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Getting an IB education

This week was another busy week and a particularly coffee-fueled one. I had coffee with a Park Spanish Immersion Elementary parent, a former school board member and the executive director of the Minnesota Association of International Baccalaureate Schools.

One might presume that as a parent of a kid going into 6th grade, I’d have a firm grip on what “IB” means. It turns out, I had only the basics. To use some IB terminology, I need to do more formative work.

Even after talking with executive director Jon Peterson, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in IB schools. But, I would consider myself newly enlightened.

If you would’ve asked me before about what it means to be an IB school, my answer would have been something along the lines of “we have a shared curriculum of sorts with schools across the word.”

What I came away with from our conversation was a much deeper appreciation for how the IB program teaches people to be learners — and I might even say explorers.

I understand just a bit better what the different levels of IB “programmes” are. I can see better how IB programs are designed to evaluate. I have an appreciation for the ways the IB can be rolled into immersion programs and used to address things like classroom anxiety and career preparation.

It’s clear there’s more formative work I have to do in this area. And, it’s not like I am going to do some late-night cramming for an exam to get there. That would be against the spirit of IB.

But, I know now more about where to go to learn more and can start thinking more about how we might even be able to do more at SLP schools with IB. And, I promise when I get the opportunity, I’ll bring you all along, too, so you can understand what we are doing, why we are doing and what the benefit will be.

Me meeting with Minnesota IB executive director Jon Peterson.

Building a new learning environment at every school

This was the week everyone headed back to school at St. Louis Park Public Schools.

For many, it has become a routine with which they have become quite familiar — we’re talking your third graders on up. They know the meet-the-teacher, learn-the-schedule, get-things-set up and start-working-hard routine.

But, there was a huge difference for just about everyone this year. Everyone saw changes in the physical structures that surround them.

At Aquila and Park Spanish Immersion elementary schools, it was brand new classrooms throughout. And, in the case of PSI, it was a whole new building.

At the middle and high schools, much more of it was about projects in progress. My son, brand new to the middle schools, was already lamenting the fact that the new second level hallway has not yet been completed.

Regardless of the status, what is great is that we’re already seeing improvements to our schools that the voters of St. Louis Park school district voted for just a couple of years ago.

I was proud to serve as a parent representative from Aquila on the Learning Design Team that helped generate the ideas for how we create learning environments that meet the needs of today’s students.

And, I was also proud to serve on the Vote Yes parent committee that made sure that people in St. Louis Park knew exactly why we needed the funding for these improvements and what it would mean for our kids.

So, while there will be some growing pains for our students, it is exciting to see that our we’re moving forward in building a new learning environment at every school.

I look forward to all the changes to come.

construction worker working on entrance at the high school
Signs of construction from late this summer

Registering the kid for middle school

While I am a candidate for St. Louis Park school board, I am also a parent. And last night was the first ever middle school registration night that I have attended.

As evidenced by my tie in the picture below, it was a whirlwind event.

My son, Shepard, with his mom and me.

It really was a great evening. You could feel the enthusiasm of everyone there — from students to staff to teachers to parents.

Beyond going to the various stations to drop forms and get photos, we got to take in the whole building.

We got to wander the halls, find classrooms and learn how to work those lockers (an eighth grader named Jake helped us with the trick of opening them).

We even got to meet one of Shepard’s teachers, Mr. Plantz, who was very welcoming.

And, I think we’re now ready for this.

I am so proud of all of our schools and especially excited to learn more about and experience St. Louis Park Middle School. And figure by the end of the school year, my tie may settle down some.

Getting a better sense of it all

The actual campaign season has just gotten underway, but my journey to run for school board started a while back.

Starting last fall, I set out to meet with all current and a few former school board members. It was just about two months ago I wrapped up my conversations with current board members. (And, I’d still like to connect with some other former board members).

While I spent some time sharing my experiences and interests, a larger component of what I did was listened. I heard about what it is like to move from involved parent to school district decision maker. I began to see the levels of involvement and opportunities once elected to the school board. I started to see that while their opportunities, there are also challenges.

I also got a deeper sense of what has been the driving factor for people to pursue being on the school board and what they have become passionate about — gender inclusion, greater diversity, funding for special education, extra curriculars, mental health and general wellness — and more.

It’s helping me get a better sense of what all is involved and what all is needed, as I continue to listen to parents and community members share their ideas. This past week, I listened to parents at the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) meeting and at the City of St. Louis Park’s Neighborhood Leader and Block Captain BBQ (I am the outgoing chair of South Oak Hill).

And, the journey continues. Glad to have you following along. Send me a note if you’d like. And, if you haven’t already, you can also share a contribution. Our online donation system is up and working now. Visit the donate page for more information.

Visiting with voters on National Night Out

It was fun going around to a few of the block parties for National Night Out earlier this week.

People asked me what I was running on/for. I continued to emphasize that I am running to continue the excellence of SLP schools. I could’ve gotten way more specific, but instead I wanted to hear what people were thinking/concerned about.

Here’s a list of some of what I heard

  • mental health needs to be a priority; students have lots of anxiety issues
  • we may not be reaching students at the extremes of the spectrum of learners (gifted/talented and those with learning disabilities) well enough
  • we may be overlooking those who are right in the middle
  • kids need sleep
  • the high school has an excellent German program
  • “I live in Minneapolis, but want to send my kids to St. Louis Park schools”
  • “we love the diversity of students”

I appreciate hearing these comments. It shows how differently people experience our schools, how much people like our schools, how much people care about students and what we have to offer.

I’m not done listening yet, either. If you want to share your experience with St. Louis Park Public Schools, send me an email at colin@ccolincoxslp.org.

Kicking off campaign for St. Louis Park School Board

St. Louis Park – As of 8 a.m., Tuesday, July 30, C. Colin Cox is a candidate for St. Louis Park Public Schools (School District 283) school board. Cox was the first person to file his affidavit for candidacy for school board.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with residents – young and old, long-time or new, parents or non-parents – to learn what’s important to them and share my vision for our amazing St. Louis Park schools,” said Colin Cox. 

Cox has been involved with St. Louis Park Public Schools for several years. Most recently he served as a parent representative for the district’s school start-end times study. He served a similar role on the district’s learning design team, which identified the facility improvements needed to bring St. Louis Park schools up to current standards and prepare the district for the future. 

Cox was also one of the five co-chairs for the successful parent grassroots campaign that helped pass the district’s two referenda questions in the 2017 election with an overwhelming majority. He has had other roles in the district, including participating in the district’s parent advisory committee and volunteering in the schools, especially at Aquila Elementary, where his son attended.

Cox studied communications and secondary education at Marquette University and, following graduation, he worked in suburban Chicago area schools for two years. He has worked as a substitute teacher with children of all grade levels, including in St. Louis Park Public Schools. 

Beyond his commitment to St. Louis Park Schools, Cox has served as a St. Louis Park representative on the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s Citizens Advisory Committee and as president of the South Oak Hill Neighborhood Association. 

Learn more about Colin Cox and his campaign by visiting www.ccolincoxslp.orgor www.facebook.com/ccolincoxslp. Election day is Tuesday, November 5. 

C. Colin Cox for St. Louis Park Schools
3800 Woodland Drive
St Louis Park, MN 55426

www.ccolincoxslp.org

colin@ccolincoxslp.org

612-850-9030

Updates

Why the 2019 elections are important to me

I am excited to announce that I am a candidate for St. Louis Park Public Schools school board in 2019.

We have outstanding public schools here in St. Louis Park. And, I want to make sure they continue to stay strong, smart, effective and efficient.

This year, there’s a unique opportunity for residents of School District 283. There are four slots that will be on this fall’s ballot.

I’ve had the opportunity to become more and more involved with St. Louis Park Public Schools since my son started in the pre-school program led by the St. Louis Park Community Education.

Over the years, I’ve gone from being the parent who simply attends the PTO meetings to a proud parent/community representative on two important districtwide committees.

And, this builds on all sort of other community experiences I have had through neighborhood organizations and other public agencies and entities.

So, I will have my name on the ballot this fall.

And, over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing more to let you know who I am and why I want your vote for this fall’s election.