A pair of creative St. Paul schools with the proven ability to change will have new leadership in 2014-15.
The school district has tapped Dave Gundale to lead Open World Learning Community (OWL) when it moves to a new home at the former Humboldt Middle School on the city's West Side.
OWL made history in a previous incarnation as the district's first magnet school, and has thrived with a new focus on expeditionary learning -- a change brought about by a forced restructuring.
In recent years, OWL has occupied a two-school site at 65 E. Kellogg Blvd. downtown with Creative Arts High School. In October, the school board voted to relocate OWL after district administrators determined that the downtown site was too small for both schools.
Gundale was assistant principal for OWL and Creative Arts for the past two years. Valerie Littles-Butler, current principal of the two-school site, will remain as principal at Creative Arts.
Steve Unowsky, the district's assistant superintendent of middle schools, wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to the OWL community that Gundale was "absolutely the best choice" to take over as principal of OWL because he was fully trained in expeditionary learning and helped lead implementation of the OWL program.
The grades 6-12 school emphasizes hands-on learning and has seen students take expeditions to the Mississippi River or visit the Science Museum of Minnesota.
In charter school news, Great River School (GRS), a grades 1-12 Montessori school, will begin preparing for change at the top after head of school Christina Beck and Montessori director Ben Moudry both announced recently they would be moving on to new challenges following the current school year.
Moudry, one of the charter school's founders, has accepted the position of head of school at The Grove School in Redlands, Calif.
Beck, who has lived previously in a community farm setting, told families in a letter last week that she and her husband will return this summer to community farm life as co-workers at a non-profit farm in the St. Croix Valley in Wisconsin. The farm will work with other groups to provide organic food to needy urban families, she wrote in the Jan. 9 letter.
She added that the timing of the departures "was purely coincidental and we are choosing to see it as an opportunity to evaluate our governance structure and determine the best configuration for GRS into its next phase of organizational development."
The school at 1326 Energy Drive started with a grades 7-10 program in 2004-05 and completed the move to its current grades 1-12 structure in 2012-13.