50 Reasons We're Proud

We are proud – Panther Proud – of many things in Spring Lake Park Schools. And many of the things that make us proud are also what set us apart from other districts. See for yourself and learn why Spring Lake Park Schools is a special place.

1.  Our Strategic Plan for the Future is the road map that we follow in our continuing and measurable focus on success for all students. The strategic plan is developed and approved by the school board yearly and provides overall direction for the district’s work.

2. Our district purpose – “High expectations, high achievement for all. No excuses.” – provides our focus to meet the unique and varied needs of each student.

3. Our vision to have every student prepared for college is bold and aspirational. We are collectively committed to taking whatever actions are necessary every day to design engaging learning experiences for each student.4. The annual District Operational Plan (DOP) is the “how” of the strategic plan and identifies projects that help to move us toward our vision. Our planning process allows us to have a long-term view while continually assessing our work.

5. Innovation and doing things differently is an integral part of our district. We continue to create a systemic culture of innovation among all district staff members through implementing design thinking processes.

Teacher with a student on an iPad6. Our district is working to create powerful learners, not just good students. Powerful learners can connect learning to any situation and know how to find and use knowledge to address issues and solve problems.

7. Aspirations for average? Not in Spring Lake Park Schools! We are continually looking toward what else is possible and how might we improve and enhance learning for each student.

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Our district prepares students to compete and thrive in a global marketplace and to be continuous learners so they can be successful at any job they choose – many of which have not yet been created.

9. Our focus on personalized learning allows students to have greater choice in how they learn and allows them to take ownership of their learning.

10. Many of our parents describe our district as a family. We are large enough to offer many learning opportunities for each student and small enough to focus on the learning of each student.

11. Our district created a College and Career Readiness Continuum to deepen efforts to create college readiness and the academic, life and career skills crucial for student success.

12. We are focused on competency-based learning, which puts learning at the center and ensures that each student learns the academic, career and life skills they need to be successful both now and in the future.

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13. We are developing learner profiles and personal learner maps for each student to allow our teachers to deeply know where each student is at in their learning, where each student is going and what the next step is in the learning for each student.

14. Each student who is not yet at grade level standards is engaged in rigorous core and targeted reading, is given extra time to learn with a highly effective teacher.

15. Our goal is for each student to earn 12 college credits by the end of 12th grade through multiple pathways including embedded college courses, Advanced Placement courses, career and technical education programming, and College in the Schools courses.

16. Our Lighthouse School provides an enriched learning environment for highly gifted and insatiable learners ages 6-18. The school’s inquiry-based model of learning allows each student to take charge of their own learning.

17. Opportunities in Emergency Care (OEC) is an award-winning medical education program within our Health and Human Services pathway that offers extensive opportunities for high school students interested in the healthcare field.

OEC Students practicing rescues

18. Our Spring Lake Park Parent Academy is a seven-week program designed to build a bridge between home and school, and create stronger partnerships with our families.

19. Early Childhood Family Education classes help guide parents through their child’s stages of development, build positive parent-child relationships and prepare children to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.

Preschool student learning

20. Woodcrest Spanish Immersion is currently a K-5 school and will become a K-4 school at the beginning the 2018-2019 school year and is a model immersion program for other districts beginning their own programs. Immersion program offerings are also provided at the middle and high school.

21. We offer the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program for grades 6-12 students. AVID helps prepare students to be successful in college and other post-secondary opportunities.

22. Our comprehensive assessment program balances assessments FOR learning, which are used when learning is occurring, and assessments OF learning, which are used after learning has happened to assess what each student has learned. Both types of assessments are used to improve student learning.

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We are working to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) a systemic approach to learning. STEM allows students to draw connections across all content areas and teaches students how to think differently and use critical thinking through hands-on activities.

24. Every student in the district has use of a digital device – mostly iPads – with a goal of improving student engagement and personalizing learning for each student.

25. All preschool-12th grade students participate in learning experiences that foster higher-order thinking, substantive conversations and connections to the world beyond the classroom.

26. All K-5 students have a daily reading block of 120 minutes with the first half focused on grade-level learning targets and the second half focused on more personalized learning delivered in groups of five or 10 students.

27. Class sizes in our district are lower than neighboring districts and we use additional teachers and academic specialists in classrooms to personalize learning for each student.

Dancers cheering

28.

Our high school students are highly engaged in the life of their school with about 85 percent of students participating in Panther athletics or activities.

29. We place a high priority on professional learning so our teachers and other staff can continuously improve learning for our students.

30. Our district is supported by the community-based Panther Foundation, which has raised and awarded more than $1.5 million to our district since its creation in 2004.

31. Spring Lake Park Schools – along with our partner Farmington Area Schools – received Minnesota’s first-ever Innovation Zone designation to encourage the development of new and innovative ways to deliver education more effectively.

Students working in high school science wing

32. We are transforming our learning spaces from traditional classrooms to flexible spaces that are more conducive to active, hands-on learning.

33. Our “Make Your Mark” initiative strives to promote and provide a welcoming environment and customer service experience for parents and the community.

34. Our parents and community members are highly engaged with our district with hundreds of people involved in our ongoing facilities planning and design process.

35. Every district school is staffed with “continuous improvement and innovation coaches” who partner with our teachers to regularly improve and share best practices.

36. Our district is in solid financial condition and is one of only a few districts in the state that has not made budget reductions in the past several years.

37. Our district has earned the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International for more than 10 years in a row.

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As part of our ongoing commitment to effectively manage our finances, our board and administration take regular action to reduce property taxes contributed by district residents. In the past five years, the board approved bond refunding opportunities that saved residents about $110 per year on a $250,000 home.

39. Our district continues to increase its support of families through our grades 6-12 dean model and student/family advocate positions, who bridge the gap between families and schools, and provide a link to community services.

40. Our district partnered with the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine to secure land for Centerview Elementary School, which will open in fall 2018. Purchasing land from the NSC saved the district about $3 million, which was invested in improving other facilities.

41. District residents overwhelmingly approved – 72 percent – a bond referendum in April 2016 that provided funds to construct a new preK-4 elementary school, renovate a portion of Spring Lake Park High School, and complete facility renovations at all schools.

Northpoint family on the first day of school

42. Our district residents have generously invested in our schools and have provided the funds necessary to maintain and update our facilities. All district schools have either been constructed or recently renovated in the past 10 years.

43. Dozens of teachers and other staff – working with our architects – designed our schools and created spaces that are flexible and allow for personalized learning.

44. Our 3D Design model is a process that district staff use to improve and transform what we do and how we do it. The model is based on human-centered design, which means we think about and incorporate insight from users and customers in the design process.

45. We created “My SLP Idea” to encourage staff to generate ideas and bring them forward for consideration. Our leaders find ways to say yes and encourage innovation. In response to new ideas, we find ways to say, “just do it,” “let’s try it,” or “let’s build it” as part of our culture of innovation.

46. Teachers and other staff members have the opportunity to explore and transform their teaching through participating in Design Studios. These sessions provide time and energy to be focused on learning how to use a design thinking process to customize learning for students.

47. Along with traditional conferences, our teachers use a variety of strategies to regularly connect with families, including Communication Days scheduled during each school year.

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Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, each district elementary school will have a gifted/STEM specialist who will enhance support to gifted students and assist teachers in extending STEM learning for each student.

49. Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, all Spring Lake Park High School students will have expanded opportunities to explore future career and college pathways and earn college credit. Our three Career and College Pathways are: Business and Entrepreneurship; Health and Human Services; and Technology, Engineering and Design.

50. Beginning in fall 2018, the Spring Lake Park Schools early childhood program is expanding to include programming for three- and four-year-olds at each of the four K-4 elementary schools. In addition, Early Childhood Family Education, Discovery Days preschool and programming for birth to age 3 children will be offered at Centerview Elementary in Blaine and the District Services Center in Spring Lake Park.

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