The Hopkins School District is aiming to put a library card into every student’s hand by the end of the school year, through a partnership with the Hennepin County Library and a White House initiative.

The ConnectED Library Challenge is President Obama’s goal to have libraries pair up with schools so every child enrolled can get a library card. Hopkins is the first district in Minnesota to participate, and Hennepin County represents one of about 50 communities taking up the challenge to increase access to learning resources and library books.

“There’s a wealth of value in the public libraries,” said Ivar Nelson, the district’s technology director.

The district of approximately 7,000 students has had a “strong foundation” of technology in classrooms, Nelson said. It dubs its technology devices program “1:1” because it gives iPads to every student in grades seven through nine and Chromebooks to every high school student.

The district’s intention in its “Power Up: Libraries” program isn’t just handing out districtwide library cards, Nelson said, but creating opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. “We hope to take it beyond that,” he said.

The Hennepin County Library wants to support students in discovering the power of the library card, said Katherine Debertin, the library’s youth programs and services manager.

“The White House recognized the strong role that libraries are already playing, and then challenged us to take it to the next level and partner with entire school districts,” she said.



St. Paul’s Johnson High to open credit union

Construction is underway on a new credit-union branch at Johnson High School on St. Paul’s East Side.

The branch is expected to open in November and will be run by students as part of Hiway Federal Credit Union. The operation will be Hiway’s first student-run branch and the district’s third — following the opening of St. Paul Federal Credit Union branches at Como Park and Harding high schools.

Hiway President/CEO Dave Boden said in a news release that it was hoped that students who gain hands-on learning experience through Hiway will be “teachers of financial literacy among their peers.”

A Hiway administrator also has been presenting financial literacy classes at the school.

Johnson, once home to hockey heroes and a U.S. Supreme Court justice, is now both a community and an aerospace and engineering magnet school boasting flight simulators, an air-traffic-control station and high-tech digital tools.

This year, Johnson is piloting later school starts for high school students — an effort that is producing positive results, district officials say.



Math award finalists are Minneapolis South teachers

Minneapolis South High School teachers Morgan Fierst and Stephanie Woldum are state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching — widely considered the highest honor in this field.

The White House will announce the state winners and invite them to a week of events in Washington, D.C. The National Science Foundation will award each state winner a $10,000 cash prize.