color "flesh-tone", but that refers to my skin color. The second wooden guy needs a new coat of paint as something blue had been spilled or sprayed on it and looked a little tired.

Rehab will be done soon and there will only be two more "wooden-guys" who need a little TLC. If you'd like to adopt one and give it a fresh coat of paint please let me know!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Shadow!

Shadow celebrated his 2nd birthday on January 29. Shadow originally arrived after Sioux Trail students named the panther, which is our school mascot. With the help of folks at Lakeville North High School (they are also "The Panthers" and they also have red and black as their school colors) a full sized Shadow arrived to be a part of the Naming Ceremony. I joined the Sioux Trail community shortly after the Naming Ceremony and Shadow was all the buzz. At a PTO meeting Mr. Glende shared an idea as to how Sioux Trail could have our very own full sized Shadow. The idea was an instant hit and Sioux Trail now has it's very own full sized panther! Shadow emerges from his cat cave and makes appearances at a wide variety of Sioux Trail events - his most recent event was for the I love to Read month kickoff on February 1. This year I love to Read Month has an Olympics theme and Shadow brought in the torch to get us fired up. He is very popular with students and the investment has paid for itself many times over.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Road Construction

It appears that there is an ominous connection between Sioux Trail and water pipes. Several years ago, the pipes inside the building broke. The water main on River Hills Drive broke as well and then a leak was discovered this morning. ISD 191 maintenance staff, along with crews from the City of Burnsville responded right away and assessed the situation. Based on the amount of water flowing from the ground it was determined that there was a leak not a broken pipe and repairs could be postponed until after school was over. The pipe leaked throughout the day and contractors were outside of Sioux Trail by early afternoon waiting for dismissal. After the students left the water was shut off and contractors had located and repaired the cracked pipe by 4:30. I know that several students were hoping for a day off of school, but with the help of city crews and the contractors the pipe is fixed and were ready another great day at Sioux Trail.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tropical Day

Yes, those are your teachers, nurse, principal and a Panther on the roof of the school. Friday was Tropical Day at Sioux Trail. The Sioux Trail Student Council sets up a series of theme days throughout the school year. Several years ago Mr. Glende and I started welcoming students to school on Tropical Day from the roof of the school. This year it meant that Mr. Glende had to shovel a path for us and we were fortunate to have several folks join the welcoming party. We even added a pool and a fan to keep everyone cool. As all Minnesotans know from the recent weather it could have been much cooler up there. The theme days are fun ways to ingrate a little something extra into days that are full of hard work. The next theme day is Comfy Days on February 19.