The North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District will expand its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program, including starting two 3-D fabrication labs, with two grants totaling $350,000 from the 3M Foundation.

The money will go toward equipment — such as 3-D printers, laser engravers, and plasma routers — for North St. Paul and Tartan high schools. It also will be spent on adding STEM courses to the middle school and high school curriculums, according to a district news release. Project Lead The Way, a leading national STEM program, provided a $66,000 grant.

STEM classes were previously only available for elementary students. Starting next fall, sixth- and seventh-grade students will be required to take Modeling and Design. The course will also be available as an elective to eighth-graders. Classes such as Automation and Robotics and the Magic of Electrons will be made available in the future, district officials said.

Officials also said that high school science classes during the 2014-2015 school year will have more of an engineering focus as part of a larger effort overseen by the University of Minnesota’s STEM Education Center.



Valley Crossing teacher dies of cancer at 49

An elementary teacher remembered as both strict and caring has died of cancer. Jean Karschnia, 49, taught at Valley Crossing Community School, where she was a certified math specialist and, most recently, a sixth-grade teacher. She died Feb. 12; her funeral was last week.

Karschnia spent her entire teaching career at Valley Crossing, including in fourth and fifth grades.

“Her major positive impact as an educator/teacher and person will go on forever with her students,” a fellow Valley Crossing teacher, Paul Krengel, wrote in online comments.

Others applauded her teaching skills, her warm smile, and her discipline in making sure homework was done. “Her high standards improved me, and her forgiveness of my mistakes was always generous,” a student teacher wrote.


Student wins Pledge to Graduate drawing

A Woodbury Middle School student was named winner of the Pledge to Graduate drawing at a Feb. 13 ceremony.

The Pledge to Graduate program, sponsored by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, is aimed at raising “awareness of the importance of high school graduation,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.

The winner, Jaime Simon, received a new iPad. Simon was one of many students in Washington County who signed a pledge to graduate from high school, automatically entering them into a drawing.

“We know that if we don’t educate our children, we will end up incarcerating them. [Seventy-one percent] of our inmates in Minnesota have dropped out of high school. If we can make a difference in just one student’s life and convince them to graduate from high school, our efforts will be worth it,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.

Forest Lake

Eighth-grader wins creativity award

Century Junior High School eighth-grader Veronica Mahnke was given the 2014 Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards (MSAA) Silver Key for creativity for a black- and-white sketch of her younger sister.

The MSAA program, a regional affiliate of the national Scholastic Art Awards program, recognizes “creative teenagers” in grades 7-12 and provides scholarship opportunities for college-bound high school seniors, Forest Lake Area Schools officials said.

Mahnke will be recognized during the Gold and Silver Key Award Ceremonies at the Perpich Center for Arts Education on Feb. 22..

Libor Jany