Espe: Mission, vision and core values make Princeton innovative

Julia Espe
Superintendent Julia Espe

As part of our Strategic Plan, I am going to the schools to talk to our staff.  In the past couple of weeks, I have gone to all of the schools to give a presentation.  I thought  you might be interested in the content of this update.
Mission, Vision and Core Values:
Princeton is an innovative leader in instruction, developing in every student, the ability to succeed in an ever-changing world.  This is our mission, which means  it describes us.  As I have written many times, Princeton has had a good five years of working on the “how” of teaching, or instruction.  This has paid off with our students not only learning, but remembering what they learn.  This year we are working very hard to shift the learning onto students’ shoulders.  If our students can think critically, know how to problem solve, and are autonomous in their learning, they will succeed in an ever-changing world.
Princeton will equip every student to be career and college ready through personalized instruction, community partnerships, and collaboration.  This is our vision, or the direction  we are going.  We just implemented a curriculum “Ramp Up to Readiness” in grades six through twelve.  This is a career exploration curriculum, written by the University of Minnesota.  We are working with the community committee Learning and Living, the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce, and several businesses in our area to develop community partnerships that will benefit our students.  These partnerships may be tours, speakers, or experiential opportunities.  Collaboration starts with role modeling what it look likes.  Our teachers work with each other to improve, in groups called Professional Learning Communities.  We are teaching our students to be good collaborators by teaching them the soft skills that are necessary in the workplace.
Citizenship, Collaborative Leadership, Connections, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, Learning and Respect.  These are our Core Values, what we believe is important.  As staff, we try our best to represent these values.  We teach them to our students.  We hold each other accountable.  We also expect our parents and community members who work with us to represent them.
District Goals:
1.    Provide personalized instruction for every student.  This is something  we are working very hard to accomplish.  Using learning targets/goals and learning progressions, students can tell you where they are in their learning the Minnesota State Graduation Standards.
2.    Prepare 21st Century students to be career and college ready.  We are working on teaching students to be self directed, as well as ready for their next steps in their lives.
3.    Implement Innovative Programming.  We have implemented several programs in order to retain and recruit students, including:
•     STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at the Middle School;
•    Spanish Immersion in grades K and 1, adding a grade level each year;
•    Student Services Department, including Princeton Online Academy for grades 3 through 12, our own Area Learning Center, the education portion of a care and treatment program called Education Options, and our Special Education Program;
•    Tigers in Training, a program to enhance relationships with families who have children from birth to five;
•    Gifted and Talented development into a comprehensive program;
4.    Guarantee creative and relevant digital learning.  We have had successful roll outs for devices for a third of our students this year, and we plan to continue with a third each of the next two years.  Our teachers have participated in digital professional development, and our technology integrationist and coaches have been busily supporting our teachers.
5.    Improve communication with staff, parents, business, and community partners in order to maximize student success.  We are working to help our staff to be our Number One Ambassadors.  We are giving staff more immediate information by sending an email called BoardNews right after board meetings, complete with links.  We have pledged to reach out more often, using feedback loops to seek input.  We are clarifying with our staff, how to resolve internal conflicts.  We are reminding our staff that we are all part of the district, and we need to represent our district well.
This is half of the presentation to I gave to our staff.  The other half will be described in my next article.
Have a happy holiday season!
Dr. Julia Espe is the superintendent of the Princeton School District.