Community Education Blog

  • School Facilities Are a Public Resource

    Posted by Dr. Scott Wallner at 2/22/2017 3:30:00 PM

    Those of you who are in my age bracket might remember a time in your past when schools were locked by about 3:00 p.m. during the week and throughout the weekend. When I was in elementary school, I once boarded my school bus to discover that I’d forgotten my hat and gloves in my locker. With permission from the bus driver, I quickly ran back to the school, only to discover the doors already locked for the day. I got back on my bus and went home without a hat and gloves until the next morning.

    Kennedy School

    Fortunately, school districts and communities now recognize the importance of having school buildings open beyond the regularly scheduled school day, well into the evenings and weekends.   Here in St. Cloud, ISD 742 has school board policies and procedures in place that encourage and support community use of school facilities. St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education is responsible for reserving these school facilities and providing a warm and welcoming environment to community groups once the school day is done.

    Apollo High School

    In 2015-16, almost 150 community groups utilized district facilities to offer a wide variety of lifelong learning opportunities. Even more impressive are a total of 67,500 participants who spent time in district facilities during the year outside of the regular school day. Clearly, St. Cloud residents are utilizing district facilities, and the school district is working in partnership to make such usage possible. Common usages include gymnasiums, classrooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, media centers, and athletic facilities.

    Yoga At Westwood School

    St. Cloud Community Education is here to partner with you regarding facility use. If you or your organization is interested in accessing school district facilities for a class, activity, or event, please contact Mr. Eric Johnson, Facilities Specialist, at (320) 257-3815, or by email at

    Dr. Scott Wallner, District 742 Assistant Director of Community Education

    Dr. Scott Wallner

    District 742 Assistant Director of Community Education

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  • A Path to Learning

    Posted by Dr. Scott Wallner at 11/30/2016 12:00:00 PM

    My wonderfully talented niece, Kate, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when she was in preschool. Her public schools, be it at elementary, middle or high school, provided her with an excellent education tailored to fit her individual and unique needs. That, in addition to the efforts of my sister and her husband, has led Kate along a very good pathway. She graduated from high school in 2014, received her AA from a community college in 2016, and is now enrolled and attending a state university. I couldn't be more proud of her, and am very appreciative of the help she received as part of her K-12 public education.

    ARISE Program

    I have always held a very strong and sincere belief in the value of all children, including those who need additional helps and services. In St. Cloud Area School District 742, children with special needs, like Kate, are served by an excellent program during the school day, one tailored to fit the child's individual needs. Community Education helps to extend services to these children beyond the school day in a number of important ways. First, ARISE (A Recreational Inclusion Support Endeavor) partners with St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education to provide support for children with disabilities in the area so they can access recreational activities with their peers. 

    ARISE Program

    This support allows preschool-aged children to 21-year-old adults to participate in a host of community education classes, as well as other recreational offerings throughout the community including swim lessons, summer camps, theatre classes, day trips and theater. Deb Johansen, who coordinates the ARISE program, says "Without the partnership of District 742 Community Education, ARISE would cease to exist."

    ARISE Program

    Secondly, Project Challenge is a program that works with anyone who is 16-years-old and who has a disability. The purpose of Project Challenge is to provide learning opportunities that foster independence, teach basic living skills, and help build social networks. This past fall, Project Challenge provided opportunities to learn cooking skills, go bowling as a group, make art projects, attend sporting events and dance. Julie Johnson, who coordinates the program, wrote a blog about it in mid-November. Read more HERE.

    Project Challenge Participant

    Lastly, the Boys & Girls Club partners with Community Education to provide additional support for children with special needs who attend the Kidstop school-age care program. Community Education and District staff utilize the child's IEP and/or 504 plan to develop appropriate activities, instructional practices and interventions to better serve the child. Community Education also provides training opportunities to the Kidstop staff.

    Children with special needs receive an excellent education through District 742 K-12 education. And Community Education helps to extend those services and connections after the school day has concluded.  

    Dr. Scott Wallner, Assistant Director District 742 Community Education

    Dr. Scott Wallner

    Assistant Director, District 742 Community Education 

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  • Shining a Light on Project Challenge

    Posted by Julie Johnson, District 742 Project Challenge Program Coordinator at 11/18/2016 12:10:00 PM

    Fall brings the busy time of year and Project Challenge kept up with the pace!

    This fall, Project Challenge has been busy with events that celebrate and educate individuals with disabilities. St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education is part of the disAbility Task Force (DATF) which is a collaboration of 15 local agencies that educate and promote awareness to the community regarding issues concerning people with disabilities. Every year, DATF hosts two events during the month of October which is Disability Awareness Month. 

    The first event was “Dinner & a Movie” held at the Paramount Theatre. Following pizza, the task force members and participants viewed a disability-themed movie. This year’s feature was “Concussion,” a movie about Dr. Bennet Omalu who made the first discovery of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and the damage that occurs to the brain after suffering repeated concussions in the course of normal play. His finding changed the way professional football players treat concussions. The movie was very insightful and educating.

    Celebration of Abilities featured a keynote speaker, Dr. Kelly Collins, and a ceremony for all winners of the Inspiration awards. The event took place at River’s Edge Convention Center with over 300 guests in attendance. Dr. Collins spoke on Traumatic Brain Injuries. Collins, who grew up in Sartell, had three brothers who played professional sports, all of which had to retire by the age of 28 as they dealt with brain injuries and continue to deal with them in various degrees today.

    Celebration of Abilities 2016

    Task force members were asked to nominate a person who inspires them or others and not because they have a disability, but because of who they are and the contributions they make in the lives of others in their community. The following individual Inspiration Award winners were: Connie Roberts (Opportunity Matters), Theresa Thelen (Wacosa), Rich Diedrichsen (Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services), and Marlyn Beaudine and Tom Wolterman (Independent Lifestyles). The business winners were: the Four-County Response Team, nominated by Independent Lifestyles, Ashley Nelson & Deb Patton from the Salvation Army, nominated by WACOSA and Jan Carroll from St. Cloud Walmart, nominated by WACOSA. It truly was an inspirational evening!

    Finally, the evening ended with #BetheOne videos. Individuals or groups were challenged to make a two-minute video with the theme #BetheOne. The video’s message needed to share “treat people with disabilities or those who are different with respect, find a way to be inclusive, using first-person language.” Cash prizes were given. Eden Valley-Watkins first-grade teachers, Mrs. Jarvis and Mrs. Ramler received first prize of $500. Second place winner was Marsha, a Peer Mentor from Independent Lifestyles. She received $250. The third place winner was Andrew, a 16- year-old student at Apollo High School, winning $150.

    Project Challenge program participants have been having a lot of fun this fall at classes and activities. We have had camel rides at Safari North Wildlife Park, watched Irish dancers at the Shamrocks & Shenanigans weekend of the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, archery target practice and a team-building obstacle course at Confidence Learning Center, and toured the Sea Life Aquarium. We saw a variety of fish and sea creatures at the Mall of America where we, of course, had to fit in a little shopping, too!

    Project Challenge Class Participant

    If you ask our participants what their favorite activities are each fall, the top two would be the Halloween Dance and Project Challenge Singers. All of the themed dances are popular, but the Halloween Dance seems to be the favorite. Everyone, including staff and assistants, come in costume. Even our famous DJ from Fine Line Entertainment comes dressed up. He does a fabulous job playing requests and getting people on the dance floor.

    Project Challenge Halloween Dance 2016

    Project Challenge Halloween Dance

    Project Challenge Singers is very popular as well. Every year, 30 to 35 participants join the choir. They practice for three weeks and perform at the ARC Christmas party with one final performance for parents, friends, caregivers and the general public. They enjoyed the attention from the St. Cloud Times’ article on their choir last year.

    Kristine Hollingsworth, Project Challenge Singers director, has been with the group for 10 years. She is uplifting and lively. The participants listen intently as she tells them how to breathe and how to practice their scales at the beginning of class. Hollingsworth makes sure that all of their talents are used during the show. Bette Kuss joined the Singers as a new pianist this past year. She too, is very energetic, has a smile on her face and really helps energize the choir. We are so happy she joined.

    Project Challenge Singers

    Project Challenge activities are a great place to meet and also visit with friends outside of work. Many new friendships form and grow here. This is true, not only with participants, but also with staff.

    Julie Johnson Project Challenge Program Coordinator

    Julie Johnson

    District 742 Project Challenge Program Coordinator




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  • The Legacy of Community Education

    Posted by Dr. Scott Wallner, Assistant Director of Community Education at 8/30/2016 1:00:00 PM

    Community Education was unofficially born in the 1930’s in Flint, Michigan, when a physical education teacher, Mr. Frank Manley, noticed all kinds of young boys just "hanging around" town with nothing constructive to do. At that time, the local school district was struggling with juvenile delinquency and petty vandalism. Manley saw the connection between the two phenomena and began to think through some options.

     He started up a friendship with Charles Mott, who had established a successful foundation in Flint. Mott believed the answer to Flint’s problem was to build boys’ clubs that included gymnasiums, pools, tennis courts and other such amenities. Manley’s response was that such boys’ clubs already existed throughout the community in school buildings. What if the buildings could be open in the evening? The Mott foundation provided some monies to keep school buildings open, and community education was born.

    Minnesota's foray into Community Education didn't come until 1969, when Governor Harold Levander hosted a “Lighted School” conference. When asked why he had called for the conference, LeVander said, “[to determine] how we can make the school become the home base for learning for everyone.” 

    In 1971, the Minnesota Legislature passed the first community education legislation, which provided funding for 16 school districts. St. Cloud’s Community Education program began in 1973. Throughout the following decades, a large number of additional services were developed and delivered through community education. These included early learning opportunities, extended day, youth enrichment, adult enrichment, adult basic education, adults with disabilities, recreation programs, senior programming, afterschool childcare, volunteers and a host of others. Now, 40 plus years later, community education continues to play a significant role in the lifelong learning pursuits of children and adults. This community education model is alive and well, not only in Minnesota but also right here in St. Cloud.

    District 742 Community Education is proud to offer classes, programs and services at a price that’s affordable. Please check out our community education offerings, either online or print, and sign-up for learning. There is something for learners from birth through adulthood. Follow Community Education on Facebook, Twitter and visit our website for frequent updates and information. Make community education your conduit to lifelong learning!

    Dr. Scott Wallner, Assistant Director

    Dr. Scott Wallner, St. Cloud Area School District 742      

    Assistant Director of Community Education

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  • Why is Learning How to Swim Important?

    Posted by Lynn Neumann at 7/18/2016 4:20:00 PM

    St. Cloud Community Aquatics

    St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education and the City of St. Cloud Park and Recreation have a long standing collaboration in Community Aquatics. Together we provide high quality programs such as preschool swim lessons, school age swim lessons, private lessons and lifeguard training. These programs are essential for people of all ages to learn a very important life skill!

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death of children ages one to 14. About 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day, and of these, two are children under the age of 14.

    Parks and Rec Aquatics

    Importance of learning how to swim:

    • Swimming is essential for safety. Water is all around us; big bodies of water such as lakes and rivers to even something as simple as the bathtub. Children are exposed to water on a daily basis. Making sure that children are comfortable in and around water is essential to their safety and the safety of others around them.
    • As Minnesotans, we live in the "Land of 10,000 lakes". There are many fun recreational activities throughout the year that evolve around water, including boating, tubing, fishing, kayaking, etc. Without the fundamentals of swimming and water safety, these activities would be potentially dangerous.
    • Swimming is a lifelong skill/activity. Swimming is something that people of all ages in our community can enjoy. Swimming isn’t just for children; people of all age can engage in a variety of activities that revolve around water. It can be used recreationally and also for physical activity. Parents who know how to swim are more likely to share their experiences and pass along the skill set to their children.
    • Swimming is great for health and fitness. Young children get be active while participating in swimming lessons, hanging by the pool or swimming laps. Swimming is also a great form of exercise and wellness for adults. Swimming is low-impact on joints and muscles and gives the individual a whole body workout.
    • Taking swim lessons is a great way for children to meet new friends and work on their social skills. Being in a swim lesson class can provide children with opportunities to work on social skills and learn in a different environment that isn’t a typical classroom. Children take classes that consist of students that are similar in abilities and age. Children can come from different schools and towns to meet new friends while learning to swim.
    • Swim lessons can spark a new interest, hobby or sportNot every child is going to be the next Michael Phelps or Missy Franklin. But by trying something new and taking swim lessons for the first time, it might spark an interest or love for swimming and can lead children to join a club or team in the future. It can be something that children enjoy for the rest of their lives.

    Parks and Rec Aquatics Class

    District 742 Community Education, together with the City of St. Cloud Park and Recreation Department, understand the importance of educating community members how to swim. We offer a variety of learning opportunities for people of all ages to learn this important skill.

    Mid-Minnesota Community Aquatic Swim Program

    Our goal as a swim lesson provider is to provide smaller class sizes, stroke development, build endurance, safety in and out of the water and, most importantly, have fun. Our caring and dedicated staff will use positive feedback, effective lesson planning, class management and a variety of teaching techniques to provide a quality program.

    Mid-Minnesota Swim Lessons

    • Baby Bobbers (six to 24 months)
    • Toddler Time (two to three-years-old)
    • Beginner /Advanced Preschool (three to four-years-old)
    • Swim one through six (five-years-old and up)
    • PREP – Personal, Readiness, Endurance Program

    (Must complete swim one through six or 10 and older) 

    • Private Lessons (all ages)

    Parks and Rec Aquatics

    Additional Aquatic Opportunities

    • Adaptive Swim Lessons
    • American Red Cross Lifeguard Course
    • American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Course

    Lynn Neumann Aquatics Coordinator

    If you would like more information about our aquatic class or employment opportunities, please feel free to call Lynn Neumann at 320-257-5952 or email me at


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  • Connecting Through Letter Writing

    Posted by Diane Diego Ohmann at 5/23/2016 10:10:00 AM

    The air was filled with excitement after eight months of hand-written letters when St. Cloud Area School District 742 Pen Pal volunteers had the privilege of meeting their Pen Pal students for the first time over lunch at area schools. The anticipation had been building throughout the school year as letters were exchanged. Adults and children alike were bursting with pride. 

    Pen Pal luncheon

    The Pen Pal Program was first launched 15 years at Oak Hill Community School in District 742. The program was so well received and effective that the program and opportunity was extended to Kennedy Community School two years ago. By being a part of this program, both volunteers and students alike develop strong partnerships and the Pen Pal volunteers make a significant difference in the education of our students by connecting through the written word.

    The program also builds community partnerships with organizations and individuals throughout Central Minnesota. “Even at my age, I still get excited to receive something fun in the mail. It is nice to be able to connect to the youth in our community. United Way was (also) thrilled to be able to create excitement around the Pen Pal program during our Annual Celebration event, recruiting more than 43 new community connections,” said Mary Krippner, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at the United Way of Central Minnesota.

    Pen Pal luncheon

    Teachers strive for children participating in the Pen Pal program to develop a positive relationship with an adult.  Their goal is that the students will improve their writing and communication skills. 

    Pen Pal luncheon

    District 742 is seeking volunteers for the upcoming school year to serve as Pen Pals through Community Education. The time and work commitment for this is an exchange of hand-written letters monthly with a third grade student from October-May. In May, Pen Pal volunteers will be invited to for lunch to meet their Pen Pal. Letters to students will be addressed to the school and monitored by school staff and teachers.

    Pen Pal luncheon

    "I absolutely enjoyed every letter I received from B.T. and by the time we had lunch at the school we had so many things to talk about, I even brought my grandson along to meet him! I would recommend this program over and over again. I think it is an awesome opportunity for the student as well as the Pen Pal," shared one of this year's Pen Pal volunteers after the luncheon.

    Pen Pal Luncheon

    If you or someone you know would like to be a volunteer Pen Pal, please email Diane Diego Ohmann, District 742 Community Education Youth Service Coordinator at or call 320.257-3823. Learn more about the St. Cloud Area School District 742 Pen Pal program offered through Community Education HERE

    Youth Service Coordinator

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  • Fill, Fill, Fill!

    Posted by Eric Johnson, Facilities Coordinator at 2/22/2016 1:50:00 PM


    Kennedy Community School


    Did you know that the use of school facilities beyond school hours is a powerful tool for community growth? My name is Eric Johnson and I am the Facility Coordinator for St. Cloud Area School District 742. My job revolves around utilization of spaces inside District 742. I partner closely with school principles, head engineers, teachers and staff members that need to utilize buildings within District 742.   Space is always at premium. I balance the School Board policy and District 742 needs with the needs of our community to utilize buildings in the most effective and efficient ways possible. Roughly 75% of the space used in District 742 is school or Community Education programming use, with 25% being external rental clients.

    I wanted to give you a “behind the scenes” tour and process overview for facilities rental for our district. Taking requests across multiple platforms via the website, email (staff only), walk in, snail mail or electronic submission requires full time monitoring. These requests are prioritized by date, and per the Facility Policy. Requests are entered and given a permit number. That permit number is used to track the permit through its life. For rental clients where charges are being billed, at the end of the permit any adjustments are made and the rental clients are invoiced.

    There is a strong relationship between use of facilities and support for local school districts. This is important in many communities like St. Cloud where much of the population does not have school-age children. In our market, it becomes even more important to welcome all members of our population into school buildings to utilize them. It is invaluable for them to experience and engage the benefits and uses our facilities have to offer including:

    Lecture Halls







    Close to home

    Accommodates large and small groups

    Non-smoking campus

    Handicap accessible

    Wi-Fi Available 

    My goal is to fill District 742 buildings up as much as I can with the parameters that I have to work in. If you would like to hold your meeting, event or class at District 742 facilities please plan ahead to ensure the space is available or that alternative options can be pursued. Often times booking can be as far out as 7-9 months in advance. Please keep this in mind when you are thinking about requesting space. It is my passion to serve at all levels in our community. For questions regarding Facilities Rental, please contact me at or call the Community Education Main Office at 320-529-6500. Facilities rental information can be found via the District 742 website at I look forward to serving you!

    Facilities Coordinator, Eric Johnson


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  • Experience Youth Enrichment

    Posted by Mary Heinen, Youth Enrichment Program Coordinator at 12/22/2015 7:30:00 AM

    Youth Enrichment Coordinator

    Instructors Are The Backbone of The Community Education Experience

    One of the things I love about offering Youth Enrichment programs for St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education is the experiences I have with the instructors who teach the programs. Their dedication, encouragement and creative talent are the reason we can offer the quality of programming that we do. Their excitement and enthusiasm are so appreciated. They strive to make the experience for all kids positive, whatever their skill level, in a non-competitive environment. Including everyone is the focus, and having fun is the main goal!

    Instructors come from a variety of places and backgrounds and most are living and working right here in our community. We have students that attend area colleges and are looking to be connected with youth, sharing their time and talent. Community businesses that have levels of expertise and want to expose students to what they love to do. Many other instructors have a strong passion and skill in a particular interest area, and want to be involved in the community. We also have educational programs that are offered by businesses from outside of our area. They see our community as a wonderful opportunity for our student’s growth, as well as theirs. They all connect with District 742 Community Education and we get them involved.

    Instructors also receive many positive benefits from the connections they have with our youth participants and their parents. They grow in ways that benefit them both personally and professionally. I'd like to share the stories of two instructors who have been involved in St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education youth programming for many years. 

    These instructors, as well as many more like them, have experienced great outcomes as a result of working with the young people in and around our area. The kids have benefitted greatly as well, by the care and encouragement received from the instructors, and as a result, can experience a positive learning environment. Instructors are great role models and someone who offer kids a different type of learning experience. It’s a win, win for both instructors and participants alike!



    Youth Enrichment Instructor  

    Instructor Aksel Krafnick

    Soccer has always been a passion of mine…

    “I started playing soccer in the local CMYSA (Central Minnesota Youth Soccer Association) program when I was in the third grade. In the nine years that I played summer soccer in St. Cloud, I had the opportunity to take instruction from many different, dedicated, and intelligent soccer coaches in the area. It was a fun experience that helped me to consistently improve my skills and make new friends every year. I quickly learned how to make the experience enjoyable too.

    Our neighborhoods are full of kids who need positive influences from instructors who are passionate about what they do. These kinds of people can be found working for St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education. Community Education is a great local organization that provides many different athletic and artistic classes for adult and youth community members of all ages. As a passionate coach, it’s a unique opportunity to lead community-organized programs and work with kids. It’s been a joy every season for four years.

    Over the years, this youth soccer program has offered me many wonderful experiences. I personally joined the St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education team because I wanted to make a difference and improve my community. I had a great experience learning how to play soccer from devoted people, so I knew I needed to give back to my community in some way. Community Education has strongly and positively shaped my life.”

    Thank you all very much,

    Coach K



    Youth Enrichment Instructor

    Instructor Ashley Wells

    “Coaching for St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education has been a great experience in my life. It is something that I look forward to, as it never really feels like a “job,” but more so a fun activity for me to get to do. It is always fun on the very first night to see which kids come back again, and also to meet a bunch of new kids as well. I enjoy being able to watch them grow and develop throughout the classes, and throughout the years. It is incredibly fulfilling and rewarding when they come in from week to week and I see them practicing, during their warm up, the different skills that they learned the week before, such as shooting with proper form.

    Through coaching, I also have had great experiences with a lot of the parents as well! I even developed a close relationship with one family and now babysit for them from time to time, (and they still call me “Coach Ashley”). I also run into parents and children from classes in public, or at my other job, and they always make sure to stop and say hi, and chat about how they have been doing.

    Not only has it been a great experience helping the kids learn, but it has helped me learn as well. Being able to interact with so many different kids, with all different learning capabilities and styles, has helped me to be able to develop better knowledge when dealing and working with all different people, which will help me in my communication career path.

    When I realized I was coaching in front of the parents on the first day, as well as the kids, it made me incredibly nervous. Not only was I speaking out to the kids, but now also in front of their family. In doing this so many times throughout the years, I have definitely noticed a big improvement in my public speaking skills. I typically get a bit anxious when having to give speeches in my college classes, but now I seem to have much less anxiety and give my speeches with much more confidence. In fact, I was actually kind of excited to sign up for my public speaking class next semester as well!

    I am so happy and thankful to have been able to have this opportunity throughout the past years and will be very sad when I can longer help with this program. It has made a great impact on my life, and will always be a great memory for the rest of my life!”

    Coach Ashley

    If you would like more information about teaching youth enrichment programs for St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education, please contact me at or visit our website at We'd love to have you join our team!

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  • Welcome to Early Childhood Education!

    Posted by Alicia Jepsen, Director of Early Childhood Education at 12/4/2015 9:00:00 AM


    Alicia Jepsen Early Childhood Director

    Greetings from Early Childhood Education in St. Cloud Area School School District 742! Early Childhood Education provides comprehensive services and supports to families across our school district. I want to take this opportunity to share information about each of the unique programs in early childhood and all the opportunities and supports we provide to families and caregivers of our youngest learners in our district.

    Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) is an opportunity for parents/caregivers to come together with their children ages birth to kindergarten entrance to engage in developmentally appropriate learning activities with their child, as well as engage in conversations with other parents, facilitated by a licensed parent educator, to discuss the joys and challenges of parenting in this 21st century world. Families enjoy time together to play, learn and grow, build their confidence as a parent, support their child’s early development and learn about resources and supports that are available in our community.

    We are excited to roll out our new Early Childhood Education Winter catalog this week with a new design! Take a look at the opportunities that are available to you at our early childhood center, Colts Academy in St. Joseph, or at one of our early childhood classrooms at Discovery and Talahi Community Schools. Families do need to register for classes in ECFE. There are many different options for different age groups, times and locations. Take a look and see if you can find a class that is a good fit for you and your family!  

    EC Photo II

    Early Childhood Screening is a free check of how your preschool age child is growing, developing and learning. Minnesota law requires that all children receive this health and developmental screening prior to entering kindergarten in the public schools. We recommend that families sign up for this free screening right after your child’s 3rd birthday. The screening includes a developmental assessment, vision and hearing screening, height and weight checks and a review of immunizations and health history. The purpose of screening is for you to know that your child is on track for learning and to identify children who may need additional time and experiences in a preschool setting in order to be ready for kindergarten. Children who are identified as needing additional supports will be referred, with parent permission, to the Early Childhood Special Education evaluation team for further testing, resources and supports. Be sure to call us at Colts Academy to sign up for screening or go online to sign up for a time. Screening occurs most Tuesdays and one Saturday each month. We look forward to meeting you and your child!

    St. Cloud Area School District 742 Preschool Programs are offered to 3 and 4 year old children at six different locations in our district, including Colts Academy, Clearview, Discovery, Kennedy, Oak Hill, and Talahi Community Schools. Children who are 3 or 4 on September 1st are eligible to enroll in a preschool classroom. Our preschool program is a Parent Aware 4 star rated program taught by licensed early childhood teachers. Preschool is a tuition-based program with transportation within school boundaries provided for an additional fee.   Families who are eligible can access a limited number of reduced tuition slots for preschool or an early learning scholarship, which supports the cost of tuition and transportation. Families can inquire in our office at Colts for further information about financial assistance.

    EC Photo III

    Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) provides special education services and supports to children birth to kindergarten entrance who have been identified as having a developmental delay, speech or language disorder or other identified disability. Parents and caregivers who have a concern about a child’s development can make a referral to the Help Me Grow system ( or call our office regarding concerns or questions. Infants, toddlers and two year olds who have been identified through an evaluation typically will receive services from an ECSE teacher and other specialists (ie: speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist) in their home or child care center. Children who are preschool age receive special education services in a special education or preschool classroom at one of our 6 locations across the district. Children can also receive supports in a community childcare center or Head Start center depending on the specialized needs of the child. Be sure to call our office at 320-253-5828 if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development.

    On behalf of all the staff in early childhood education we look forward to being able to serve your family!


    EC Photo I  



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  • Perry's Story

    Posted by Julie Johnson, Project Challenge Program Coordinator at 11/30/2015 9:00:00 AM

    Challenge Coordinator Julie Johnson

    What is Project Challenge you may ask? It is a St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education Adults with Disabilities program that enhances the lives of adults with physical and developmental cognitive disabilities by providing a variety of educational and recreational opportunities through collaborations, partnerships, and connections with community resources. As a result, participants will be more informed, healthier, more social and more involved in their community.

    We offer many age appropriate opportunities for the individuals who take our classes. If you open a Project Challenge catalog you would see a variety of life skills classes such as our super supper cooking classes where participants learn to make an entire meal and sit with friends, family style to eat the meal. Afterwards they follow through with the clean up and dish washing as you would at home. There are a variety of classes that offer participants opportunities for individuals to meet and socialize with friends such as dances and parties. We also welcome volunteers and seek instructors to teach our classes.

    I consider myself one of the luckiest coordinators working in Community Education as I have the privilege to program for this very special population of people. Visiting a Project Challenge class makes me feel like I am the most important person alive. I am greeted with big smiles, a boisterous hello, a hand shake or two and several hugs. I have the opportunity to sit down with the participants and have great conversations. They are eager to share with me their family lives, work opportunities, and friendships that they have gained through Project Challenge classes. There are many wonderful stories about the participants that take our classes, but at this time, I would like to share with you a story about a very special person, Perry Jarnot.

    Perry grew up on a farmstead in rural Central Minnesota as number six of eight children. There he learned life skills through his parents and siblings. He learned about sharing in a large family and was modeled a hard-work ethic. Perry was taught by his mother and father how to drive, received his driver’s license and graduated from high school. After all the other siblings grew up and moved on, Perry and his widowed mother continued to live on at home.

    Although his mother was considered the caretaker for Perry with cooking, washing of clothes and taking care of his personal needs, in her later years, Perry became a caretaker for his mother. He mowed acres of lawn in the summer, raked the leaves in the fall, and shoveled the snow in the winter. He made sure the wood was stocked for the wood stoves. He made fires in the morning before work so the house was warm when his mother woke up. He drove her to appointments, visits with her sisters, and out for entertainment. This allowed his mother to stay in her family home and they lived there until Perry was nearly 50 years old when they decided to downsize and move to a patio home.      

    Perry had been employed with a local building supply company for over 20 years, but during the downturn of the economy had been laid-off with a number of other employees. This was a very difficult time for Perry as he thought that he had done something wrong. With the help of family and WACOSA, another position was obtained, training was given and Perry’s self-esteem was once again restored. The owners of the business have commented many times on the quality and pride Perry shows toward his work.

    After his mother’s passing, Perry had another big life adjustment. Fortunately, Perry had previously been enrolled in Project Challenge and was beginning to make connections through the various social activities. The Project Challenge events have helped fill a large void in Perry’s life as much of his previous social time was involved with his mother. By participating in Community Education classes Perry learned new skills and gained confidence and interaction in a positive social environment.

    The Peer Mentor program through Independent Lifestyles taught Perry additional life skills of cleaning, home safety, and improving his reading skills. One of Perry’s first goals was to become more independent by learning how to cook on his own through classes offered through Community Education. At first the only meals Perry made for himself were simple or heated leftovers from his family members. By learning how to read a recipe, a skill taught in class, Perry learned how to cook on his own. With the support of family and the work of Project Challenge, WACOSA, and Independent Lifestyles, Perry has overcome and succeeded in so many ways. Upon reflecting on some of the challenges and achievements Perry has had, he once commented, “I have even surprised myself!”

    Perry's Story II

    Family member Julie Jarnot, along with husband Gabe (Perry's brother), coordinates much of the scheduling for Perry, her brother-in-law. She recently shared with us, "I would personally like to thank all of the staff at Project Challenge. Every single person we have had communication with over the past few years has been easy and helpful. The variety of activities that are offered has given him a sense of self worth and helped build his self-esteem. Project Challenge is a blessing to not only people who have a disability like Perry, but for their families in so many different ways. To know your family member is receiving top-notch supervision during activities and to hear the excitement in Perry's voice as he tells us about his latest adventures is something you cannot even put into words." 

    Perry's Family

    To learn more about Project Challenge - a program for Adults with Disabilities offered through St. Cloud Area School District 742 Community Education visit our website at I welcome you to join us on our journey of learning!

    Perry's Story I



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