By Jeff Ronneberg
Each year, throughout August, there is a behind-the-scenes buzz that happens as the final pieces of many, many months of planning are put into place as we kick off the new school year. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome back more than 5,800 students to our schools in just a few days. The excitement and enthusiasm for the new year was evident this past week among our teachers as they worked together to put the finishing touches on their plans for the year, as well as met students and families at school open houses and meet and greet opportunities.
This year, as in the past several years, we will continue our emphasis on personalizing learning to deepen the engagement and success of each student in our district. A great deal of work has been, and continues to be done, by teachers and staff to enhance the support and engagement each student and family experiences. This starts with our commitment to our students and families: Each student in Spring Lake Park Schools is known by name, strength, interest and need, leading to personalized student work and learning experiences.
Throughout the next year, we will share details about the district’s personalized learning initiative, and the exciting learning and work of our students. We will use our regular newspaper columns, district website, videos, social media and school newsletters to share information and provide a deeper understanding of our personalized learning efforts.
The start of the school year also calls for an update on progress with our facilities projects throughout the district. As you likely recall, district residents overwhelmingly approved a bond referendum for $49.95 million in April 2016. We so appreciate this community support to increase capacity, enhance STEM programming, and provide engaging, enriching learning environments in each of our schools. Since that time, a great deal of work and involvement of staff, parents and community members has gone into the planning and design for the construction and renovation of new and existing facilities.
The two largest and most visible projects are the construction of the new K-4 elementary on the former National Sports Center property near Davenport and 105th, and the construction of new science classrooms at Spring Lake Park High School.
Work on the new elementary school began this summer and the school will be open for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Construction of the science classroom addition began last spring and will be available when students return to school in September.
Each of these projects provide engaging learning environments that our community will take great pride in, and that our staff and students will love learning and work in. The science teachers just had the chance to get into their new space this month, and they are so excited about the opportunities it provides them to enhance learning experiences with students. We will be hosting an opportunity on September 30 for community members to see the new classrooms. Please look for more information about this opportunity in the in the coming weeks.
There are projects that teachers and staff have designed, or are in the midst of design, that will be completed by fall 2018 at each of our schools. We are excited about the maker spaces, flexible learning environments, and STEM and career and technical education learning spaces that we students will be able to learn in. There just is not enough space in one column to share all of the exciting work underway, so we will provide updates throughout the year, and you can always visit our website for more information.
I am so proud of the work our teachers and staff do each day, and I promise our families and community we take great pride in the responsibility we have to personalize learning so each of the 5,800 young people we work with is inspired and experiences success while with us, positioning them for success beyond our walls.
The start of the school year also brings the return of our athletics and activities throughout the district. It is a great way to get a glimpse into our schools, and I encourage each of you to attend one or more of these events to see the many talents of our students. I know you will be impressed.
Thanks again for your ongoing support and welcome to the start of another school year.
Jeff Ronneberg is the superintendent for Spring Lake Park Schools.