Lt Gov announces SMART Schools Challenge to use less energy, promote health

This just in:

Montana’s Lt. Gov. Angela McLean, who worked as a teacher for two decades, today announced a new challenge to the state’s public schools.

Here’s the deets:

It’s no secret that Montana schools are doing amazing and innovative things. Students today have opportunities to earn college credit in high school, get hands on career training in college and gain valuable skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields in elementary and middle school. Through these efforts, students are achieving and succeeding in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

For 20 years, I had a front row seat to these exciting and inspirational student successes. And in my new position as Lieutenant Governor, I want to make sure schools have all of the tools and resources to expand on the good work they’re already doing. It’s with that in mind that this week I’ll be kicking off my SMART Schools Challenges. Through this effort, we’ll challenge Montana schools to use less energy and promote student health. It’s pretty simple, if we use less energy and promote student health, we will save schools money that can be used on classroom instruction.

The reality is that schools in the U.S. spend more than $6 billion a year on energy. Many cite their energy bill as being the largest yearly expense. While we know this, we also know that implementing simple behavioral and operational measures to be smart about energy consumption can shave up to 30 percent off of a school’s yearly energy bill. When we save money on energy use, we shore up money for other things schools need, like computers and technology upgrades.

Over the coming days, I’ll be traveling to communities across the state to highlight some of the work that is already being done as part of these challenges. In many schools, students are leading the way on conservation and health promotion.

We’ll make sure to let you know when I’m in your community, but in the meantime, go to SMARTSchools.mt.gov to learn more about the challenges, and steps schools can take to save money and promote student health.

Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

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Montana gets federal grant to study paid family and medical leave

The National Partnership for Women & Families sent out a news release today congratulating Montana for being one of four states to win a federal grant to study family and medical leave.

The announcement is copied below:

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In local playground news …

this!

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Sweet! Honey Harvest Festival will be family-friendly

Mmm. Honey.

It’s good on toast and, mixed with hot water and cinnamon, it’s my go-to all-natural remedy for coughs and scratchy throats.

Next weekend, the first-ever Missoula Honey Harvest Festival will take place on the University of Montana Oval. It’s free, open to the community and best of all, family-friendly.

At the festival, local beekeepers and others in the bee business will have their wares on display and for sale. Festival-goers will also be treated to tastes, and will get to see live bees in a glass hive. They’ll get to learn about bees and can even try their hand at building a beehive.

There’s also going to be a honey auction for charity. And G. Wiz. (otherwise known as University of Montana chemistry professor Garon Smith) will offer his trademark educational entertainment for kids. Also, American Honey Princess (there really is such a thing!) Elena Huffman will travel all the way from Pennsylvania to be there. I look forward to seeing what she’s wearing. I hope it’s really princess-y and bee-themed.

 

Meanwhile, UM is hosting two “bee-related academic conferences,” according to a university news release: The 37th Annual Western Apicultural Society Conference and the second International Conference on Hive and Honeybee Monitoring. They will take place from Sept. 17-20.

“The conferences will provide great information to beekeepers and researchers, but the Honey Harvest Festival will be a fun celebration of the honey bee and local beekeepers,” Jerry Bromenshenk, a UM bee scientist and instructor of the UM School of Extended & Lifelong Learning’s Online Beekeeping Certificate Program, is quoted saying in the news release. “This is a great chance for those who are interested in beekeeping to meet folks who can help them get started.”

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New arrival!

It was a dark and stormy night …

No really, it was dark and stormy in the wee hours of the morning when Baby Girl arrived three days late.

I would have told you about her sooner, but I’ve been too engrossed in staring adoringly at her to do much of anything else.

Despite not being sure about her for pretty much my entire pregnancy, I’ve discovered she’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect and all the things I didn’t expect her to be, like a sound sleeper.

I’m so relieved, Jared told me.

He made the comment as we were lying in bed one night talking about postpartum depression and how to recognize it. Considering that I had been slow to come around to pregnancy, let alone actually having a baby, he’s worried those less-than-enthusiastic sentiments will carry over now that Baby Girl’s here.

But it’s like a switch flipped, he said.

Tell you the truth, I’m relieved too. It took a false labor call after a fall for me to realize that I loved Baby Girl and even after that I wasn’t a fan of pregnancy.

However, I am a fan of motherhood.

That’s not to say I’ve been all smiles. I’ve cried and given myself hugs and pep talks a few times. Per our discussion about postpartum depression, I tell Jared about the bad along with the good instead of plastering a false smile on my face, and to his credit he listens.

It’s overwhelming, suddenly having a little human to care for, especially one who can’t tell you what she needs. It’s particularly overwhelming when she won’t stop crying no matter what you try.

The doctors say all we have to do is feed her and change her diaper, but those basics don’t always cover it.

There are all the little things, like what bath water temperature she likes best and how long she’ll stand being in the swing before she wants to be held again. And what song will lull her back to sleep after she wakes in a fury at 3 a.m. (I’m pretty sure Jared sang her every song he knows, with the Griz fight song thrown in several times for good measure. The next morning Jared’s footprints were still visible in the carpet where he had stood.)

The most difficult thing for me, though, has been learning to be less controlling.

I am not super human. If I want to have energy to be kind to Jared when he gets home from work or the patience to withstand Baby Girl’s crying spells and to enjoy the moments when she’s adorable, other things must be ignored.

There is no schedule anymore. If Baby Girl sleeps, I sleep. Forget those chocolate chip cookies I was going to make or my plan to mop the floor.

Even with all the adjustments, conquering the learning curve is worth it to have Baby Girl. Like I said, she’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect.

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Check out the Children’s Museum’s new exhibits for free!

You can tell a new school year is underway by the (in)frequency of my posts here. Busy busy busy!

On nice days when we don’t have anything else scheduled, we bike to school. It helps us work some wiggles out before the school day starts and settle down after school.

But now that I have a kiddo getting out of school and another at 3:30, then activities twice or three times a week that start at 4, we’ve having to drive the van to get where we’re going on time. Or relatively close to on time.

In the scramble I’ve missed posting a lot of stuff, but I wanted to make not to not miss free admission day at the Missoula Children’s Museum. It’s this Friday, Sept. 12, and it’s a chance to come check out the new September exhibits.

The two new exhibits were installed just yesterday, and they were kept secret so as to be a surprise.

So come downtown with the kids on Friday and be surprised!

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It’s time to apply for the Senate Youth Program

It’s still August, true, but October will be upon us before we know it. If you know a student interested in landing a post in this prestigious program – not to mention the $5,000 scholarship that goes with it – encourage that teen to get an application in pronto!

Walsh, Tester encourage Montana students

to join Senate Youth Program

Applications for Washington leadership program due October 10

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators John Walsh and Jon Tester are encouraging Montana students to apply for the United States Senate Youth Program, a week-long leadership program that introduces students to the inner workings of the government and importance of democracy.

Two Montana students will join 102 of their peers from around the country to take part in the conference that will feature guest lectures and tours of national landmarks. Each participant will receive a $5,000 college scholarship in addition to the all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital.

The 53rd annual United States Senate Youth Program will take place March 7-14, 2015, and interested Montana applicants should contact their high school principal or Tobie Liedes at (406) 444-2417 and TLiedes2@mt.gov. Applications are due October 10, 2014.

Participants are in the top percentage of their states in academic and extracurricular performance, and they exhibit a strong interest in public affairs.

The Senate Youth Program was established in 1962, and over 50,000 of American youth have participated in the program.

 

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New school year brings new round of federal grant funding

Three cheers for reading and writing!

Juneau and Tester Announce Extension

of $4.9 Million Striving Readers Grant

Forty-Two Schools and Pre-Kindergarten Centers

Able to Continue Literacy Efforts

Helena, MT – Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and U. S. Senator Jon Tester announced 42 Montana schools and pre-kindergarten centers will continue to receive federal grant funding for the next two school years to advance literacy skills, reading and writing for students from early childhood through grade 12. Montana will receive $4.9 million for the 2014-2015 school year. In 2012, the competitive grant was awarded to only six states. To date, more than 10,000 students and 850 teachers and staff members have benefited from the Striving Readers grant.

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Missoula Carousel collecting items for silent auction

There are many ways to support A Carousel for Missoula. One way – the most fun way – is by riding the carousel a lot. Introduce it to out-of-town visitors, spent time with friends and family there, plan birthday parties at the carousel.

Another fun way to support the carousel is coming up next month, on Sept. 19, when the carousel will “celebrate its 19th year of going in circles” with a benefit dinner.

Sponsored by Missoula Textile Services, the dinner will start at 6 p.m. in the Caras Park pavilion and include entertainment provided by Headwaters, food provided by Taco Sano and a bar provided by the Badlander.

The dinner will also include a silent auction – but first, the carousel needs some items to put in the auction. Which brings up yet another fun way to support the carousel.

Clean out those basements, attics and storage units and if you find anything that would make a good donation item, give Carousel Director Theresa Cox a call at 549-8382 or send an email to ponykeepr@gmail.com.

You can also call that same number – or just stop by the Carousel – for tickets to the dinner; $10 for kids and $20 for adults.

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Testing the test

This press release from the Montana Office of Public Instruction landed in my inbox yesterday. I meant to share it right away but ran out of time, and since I’m still short on time I’d better just get it up on the site so y’all can read what I read without further delay.

And here it is:

Practice of New Online Assessment

Helps Montana Educators Prepare for 2015

New Test will set a New Baseline for Student Achievement 

Helena, MT – This year, Montana schools maintained their AYP determinations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act from the 2013 school year due to a “double-testing waiver” obtained by Superintendent Denise Juneau. Montana students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 participated in the field test of the new, online Smarter Balanced Assessment aligned to the Montana Common Core Standards. A field test is a “test of the test”, not the students. Because questions may be revised or dropped after the field test, no scores will be reported for students, schools, or the state.

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