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ACNW Authorizer Update

January 7, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
We hope you had a restful winter break, even though the holidays can be a frenzied time. We also hope this first Authorizer Update of the New Year is a welcome distraction from the cold!
 
As always, please take time to review this Authorizer Update closely, and let us know if you have any questions or comments about its contents.
 
Sincerely,

David & the ACNW Charter School Team
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 507
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
(612) 331-4181

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Upcoming Dates
  • Friday, January 16 – Environmental Literacy Work Session from 10:00-3:00 at the Audubon Center in Sandstone. In this session, we will seek to define environmental literacy, identify its components, and develop ways to measure and assess this important, though complex, domain. CEUs are available, and lunch will be provided. If you are interested in participating, please RSVP to Erin by Friday, January 9.
Leaders Retreat
 
Thanks again for your attendance and participation at the 2014 ACNW Leaders Retreat in November. The conference website is up and running! Visit the site to download notes from the sessions you weren't able to attend, a roster of conference participants, and other helpful documents. Please feel free to share this link with others in your school or your network.
ACNW Charter School Division Staffing Changes

Shane Weinand's final day as a full time employee of Audubon Center of the North Woods was January 2, 2015.  Shane is now pursuing his own consulting work with schools and nonprofits. He will continue to consult with ACNW in the coming months, so some of you may continue to work with him in that capacity. I will reach out to you more directly if this change has an immediate impact on your school. We greatly appreciate the impact Shane had on helping us improve our work as a charter school authorizer in Minnesota, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.
 
We continue to have a great team as part of our Charter School Division, including Mike Schultz, Administrative Assistant; Erin Anderson, Environmental Education Evaluator; David Greenberg, Director of Charter School Authorizing; and contracted evaluators Rod Haenke, Liz Wynne, Dan Jett, and Candida Gonzalez.
 
Stay tuned for future news on staffing at ACNW in the coming months, and please let me know if you have any questions about this matter.
English Learners

Many schools authorized by ACNW have students who qualify for an English Learner program and are identified as English Learners, while some schools do not have students in such a program. Nonetheless, it is a requirement for all schools to be prepared to serve English Learners and to have systems in place to identify these students. The first step in the identification process is the Home Language Questionnaire. Per MDE and federal guidelines, a home language questionnaire (HLQ ) must be completed for all students who enroll in a district. A student’s presumed proficiency in English should not determine whether or not an HLQ is completed.  Districts and charter schools must determine the primary home language of ALL students.
 
ACNW will be asking all schools about the HLQ and related English Learner programs and services at your schools.  
 
For more information, please contact the MDE English Learner Education Program at mde.el@state.mn.us or visit to the MDE English Learner Programs website.
Collaboration Opportunity -- GoGuardian

North Lakes Academy in Forest Lake is looking into GoGuardian, a new software platform for school-owned Chromebooks that are used through Google Apps for Education. If your school has Chromebooks, GoGuardian allows you to understand how your Chromebooks are being used by your students. And if the need should arise, GoGuardian allows you to track and recover stolen Chromebooks. The cost of this service is greatly reduced if multiple schools participate. If you’re interested in learning more about this software, please contact Mike Higgins, Technology Director at North Lakes Academy, at mhiggins@northlakesacademy.org.
How Tests Make Us Smarter

Testing brings with it much stress and controversy. We tend to focus on testing as a tool to assess learning, but does it also increase learning? I recently ran across this article in the NY Times that I found quite interesting and helped me better understand the brain and the possible impacts of testing. I encourage you to take a look.
The Sounding Board -- Promoting Quality Charter School Governance

ACNW is rolling out a new resource to support strong governance in your schools – The Sounding Board. As an authorizer of 32 schools throughout the state, ACNW is witness to larger trends in the charter school sector. Periodically, ACNW staff or evaluators will provide insights on these trends, and we plan on compiling these insights and delivering them to you through this new resource. Check out the first edition of The Sounding Board on the topic: Board Meeting Date Change or Cancelation.
Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance is an initiative dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation's children. They provide free educational materials to teachers and other school practitioners in the U.S. Resources include their biannual e-magazine, curriculum kits, and other materials for the classroom. For more information or to access resources for your school, please visit their website.
EE Mission Match Funds

During the 2014-2015 school year, ACNW will be offering up to $500.00 to each authorized school to help achieve your school’s environmental education goals. Funds may be used to buy equipment, provide a match for an EE-related grant, hire a presenter, or pay for a field trip to the Audubon Center or any other EE-based location of your choice.
 
To apply for these funds:
  1. Download the application from the CSD website. Your project must be pre-approved before you can receive funding.
  2. Complete the application and return to Erin.
  3. Once approved, funds will be released to your school only AFTER an invoice or other proof of payment is received. Our Business Manager is diligent in sending out funds within 5-10 business days. Proof of fund use is a requirement of the Audubon Center audit and funds will not be released without this.
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Grants for Agricultural Literacy – Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
Due Saturday, January 10, 2015.
 
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) is offering grants of up to $400 for K-12 practicing educators to encourage them to bring agriculture and food systems education “to life” by effectively integrating related content into their classroom or school.
 
First time applicants will have priority for funding. Grants can be used for field trips but MAITC does not pay for student entry fees to field trip sites. Non-formal education applications will also be considered based on strength of application and the availability of funds.

For more information, visit the grant application website.

Community Action Grants – American Association of University Women
Due Thursday, January 15, 2015.
 
Since the inauguration of its Research and Projects Fund in 1972, the American Association of University Women has provided support to hundreds of communities around the United States working to advance education and equality for women and girls. AAUW Community Action grants provide funds to individuals, AAUW branches, AAUW state organizations, and community-based nonprofit organizations to support innovative programs or non-degree research projects that promote education and equality for women and girls. Special consideration is given to projects focused on the achievements of K–12 girls and community college women in science, technology, engineering, or math. One-year grants of up to $7,000 will be awarded for community-based projects. Two-year grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded as startup funding for new projects that address the particular needs of the community and develop girls’ sense of efficacy through leadership or advocacy opportunities. 

Visit the AAUW website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.
 
Grants for Hands-On Environmental Education Activities – Captain Planet Foundation
Due Saturday, January 31, 2015.
 
The mission of the Captain Planet Foundation is to promote and support high-quality educational programs that enable children and youth to understand and appreciate our world through hands-on projects designed to improve the environment in their schools and communities. Grants are intended to serve as a means of bringing environment-based education to schools and to inspire youth and communities to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities. Preference is given to requests seeking seed funding of $500 or less and to applicants who have secured at least 50 percent matching or in-kind funding for their projects. The foundation will, on occasion, consider grants of up to $2,500.

Visit the CPF website for complete program guidelines and the application form.
  
High School STEM/Problem-Solving Grants – InvenTeam Initiative
Initial application due Friday, February 27, 2015.
 
The InvenTeam initiative provides opportunities for high school students to cultivate their creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving abilities and apply lessons from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects to the invention of technological solutions to real-world problems. Teams comprised of high school students, teachers, and mentors receive grants of up to $10,000 to invent technological solutions for a problem of their choice. Projects can range from assistive devices to environmental technologies and consumer goods. Applicants are encouraged to consider the needs of the world's poorest people (those earning $2 or less a day) when creating their projects.
 
Complete application and eligibility guidelines, including profiles of past InvenTeam grant winners, are available at the Lemelson-MIT Program website.
 
Teach for the Planet Challenge – DonorsChoose.org and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
 
DonorsChoose.org, in partnership with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is accepting submissions from K-12 teachers across the country for the Teach for the Planet Challenge. The program aims to support high-impact hands-on classroom projects that promote sustainability education.
 
DonorsChoose.org will choose sixty semifinalists, and an expert panel will narrow that down to three finalists per grade category (K-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and high school). Finalists and their projects will be posted on Facebook in December 2014 and the public will be invited to vote for their favorite in each grade category. The teacher in each grade category whose project receives the most votes will receive a $10,000 DonorsChoose.org gift card to apply toward future project requests. Finalists in each category will receive $3,000 DonorsChoose.org gift cards, while semifinalists will receive $750 gift cards.
 
Visit the DonorsChoose.org website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and submission instructions.
Networking & Sharing

Please continue to reach out to your colleagues for resources, learning, and sharing. We hope you will continue to grow and will leverage the connections you made at the Leaders Retreat. The following link provides contact information for directors and board chairs of all schools authorized by ACNW: ACNW Directors and Board Chairs
 
Please contact Mike if you have updated contact information or need help using the document.
School Highlights

The World Learner School is commemorating its twenty years of operation with a 20th Anniversary Reunion and Celebration this Friday! The school is inviting all WLS families and students, alumni students, alumni staff, local dignitaries, and media representatives to attend the event. World Learner School was founded in 1995 as a small school with less than a dozen students. Today WLS serves over two hundred students! The World Learner School’s continued mission is to create a school that supports an experiential collaborative learning program that empowers children to achieve their potential as unique individuals in their classrooms and in their communities.
 
Did you know? Besides the opening of WLS, September of 1995 also marks the founding of the online auctionhouse and e-commerce company eBay, and the announcement of a new media storage format – the DVD!
Learning Opportunities at the Audubon Center

Visit the main Audubon Center of the North Woods website to find out more about the learning opportunities being offered by the Center this year.
This ermine was recently brought to the Audubon Center after being caught by a dog. They are known for being fiercely aggressive, and are adept at hunting mice and voles.

"If it’s in a tree, or beneath the moon, you can’t get rid of the northern raccoon!"
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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