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I believe that all successful businesses, and school systems, are always looking for ways to be creative and improve their business or organization.  Great ideas grow into systematic change when the leadership at each site is willing to listen to; research data, philosophical concepts, emotions, the latest in technological approaches, and every once in awhile a “dream” that has no data attached to it!  When hiring for leadership positions it is important to have individuals who have; strong work ethic, great communication skills, depth in educational knowledge, and a caring approach to everyone that they come into contact with.  It is also extremely important to have leadership that is flexible and willing to try ideas that go against the norm and require some patience and understanding.

Stabilityball, stability chair, ball chair, classroom ball chair

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I believe that all successful businesses, and school systems, are always looking for ways to be creative and improve their business or organization.  Great ideas grow into systematic change when the leadership at each site is willing to listen to; research data, philosophical concepts, emotions, the latest in technological approaches, and every once in awhile a “dream” that has no data attached to it!  When hiring for leadership positions it is important to have individuals who have; strong work ethic, great communication skills, depth in educational knowledge, and a caring approach to everyone that they come into contact with.  It is also extremely important to have leadership that is flexible and willing to try ideas that go against the norm and require some patience and understanding.

Over the past several years we have had some of our staff transition to Standing Desks or Workstations, use walking paths during the school work day, and on-site yoga and Pilates classes starting at 3:20 p.m.  There can be a negative public perception centering around walking paths and workout classes on-site.  Leaders have to be able to withstand that negative public perception and accept the fact that more staff will physically work out if the workouts are of convenience and they are with a positive group of peers.  If employees want to go for a 30 minute brisk walk during the middle of the day, either around a break time or lunch time, that should be encouraged and the public will soon recognize the increased enthusiasm and job performance of those employees.  We encourage our community to use our indoor walking path at Hastings High School, why would we not do the same for our employees?

A few years ago some of our teachers incorporated Stability Ball Chairs” into their classrooms.  I was very skeptical when this decision was made.  As a former elementary teacher, I could only imagine the number of times that students would be bumping into other students, falling off of their stability balls, or knocking their work off of their desktops.  The stability balls have proven to be beneficial for not only students who had some excess energy to burn off, but they have also been beneficial as motivating some students to stay focused on their work.  Students love their stability ball chair and do not want to lose the privilege of using it during the school day.

Over the past four years, several schools in our area have incorporated what I will label as, “Physically Active Learning Centers.”  Teachers can take their students into these rooms during reading or math time and the students are engaged in specific activities that require both mental and physical activities at the same time.  Some of these activities could also be accomplished in the regular classroom setting, but it is safer in the Active Learning Center.  There is research that indicates some students who have reading weaknesses, will improve in their reading skills when combining physical activity with academic repetition.

The main point of this blog is to emphasize that any of the above mentioned changes can only take place with flexibility from the leadership position.  All staff will dream and incorporate positive physical activities into the school day if they know that their site leadership is open to new ideas and are flexible.

Check out Moving Minds for more great products to engage minds through physical activity in your schools!

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Simple Tips for Getting Your Superintendent On Board!

Posted 10 months ago - by Tim Collins

Need to get your Superintendent on board?
Superintendent, Tim Collins, shares his tips and suggestions for gaining support below!

 

There are several key factors that will force a Superintendent to consider funding or helping to fund a program or initiative.  There are many small factors that help influence and foster the potential for financial support or adjustments and flexibility to make sure that the program has the potential for growth:

  • Data driven research.
  • Matching funds from a booster program.
  • Donated community labor.
  • A commitment to work ethic that goes above and beyond normal.
  • Assistance from Special Ed Programming.
  • The ability to sustain the program long term.

There is no single factor that weighs more heavily than the other.  The need and growth of programs is dependent upon a variety of variables, so it is impossible to state that one of the above factors is more important than the other. 

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If a program needs financial support, for personnel or capital needs, then there is no question that matching funds, or a financial contribution from an outside source, is a major factor in helping to influence a Superintendent.  A Superintendent understands the political ramifications of saying, “No thank you” to a business, booster club, or individual who wants to contribute financially to a school program.  In our personal lives, we would all work hard to find a hundred dollars, if we knew that our Mom or Dad was going to give us a hundred dollar match.  This reality is true for a Superintendent as well.

There are many small business owners, in every community, that have the potential to donate in-kind labor to a variety of school district programs and projects. 

  • Can a superintendent say no, if the Basketball Boosters volunteer to do the cement work, and erect basketball hoops, on every elementary playground in the district?  The district’s obligation is to pay for the hoops and the cement. 

  • Can a superintendent say no if the Softball Association will level all infields and build dugouts on every field in the district?  The district’s obligation is to purchase the materials. 

  • Can a superintendent say no if the Tennis Boosters are willing to pay for two extra tennis courts at the time the district is reinvesting in their tennis courts?  In return the district has to allow the association to have practice and summer tournaments on the district’s courts.

There is no question that the school district needs to make sure that the donated labor is skilled labor and has certified insurance.  The district needs to protect for current and future liability.  This level of donated labor, on these specific projects, allows the district to then spend their fund balance on other projects district wide.

The power of receiving cash contributions or in-kind labor is contagious and repetitive.  When other businesses see the power of their colleagues’ contributions, they ask what they can do.  Typically, individuals who donate their time or money once, will typically do it again down the road. 

If you need support from your Superintendent, make sure you are able to have one or more of the key factors outlined in this writing. 

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Community Relations to Improve Physical Activity

Posted 1 year ago - by Tim Collins

Are you looking for new ways to improve physical activity in your school? Check out a few tips from Hastings School District Superintendent, Tim Collins here!


The ability to get community involvement, in any of your school programs, centers around clear and concise communication with a variety of stakeholders in the community.  There has to be a feeling from the community that the school district wants, encourages, and welcomes the opportunity for organizations to get involved and have a voice on some of the activities that students, staff and families can participate in.  This level of direct communication fosters and builds energy from many resources in the community; athletic boosters, foundations, county and medical resources, and businesses within the community.

basket ball, basketball, ball

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These photos show some of the activities that took place during the months of June and July in the Hastings School District.  This level of activity takes place in many schools throughout the State of Minnesota.  We have outstanding participation due to the good fortune of having many of our teachers, coaches, and counselors directly involved with the youth of our communities during the summer months.  When our parents and students have a positive experience within our facilities, and with many of our staff members, the community then wants to support even more physically active programs in our schools.  The Booster Clubs, specifically, reach out and want to make financial contributions to strengthen our workout center and cardiovascular initiatives.  The Athletic Boosters understand that we want to host youth; basketball, volleyball, hockey, soccer and wrestling tournaments.  As a school district we attempt to keep the costs as low as possible for these organizations because we understand that for every dollar they raise, those dollars go right back into our athletic programs and workout equipment!


That same sense of welcoming outside organizations into our schools goes beyond athletics.  Both Dakota County Health and Human Services and the Local Y have been instrumental in administering health related services to all of our employees.  This collaborative is through health screening initiatives or flu shots, available right on site, to free trial memberships with our local Y partner.  A wellness program for our employees is always stronger and more effective when we can bring the services right to our employees on school grounds.


The Hastings Public Schools Foundation is an example of having the ability to bring foundation board members, on site, to help deliver grants to our teaching staff.  When those board members saw our zero hour physical education classes taking place at 7:00 a.m. they recognized the importance of awarding educational grants to our Health and PE classes as well.  Since that time, our PE classes have benefited by receiving heart rate monitors and iPads to increase personal health and fitness.  In future years, the Foundation will be a strong supporter of other initiatives related to health and fitness at all of our educational sites.


Our buildings are open from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. almost every day of the year.  We want organizations and community members coming into our buildings.  If individuals, and organizations, feel that we have gone out of our way to welcome them, then they will financially support our programs for years to come.

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Zero Hour Physical Education

Posted 1 year ago - by Tim Collins

Five years ago, the coaches, physical education teachers and administration, pulled together to discuss what improvements could be made for our students at Hastings High School.  An anonymous survey was conducted and it was very obvious that the students wanted a challenging, and comprehensive workout, which challenged them physically, mentally and emotionally.  It was at that point that SPARQ was created and students have to be ready to go by 7:00 AM.  Think back to the time when you were seventeen years old – would you want to leave home by 6:15 AM in order to get to the high school to work out by 7:00 AM?

The SPARQ course uses diverse training components to improve a student’s speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness.  The course is directed towards students who want to take fitness to the next level.  Students can work out for more than 45 minutes as the class has a start time of 7:00 AM. The student is then able to shower and have a quick breakfast prior to the start of their second hour class.  The class is offered three mornings a week which then allows the student to sleep in, or have extra study time, the other two days out of the week.

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Our student athletes gravitate towards this course because it allows them to have an intense workout and they can work on specific skills during their athletic team practice at the end of the day.  The rest of our student body is drawn to the class because of the engaging teaching staff, the motivation, and bonding that occurs at the very start of the day.  One of our students has lost over 100 pounds during the four semesters of participation.  There are many students now gravitating towards SPARQ because they hear other students talking about it.  When you participate in SPARQ you become part of the SPARQ team.  There is no question, that just like other teams, there is a bond that occurs when you sweat, fail, succeed, push yourself and others around you to reach new goals.  The program helps to improve your mind set, inner strength and motivation as you begin each and every day.

The number of students signing up for SPARQ continues to increase annually.  We now have an all-female SPARQ class and they are reaching an intensity level that we could not have seen before.  All students in the program are challenged, at a high level of intensity, by our instructors.  There are many times that a student will be told what they need to hear rather than being told what they want to hear.  There is no question that the students are responding to the challenge.

A program, like SPARQ, is successful because of the high energy and positive staff engaging the students!  It also takes high school administration, and coaches, who support the concept and are willing to encourage students to participate.  When you have the above ingredients, it makes a prefect recipe for success.

Our SPARQ students come out of the program, on a daily basis, with high energy and a positive approach to start the day.  Their self-esteem is improved and they understand the concept that you will never have any regrets if you challenge yourself and put in a lot of hard work.  All of the students fully understand that pushing yourself mentally, and physically, is something that they need to do for the rest of their lives.

Simply put, this program should be replicated in every high school across America.  

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