ECFE marks 50 years

FAIRMONT– On Tuesday the Fairmont School Board heard of Early Childhood and Family Education’s (ECFE) 50th anniversary. ECFE is a parenting education program for Minnesota families with children ages birth to kindergarten.

Sandy Soelter, ECFE parent educator, and Lexy Clemetson, a preschool and ECFE teacher, both presented to the board on Tuesday.

Soelter stressed that the program is unique to Minnesota.

“We’re very fortunate here in Minnesota to have this wonderful program that focuses on early childhood and families,” Soelter said. “We know how important that stage of life is– there’s so much learning and development the goes on from both to 5 years old.”

Soelter shared that as a parent she went through ECFE 25 years ago but that this is her 6th year as parent educator.

“It’s the best job in the world. At ECFE we get to work with both the youngest and the oldest students in our district because we’re working with parents alongside their kids,” she said.

The different learning opportunities in the program were touched on, including classes, home visits and online parenting education.

Soelter noted that ECFE is typically a parent’s first interaction with the district, which they’re very proud to expose people to in a positive way.

“Our work is really important for many reasons including the fact that parents are a child’s first teacher,” Soelter said.

Clemetson spoke more about the program and its many benefits and shared that many parents have expressed gratitude for it.

“Parents have reported have ECFE have linked them with other families and community resources as well. They have shared how EFE has better helped them understand their child’s needs and development,” Clemetson said.

Moving to other matters, Superintendent Andy Traetow provided an update to the board.

He touched on the 2023 graduation rate data, which was recently released for the state. Traetow noted that those students were freshman during the 2019-2020 year when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and greatly altered education.

“They went though a quite tumultuous 2020-2021 school year as sophomores. For them to continue to pursue academic growth and excellence through that is absolutely commendable,” Traetow said.

While the state graduation rate was 83.3 percent, Fairmont’s graduation rate was 88.9 percent.

“Well above the state average,” Traetow said.

In his report Traetow also mentioned that the district is gearing up to undergo a facility needs assessment to look at both assets and future needs. He noted that it hasn’t been done in great depth for many years.

Finally, Traetow shared that Cardinal Give Back Day, which typically happens in May, will be pushed back to the fall because some bigger projects that the students usually participate in have been taken care of already with the warmer winter.

In other action, the board approved a number of personnel changes, including both resignations and employments. Resignations include social studies teacher, Megan Hawkins, CTE teacher, Adam Carstensen, math teacher Amanda Weihe and social studies teacher, Lara Ellis.

The board also approved the employment of Emily Lyle as a long-term substitute EL teacher, Traci Lardy as a high school dean of students, Andrew Moeller as a high school ag teacher and Grant Strukel as a high school social studies teacher.

In other business, the board:

— Recognized this year’s Triple A recipients, Abi Peyman and Isaac Sheard.

— Heard about and witnessed a presentation from the new high school weightlifting program.

— Accepted a donation of $1,000 from the Fairmont Fire Department for the Fairmont Trap Team.

— Approved the 2024-25 school calendar.

— Accepted the retirement of Deb DeBoer, teacher aide


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