• The Bluejacket Way

  • Nate Rudolph

    Superintendent Nate Rudolph

  • Thank You Bluejacket Volunteers!

    Posted by Superintendent Rudolph on 4/27/2023

    We have often said, strong communities have strong schools, and one sign of a strong community is active community service. As we conclude National Volunteer Month and reflect on the importance of service, we want to thank the 800+ volunteers who actively share their time and talents with our schools and our children this year. When volunteers come into our schools, it tells our students that their community cares about them and supports them. And for volunteers, there are rewards as well.

    Earlier this year, Grandma Judy, who is a weekly volunteer in our Early Childhood classes, celebrated her 80th Birthday—with song, cake and hugs—surrounded by dozens of her little friends. Grandma Judy would tell you that being around children keeps us young. They make her smile and laugh every day she is there.

    Volunteering is not just about giving back, it is about creating a positive impact on the world around us. It is a powerful way to connect with others, learn new skills, and gain a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Our students benefit, and our volunteers benefit as well. Our CIHS Mock Trial coaches are attorneys in their day jobs and mentor high school students who may follow in their footsteps after college. As professionals, they are making a difference for students and for the future of their profession. And the team’s winning record provides an intrinsic reward for a job well done.

    Volunteers play a crucial role in the success of so many of our programs. From organizing events to coaching youth sports to caring for our parks and other public spaces and fundraising for important causes—our community is stronger because of the people who give so generously of their time. 

    Volunteering can also improve mental health and well-being. Studies have shown that volunteering can reduce stress, combat depression and anxiety, and increase overall life satisfaction. Volunteering builds social connections and a sense of belonging within communities.

    If you are new to our community, volunteering is a great way to get involved. We recently had a new family move into Isanti from Tennessee. On day one, they attended a PTO meeting and have been a constant presence at both Isanti Primary and Isanti Intermediate School ever since. In another example, a kindergarten and PTO parent saw a need and asked questions. Now, she is the Box Tops coordinator for her school. She took something and made it her own special way to contribute. 

    For young people, volunteering can allow students to explore new interests, gain real-world experience, and build their resumes for future employment. Last weekend, dozens of students volunteered to support the Bluejacket Education Foundation Future Fest. More than 200 people turned out for the event. Our culinary students volunteered in the kitchen, Link Crew members served the food, our Jazz Band performed, and students created art for the silent auction. Other student volunteers included Model UN, NHS, FCCLA, pro start, tech crew, and Link Crew students. The students worked hard — and had fun! The energy in the room was inspiring with so many people there to support our kids! 

    Volunteers in our schools are also greatly appreciated by the staff! No project is too big or small for our amazing volunteers. Whether it be taking home projects to work on, helping in the Critter Cafe at Cambridge Primary, volunteering at events, or being a classroom helper, if you want to get involved, our volunteer coordinators can find you a match!

    Events like our Reading Island at CPS during I LOVE to Read Month were a success because a handful of volunteers worked together to create a fun, learning “getaway” for the students by transforming the multi-purpose room into a tropical reading island with literacy stations all around.

    Grandparents are always welcome volunteers, and we appreciate our partnerships with the Central MN Foster Grandparent Program. At Isanti Primary, Grandpa Jim and at Cambridge Primary, Grandma Jody provide extra help and guidance for children. Students LOVE to work with them because they make the students feel special, and teachers appreciate their kind hearts and warm smiles. I wonder if they realize the impact they have on these students' lives. 

    Every week, you can walk through the halls at our schools and see the impact of volunteers. Staff members and students are so appreciative.  

    And we have three amazing volunteer coordinators who make these connections work: Amy Huntley, Angela Lindell, and Nicki Hasser. If you’d like to connect, please visit c-ischools.org/volunteer.

    “It warms my heart working with such amazing community members,” Volunteer Coordinator Amy Huntley says. “They devote so many hours and kindness to our students and staff.  Volunteers, please know how much you are appreciated by SO many!!”

    Whether a one-time activity, an at-home project, a seasonal group, or a weekly routine, our schools benefit from every generous gift of time. We could not do all we do without our volunteers! Thank you.

    Volunteering is not just about giving back to our communities, it is about creating a positive community and benefiting ourselves in the process. Consider volunteering your time and talents to a cause that you care about. Whether you have a few hours or a few days to spare, your contribution can make a difference. Thank you for all that you do to support our kids, our school and our communities.


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  • Grateful for Community Connections, Partnership and Support

    Posted by Superintendent Rudolph on 11/22/2022

    It’s November — a season of gratitude — and that’s exactly what I felt this election season as thoughts wandered back to November 2021 when voters of our district overwhelmingly approved an operating referendum with 63% support. The funds were specifically approved to:

    • To hire and retain teachers and staff 

    • Lower class sizes

    • Protect and enhance career and technical education opportunities for students

    I was recently at a Rotary Meeting, and someone asked me how the funds have been spent. I was happy to report that 100% of the funds have been spent as promised. We’ve hired more teachers. Our elementary class sizes average 23 students per class and the kindergarten class size average is under 20 students, meaning more personal attention for all of our students. Our CTE program is not only still operating, but we are busy planning for the future and looking for ways to expand our programming. 

    School funding in Minnesota is a shared partnership between local communities and the state. Our students benefit from our community investment in their learning and we are so grateful for your support. This would not have been achieved without you! 

    Community Partners Support Strong Schools

    Over the last six months, dozens of people have been involved in a strategic planning process for our schools. During one of our meetings, an expert in healthcare shared that 80% of “healthcare” happens outside of the doctor’s office or medical facilities, which is prompting medical facilities to rethink preventative healthcare planning. They are focusing on what they call the “social determinants of health,” which refers to the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. 

    For example: Studies indicate that people with higher levels of education are more likely to be healthier and live longer. Therefore, one of our national health goals is to increase the number of students who graduate high school in four years. Graduating high school leads to higher-paying jobs and fewer health problems like heart disease, diabetes, addiction and depression. 

    Likewise, our partners at the Cambridge Medical Center have expertise and excellent programs to support student mental health in our community. One such program, Change to Chill (changetochill.org), helps our students develop strategies to cope with stress and anxiety.

    However, we can’t wait until high school. Families with young child are also experiencing high levels of stress. We believe learning starts at birth and our schools want to be an important resource for families. So, part of our Strategic Plan will seek to increase access to high-quality early childhood education and after school care programs for families who want those services. But we can’t do it alone. By partnering with our cities, county, chamber and others, we can more efficiently address this pressing need. 

    In a growing community, collaboration matters. We rely on our community partners to provide needed services without the redundancy. We have some exciting opportunities for our students we will announce soon and we’ll continue to identify community partners who align with the goals, mission, and learning objectives of our Strategic Plan.  

    Thankful for School Board Members’ Service to our Community 

    We are also thankful for our elected School Board members who are tireless advocates for our students and families. At the end of this year, three school board members will be retiring from the Board: Lynn Wedlund, who has served for twelve years, Tim Hitchings, who has also served for twelve years, and Aaron Berg, who served for four years. Mr. Hitchings, who is Board Chair, was also  just honored by the Minnesota Association of School Boards and named to the AllState School Board. We will celebrate our retiring board members at our December School Board meeting. If you would like to share a note of thanks, please send them an email or card via their school district address (at c-ischools.org/school-board).

    Grateful for our Teachers and Staff

    Finally, our full gratitude this holiday season goes to our incredible teachers and staff whose relationships with students make them feel valued, loved, and appreciated. Our staff also provide guidance, in and out of the classroom, and continue to lead our students toward their goals and full potential. I am so excited to continue working with our great staff on future opportunities for our students. 

    As we head into the Thanksgiving season, I want to leave with you one of my favorite passages. 

    "Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise with songs of praise!"

    Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving. Thank you for your continued support.

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