It has been a whirlwind of a fall at North Branch Area Public Schools! It has been great to have students back in our schools and enjoying so many major improvements across the school district.

It is traditional to articulate what we are thankful for at this time of year, and at the risk of sounding like a “broken record,” I must indicate again how deeply appreciative I am of the community’s support for making these improvements in our school district.

I have had the opportunity to speak with countless students since the beginning of the school year. On those occasions we talk about their experiences in the classroom, areas in which they would like to see change, and how the improvements have changed their educational experience.

What is interesting is the wide range of responses from kids. While there are certainly favorites among students (the learning stair at the high school for instance), opinions regarding the “best” improvement vary as greatly as the students themselves.

Many students have commented on the general improvement to the learning environment, commenting that our schools are brighter and more welcoming. Others have noted the flexible furniture in the classrooms and how it lends to a more relaxed and comfortable experience. High school students often highlight the “flex spaces” created in the building and how great it is to have a place to sit and work outside the classroom, and how it feels more like a college atmosphere. Student athletes often mention the fitness center as well as stadium improvements.

Many students have noted that there is a renewed sense of pride at our schools and that updated learning areas such as the FTLAs (flexible teaching and learning areas) at the middle school or the culinary arts classroom at the high school improve learning and make it more fun.

Most people’s impressions of the improvements come from what they see when they drive by; exterior improvements, stadium improvements, etc. I can assure you though that the improvements are somewhat like an iceberg; the portion you see is just a small fraction of the whole.

If you would like the opportunity to see the rest of the iceberg, I encourage you to consider a Patron Tour! We have one coming up Friday, Dec. 13, from 7:45 a.m. to noon. Contact Community Relations Coordinator Patrick Tepoorten at 651-674-1018 or ptepoorten@isd138.org if you are interested.

As I gather with family this week I will be thinking of how thankful I am for each and every one of you, and the transformational change you have created for today’s students as well as tomorrow’s! Thank you, and may you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving!

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