Benilde-St. Margaret has selected Kevin Gyolai, Inver Hills Community College dean of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as its next president.
Gyolai replaces Bob Tift who is resigning.
“I have a great affinity for people and institutions that are mission-focused, innovative and ambitious, and I welcome the opportunity to lead a Catholic school that has a remarkable history of providing students with a solid foundation – body, spirit and mind – on which to build their futures,” shared Gyolai, a North Dakota native. “I am honored to have been chosen for this role.”
In addition to his current position as S.T.E.M. division dean for Inver Hills, Gyolai has held numerous positions at North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton, including director of the STEM Scholars Program, department head, professor, associate professor and assistant professor. He is a published author; has extensive experience in grant writing; and serves on program evaluation teams for the National Science Foundation.
“In his position as S.T.E.M. division dean, Dr. Gyolai has had success in fundraising and has been instrumental in leading student recruitment efforts, including developing initiatives to engage students from underrepresented groups. All necessary skills for a Catholic secondary school president," said Barb Melsen, chairwoman of the presidential search committee.
Gyolai has a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from North Dakota State University, Fargo, a Master of Science degree in biology from South Dakota State University, Brookings and Bachelor of Science degrees in biology and athletic training from North Dakota State University, Fargo.
Gyolai is married to Kristine Gyolai, an art history instructor with MnSCU. They have four children and live in Eagan.
Summer vacation will be one day shorter for Mounds View Schools students.
The Mounds View School Board tacked on a class day Friday, June 6 to make up for the February 21 snow day. There have been an unprecedented six weather-related school cancellations this year.
School officials had hoped to avoid nibbling into summer vacation but ran out of options. Other makeup days include February 17, April 4 and May 23.
“The school board acknowledged the potential disruption associated with changing the last day of the school year for families that may have already scheduled vacations or travel plans. In response, families are reminded to follow their schools’ standard procedures for reporting any absences that might occur on that day,” according to a statement issued to parents.
Mounds View Schools, in northern Ramsey County, had to add the make-up day to meet the state’s requirement for days and hours of instruction provided.
Faced with a similar dilemma, St. Paul Schools also added one day to the end of the year. Their last day of school will be Monday, June 9.
A coalition of religious leaders, parents and teachers on Thursday called for Minnesota schools to pass a moratorium on suspensions, citing the fact that students of color are disciplined much more frequently than white students.
Members of ISAIAH said they want to end the "school to prison pipeline" that occurs when students of color are systematically suspended or expelled.
Nekima Levy Pounds, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, cited statistics that showed 46,609 students were suspended, expelled or excluded during the 2011-2012 school year in Minnesota. Students of color accounted for 60 percent of all disciplinary action that school year.
"These statistics should break our hearts, and compel us all - especially in the faith community - to act in a transformative way," she said at press conference at the state Capitol.
In addition to calling on a moratorium on suspensions, ISAIAH members are also asking schools to remove police from school discipline procedures.
ISAIAH's call for action follows recent federal push for schools to ease up on suspensions.
In January, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines urging districts to turn to law enforcement agencies as means of last resort when dealing with disruptive students. Citing the rise in "zero tolerance" policies, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan has said too many minority students were losing valuable class time as a result of harsh disciplinary actions.
The suspension rates in both Minneapolis and St. Paul have declined in recent years as both districts have overhauled their discipline policies.
For example, St. Paul in 2012 eliminated "continual willful disobedience" from a list of suspendable violations and offered financial incentives to reduce their suspension numbers.
In Minneapolis, school leaders recently changed their disciplinary policy to emphasize reinforcing behavioral standards and using restorative justice practices.
A St. Paul teacher who has preached the value of using forests as a classroom was chosen Wednesday for a national honor by the environmental education program, Project Learning Tree.
Karen Christenson, a science teacher at St. Anthony Park Elementary, was one of five teachers to be named a 2014 Outstanding Educator. She is the first Minnesotan to win the award since 2008.
According to Project Learning Tree, Christenson uses schoolyard safaris and other activities to "introduce students to hands-on experiences and outdoor exploration."
In 2013, 87 percent of St. Anthony Park students tested as proficient in science.
Christenson taught previously at Bruce Vento Elementary on the East Side.
In addition to her St. Paul duties, Christenson has sought to inspire in teachers statewide a passion for outdoors-based learning as part of the Minnesota School Forest Program.
She is to be honored in May at a Project Learning Tree conference in Traverse City, Mich.
Comcast announced Tuesday that it will extend beyond an initial three-year period a program that offers low-income families Internet access for $9.95 a month.
The Internet Essentials program, launched in 2011, helps ensure that students are "wired" not just at school, libraries and after-school programs, but also when they are home.
Comcast also announced that it would provide special help to St. Paul families, in particular, in the form of a $50,000 grant to the St. Paul Public Schools Foundation as well as an offer of free online access for six months to Internet Essentials-eligible families who are not yet Comcast customers.
Nearly 6,350 families in Comcast's Minnesota and Western Wisconsin service area have Internet access through the Internet Essentials program, a Comcast news release said. To qualify, families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
The St. Paul Public Schools Foundation is overseeing distribution of the $50,000 to nonprofit groups that include Neighborhood House, Project for Pride in Living, West 7th Community Center and the Liberty Plaza affordable housing development in St. Paul's Summit-University area.
According to Comcast, the grants "will enable these communities to create a continuum of connectivity -- or 'Internet Essentials Learning Zones' -- that begin in the classroom with wired schools, follow the students to wired libraries, wired computer centers and wired after-school programs, and end in wired homes when the day is done."
To apply for the Internet Essentials program, visit www.InternetEssentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376. Spanish-speakers can visit www.InternetBasico.com or call 1-855-765-6995.
St. Paul families new to the program who wish to sign up for the six months of free service can use the same contact information. The deadline for that offer is March 18.