The West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan school district has won $1.2 million in federal dollars to teach its kids how to get along.
Under the federal grant, part of a national effort to improve schools' climates, the district will hire one counselor for each of its five elementary schools this fall.
The mission of the "Kindness Project"? To create welcoming and safe schools.
"It's incredible for a small district to get this big of a grant," Superintendent Jay Haugen said. "It's great recognition for our schools."
The counselors' responsibilities range from teaching lessons on kindness and providing individual counseling to surveying families about school climate and helping students transition to middle school.
School officials received additional details this week after learning last month they were one of 53 school districts across the country to receive the grant, which will bring in $400,000 each year for three years, if federal authorities give approval after periodical [sic] monitoring of the district's program.
[W]ith the increased diversity and schools struggling on state-mandated reading and math tests under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, some community members believe minority students "have eroded the quality of our schools," officials wrote in the district's grant application.
The Kindness Project will enable the new counselors to work with students, and this "can only help boost achievement," Haugen said.
"(The federal grant) really shows that we have put a lot of thought into this," said Reine Shiffman, school board chair. "They believe we can make a difference."
I'm speechless. What if this money had been spent on tutors? Decent math curriculum? History and science classes?