Northeast Minneapolis parents offer praise and questions for MPS Five-Year Enrollment Plan

The proposal to add more Early Childhood education programming to Minneapolis Public Schools sites was a hit with many parents at the October 14 Northeast Minneapolis forum on the Minneapolis Public Schools new Five-Year Enrollment Plan.Parents and community members filled the Northeast Middle School Media Center to listen to Area A Superintendent Michael Thomas explain, using a PowerPoint presentation, the district’s new five-year plan and how it would impact their neighborhoods. Following Thomas’ presentation, people split into groups consisting of one district employee and five or more attendees.Anchoring one of these small groups was North High School Senior Academy principal David Branch. Branch expressed support for the proposed new early childhood centers, one of which would be located at North High School. Bringing young children into the building would be a good fit for North, Branch said, and would give older high school students a chance to gain valuable skills, and offer their services, by reading with the younger children.The district’s efforts to bring more focus to young children brought both hope and concern for downtown Minneapolis resident Denise Holt. Holt, who does not yet have children, was at the meeting as an advocate for the growing neighborhoods of downtown Minneapolis.   Letter from Downtown School Initiative to school boardDear Minneapolis Public Schools -We are aware of the Minneapolis Public School’s Five-Year Enrollment Plan and the accompanying attendance boundaries proposals for the downtown Minneapolis area. In order to maintain neighborhood cohesion and continue to build a community in this relatively new residential area, we strongly urge the Minneapolis Public Schools to consider downtown – North Loop, Downtown East, Downtown West, Elliot Park, and Loring Park – as one community when drawing attendance boundaries. Families choosing to raise their children in downtown Minneapolis share the same culture and values; they support building a dense, vibrant and walkable community. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Meet Barb Kapala: Northeast Middle School Community Education Beacons Coordinator

“It’s all about the kids,” Barb Kapala sums up her work as the Community Education Beacons Coordinator at Northeast Middle School.  She’s been at the job since 2003 and still loves working with the middle school students. It was 2001 when a  good friend encouraged Barb to teach a class in the Minneapolis Public Schools, entitled, “I Believe I Can Fly.”  At that time, she worked fulltime at an HR job but was able to take some time off to teach the class. Barb spent 12 weeks with kids in 3rd – 7th grade, teaching a class not only academic but also in goal setting and confidence building skills.  The class was a success and Barb felt that she had made an impact on the students. That same friend encouraged her to do it full time.  She agreed.  She came into the district in 2002 and later accepting the Community Education Beacons Coordinator position in 2003.The Beacons after school program has been at Northeast Middle School since 1998 and is one of the original Beacons sites in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Community education right in the neighborhood

Did you know that Northeast Middle School (NEMS) is a community education site and offers adult lap and family open swim periods for the community? Or that NEMS and Waite Park is one of the few places that teaches Polish language classes?That’s because NEMS has been a Minneapolis community education site since the 1970s and offers between 50-65 enrichment classes for adults and kids each quarter at affordable prices. It’s a wealth of resources available right in the neighborhood with classes like aqua zumba, Spanish, quilting basics and youth swimming.David Warnest has been the community education coordinator at NEMS for more than nine years. He said that even though Minneapolis community education has offered open swim periods for the community for a number of years, a lot of neighbors are still surprised.He added, “A lot of people don’t know that Northeast is a site for their ACCESS Service Program for adults with disabilities.”  They receive 150 registrations for the program each quarter.Although Community Education casts a wide net of offerings for many different people, David said that “the greatest value community education has is that it is located right in our neighborhoods and can offer the community greater access to facilities within their communities.”The classes vary by community and are there because they are the ones that people register for. Facilities at a different building direct the activities. Continue Reading