Students at Garden City Elementary in Brooklyn Center were greeted Tuesday morning by Governor Mark Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.
Holding the door open for students, Dayton doled out the high fives and asked several if they were excited for the new school year to begin.
Most were. Garden City Elementary is on an upward trajectory, its math scores on the showing significant improvement in recent years.
In fact, in 2013, the Minnesota Department of Education honored Garden City Elementary by naming it a Celebration School, an honor given to high-poverty schools demonstrating strong academic gains. It is located in the Osseo school district.
Before the bell rang, Dayton talked with some of the school's kindergarten teachers who extolled some of the benefits of all-day kindergarten. For the first time this school year, the state is funding full-day kindergarten to the tune of about $134 million.
The teachers agreed that having kids for a full-six hours is what they need to thoroughly cover academic subjects as well as the social and emotional lessons that the state's youngest learners need.
"We really have time to look at the whole child," said teacher Tina Thompson.
Also up for discussion: The state's decision to fund free breakfasts for all kindergarten students, plus additional funding that ensures students who qualify for reduced price lunches can receive a free meal should they be unable to pay for it.
Cassellius said that students who have been denied free meals in the past are often stigmatized by the experience.
"That one little significant event of being denied lunch or breakfast could set them off in terms of their personal development," she said.