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Staffing changes continue at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school

BENA—While school is out for summer break, administrators at the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig Schools in Bena are taking the opportunity to restructure staffing before student orientation in August.

The school board approved the hiring of an academic principal and accepted the resignations of a middle school teacher and a Niigaane teacher at Thursday's school board meeting. Niigaane is the school's Ojibwe language immersion academy. Due to personnel procedures, the names of those hired and resigning were not released.

During the meeting, human resources director Bridget Sorensen said there are currently several openings being advertised in six newspapers. One vacancy is that of superintendent, currently being filled by special education coordinator Pam Walker who is acting as interim superintendent.

The board accepted the resignations of past superintendent Crystal Redgrave and principal Cheryl Poitra at May's school board meeting. The resignations came after a student protest at the school in which the students asked the women resign.

The school's new curriculum principal, Amanda Norman, attended her first school board meeting Thursday. Norman, from White Earth, said she is excited to begin work at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig. She has a background in teaching Ojibwe and looks forward to continuing involvement in language revitalization. Prior to joining the staff at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, Norman taught in Ponemah and before that she was with the St. Paul school district for 11 years.

"Since I was young, I always wanted to teach," Norman said prior to the meeting. "My heart is in instilling confidence in students."

This is Norman's first week at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig and she has yet to tour the high school building that has been recognized for poor conditions.

"It's definitely a priority, students need a safe environment to learn in," Norman said.

Walker said the "Bug School" is on the Bureau of Indian Education's list for reconstruction money during the board meeting.

In addition to staffing, the board approved the appointments of officers for the next year. Rocky Papasodora will remain chairman, Anita Cloud accepted the position of vice chairwoman, Kathy Fairbanks will be secretary and Brenda White was appointed treasurer.

During executive session the board heard from the Local Indian Education Committee. The LIEC oversees the operation of the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school and serves in an advisory capacity to the Leech Lake Reservation Tribal Council.Committee chairman Benjamin Meat said he cannot comment on the topic of discussion. The LIEC presented the board with bylaws during the regular session.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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