HEF has invested wisely in students’ wellness, including successful Wellness Centers at Hopkins High School and at both North and West Junior Highs, teacher-training in self-regulating tools such as Yoga Calm, and the distribution of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) kits, among many other individual grants. Mental health interventions and the emphasis on mindfulness that you have funded, are proving very effective.
In close partnership with Hopkins staff, the next step to further these efforts is Pathways to a Healthy Future, a comprehensive approach to active student learning. The student who is emotionally calm, well fed, engaged in and excited about learning prospers and succeeds on their own unique pathway to their full potential. HEF intends to fund FOUR distinct opportunities to empower students forward along these pathways. Please consider contributing generously to this Special Appeal.
Project Based Learning (PBL) – All Elementary Schools
PBL is brain-powered hands-on learning. It’s problem-solving for real results, not abstract ideas on a piece of paper. It’s building self-pride in tangible accomplishments. Engaging students in PBL connects them to their communities and the bigger world, opens pathways to discovery of new strengths and skills, and instills the confidence to pursue their amazing future – much of which we can only imagine.
Building on the current pilot at Hopkins High School in which students are designing what PBL should be, HEF will fund PBL at each elementary school. Each project is tailored to the schools’ unique culture or focus:
Meadowbrook – WeShare Solar Suitcases. As students build 5 Solar Suitcases, they learn about global energy poverty, basic electricity, solar energy, and engineering. These durable rechargeable Suitcases will be donated to underdeveloped countries to support medical care (targeting maternal health) with a reliable power source for light, diagnostics, medical procedures and mobile telecommunications.
Glen Lake – Wildlife Floating Islands. Focusing on environmental and ecosystem studies as well as advocacy, students will create and install 4 Floating Islands in local ponds or lakes. These natural filtration systems consist of native aquatic plants that improve water quality, and act as a platform for pollinating plants. A MN Science Museum Residency will assist with water testing, research, and construction, and a meeting with MN State Legislator(s) is planned.
Eisenhower/ XinXing Academy – Cultural Celebration Performances. A variety of PBL work to value and celebrate multiple cultures through dance, music, and visual art will then culminate in three school-wide celebrations, where all students celebrate the Chinese, Spanish (beginning Fall 2020), and English pathways available at Eisenhower.
Alice Smith – Kitchen à la Cart Portable Kitchen. Cooking is full of exciting, creative hands-on learning opportunities; experiences this school has fully embraced. In literacy and language arts, cultural studies, and Math, students will give this kitchen a workout as it moves through all classrooms.
Tanglen – Courtyard Redesign. This student-driven project will include budgets and landscaping, research and design, but will first begin with the question: How can our school community work together to turn an unused, overgrown courtyard – at the heart of our building – into a beautiful, welcoming, environmentally-friendly workspace? Students are eager to provide the answers.
Gatewood – Greenhouse Design/Build. The Junior Naturalists Club will provide student voice and input into the design of the greenhouse addition planned for the building. Students will design and build planters and shelving, then prepare and tend plants and flowers for transplant to the outdoor vegetable, pollinator and prairie grass gardens. They will tend those gardens as well, with the summer assistance of Kids&Co.
Calming Corners – ALL Elementary Classrooms
The next step to previous HEF-funded teacher training, social emotional learning kits, and pilots of self-regulating spaces at some schools, is to focus on the most efficient way to deliver these experiences and use these tools. How can students avoid disrupting classmates and get back to learning as quickly as possible? Calming Corners are the simple answer. EVERY elementary classroom will be offered the means to cordon off an area for private self-regulation, equipped with a beanbag chair or similar. HEF-funded tools are already in place at each school; teachers will be offered choices that work for their classroom, the age of their students, and their style of teaching.
Food Shelf and ‘Second Breakfast’ Carts – Hopkins High School
When students find it difficult to concentrate on an empty stomach, when 40% of Hopkins students qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, and when the University of Minnesota Twin Cities needs to offer a ‘Nutritious U Food Pantry’ open to all students, we know we must assist the district in alleviating this inequity.
HEF plans to fund the construction of a Food Shelf in Hopkins High School – an industrial-grade refrigerator, shelving, and a washer& dryer, located in the nurse’s area and open at opportune times. Food will be provided by ICA Foodshelf, donations, and any cafeteria leftovers, and hygiene products will be stocked by Hopkins Elks Lodge. Also, two – three ‘Second Breakfast’ Carts (mounted with WiFi and PIN pads) will be purchased and placed in the hallway for a ‘second breakfast’. Similar carts, currently in use in the junior highs between 1st and 2nd block, have proven very successful in feeding students whose arrival at school doesn’t allow access to breakfast in the cafeteria, or who don’t/can’t eat at home, or who are simply hungry again (i.e. most teenagers). Although the food on the carts will not be free, the barrier of access to a nutritious meal will be alleviated.
Care for the Caregivers – Professional Development at All-Staff Meeting
‘It’s nearly impossible to describe the emotional load that teachers shoulder. We are not just educators. We know the secrets of as many hearts as any priest; we put in as much actual work as any CEO; we can sustain unknowable exhaustion and spiritual burn, and we rise every day to serve.’ Quinn O’Callaghan, English teacher and writer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 7, 2019
For the important work of meeting our children where they are every day and guiding them along their pathways, staff must have support, fortitude and encouragement.
HEF will fund three renowned professionals to speak to Hopkins staff at the August 25th ‘All-Staff Meeting’. Breakout sessions will be offered as well as a keynote, all addressing various aspects of self-care and healthy support. HEF wants to help District Leadership show this amazing Hopkins staff that they are valued for their innovation, ingenuity, creativity, and love for our students. The three speakers will be
- Dr. Anne Gearity, PhD LICSW, Washburn Center for Children, Adj. Prof at UM, on the impact of trauma on children
- Clayton Cook, Assoc. Prof. at UM EdPsych Dept, on school based mental health
- Dr. Raj Sethuraju, PhD, Prof at Metropolitan State Univ, School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, on restorative culture.