Schools closed remainder of school year

The Governor has ordered all Minnesota schools to remain closed with distance learning in place through the end of the 2019-2020 school year to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Reflecting on a year of new beginnings

"Talk of the District" with Denise Pontrelli, Superintendent
May 31, 2018
As a student I remember anxiously counting down the days to the end of the school year and looking forward to the long summer months of sunshine and freedom. Then as a teacher and now a school administrator, the end of the year took on a new meaning. Sure, I also look forward to the quieter days of summer, but even more than that, the end of the year is a time to look back on how our students have grown and matured in just nine short months. For educators, it always comes back to the students.

At the beginning of the school year I challenged our staff to think about “Why” they choose to come to work each day. I’ve been inspired by their answers. No matter what their position, they show up each day because they love our kids. They clean up their messes in lunchrooms and hallways, grade endless papers, and patiently help students and parents in emotional crisis because more than anything else, they want great things for our students.

The jobs our school staff do as educators, custodians, principals, secretaries, and paraprofessionals are not easy. Every year it seems there are more challenges as our students come to us with greater needs. We are stretched personally, our district is stretched financially, and we are constantly doing more with less. And yet, I am amazed by the resiliency, creativity and dedication of our staff. They never give up on our kids. And they show up every day with a smile and just the right words to encourage and motivate their students.

This year, more than ever, I’ve been astounded by our students, our staff and our community. Just nine short months ago we were in the midst of the largest transition in our district’s history. Thousands of students and staff were welcomed into new buildings. For the first time ever, an entire class of ninth graders wandered the halls of the high school in search of their classes, and sixth graders learned what middle schools are all about and our preschool students joined the elementary ranks. It’s been an exciting year and I’ve watched with pride as our Pony community has come together to support our students and families through a time of change.

While we had concerns and some fears about the unknown, we’ve not only survived the many changes, we’ve thrived. Our students have accomplished remarkable things. Just take a peek at our Facebook page or website to see all of the many academic, artistic and athletic accomplishments of students across the district. They are learning and growing not just as students, but as healthy and confident young people.

Ensuring our students have the very best experience possible is our focus. We’ve made it our priority to talk to our students and learn from them. One of the highlights of the year for me was the day I spent “shadowing” a student at Lake Elmo Elementary. It was an incredible experience to walk in a student’s shoes and see what they encounter through the course of the day. I was one of 30 district leaders who shadowed a student. It was a wonderful reminder that our kids have amazing insights - we just need to stop and listen to what they’re telling us. Their voices will help us make our schools even better places to learn.

While one year wraps up, another is soon to begin. In the coming year we will continue to focus on the needs of our students. We’ll be working hard to build connections with students and provide them with opportunities to share their perspectives and ideas. We’ll be finding new ways to show them they matter. We’ll continue to support them - not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well. We are committed to making sure that every child is seen, supported and served by our school district.

We do all this because our children are the most important things in the world, and we exist to serve them. It’s a high calling and one that all of us in the Stillwater Area Public School District are humbled and proud to strive to fulfill.

Thank you for trusting us with your children and for all that you do as a community to help support them all year long. We look forward to continuing to partner with you in the year ahead.
Go Ponies!