He has previous experience as an assistant principal at Edison High School in Minneapolis, dean of students at Northview Junior High School in Brooklyn Park and as an equity coordinator for the St. Nolan lives in Otsego and said he’s excited to work closer to his home and closer to the Twin Cities. He said he was interested in the job because of the school’s diverse student population and its “best practice” programs, which include International Baccalaureate and Advancement Via Individual Determination. Robbinsdale Middle School Principal John Cook assists a student with a bus transfer pass during a hallways passing time Wednesday, Jan. Robbinsdale Middle School Principal John Cook prepared for his hourly hall monitor duties as the seconds on a red digital clock counted down to class dismissal time. When an electronic tone sounded, classroom doors opened and the hallway was flooded with the noise and energy of youth.
Cook turns another corner and is enveloped by a sea of eighth-graders hurriedly exchanging one set of books for another before their next class.
Data released by District 281 shows some positive behavioral changes at the school this year in comparison to last.
Robbinsdale Middle School implemented a program this fall cracking down on the number of tardy slips a student could receive in a given week. Student deans work with “check-in” sheets that rate a student’s behavior on a scale from 0-2.
Bette Blei, a seventh-grade English teacher who came to the school from Sandberg, said last year was so bad that she considered retiring.
Blei said that she noticed the difference within the first month and credited part of that to everyone having the same expectations.
Cook said he is “obsessed” with tardies now and is working on developing generating lists for eighth-graders four days a week. Robbinsdale Middle School, White says, is going to be “a fun place” for her youngest child next year.
Cook said this year revolves around a simple message: we hold kids accountable, we are out and about, we praise them when they do well and we’re on them when they are not meeting expectations.


The site where the cleanup occurred includes the southern five acres of the school’s 16.8-acre campus, which are used by Robbinsdale Middle School for outdoor athletic fields. The site is listed on the MPCA Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup Program and Petroleum Brownfields Program databases.
The project removed and limited exposure to near-surface contamination on the outdoor athletic fields that are used by students and community athletic leagues.
Robbinsdale Middle School (RMS) recently received a boost for their upcoming STEM magnet program from Cargill, which will enhance personalized learning at RMS next year. Robbinsdale Area Schools, as part of their new three-year technology plan, has embraced 1:1 learning and this grant will help.
Nolan added that he had “good successes” working with students of varying academic abilities in his previous job. Incidents of truancy and skipping class are down nearly 76 percent since and fights were down 29 percent in the school’s first semester. Her youngest will be a sixth grader at Robbinsdale Middle School next year, and her older children went through on their way to high school. Parents, she said, would talk to the board and hear that things were under control, but would hear differently from parents. The first known use of the site is a sand and gravel mine that operated prior to the 1930’s. The larger school property is listed on the Underground Storage Tank, Leaking Underground Storage Tank, and RCRA Small to Minimal Quantify Hazardous Waste Generator databases. A check for $10,000 was delivered to RMS earlier this month, which will be used to purchase an Apple iPad mobile learning lab and twenty iPads. The district will adopt Chromebooks as its official 1:1 device, but there are many, many iPads already in the district which are contributing to the increased use of technology in the classroom. The school has made several changes, including increased hall monitoring, to combat student behavior issues. Incidents of insubordination are down 25 percent and incidents of abusive language are down 38 percent.


Cook said this merging, combined with the Robbinsdale Middle School’ four-story layout, made for a difficult transition.
Administrators are now assigned posts in the hallways, as are hall monitors, during passing times.
The school’s administration, Cook says, wants teachers to focus on academic issues, not disciplinary ones. In addition to cleaning up significant environmental contamination, the project contributes to the overall fitness for students and members of the community by providing quality and safe athletic fields. Nolan is a talented and experienced administrator who has earned the respect of educators by demonstrating a capacity for building community and community consensus, nurturing diversity, and promoting professional and academic growth opportunities.
In the 1950’s, the site was donated to the school district, who constructed the building and began using the site as a playground and athletic fields. Soil investigations indicated that little to no clean cover was present over the dump materials that were heavily debris-laden and contained elevated concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), arsenic, lead, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) relative to regulatory standards.
The tennis courts were taken out of service in 2007 because potholes and large cracks caused by differential settlement of the underlying dump materials posed significant trip hazards and made the courts unusable.
By using an alternative soil correction approach, the amount of impacted soil required to be transported to a landfill was reduced by over two-thirds, thereby preserving landfill space and eliminating fuel consumption and diesel exhaust from trucks. In addition, the playground, which was left over from when the school was used as an elementary school, was not replaced because of concerns with the underlying contamination and had been left idle for a number of years. Drain tile was used within clean backfill to capture storm water before it can infiltrate through underlying dump materials and impact groundwater.



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