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May 2017

School Forgiveness Days Update
The Department has received a number of requests relating to forgiveness of days missed due to flooding. Sections 160.041.2 and 171.033.4, RSMo, allow for the commissioner of education to grant a waiver to excuse school districts from the minimum school calendar requirement in these extreme cases.

We understand and support administrators in their decisions to keep student and staff safety the top priority. We also know that they will continue to do their best to maintain the integrity of the school calendar to meet the educational needs of their students. Waiver requests from school districts should be addressed to Commissioner Vandeven and may be sent hard copy to P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480 or may be emailed to Deputy Commissioner Roger Dorson. Waiver requests must be submitted by Friday, May 12.

Fight Summer Loss with the Missouri Math Challenge
The Missouri Math Challenge is a way to encourage students to keep their math skills sharp throughout the summer months. On average, students lose 2.6 months in grade-level equivalency in math skills during summer break. It’s easy for parents to sign up their children to participate, so fight summer math loss with the Missouri Math Challenge!

Three Missouri Schools Recognized by Green Ribbon Schools Program
On May 4, the U.S. Department of Education announced that three Missouri schools were chosen as part of the 2017 Green Ribbon Schools program. McKelvey Elementary School (Maryland Heights), Parkway North High School (St. Louis) and Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School (Maplewood) are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

“The students and staff in these schools have made great strides to better themselves and their local community,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “Their dedication to creating a healthy and active learning environment is worthy of this national recognition.”

Goal #1 - All Missouri students will graduate college and career ready.                       

Nixa Elementary Students Develop Green Thumbs
At Nixa Public Schools’ John Thomas School of Discovery (K-6 grades), students have cultivated quite the resource for local residents who are in search of typical farmers market goods. This year’s crop of students have grown nearly 200 flowers, hanging baskets and vegetable plants, as well as created other products such as bug repellent, body scrub, lip balm and bar soap. Learn more about this student-led initiative here.

Rockwood Student Builds Upon Love of Reading
A ninth-grader in the Rockwood R-VI school district combined his love of reading with a desire to attain a personal goal in order to benefit students at his former middle school. Jack Novatny, now in ninth grade at Marquette High School, built a cabinet-like structure that serves as a small library for the students at Ridge Meadows Middle School. The project, which helped him earn the rank of Eagle Scout, was unveiled to Ridge Meadows students on April 12.

Platte County (R-III) Robotics Squad Finishes Second in World Competition
Two robotics teams from Platte County High School qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Ky., from April 19-22, with one squad finishing second in the 2017 world competition. More than 18,000 high school teams from around the world competed in this year’s VEX challenge, with the top Platte County team falling in the championship to a program from Shanghai, China. This was just the school’s third year of participating in the VEX robotics program and marked the first trip to the world championships for the program.

Goal #2 - All Missouri children will enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school.

Helping Children Who Have Endured Trauma
According to recent information, new research shows that witnessing traumatic events, like domestic violence, shootings, or even fighting, can impact the physical development of a child’s brain – potentially leading to lifelong health and social issues. However, parents can make a positive difference for children who have experienced trauma by providing five specific actions.

Development of Language and Communication Skills
Language skills begin at birth – even before a baby says his or her first word. There are simple things that adults can do every day to encourage language development. This great video from Zero to Three explains what parents and caregivers can do to support the development of communication skills from birth to age three.

50 Ideas for Preschool Process Art Activities 
Art activities with young children should focus on the process, rather than the product. It’s tempting to do craft-type activities in the classroom, where all children create something very similar. Process art is more about providing a variety of materials and allowing the children to explore and create what they choose. This type of open-ended activity promotes problem-solving, language exploration, and social-emotional skills as well as creativity and fine motor skill development. Visit this website for 50 ideas for preschool-age process art activities.

Goal 3 - Missouri will prepare, develop and support effective educators.

Valley Park Designated as a Microsoft School District
Valley Park is now one of only 1,500 designated Microsoft School Districts in the U.S. working to transform education and integrate technology into their classrooms. The unique and specialized designation notes the level of communication and collaboration between Valley Park and Microsoft. The collaboration will impact classrooms as teachers implement Microsoft tools in various ways, meeting student needs on an individual basis. Moreover, the skills and experiences students gain through Microsoft tools transfer directly to post-secondary education and careers; a recent survey of colleges and universities where most of the district’s graduates attend revealed they primarily rely on Microsoft technologies in classrooms and on campuses. Learn more about the program and Valley Park’s process.

Explaining Developmentally Appropriate Practice to Families
High quality early learning programs help children learn through play. It can be challenging to explain Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) to families who expect children to bring home worksheets and coloring pages. This helpful article from NAEYC gives some suggested responses teachers can use when families wonder how the play-based preschool classroom is preparing students for kindergarten.

Guest Columnists Wanted for Missouri Educators Site
One specific feature of the Missouri Teachers website is a section where educators get their chance to share their passion about teaching as a “Guest Educator Columnist.” If you would like to contribute a column regarding a specific teaching experience, classroom methods or how you’ve implemented something you learned from a mentor/previous teacher, please contact the DESE Communications office.


The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, or disability in its programs and activities. Inquiries related to Department programs and to the location of services, activities, and facilities that are accessible by persons with disabilities may be directed to the Jefferson State Office Building, Office of the General Counsel, Coordinator - Civil Rights Compliance (Title VI/Title IX/504/ADA/Age Act), 6th Floor, 205 Jefferson Street, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480; telephone number 573-526-4757 or TTY 800-735-2966; email civilrights@dese.mo.gov
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