Return to Headlines

Superintendent's column: Supporting our students, for 2020 and beyond

As the calendar turns to a new year and decade, it’s a time for optimistic view of our future.


If you’re looking for some inspiration, consider that the class of 2033, some 3,000 kindergarten students strong, will begin their K-12 education in Anoka-Hennepin this year. These young students will learn and grow over time in a school district that is focused on preparing students for life.


Ensuring these students are future-ready is not possible without the support of teachers, staff members, parents, guardians, and the community as a whole. Our schools cannot afford to remain static or set in our ways; we need to make sure these students have all they need for success.


While it may appear that schools and classrooms look similar to how they did a century ago, what is happening inside these schools is different as schools are adapting to the needs of our students. While school start times have remained basically the same, programming and teaching has evolved along with the changing expectations our community has for students. Our middle schools and high schools offer more exposure to post high school options than at any other time in our district’s history.


Anoka-Hennepin is working to collect the ideas, thoughts and dreams from parents, guardians, staff and community members. Our goal is to further define and strengthen our district mission to prepare students for life by creating a “Portrait of a Graduate”. What skills and attributes are desired in our graduates? How can we design schools to foster these qualities in students? Look for opportunities to provide input and recommendations coming forward to our School Board this year.


Our schools are committed to adapting to the needs of the community and making sure students prepare for what they need for success.


While I’m sharing a long-term view of the district planning, it’s a goal that can only be achieved through strong daily effort by teachers, administrators and staff in our district.


Like schools across our state and nation, supporting the mental health needs of students has increased both in priority and by the amount of work happening in our schools every day. Anoka-Hennepin has focused efforts on the national standards from the Collaborative for Academic,  Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). These five standards support students through increased self awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and decision making.


As the needs increase, our schools have developed a system of student support with mental health therapists and a teamwork approach to support at all schools. When student needs exceed what can be provided by the network of school providers, we have the ability to refer students to professional help outside the school system. Parents and guardians play a key role.


We all care for our students and want to support them in being prepared for the long-term and supported each and every day at school. Their success and their future is dependent on a school that does both equally well.


Thank you for your ongoing support of Anoka-Hennepin schools and best wishes for the year ahead.