The classrooms are mostly empty — students are more focused on fireworks and lazy summer days — but school districts are humming with preparations for fall.
Custodians are sprucing up buildings. Teachers are attending conferences and teaching summer school. School boards are finalizing budgets and deciding whether to put fall referendums on the ballot. And with the start of the new budget year, new administrators are coming aboard.
In the Prior Lake-Savage district, new Superintendent Teri Staloch has stepped into the top staff position, replacing Sue Ann Gruver, who retired.
Staloch, previously the assistant superintendent for the Osseo school district, said she was drawn to Prior Lake-Savage’s innovative programs. She cited the focus on E-STEM (environmental education plus science, technology, engineering and math), a new fabrication lab where students can use 3-D printers and the Spanish immersion program.
“I really sense a culture and mind-set of being open to doing things differently,” she said.
In previous jobs, she said, she’s emphasized trying new things, embracing technology and using data to make decisions.
She began as an eighth-grade English teacher in St. Charles, Minn., near Rochester, and earned graduate degrees before becoming an administrator for a western Wisconsin district.
Upon moving to Osseo, Minnesota’s fifth-largest district, she advocated for using data to measure whether the district was meeting its mission. She said she’s proud of helping to bring iPads to every student and the district’s racial equity work, which resulted in marked increases in the graduation rates of black students at Park Center High School.
At Prior Lake, she’s not yet sure what strategies she’ll use, but there’s no shortage of new ideas in education right now, she said.
“We really get to write the script for what public education looks like,” she said. “We’re seeing walls dismantled all around us.”
To get started, she’s met other administrators and visited schools. Prep time lasts two more months before students show up. School in Prior Lake-Savage starts Sept. 8.