MREA honored Greater Minnesota schools with the 2015 Profile of Excellence Awards at an Awards Banquet Nov. 16 at Cragun’s on the Lake in Brainerd in conjunction with the MREA Annual Conference: Great Beginnings. The Profile of Excellence Award recognizes innovative programs and efforts that serve as an example of educational opportunities for rural students. View a photo gallery of the event.
2015 Exemplary Program
Rockford Area Schools
From answering how to enhance a message with music and video to pondering, “Would you like fries with that?” Exploratory Class at Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental Studies has become a highlight of their students’ week.
As a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) magnet school serving students in grades 5-8, RMS- CES established relationships with community groups to ensure students received authentic, relevant learning experiences in its new Exploratory Class program. Partners include the sheriff’s office, a dairy farm, airport, and food shelf.
Each Exploratory class incorporates one or more STEM standard. From fries to fish populations, Exploratory classes are guided by a driving question. Each class meets for 65 minutes every Wednesday, and students rotate every quarter to a new class. Students who attend RMS-CES for four years will be exposed to 16 Exploratory classes over their middle school experience.
RMS completed its second year of Exploratory classes last school year. Students are not pulled out of Exploratory for other classes or services, reducing divisions between grade levels, general and special education, and other characteristics that may detract from a unified school community. Attendance records demonstrated that student attendance was generally the highest on Wednesdays, when Exploratory class was offered, because no one wanted to miss out.
2015 Honorable Mentions
Project SEARCH – Avera Marshall Transition High School
Southwest-West Central Service Cooperative
The Southwest-West Central Service Cooperative formed a partnership with agencies who shared a common desire to enhance transitional high school services for young adults with disabilities who live in southwest Minnesota. Project SEARCH is a high school program for young adults age 18-21 who have a diagnosed disability, have met their academic graduation requirements, and would benefit from attending one more year of high school.
Students spend the last year exclusively at a host business partner site, gaining skills and work experience to support them in obtaining and maintaining competitive community employment. There were six internship opportunities within Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center the first year, which grew to 10 last year, ranging from Material Distribution to Dietary Services.
The first graduating class of 2014 had 100 percent employment gained by the fall of 2014. The graduating class of 2015 already had 2 of its 6 students employed within the first month of graduation.
Functional and Transitions Math
Perham-Dent Public Schools
Perham High School staff has worked together to provide 21st Century Education to its special education students through a Functional Math Course, providing real life math opportunities for students as they transition from high school to the work force. This class was created and implemented by a full-time math teacher who team teaches with Special Education DCD teacher. This program partnered with area businesses to provide math concepts and projects that students would be subjected to in daily job skills at the work place. The unique blended course pairs two professional teachers to teach the desired math skills for daily living skills with assistive technology.