A challenge issued by a North St. Paul principal led to the school leader camping out for 12 hours on the elementary school's roof -- and sharing candy treats with her students in the process.

Sonya Czerepak had agreed to spend an hour on the roof of Cowern Elementary for every $500 that her students raised as part of an annual "Fund-Run."

The students eventually collected more than $6,200, and Czerepak repaid the debt by taking to the roof on Halloween.

She also had an ample supply of candy at hand.

"I had so many visitors it was unbelievable," Czerepak said in a district news release. "It was so much fun to see the kids all dressed up."

Amy Coborn, a parent who served as chairwoman of the fundraiser, wrote in an e-mail that raising more than $6,200 to supplement field-trip costs and fund cultural arts programs and classroom needs was "huge" for the school, part of the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district.

According to state data, nearly 60 percent of Cowern's students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.


District posts perfect school bus safety score

The South Washington County School District says its school bus fleet had zero defects in inspections completed last month by the State Patrol.

Eight vans and 130 buses were inspected, according to a district news release.

Gary Dechaine, the district's transportation director, attributed the success to a "superhuman performance" by district mechanics.

"This is something that needs to be prepared for year around, not just a few weeks prior to the inspection," Dechaine was quoted as saying. "They truly work by the standard that they are responsible for the safety of every student and driver that gets in a bus."

The district team includes head mechanic Andrew Smith and mechanics Cory Ebsen, Dennis Johnson, Gerald Neihaus, Daniel Schultz and Caleb Smith.


Union leader touts supporting teachers

Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, the state teachers union, told a Century College crowd that people ought to focus less on student test scores and more on ways to promote effective teaching, the college's communications staff reported last week.

Greater collaboration is needed between K-12 and higher-education, he said.

"Give teachers the time and resources they need to improve their craft," Dooher said. "Teachers need good coaches, they need professional development and they need to be evaluated regularly."

When asked about the future of teaching, he expressed hope teachers would be "well respected again," and referred to strides made in Finland.

There, according to Tony Wagner of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the country transformed its education system by requiring teachers to go through a learning process so challenging that only one out of every 10 applicants makes it to the classroom.

The result, Wagner has said, is a profession that may not be the country's highest paid, but is its most highly esteemed.


Staff contributes funds to local causes

Stillwater school employees contributed $26,864 to local groups as part of an annual charitable fund drive, the district reported.

Contributions will go to district educational programs and also assist families with food, clothing and housing.

Among the groups to receive pledges were: United Way of Washington County-East, Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, and The Partnership Plan, an educational fund for the Stillwater Area Public Schools.