Superintendent Blog and Brief Updates

  • Working Together to Accomplish More

    Posted by Eric Olson on 10/30/2020


    I want to stay in school. As superintendent of Monticello Public Schools, I believe in providing options for our families. As long as we are not getting community spread in our schools, I believe that some version of in-person learning needs to be an option. This short entry has three points of encouragement. Please spread the word of these three important messages.

    #1 – Dear Community – School is important for kids. Our future depends on students developing social, emotional, and academic skills that come from attending school. Our Monticello teachers help instill confidence, preparedness, and the skills to succeed in life. Please do your part to stop the spread of COVID. While digging into COVID spreading, there is a strong correlation to social gatherings. Please be mindful of your surroundings. Large multi-family parties are a significant contributor to COVID spread. While there is community spread going on, we are doing our part to make Monticello Schools safe places. We are have Cold Plasma Air Filtration units installed, we wear our masks, we social distance, we wash our hands, we take disinfection seriously, and we have a strong desire to keep COVID out of our schools. We ask everyone to do their part to make healthy choices too.

    If our district needs to move to a more restrictive learning model because of COVID spread in our schools, there are big changes looming regarding facility rental. Recently, the State has come out with new facility use guidelines (10-30-2020). These guidelines will change how schools operate Community Education rentals. Once again, let’s work together to slow community spread. We want school and youth activities to have safe places to participate.

    #2 – Dear Parents, Guardians, and Families – All students need your help to succeed in school. Elementary aged children have caring teachers and specialists who will share how much support you can assist with at home. Teachers want the best for your child and they care deeply for them. We know that you do too. We also know that you know your child better than us. However, we see your child in a school setting with their peers. Teachers will help each student reach their full potential. Listen to your teachers and be ready to work together to provide your child nurture and support as a TEAM.

    Secondary students also need your help. They may tell their parents that they do not want help and they may even say that they can do it by themselves. This isn’t true. You should have conversations about school and connect your student to the help they need prior to small problems becoming big problems. In MS and HS, students also have caring M&M/homeroom, content, and specialist teachers or counselors. These professionals are happy to assist you and guide your students to independence. As students transition through grades 6-12, you may be able to support less as they become more responsible, but please do not miss opportunities to engage in conversations, support, and check in. Parents are encouraged to access Schoology and Parent Portal accounts to serve as conversation starters. We also encourage you to develop confidence in your children by teaching them to have conversations with their teachers/counselors. Students should be taught how to advocate for themselves as part of the school process.

    We can stay in school, we can succeed in school, but we all need to work together.

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  • Are you curious?

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/29/2020

    9-29-2020 – Are you curious?

    I love watching kids. There is no better sight than seeing the spark in a student’s eye when they learn something new. Wait! I thought of something even better yet; I love seeing students who are curious and intent on learning something new.

    As you work with your child around the house or supporting their education (no matter what learning model they are in). Find ways to foster curiosity. Great teachers, great parents, great bosses, great leaders inspire others to go learn more…

    There are sure fire ways that parents and teachers can challenge students. Try the following three ideas while working with kids:

    • Let kids teach you about their high interest topics.
    • Ask questions…Ask deeper questions (that require a resource to answer)…Find ways to inspire kids to grab the resource to dig deeper.
      • If a child never asks a question, you may not be sparking learning for your child/student. This might mean they already know what you are teaching. Or, you might be the type of person who answers questions without inspiring them to dig deeper. It could also mean that the material is too difficult and they are trying to hide from the struggles of learning. Look in the mirror to see if any of these descriptions fits you and make a change (if needed).
    • Teach problem-solving strategies and please let your child struggle or be confused.

    Try using these three sure fire techniques of promoting curiosity. And finally, ask yourself, "What you are curious about as an adult?" This question and answer could be your guide for inspiring other people’s curiosity!

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  • Weekends were made for Coffee Chats

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/21/2020

    Join Me for a Virtual Coffee Chat regarding the start of the 2020-21 school year and the upcoming ISD 882 levy. Families can join the Zoom here at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26th!

    We are only a few days away from bringing back Saturday Coffee chats and I am already getting excited. 

    Tune in to my blogs all week in case I post additional information about our first chat of the school year. I strongly believe that my purpose as a superintendent is to bring all of us closer together.

    Have a great week!

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  • Pura Vida...Fika...Hakuna Matata...And YOU

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/15/2020

    In continuation of yesterday's story about a good feeling, I bring three special phrases or ways to live by...

    Pura Vida is a Spanish phrase often used in Costa Rica and several other Spanish speaking countries. Fika is a word that brings us to Sweden. And, if you have kids, you probably have watched the Lion King. Who doesn't start dancing when you think of  Timon and Pumbaa's ode to, "Hakuna Matata" or living a worry free life? This particular phrase comes from the Swahili language which is used in several East African countries.

    Regardless of which special phrase you choose today, I challenge everyone to "live the pure life - Pura Vida" or "make time for coffee with friends and colleagues" or "just start dancing when you live by the motto of Hakuna Matata."

    As we move forward through our school year, we appreciate everyone trying to create the best learning environment possible for students. We might all need to remind ourselves to slow down and enjoy the moment.

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  • Take a step closer and listen

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/14/2020 6:00:00 PM

    My favorite teacher throughout my k-12 experience was my 11th grade English teacher named Mr. Miltich. He was a teacher for the ages. He engaged us with stories that connected us to learning, he talked about his own journeys in life including military experience, and he was both theatrical and musical (which he shared with us). 

    While Mr. Miltich was extremely engaging, he also kept me curious with questions or he provided written feedback on my papers which often led to rewriting large sections of my work. Regardless of what he made me do, I knew that his feedback was meant to make me a better person and a more efficient writer. I never minded the work that ensued from a visit to his desk. You see, Mr. Miltich was my teacher 35 years ago, but I can still remember almost every feature about him. I remember what he looked like, how he spoke, how he dressed, the short stories that we read in class, and most importantly; I remember how good he made me feel every time that he spoke to me.

    I am reminded of Mr. Miltich today because of HOW GOOD I FEEL. I am surrounded by people working together and making me feel AWESOME! It is my hope that today’s blog serves as a reminder of how important it is to treat others the way that we want to be treated. Whether we are teaching your kids, ordering coffee at Caribou, standing in line at Target, walking past a person on the street, or coming home after a long day at work, we can all take the time to make people feel good. It’s a simple act of kindness that can lead to a community filled with joy.


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  • One step at a time...

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/11/2020 6:30:00 PM

    Each day this week can be highlighted as growth. We built relationships. We built a foundation for students to build upon next week. We began many new endeavors. It was a great first week! And, I want to thank FAMILIES for choosing Monticello for their learning needs.

    We will do everything in our power to continue growing together with you. We promise to show you and your family grace as you develop routines at home. We hope that you show us grace through your understanding that we are not perfect and we will make mistakes during the school year.

    While there will be mistakes, I have a comforting piece of news. We care for your children with our whole hearts and you care for your children with your whole hearts.

    Have a great weekend!

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  • When will we have to change the Instruction Model?

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/10/2020

    COVID Data shows that our County COVID Data has increased in each of the last two week reporting periods. We were at 16 cases per 10,000 and now we are at 20.1 cases per 10,000. That is definitely the bad news. The good news is that our administration has planned extensively to be able to move, at a moment’s notice, to hybrid at the elementary level. As a reminder, we are already at the hybrid level at the MMS and MHS. 

    As a district, we are always thinking and planning for the future. After meeting with our COVID Regional Support Team on Friday (9/11) morning, I will be ready to share something out to our families. My message will be to share comforting news that our schools can move to the next model of instruction without impacting our families.

    With that being said, I always want families to be thinking to the future. If we have to move up two levels (to Distance Learning) because of county data or a COVID outbreak happens in our district, are you ready to move at a moment’s notice? We have to navigate 2020-21 together and in order to navigate any school changes, you should always be planned for the future… 

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  • New Platform Reform

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/9/2020

    Back when I was a teacher, I remember thinking I was pretty cool when I went to Home Depot purchased a 4 by 8 sheet of white paneling and screwed it to my chalkboard. Walla! I was the first at my school to have a whiteboard. I know what you are thinking...Wow - this dude is old! That's beside the point. What I did on that whiteboard was both routine and collaborative. The morning message could be found in one location, our daily schedule in another location, and a place for students to demonstrate learning was the bottom portion of the whiteboard.

    While the story above might be from 1999, I will connect some basic principles that teachers give their students. Students gain enormous amounts of confidence from a teacher. The actions, words, and routines of our teachers build independence. And, student independence leads to better problem-solving skills. 

    In Monticello, our teachers will be connecting what they know about establishing routines in order to build confidence in our 2020 learners. Teachers will better use Seesaw (Pre K- 5) / Schoology for Universal Design (unification across 6-12) for their online learning platform. Whether students are in class looking at a teacher's whiteboard or at home learning, students can always find a welcome folder of orientation materials, syllabus, and a workflow plan to submit assignments, a weekly intro, and learning targets.

    COVID might be lemons, but if we make lemonade, we can create independence for our students through the use of routines and standardization of our learning platform. We ask that parents and students get on the Seesaw and Schoology bus! 


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  • The Most Important Aspect of Education

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/8/2020

    Create Meaningful Connections

    In his book, The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros says it perfect, "The three most important words in education are relationships, relationships, relationships."

    No matter what learning environment that your family chose for your children, Monticello Public Schools prides itself on building relationships with your child. Please know that the more caring adults that students have in their lives, the more success will be experienced. Do you remember exactly what you learned in each grade of your own school career? I bet not, but I bet that you can remember everything about your favorite teachers. How a person makes you feel will be a life-long memory! 

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  • Labor Day Weekend

    Posted by Eric Olson on 9/4/2020 2:45:00 PM

    While I will use this blog to discuss the art of instruction and building meaningful relationships, we will also have daily posts focusing on Health, Safety, and Support Services. You will find these posts on the district website (under 2020-21 COVID). It is our hope that by providing small amounts of daily information, we will reassure families of all the great components of our Monticello Safe Plan.

    Please take the Labor Day Weekend 2020 to enjoy family, friends, a campfire, some stories, and any other outdoor fun that provides memories!

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