2023-08-25 Noticias de ISLA y ISLA PTO

August 25, 2023

Emily Smith

Administrative Assistant

Letter from the Director

August 25th, 2023

Queridas Familias: 

I hope you are doing well today and enjoying the last weeks of summer. 

As was communicated last spring, I am writing to you today to let you know that after 7 and ½  years of service to the ISLA community, this will be my last year.   My contract expires at the end of this school year, in June 2024, and rest assured that I will continue leading the school with the same enthusiasm and commitment to our children, staff, and the ISLA community until then. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as Executive Director for this amazing community of students, staff and family that we call ISLA for the past 7 and 1/2 years, but at the same time, it is a time for me to continue my professional growth and I look forward to taking on new challenges.

Included in this newsletter is an update from the search committee.  While I will not be including my name in the search, I am happy to offer inputs to the committee as is helpful and necessary to ensure a smooth transition. I am confident that the timing of this is right, and that ISLA will continue moving forward under thoughtful leadership after the search committee makes its selection. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your commitment, engagement, and thoughtful collaboration in the work that we have done through all these years to ensure the successful implementation of ISLA’s mission. As I reflect on my time here since 2016, I am proud of what we have done together, and at the end of this letter I have included some highlights of our collaborative achievements.

It feels like only yesterday when I moved my family from South America back to Minnesota in January of 2016 to further ISLA’s mission.  While I feel a sense of intense pride over our accomplishments at ISLA thus far, I know that the time has come for new leadership that will help ISLA continue moving forward and for me to embark on a new professional venture.

I am confident that the ISLA search committee will find a candidate worthy of our mission, our extraordinary students and families, and our talented faculty; just as I know that ISLA will continue on with its successful and innovative path.  I look forward to collaborating with everyone on more exciting projects in my final year at ISLA.

Thank you for the time together, for your continued support, and for trusting me with your most precious cargo on this glorious journey.  

 If you like, take a walk down memory lane with me in regard to the many things that we have accomplished together. 



Highlights of accomplishments at ISLA 2016-2023

August 25th, 2023

Strategic Planning– In 2018 we started the process of creating a new strategic plan, as the old plan was set to expire, and was more of an operational manual to running a charter school. We saw this as an opportunity to develop a visionary map to bring us into the next era. We utilized extensive ideation sessions and community discussions and resources to land on a plan which was innovative, inspired, as well as addressing whole child learning, and key elements of our mission. This plan is being executed and has been the foundation to many of the important decisions that ISLA has taken in these years, such as expanding the school and buying the new building, building a new gymnasium, enhancing our programming, establishing a DEI committee, increasing enrollment, adding new positions and more classrooms, hiring a media specialist, expanding the school library, and more. 


As a public charter school, our sources of income are limited, so right after starting here at ISLA in 2016 I began to look around for financial opportunities and new sources of revenue for the school. With that in mind, we started from the ground-up 3 distinct business lines which included the concept design, curriculum development, hiring process, recruiting, among others. In 2018 we created “Aventuras” the before/after school programming, in 2021 we started El Nido, the pre-k programming, and due to increased demand of our Spanish immersion and high-quality programs we have expanded our offerings at our Summer Camp.  All of these new business lines have brought significant revenue for ISLA; this year alone, this section of the budget will bring in close to $750,000. 

Untapped Academic Funding, Program Review/Enhancement:

Academically, ISLA has always been strong, but there were a few curricular opportunities which were ramped up in the past 7 years. First of all, in 2017, I found, applied for, and secured a grant for funding reading and math interventions called ADSIS. Through this initiative, ISLA was able to fund expansion of and maintenance of our RTI (Response to Intervention) programming in Mathematics, Language, and Behavior. By the end of my tenure in 2024, ISLA will have received over $1,150,000 of this new funding that gives students the opportunity to work with reading and math interventionists to build back important skills. 

Another source of funding which I located, applied for, and secured for ISLA is our Q-Comp and TDE (Teacher Development and Evaluation) funding.  When I started, I noticed that the teacher evaluation system needed updating, and after an arduous application process, we began to receive Q-Comp funding in 2017. Through this program, we were able to increase funding for professional development and training, we started a mentoring and staff portfolio program, and teachers continued to utilize data to make informed instructional decisions in their PLC’s. By the end of my tenure, ISLA will have received over $500,000 of new funding through this program. 

On the International Baccalaureate (IB) front, my previous experience with IB in an international school provided a good base to guide ISLA through two IB-PYP reviews--both which were led by IB Coordinator Karen Speich, and select faculty.  Also, based on the global focus of the IB program, ISLA began to observe numerous United Nations International Days and started to utilize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to organize some of our curriculum. In terms of technology, we were able to reach one-to-one status with our chromebooks and get high speed fiber by applying to E-Rate. Most recently, we were able to select and implement a new Mathematics curriculum, and finally, we implemented Design/Makerspace curriculum (Exploracion) and built a laboratory classroom with 3-D printers,  which benefits students by reinforcing our “Engineering is Elementary” curriculum, as well as enhancing STEM,  Design thinking, and Coding capabilities. 


As the school grew from 300 students in the winter of 2016 to the 400 students of today (440 with El Nido), it quickly became apparent that we would need a bigger facility, or we would need to build on the old campus.  For example, every day after lunch, our Language Ambassadors and Educational Assistants frantically folded up our lunch tables and mopped the floors as quickly as they could, as there was always a class waiting to come in for PE class shortly after. When we located our current facility, we immediately knew that we had found our new home.  Over the course of the next 18 months, we tackled through the biggest move of our lives--building out our current space and tripling our footprint (30k sq ft to 100k sq ft) in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and community shutdowns.  In the end, it was all worth it, as we were able to see the joy of ISLA students playing and learning in the enhanced green spaces, the brand new gym, the Exploracion classroom, the open space library, and classrooms with ample natural light. 

Human Resources:

One of our priorities on the HR committee is to constantly seek out HR benefits every year, all while maintaining market rates to help make ISLA the preferred place to teach and learn. However, when I started, I noticed that there was not any tool for gauging staff needs.  After implementing a yearly staff satisfaction survey in 2017 so we could find out more about the needs of staff and faculty, we have since added benefits such as short term disability, vision, an FSA, a 403B, tuition reimbursement, and staff discounts for their own children on programming. 

Likewise, I noticed that the evaluation process for the Executive Director was not integral and did not allow for enough input from the community, so I asked the school board to implement a 360 degree evaluation, as I had seen in my international school experience how this process allowed for accountability, stakeholder input, and created a more positive institutional growth. 

One of my proudest moments was being selected by the Minnesota Department of Education for two consecutive years, as the lead State representative to travel to Spain to interview teachers for all of the Spanish immersion schools in Minnesota. I have taken even greater pleasure at being able to find new great talent from around the world, and helping build and foster capacity my team by creating a new organizational structure,  

Pandemic Navigation:

Navigating the high seas of Covid 19 policy and procedure made us all into armchair quarterbacks and infectious disease experts, but our ISLA staff and community proved to be up to the challenge of the global pandemic.  However, at times it felt as it was triage in the halls of the Department of Education, with their eleventh hour changes and embargoed calls from the Governor, the constant shifting of models, social distancing and contact tracing requirements, and confusing and contradictory instructions for applying for and utilizing Covid funds. But through it all, we stayed healthy (in fact, I have never taken a sick day at ISLA in my seven years--I know, I know…knock on wood 😀), and we made it through the other side to educate a world which will never be the same again. 


Jeremy Perrin
Executive Director ISLA

Calendar of Events

  • August 30 - Grades 1-6 Meet the Teacher open house, 4:30-6:30 pm
  • August 31 - Kindergarten Meet the Teacher open house, 4:30-6 pm
  • September 4 - Labor Day, No School
  • September 5 - First day of School, grades 1-6
  • September 5 - Yahoo/Boohoo event, right after drop off
  • September 6 - First day of School, kindergarten
  • September 6 - Yahoo/Boohoo event, right after drop off
  • September 9 - Ice Cream Social, 2-4 pm, Burnes Park
  • September 13 - PTO Community Meeting, 6:30 pm
  • September 18 - Davanni's Restaurant Night, 4-8 pm, 5124 Gus Young Ln, Edina, MN 55436
  • September 19 - ISLA Board Meeting, 6:30 pm
  • September 21 - International Day of Peace
  • September 25 - No School
  • September 26 - Teacher Workshop, No School
  • September 27 - Curriculum Night for Grades K, 2 and 4, 6:30 pm
  • September 28 - Curriculum Night for Grades 1, 3, 5, and 6, 6:30 pm

Back to School Supplies

For those of you who were not able to purchase your back to school supplies through the ISLA PTO, you can find the grade level supply lists on the ISLA website under the Current Families tab and then the School Supplies tab.

Fundraising Committee Corner

The Fundraising Committee is excited to see you at Meet the Teacher Night next Wednesday and Thursday! We'll have a table set up near the Media Center where you can stop by and check out our Giving Tree - and learn more about our fundraising goals for the 2023-2024 school year. Every Wish List item you see on our Giving Tree is something that is already in our budget for the coming school year. Please stop by and say hello, check out the Giving Tree, and consider how you can support ISLA this year!


Sign up to be the room parent in your child's classroom this year! This is a wonderful way to become connected at ISLA and to help plan and coordinate all of the fun events throughout the school year!


Lunch and Breakfast at ISLA

After listening to your feedback about lunch service and overall quality, we also put our lunch contract out to bid. After inquiring with almost 20 companies, we interviewed a handful of finalists and decided to go with a smaller company with a wide variety of homemade and nutritious options--Cafe Racer.   The owner of Cafe Racer is from Colombia, and is very committed to and passionate about providing quality, nutritious food.  Another bonus for lunch this year is that thanks to your MN Senate,  it will be provided free of charge, and breakfast will be offered as well!  Everyone will still order lunch and breakfast through Boonli--with many more details and menu options coming soon.

While lunches and breakfasts are free, we use the Application for Educational Benefits for many other benefits. Please complete this form even if you do not think that you will qualify.

Application for Educational Benefits

Executive Director Search Update

We are pleased to share that the search for a new Executive Director is underway, so that we, the ISLA community, will be ready to welcome our new director ahead of the 2024-25 school year.

The Executive Director Search Committee features a number of passionate, talented and incredible parents and staffers dedicated to supporting the growth and evolution of our community and school through new leadership. Robust plans are underway to identify and secure a stellar candidate to oversee the ongoing implementation of ISLA’s mission.

Where we need your help: We would like to hear from you about the qualifications and areas of opportunity that matter most to you in a prospective candidate. A survey will be sent to parents and staff in the coming weeks, and results will be used to inform the job posting and candidate interview process.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

One week and counting!! We’re moving into the last week of summer break… Where has the time gone?! We’ve got lots of fun coming as we continue to celebrate this wonderful community!!

• • •  Upcoming Events • • •  

Meet the Teacher

4:30 – 6pm: Open-house style evening where you can attend anywhere in this timeframe.
Grades 1–6: Wednesday 8/30
Thursday 8/31

This is not a PTO-run event, but we will have the Spirit Store & Uniform Exchange set-up to pick-up your orders and stock-up on the FREE uniform clothes for the upcoming year. These are clothes that families have donated as their kids have outgrown them. We all know our kids grow quickly, so this is a great way to not break the bank on uniform clothes! We will also have a member of the PTO available to answer any questions about being a part of our different committees and upcoming events.


After drop-off, near the school parking lot.
Grades 1–6:
Tuesday 9/5
Kinder: Wednesday 9/6

Join other ISLA parents as we either CELEBRATE (yahoo) or shed a tear (boohoo) over the kids starting school! We’ll be gathering near the back ISLA parking lot where drop-off occurs for coffee & snacks while we chat!

Back to school Ice Cream Social

Saturday 9/9 2-4pm @ Burnes Park in Hopkins
Please RSVP so we can provide enough ice cream for all!!

It’s time to celebrate the start of the school year! Join other ISLA families as we have some delicious ice cream treats and the kids can run around the playground. Please note, there is a splash pad that MAY be functioning (don’t want anyone to be surprised by the water)!
Click here to RSVP to the Ice Cream Social or scan the QR codes below!

• • • Community PTO Meetings • • •  

Next meeting: 9/13 6:30-7:30pm @ ISLA playground & conference room
Please RSVP so we can plan dinner for everyone!

Our next community meeting will be the first of the official school year! Come enjoy dinner, meet other ISLA parents & caregivers while we share-out all things ISLA PTO for the upcoming year! Follow the links or scan the QR codes below for further details!
PTO Community Meeting Attendance
PTO Community Meeting Childcare Volunteers

Link to PTO Community Meeting Slides

• • • Restaurant Nights • • •

Monday 9/18 4–8pm

5124 Gus Young Ln, Edina, MN 55436

Saturday 10/7 8–10am

8421 Joiner Way, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

*We need volunteers to serve for this event (14+) – Sign-up Genius to come soon, but please mark your calendars!!

Monday 11/13 5–9pm

2251 Killebrew Dr, Bloomington, MN 55425

Wednesday 12/6 4–8pm

Noodles & Co.
8120 MN-7, St Louis Park, MN 55426

• • • More ways to get involved • • •

Sign-up for Box Tops for Education!

Download the app on your phone and search for International Spanish Language Academy to begin benefiting your kids’ school! After setting up your account, you can send digital receipts via email or scan a hard copy in the app. No more ripping boxes up!!

Use any of the below referral links to give ISLA an extra bonus when you sign-up:


Sort Supply Kits!

We will need help sorting them on Tuesday, August 29th from 6-7pm ahead of Meet the Teacher where they will be distributed.. Kids can also volunteer to sort!

Please sign-up via the link:

Teacher Wishlists!

Our wonderful teachers work so hard to make their classrooms welcoming and comfortable for our kids. This year, the PTO has asked that our teacher’s share a list of items they need to complete this huge task. Here are their lists, broken down by grade. Any item is a huge help for our teachers & is SO very appreciated by them AND your kids in their rooms. We are still awaiting a few lists, and will send out updated links when they are ready!


Doris Bonifacio Salas (link to come)
Silvia Herrero-Fernandez
Maryann Najera
Luis Vivas

1st Grade

Bonyin King
Erika Leal Gil
Edily Sanchez

2nd Grade

Irene Martinez (link to come)
Miriam Oropeza|
Lina Pinto Perez

3rd Grade

Corene Adams
Rosa Fernandez
Patricia Floe

4th Grade

Riana Dilley
Roberto Izquierdo
Pilar Robles

5th Grade

Stewin Bernal
Jordi Costa

6th Grade

Rachel Karlov

Exploracion & Art

Adriana Maldonado

Physical Education

Igor Diaz

Special Education

Ruth Garcia (link to come)
Thairys Rodriguez (link to come)
Tatiana Gordillo


Emily Smith
Jessica Gielen
Nurse: Tanya Nelson (link to come)

• • • Save the Date • • •  

When: Saturday, March 9th, 2024 6-11pm
Where: Bloomington Event Center

Fiesta de la Primavera is ISLA PTO’s biggest fundraiser & party of the year!! This is an adult-only event where we gather with our amazing community to celebrate the year together and raise funds to support our Language Ambassador Program. The LA Program is where we bring student teachers from native-spanish speaking countries to support our classrooms & teachers. It gives the students even more enrichment as the LA’s bring their cultural experiences and further immerse them in the Spanish language. Our first few LAs have begun arriving to meet their host families this week and be introduced to Minnesota and we’re so excited for this group!!

This year, we are encouraging Great Gatherings to be held anytime throughout the year… This will allow for more Fall & Winter fun before our actual Fiesta event in the Spring, but all the funds raised will still go back to the ISLA PTO to support the Language Ambassador Program and enrichment for our kids in the classrooms! So our donation forms are now OPEN!! We will get our Givesmart website launched in the coming weeks to allow purchasing tickets to upcoming Gatherings that are submitted!

Fiesta ‘24 Donation Form Links

Gift Basket Donations
Community/Parent Donations
Staff/LA Donations
Info on business sponsorships will be coming soon!!

• • • More ways to help with Fiesta  • • •

Recommend potential donors/sponsors

Do you have a favorite restaurant, salon, birthday party spot or other locale? Send us the business name and we will reach out to see if they’d like to participate by donating to Fiesta!

Any friends own a local business?

Or maybe you want to get your own small business involved with this fundraiser? We’re sorting out details for sponsorships to help advertise your business(es) while contributing to the growth of the LA Program!! Stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks, but you can always reach out to us (Jenner Moretto or Caitlin Edstrom) at Fiesta@isla.school with any questions!