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OWATONNA PROUD

Lead Summary

While the school year may be still a few weeks away, our Owatonna Public Schools staff are in full swing getting ready for a new school year. Whether or not you have children, we can all remember a special teacher or a favorite class from our school days. Our goal is to create as many of those great experiences as possible - for each and every one of our students.
 
For most of us, these past 18 months have run the gamut of emotions. We were all tested and stretched in ways we never dreamed possible. Thanks to the hard work of our staff and the partnership with our families, we navigated a difficult school year and are ready to move forward. We have thought about what things can return to “normal” and what things can be improved based on what we experienced through the pandemic. As a learning organization, we strive to learn from the past to make the future even better.
 
Looking ahead, there are many new and exciting things on the horizon for our school district. We are making great construction progress on our new community-supported Owatonna High School. Career pathways continue to expand, as we identify more opportunities for students to engage in real-world work experiences. We are launching Owatonna Online, a full-time online school for any interested Minnesota student, grades K-12. Our middle schoolers have increased choices, allowing them to explore and build on their interests. And we remain vigilant in providing our K-5 students with a well-rounded learning program that supports the important foundation of reading and STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) education.
 
We are excited that all of our students PreK-12 will return to a normal in-person five-day week schedule. We will remain diligent in following the latest local health data and recommendations from both the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health. Working together as a community, we can keep schools safe and open for our students.
 
Preparing for this new school year has not been easy. We recognize that there will be trials along the way, and we humbly ask for your continued patience, support and partnership as we work to provide the safest and most effective learning environments for our students and our staff as we continue to navigate the pandemic and offer the quality education our students deserve.
 
I am proud to serve our community alongside dedicated staff who are ready to do whatever it takes to make this school year the best it can be. And I am proud to partner with families and community members in providing the space and grace to do the best we can and get better every single day. We appreciate our community’s trust, and my door is always open for any questions. Let’s continue to be #OwatonnaStrong!
 
Jeff Elstad is the superintendent of Owatonna Public Schools. His column appears in this newspaper monthly.

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