Happy New Year!

(It’s almost September, after all.)

The new Chatfield school year is rolling up to the bus stop, complete with a party of new teachers, shiny new classes and lots of resolutions for learning.

According to Chatfield Elementary School Principal Craig Ihrke, there are few changes at the elementary, but the staff welcomes new members Kimberly King, who will be teaching fourth grade, and Kristine Swenson, who will be teaching kindergarten.

Also, professional development hour will be woven into the school day beginning the second week of school.

Ihrke noted, “For this hour, two-thirds of the staff will engage in professional development trainings, and one-third of the staff and the paraprofessionals will work with the students in one or more of the following areas – reading, math, interpersonal skills and physical activity.”

At Chatfield High School, it’s the place to meet new teachers in two different departments, including ag education teacher Tim Willette, who’ll be teaching civil engineering and engineering, and long-term substitute Abigail Potter, who will be working half-time in cooperation with art teacher Kelly Puent to bring creativity to the fore.

Chatfield High School Principal Randy Paulson related, “Tim Willette’s civil engineering class will be all different things related to building and concrete structures, site development-type learning – like slump, building construction, how to make angles and rafters, learning how to survey elevation, doing landscaping, and about waterways. Another class he’s got is the Engineering VIIII class. That will have a lot of emphasis on wiring and electricity, some construction, drafting and mechanical drafting.”

Willette will be working in cooperation with ag instructor Stacy Fritz, who’s taken on a few new classes herself.

Paulson elaborated, “She’ll be teaching a class called ‘Energy, Power and Transportation,’ and they’ll look at small engines and different energy sources like wind, and they’ll also learn about transportation, like the mechanics of cars. It’s all related to our STEM curriculum – science, technology, engineering and math – and we’ll also have a human anatomy College in the Schools (CIS) class because we’re working with Minnesota State Southeast Technical College so that students can take a course here taught by Stacie Conway and be getting credit at college.”

Paulson went on to share, “Tom Hilgren will be teaching a hands-on research history class – Applied History – that some may choose to use for developing their History Day projects. In art, Abbey Potter will be teaching the digital design class, and all students will have their own iPads to take to other classes so that they can be constantly working.”

 He outlined some new programs and schedules slated to begin with the school year.

“The other thing we’re doing is requiring all ninth graders to have their own device – laptop or iPad, tablet, whatever – so that they’ll be bringing their own devices so that everybody in ninth grade has their own Net access. It’s the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, and we’re also participating in the Best Buy Program, a chance for parents to purchase devices at a reduced cost.”

Paulson added that if parents do not have access to the Internet, they can stop in at the office and log on since the school will have a computer in the office that they’re welcome to use. Or, like the students, they can go to the public library to find out what the Best Buy Program is about.

“We’ll continue to provide iPads for seventh and eighth graders as part of our one-to-one program,” he added.

In scheduling changes, Paulson related, “We’re currently working on having two separate schedules for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, students will have their structured study time (SST) in the middle of the day and on Tuesday and Thursday, they’ll have it at another time to allow for professional development – half the staff will be freed on Tuesday and the other half on Thursday to meet with colleagues and continue to improve their skills all year long.”

There is also a special treat for juniors and seniors promised in the new year, Paulson pointed out as he concluded, “This is optional for juniors and seniors, but on Tuesday and Thursday, they can choose to come in at the normal start time of 8:10 or wait until 8:35. That won’t start right away – we’ll probably wait until the second or third week – because of communication with parents, since it’s new.”

 For more information on the upcoming school year, log onto the Chatfield Public Schools website at www.chatfield.k12.mn.us.