K-4 News and Notes

North Elementary earns state honor for work with EL students
Kurt Hildebrandt

School named among state's top 5% for Progress Toward English Language Proficiency

North Elementary was recognized by Minnesota Department of Education’s North Star system for being among the top five percent of all schools in the state for Progress Toward English Language Proficiency among its English learner (EL) students.

   North Elementary EL teacher Stella Meixner (standing) works
   with some her students on their English language skills.

The Department of Education’s North Star system was designed using extensive feedback from diverse stakeholders across Minnesota to satisfy the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the state's World's Best Workforce law (WBWF).

“In the past, schools in need of support were usually the only ones identified publicly, but the North Star system is the new accountability system put in place to provide extra support for schools in need and also recognize the top five percent in certain areas of proficiency,” North Principal Darin Doherty said. “It replaces legislation that had been put in place previously by programs such as No Child Left Behind.”

Doherty credits Stella Meixner, North’s EL/ESL (English Learner/English as a Second Language) teacher, and each of the homeroom teachers for North receiving this prestigious honor in the area of Progress Toward English Language Proficiency.

“Stella has always been a huge advocate for breaking down those barriers that our EL students have faced in acquiring English reading and writing skills,” Doherty said. “Her work with those students has been amazing and the connection she has built with our teaching staff is a tremendous benefit for our EL students.”

The "average progress toward target" is the average amount of progress English learners made towards their targets. The statewide average is 67 percent while Saint Peter Public Schools, district-wide, is above that at 70.6 percent. More specifically, North has had 92.6 percent of its EL students make progress towards their targets in 2017-18.

“This recognition is like receiving a card sent from my former student years ago. It is completely unexpected but simply warms my heart,” Meixner, who has worked with District 508 since 1994, said. “I feel very honored to work as a team with Mr. Doherty and all the dedicated teachers at North.  I also feel very blessed with wonderful students, who are willing to work hard and have fun with me on their learning journey.”

Meixner currently works with 61 EL students at North, and she works with 59 of them daily. Each EL student has varying levels of English-speaking ability when they begin classes at North, including several with no English skills. Meixner provides support for those students to improve those skills which will enhance their educational experience in the classroom.

“It always brings me joy to watch students develop their language skills,” Meixner said. “I especially enjoy teaching students how to read. For example, one of my Somali students, who had never attended school in Somalia before coming to the U.S., had a really hard time learning to read.  After working with him for months, he finally figured out how to sound out the words. We were so excited that we both jumped up and down like two overjoyed grasshoppers. I will always savor moments like this. It is extremely rewarding and magical in a way to unlock a brand new world for a student through reading.

“The EL students have very diverse abilities and needs,” she added. “They all have different literacy backgrounds, levels of education, and ways of learning.  It's challenging to differentiate the instruction to meet all their unique needs. In an effort to close the achievement gaps between ELs and their peers, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by what needs to be taught within the limited time I have with them.  Therefore, I try to incorporate fun ways to engage the students and use time efficiently to maximize their learning.”

Mankato Elks Lodge #225 donates school supplies to SPPS students
Kurt Hildebrandt

Mankato Elks Lodge #225 received a Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation in the amount $2,000, which they used to provide school supplies for students in need at three SPPS school buildings. 

Mankato Elks Lodge #225 received a Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation in the amount $2,000, which they used to supply South Elementary, North Elementary and St. Peter Middle School with totes loaded with all the supplies needed to assist more than five students per grade level as they returned to classes in early September.  

The totes were filled with a backpack, and all the supplies listed on the grades supply list.  The main goal of this program is to make sure the students entering school on their first day have the tools needed to learn.  This takes the burden off the teacher and the parent when it comes time to attend class if the situation arrives that a child is in need.

Mankato Elks Lodge #225 is an organization that focuses on youth and veterans in the surrounding communities.  Because Lodge #225 does not have a club, all of its fundraising efforts are returned directly to their community projects, such as its Back to School Program.  To learn how to become a member or for more information on the Mankato Elks Lodge #2225, please send an email to elkssecretrary225@gmail.com.

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

The annual New Teacher Breakfast was hosted by the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce the morning of August 23 at the Minnesota School Board Association's (MSBA) office building.

  New South Elementary and North Elementary staff includes:
  front row (l to r), Maren Kind (SLP), Bridget Mathiowetz (fourth
  grade), Jenny Kapernick (special education), Jennifer LeBrun
  (fourth grade), Courtney Shey (second grade STEM); back row,
  Alex Weis (adaptive physical education), Iliana DeRemer (ELL),
  Stella Meixner (mentor, ELL), Lauren Meredith (second grade),
  Allison Koepp (second grade), and Matt Lewis (fourth grade).

The annual New Teacher Breakfast was hosted by the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce on August 23 at the Minnesota School Board Association's (MSBA) office building. The breakfast is an opportunity with St. Peter business and community leaders to meet and network with the new teaching staff.

MSBA and Scholarship America sponsor the event each year for the new teachers from Saint Peter Public Schools, Gustavus Adolphus College, and local private schools.

Those addressing the large crowd of new faces (and some familiar ones) included Ed Lee, St. Peter Chamber executive Director; Juli Sowder, Scholarship America marketing manager; Kirk Scheidawind, MSBA executive director; and Saint Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson.

Raffle prizes were provide by Nicollet County Bank, First National Bank, and the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce.

  • SouthElem, NorthElem
North elementary logo
Darin Doherty

Dear North Elementary School Families,

North elementary welcome sign

As principal of North Elementary, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2018-2019 school year! This is my 22nd year with this learning community and 5th year as principal of North Elementary School. It is our mission to inspire a passion for learning that encourages and enables all individuals to reach their highest potential. We look forward to partnering with you to achieve it.
We look forward to building on our students’ successes and making North an even better place for learning. Our first step in moving towards it started last spring with incoming 2nd grade students/families visiting North for orientation. Our next step is to start the relationship building process by having back-to-school meetings for all students and families on September 4th and 5th from 7:30AM-3:30PM. Information on how to sign up for the 20 minute meetings is included in this mailing. The signup will start August 20 and families need only to register online (or call the front office at North Elementary at 507-934-3260. 

We know each student is an individual, bringing unique talents and needs to school every day. We pride ourselves on the opportunities that we have available, to help each and every student succeed. These opportunities are included in our academic programming, which ensures that each student is challenged appropriately while building a foundation of knowledge and skills. In addition to basic core subjects, students have access to our new Maker Space creation classroom that helps develop their strengths, interests and talents. And we offer a wide range of services that support the total child, including social/emotional supports and counseling. We are also continuing a daily program called “Take 20” which adds another 20 minutes of physical activity through structured activities, including stationary cycling and yoga! Always, we are looking to the future, searching for new strategies to help students succeed—and preparing them for what comes next.
This work is not easy, but Saint Peter Public Schools is a community of professionals. We all—teachers, administrators, school counselors, support staff and the many others working with us—are collaborating to create a safe, supportive, welcoming learning community where all students are treated fairly and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

Families and other community members play a critical role as partners in supporting both your students at home and work in the schools. We look forward to working with you throughout the year to make important decisions that impact both your child as an individual and the school as a whole. As a start to this partnership, we hope you will consider joining our new PTO, volunteering in the classroom, attending a family night or signing up for Infinite Campus online parent portal.

To stay up-to-date on what’s happening throughout the year, subscribe to the North Elementary parent event calendar. Enter the following web address in your mobile device’s web browser and all North Elementary School events will automatically load into your calendar app. (bit.ly/northcalender) You can also track with North news by following us on Twitter @NorthElem or follow the North PTO Facebook page @northptostpeter. 
Saint Peter Public Schools is a wonderful learning community. I feel so privileged to be a part of it. This is a very special place, and my colleagues and I appreciate the trust that you’ve shown in us by sending your children here every day. We will do our best to ensure they have a fulfilling, happy and safe year.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at 507-934-3260 if you have any questions or concerns. I am looking forward to a great school year!


Darin Doherty
North Elementary School

  • NorthElem
The logo for south elementary
Doreen Oelke

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Welcome to South Elementary. It has once again been a busy summer here at South. This summer the inner circle rooms were remodeled with new lights, ceilings and flooring. We are excited to show off our new look when you come to the beginning of the year conferences. These conferences provide you, your child, and your child’s teacher a wonderful opportunity to get questions answered, help ease anxiety, and begin a successful partnership between home and school.

Soon you will be receiving an email with the link to PTCfast (the on­line conference scheduler we use here at South). The scheduler will be open beginning August 20th. Please log on, fill out your information, and select a convenient time for you and your child to meet with their classroom teacher on either September 4th or 5th. You may also access the link on our South homepage. If you do not have email access, please call the school and set up a time with Sarah Janovsky (934­-2754 ext 3042).

Below is some information regarding these beginning of the year conferences:

  • Your child should come to this conference with his/her supplies. If you need support in securing supplies, please contact the office and we will assist you.
  • Please bring any updated contact information that we will need to add to your child’s profile, i.e. emergency contacts, phone numbers, etc.
  • Please contact Saints Bus Service at 934­-4690 for any questions regarding bussing.
  • Photos will be taken of all students, even if you do not plan on purchasing a package. The photos will be in the yearbook.
  • There are several items that require payment. Please bring separate checks/cash for each item.
    • Snack Cart (provides a daily snack­ $15 per quarter)
    • Lunch Money ( Daily: breakfast $1.35 Lunch $2.80)
    • Lifetouch Photos (prices vary)
    • Rollerskating ($9/student)

The first full day of school for us will be Thursday, September 6th, 2018. The school day starts at 8:00 am and dismissal begins at 2:45 pm. Enjoy the remaining days of summer and I look forward to seeing you on September 4th or 5th.

Doreen Oelke

  • SouthElem