School District 197 Superintendent Blog
Welcome to my blog! The purpose of the blog is to provide an avenue for communication with parents and community members. I will be sharing our progress in implementing the District Strategic Framework. Periodically I will also post photos and share news of special events that I attend in our schools.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Charting Our Course

Dear Friends, Families, and Staff of District 197,

The energy of a new school year always makes me feel like I want to be a kid again or to be back in the classroom teaching.  Let's face it.  That's where all the action is, right?  Yet I also love the work I do as a superintendent, which has more to do with positioning the school district for success on a variety of fronts.

It is an exciting time to be leading a school district.  The way in which we educate students is changing with the times, yet we balance the new with tried and true practices that have proven to be successful.  It's a constant analysis in which we are engaged.  Our work as administrators, school board members, teachers, and support staff is also heavily driven by our District 197 Strategic Framework.  We are entering the third year of implementation, and this week the school board approved the annual update to the plan.

We have made significant progress in executing the action steps for the six goals that are articulated in a set of core strategies.  You can see some of those accomplishments in my blog post from June 10th. However, we continue to look ahead to where we want to go as a district and how we'd like to see programs and services improve, and in some cases, be completely redesigned to better meet the needs of our 21st century learners.

My question for you is, as we implement our strategic plan, are we hitting the mark?  Are we on the right track?  Are we meeting your expectations when you think of our six goals?  Where do we need to do more?  We'd like to hear from you.

I invite you to be part of a year-long set of conversations around our Strategic Framework and our core strategies.  The conversations are open to the public and all staff.  We have three dates planned:
  • Tuesday, September 22, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Monday, January 11, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 7, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. 
We will kick-off the first conversation with a brief look back at what has been accomplished over the last three years, followed by a summary of what remains to be done.  We will then break into conversation groups around each of the goals to go deeper into some big ideas that you think we should strive to achieve.  We'll also ask you to help us think through some things that will help us know what our public truly values and desires from its district.  The conversation will continue over the next two scheduled dates, so it is ideal if you can commit to attending all three.

All of the conversations will be in Warrior Hall (third floor) at Henry Sibley High School.  We'll provide you with a light dinner. In order to know how many to plan for, we ask that you preregister at this link.  We'll also ask you to tell us if you need child care or language translation.

When I think of the possibilities that lie before us, I get excited.  I hope you do too.  We want to hear from you, and we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to join us in a conversation.  By working together, we can achieve so much more on our path to making District 197 the leading educational choice, known for excellence and a wide range of exemplary programs and services that meet the needs of all students, every day.



Nancy Allen-Mastro

Follow me on Twitter @Supt197 

Friday, September 4, 2015

A New Year Begins

Dear Friends and Families of District 197,

A new school year is underway, and with it comes a great deal of anticipation for what we hope will be another banner year in District 197!  This past week we welcomed staff back, and no time was wasted in focusing on the initiatives for the year.  We are a district on the move, and it is an exciting place to be.

We always begin the year by gathering staff from across the district.  It is a way to reconnect, to acknowledge our successes, and to rally around our vision of offering exemplary curricular and co-curricular programs and services while providing a safe and inclusive learning environment.  We spent a few minutes celebrating last year's accomplishments, which are many and far too numerous to list here.

However, there are a few that I'd like to share with you.  First, we celebrated the opening of our new Early Learning and Family Resource Center, located at 1970 Christensen Avenue in West St. Paul. This has been a dream come true, which was long in the making.  Having a dedicated space for early learning will allow our program to grow and to better meet the needs of our families.

Second, we celebrated a five percentage point increase in our state math scores across the district last spring. Improving our math achievement has been a focus, and this significant improvement in outcomes didn't happen by chance.  It was the result of being intentional, having a rigorous plan, and following through with consistency and intensity.  It happened in all of our schools, and I am proud of our students and staff.

Third, this week we highlighted our EmPowerEd initiative, in which we will take 1:1 computing and personalized, digital learning to scale across the district, thanks to our community approving a 10-year technology levy last fall.  This year we will start with the secondary level and expand to our elementary level next year.  We have repeatedly said the device is no silver bullet.  What it will do, however, is empower our staff and students to use technology as a significant lever for learning.  It won't be the only lever; we will continue to use those tried and true practices that have been working.  But by adding technology to the teachers' toolbox, we open up a wide range of options for students that will, I believe, change the landscape forever.  Students will thrive like no other time in the history of education.

When the buses roll on Tuesday, we'll be here, ready and excited.  I hope you are too.  Let's be sure to keep in touch!


Nancy Allen-Mastro

Follow me on Twitter @Supt197