It takes an entire valley to educate our kids

February 01, 2020

Great schools don’t happen by accident. To be truly great requires the efforts of many different people coming together to align their vision, their resources and their energy to do what is right for their kids. It takes an entire community, or in our case, an entire river valley!

  • It takes volunteers.
  • It takes mentors and role models.
  • It takes helpers and protectors.
  • It takes a financial investment.
  • It takes caring adults.
  • It takes all of you working alongside all of us.

Stillwater Area Public Schools are so great because of the teachers and staff, students, parents, business people, retirees, volunteers and taxpayers from 18 different communities coming together for one common goal. We all want the very best for our children. We want them to be happy and healthy. We want them to feel safe and valued. We want them to be curious and engaged, always striving to learn more and dig deeper. We want them to be successful no matter where their journey will take them.

Together we’re doing amazing work, but there is so much more to be done. Students enter our buildings every day with more than the weight of a backpack on their shoulders. They’re dealing with things like anxiety, trauma, social pressure, homelessness, food insecurity, family issues, substance abuse and countless other struggles. 

Our community recognizes that schools cannot do it alone. We have amazing partners who have come alongside us to provide extra support, resources and creative solutions to so many of these challenges. Here are just a few examples of the incredible ways our community is helping us break down barriers for our students:

  • Dozens of individuals, organizations and mental health providers formed a mental health collaborative responsible for bringing Peer Helpers, support groups and the Make It OK campaign to our schools.
  • FamilyMeans, Youth Service Bureau and Lakeview Health and other local agencies and foundations have teamed up to create a Wellness Center at Stillwater Area High School to help students dealing with chemical health, mental health, nutrition and wellness issues.
  • A local church is meeting to design ways its congregation can help encourage and support students, staff and families within our school district, address basic needs, and help meet the social and emotional needs of students inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Washington County has partnered with the district to help us improve our emergency preparedness and crisis response systems.
  • Many local businesses, as well as the Greater Stillwater Area Chamber of Commerce and the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, are working with the district to develop the Pathways & Possibilities program to help students explore career options and gain valuable real-world experiences in the workplace. The Partnership Plan has also supported this effort with a significant start-up investment. 
  • The Stillwater Sunrise Rotary is leading an effort to staff our elementary media centers with volunteers to help shelve books, check out materials, and read with kindergarten and first grade students.

These are just a few of the examples. In reality, there are hundreds of organizations, groups and individuals - from Marine down to Afton and Woodbury - who are working on behalf of our students. It takes a valley to do this important work. We need your creativity, brain power and continued support to ensure we can meet the needs of students both now and into the future.

Want to be inspired? Check out our “It Takes a Valley” video series at stillwaterschools.org/valley to see how we are caring for our kids from the time they climb aboard our buses until they arrive back at home - and all the little moments in between.