First Dowling school, and now its principal, have been cited by his peers for excellence.
Principal Joe Rossow is in his fifth year at Dowling Urban Environmental School, where Rossow student taught and later taught for eight years.
He’s a hometown product, having attended Marcy Open School, where he also taught, and other city schools before graduating from South.
His citation for a divisional leadership award comes from the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association. The same organization last year cited Dowling as a school of excellence for the 2011-2012 school year.
Dowling is an unusual school. It was once known as Michael J. Dowling School for Crippled Children after both its original clientele and a former Speaker of the Minnesota House who became a triple amputee as a teen during an 1880 blizzard. It has a swimming pool that was used for therapeutic purposes, and a 20-acre site at 3900 W. River Pkwy that includes a greenhouse, an orchard and holds one of the nation’s oldest community gardens. It also enrolled in the Minnesota school forest program.
Rossow said he’s passionate about environmental education, and is working to beef up the school’s environmental curriculum. “My philosophy is to get some hands-on for the kids,” he said.
Although the school slightly exceeds state norms for proficiency in reading and math, science is where it really shines. Science proficiency as measured on the state test jumped from 35 percent in 2008 to 79 percent in 2012. That’s 27 points over the state average.
As a magnet school, Dowling draws its 505 students from across the southeastern quadrant of the city.
“It’s tough work, but it’s fun,” Rossow said. A school math night drew some 190 people; teachers taught math skills to students and parents learned math games that can be played at home.