News & Notes

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Kurt Hildebrandt


Seventh graders at Saint Peter Middle School hosted their annual History Day event on Thursday, Jan. 17, at the school’s media center.

The interior of the media center was filled with colorful cardboard tri-fold exhibits depicting significant people or events in American history. Students from Erick Boe’s, Dustin Sharstrom’s, and Sean O’Brien’s U.S. History classes participated in the event. Each of the exhibits is judged by Middle School staff, other volunteers, as well as some of the eighth grade students.

“This is a social studies project, with a little bit of an English component to it with the writing the students need to do,” Sharstrom said. “The students started on these projects around the second week of December (2018) and this is final presentation for most of them.”

The top 15 to 20 projects at this year’s event will advance to the South Central Regional History Day competition at Minnesota State University-Mankato on March 19 with a chance to go all the way to the state competition later this year.

Middle school logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter Middle School students literally collected more than a ton of food during this year’s recent annual Canned Food Drive with the final total being 2,161 pounds that was donated to the St. Peter Area Food Shelf.

  SPMS Student Council members who helped deliver
  the food to the St. Peter Area Food Shelf included: 
  front row (l to r), Lexi Wentworth, Anna Boomgaarden,
  Abigail Lorentz, Satasha Egnes; back row, Milo Biehn,
  Kevin Castaneda, Cole Junso, and David Marlow.

The SPMS Student Council sponsored this year’s drive in which students in all four grades (5-8) collected food and non-perishable items during the week of December 10-14. A total of 2,125 items were collected during the drive.

SPMS Student Council advisor Courtney Shey and eight members of the Student Council’s executive team transported all of the donated items to the Food Shelf personally, with Saints Bus Service providing the mode of transportation.

“The amazing thing is that our food drive was short and sweet, only three days, and the student council wrapped the collection boxes in wrapping paper and created a slideshow for advisories detailing the food drive,” Shey said. “This was their first ‘event’ that they did as a student council, and they wanted to be something that contributed to the community.  It is obvious by how much we collected that the student body and the staff at St Peter Middle School wanted to contribute to their community as well. A big thank you to all the students, their parents/guardians, and to the staff!”

Middle school logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Education Minnesota celebrated American Education Week by honoring Melissa Terpstra, Saint Peter Middle School’s thinking room supervisor, as the 2018 Education Minnesota Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year.

  Missy Terpstra (middle) recently received Education 
  Minnesota's Education Support Professional of the 
  Year Award. She is shown here with Education MN 
  Vice President Paul Mueller (left) and SPMS Principal
  Jon Graff (right). 

Terpstra has worked in St. Peter Public Schools since 2003, first as a special education paraprofessional at South Elementary and then as a thinking room supervisor at South Elementary and now at St. Peter Middle School. She also serves as the local president of the Education Minnesota Paraprofessional Educators of Saint Peter union.

“Missy is a whatever-you-need kind of person who is always so supportive and helpful for all of us at the middle school,” Principal Jon Graff said. “We started the Thinking Room during the middle of the first quarter in the fall of 2017, and she was the perfect person to supervise that area.”

As a thinking room supervisor, Terpstra is the first point of contact for students experiencing behavior issues in the classroom, lunchroom, hallways or during recess. In her award nomination materials, Terpstra’s colleagues describe her as authentic, impressive, dedicated and award-worthy.

“I love what I do and I do what I love,” said Terpstra. “I’m not sure what our school would look like without ESPs. We go hand-in-hand with the teachers.”

Terpstra also works tirelessly to make sure ESPs are supported and valued members of the district. As local union president, she makes sure all ESPs know the value of the union. She advocates for ESPs to receive professional development, attend conferences and be a part of the larger labor movement.

St. Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson summarized what all her colleagues shared about Terpstra in his recommendation letter for her award nomination, “What I have found is the key ingredient to success within schools and working with students is authenticity, and this is something that Missy brings to her job every single day and every single year.”

As the new Minnesota ESP of the Year, Terpstra will receive a new Apple iPad and a $1,000 honorarium. She will also be nominated for the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas for the awards ceremony in March.

“ESPs are often the first people that interact with our students each day and the last ones to say goodbye,” said Education Minnesota Vice President Paul Mueller, who presented Terpstra with her award. “A big piece of our students’ successes is the personal interaction that ESPs can give them, in and out of the classroom. I don’t think anyone knows that more than our 2018 Education Support Professional of the Year, Melissa Terpstra.”

American Education Week, a national celebration of public education, runs from Nov. 12 through Nov. 16. Wednesday had been designated as Education Support Professionals Day to honor the people who keep schools running and students safe, healthy and ready to learn.

The winner of the Education Support Professional of the Year award is selected by a five-member selection committee that includes three leaders of Education Minnesota, the winner in the previous year and a representative of an external organization, which was United Educators Credit Union this year.

About Education Minnesota

Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO. More information about Education Minnesota is available