Ms. Lisa Gruenewald

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Ms. Lisa Gruenewald

Lisa Gruenewald is the principal at John A. Johnson Achievement Plus.

With more than 20 years of experience, Principal Gruenewald has served as a Special Education teacher and developed, taught and managed K-8 after-school and early childhood education programs. She first began working with Saint Paul Public Schools in 2004, most recently serving as Assistant Director for the Office of Early Learning.

Prior to working at SPPS,  Gruenewald held variety of roles in the education ranging from work in early childhood education to corporate training and education to community education.

Gruenewald graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, with an Early Childhood Special Education degree. She currently holds a master of education degree and an administrative PreK-12 license from Hamline University, while pursuing a graduate certificate in culturally responsive teaching from Saint Mary’s University.

Here’s a Q&A with Principal Gruenewald:

SPPS: What do you hope to bring to John A Johnson?

Gruenewald: I have a strong background in early learning Pre-K-3. I understand the importance of looking at the developmental scope and sequence of skills students need both academically and socially, because there is a great deal of research that shows children who do not have a solid education foundation by grade three are more likely to struggle for the rest of their lives.

SPPS: What are you most excited about for the new school year?

Gruenewald: I  am excited to be part of an Achievement Plus School that is committed to the Community School Model. I know this sounds a bit cliche, but I truly believe, "It Takes a Village."
The ancient African proverb that says, “tt takes a village to raise a child” can be adapted in the field of education to say: “It takes a village of leaders, with a shared vision to truly educate a child.”
I am looking forward to working with all the community partners housed right in the building, and those in the surrounding community as well. Unlike practices in the past, where the classroom teacher was solely responsible for the education and success of the students in her class, today, I believe the village including teachers, parents, community members and students is necessary for student achievement.  

SPPS: What are you most excited about regarding your new role?

Gruenewald: I am excited to be part of a dynamic team. I think of myself as a servant leader. By that I mean, as the leader I am a good follower, one who will  be articulate about the purposes of the JAJ community, passionate and willing to work with the team to pursue our goals.

SPPS: What skills and experiences will you bring to your new school?

Gruenewald: I enjoy the challenge of new endeavors and welcome this opportunity to join the John A. Johnson team. I am certainly not someone who has all the answers, rather, I am someone who is determined to continue to seek the answers and I will apply this determination in my position as principal. 

SPPS: What challenges will you tackle at your new school?

Gruenewald: I believe one of the first and most important jobs I will have as principal is to build trust with the community.
It is my job to build a community where all stakeholders’ have opportunities to question, ask for help, offer suggestions, make mistakes and experiment by taking risks. I really enjoy building cohesive teams, it's the main reason I wanted to be a principal. I don't really see this as a challenge, but it definitely takes time.

SPPS: What changes, if any, would you like to make at your new school?

Gruenewald: I would like to expand on the current offerings for family engagement at John A. Johnson. I would like hear from parents about how they would like to contribute to the school community, after all, it's their school! I believe a strong partnership with families is crucial for student success.

SPPS: How did you spend your summer vacation?

Gruenewald: I love to be anywhere near water, especially on the North Shore. This summer we  enjoyed spending time in Grand Marais. We even got all of our kids to camp with us for a weekend.

SPPS: Please tell us a bit about your family.

Gruenewald: I have a fantastic family. A wonderful husband who works in Human Resources for a financial company in  Minneapolis and three grown children, two girls and a boy. Our oldest, Briana, works for a public relations firm in the twin cities, our youngest daughter, Madison, will be starting graduate school this fall  to become a  chemical dependency and mental health counselor and our youngest, Miller, will be a sophomore at Bemidji State this fall studying Environmental Science.