New Design to Kenwood Trail Middle School Entrance
Thanks to a state grant, Kenwood Trail Middle School has constructed a new entrance to welcome guests and enhance the security of their staff and students.
Guests will still enter the building by using a call box to speak to office staff, insert their driver’s license, then check in at the front office, which is the process at all Lakeville Area elementary and middle school buildings. At Kenwood Trail, the call box is now placed in a spacious vestibule that allows full sight between office staff and visitors rather than on the other side of a brick wall. Instead of walking directly into the school lunchroom/commons and finding the office door on their left, guests are guided directly from the entry vestibule into the office, then into the commons area.
“We wanted to maintain our positive, welcoming atmosphere while also strengthening our security systems.” said Principal Kate Eisenthal. “The design of the secure vestibule blends seamlessly with our office exterior. The vestibule is glass enclosed, which allows for visibility into and out of the office, and it also lets lots of light in. Visitors are in a spacious, well-lit area when they enter the school.”
The vestibule is wheelchair accessible and can also comfortably fit several people during the busiest hours of the day.
Statewide School Safety Initiative
Kenwood Trail Middle School was one of just 90 schools across the state that received funding from the Minnesota Department of Education for school safety initiatives. Damien Nelson, the Health, Safety and Security Manager for the district, applied for a grant for each Lakeville Area building, though only KTMS was awarded.
Grants were randomly assigned to applications received on the first day of the grant cycle to projects that MDE considered high priority, including improvements to exterior entry security and communication systems.
“We try to be fiscally responsible by using and leveraging grant funding whenever we can to support our students and community,” explained Nelson. “It’s very important that we monitor for funding opportunities that allow us to further our district initiatives and priorities while minimizing the funding needs to come from our tax payers.”
Other Security Enhancements at Kenwood Trail
In addition to improving the security of their entrance, KTMS plans to use its $285,800 award to create an enhanced school-wide emergency detection and notification system, add additional lockdown capabilities, and improve digital communication for daily use and crisis situations.
Student safety and security goes beyond physical alterations to school buildings. It is critical for all students to experience a sense of connection and belonging in school. Creating a safe and predictable environment in which staff and students share common language, values and understand expectations is critical for students’ academic success as well as their social and emotional development.
Principal Eisenthal shared what this looks like at Kenwood Trail. “The KTMS staff works to promote kindness and citizenship. As part of our school district’s Social and Emotional Learning work, the KTMS staff has participated in professional development focused on establishing and maintaining relationships with students and how the use of empathy is of great importance when we respond to student issues, needs and concerns.”
In addition to creating a positive learning environment, this focus on relationships supports school staff in processes of early detection and intervention for students who may face more severe struggles. KTMS utilizes a variety of supports within the building to deliver comprehensive care, including a full-time Student Support Specialist on staff and co-located mental health counseling from Lakeville Behavioral Health Clinic and Associated Clinic of Psychology that’s available for students during the school day.
District-wide security improvements
The safety and security of students is a primary mission in all our schools.
Over the past five years, the district’s Safety and Emergency management work group, which includes representatives from every level as well as local law enforcement officials, has developed a multi-tiered safety and security plan. While we have made significant improvements, the district has more to do toward its goal of leading the way in safety and security.
“Completing our grant opportunities at KTMS allows us to collect important data on what systems we’d like to see implemented district wide,” said Nelson.
Moving forward with the plan will include physical security and technology enhancements, professional development around social and emotional learning, and creating a risk and threat assessment team. These improvements account for $50,765,000 of the total $85,544,309 operating levy and bond referendum proposal that that community members will vote on November 5.