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Welcome Back from Winter Break

Superintendent Joe Gothard

Dear SPPS Colleagues,

Welcome back from winter break. 

I hope each of you found some well-earned time to change the pace of your day-to-day routines to recharge. In these early days of the New Year I continue to be grateful for your exceptional work, commitment to our students and to each other.

It was great to see Mayor Carter welcome in the new year by congratulating families of newborns with $50 deposits in the new college savings account program. As a member of the CollegeBound Saint Paul taskforce, our community is sending the message that all of our children benefit from a social network of strong support and high expectations. The role SPPS plays in CollegeBound Saint Paul is profound.   

At our Board of Education meeting on December 17 we honored Board Directors Jon Schumacher and Mary Vanderwert for their service to Saint Paul Public Schools. This week, we will officially welcome Chauntyll Allen and Jessica Kopp as they begin their four-year terms as new members of our Board.

I am committed to working with our new School Board, and ramping up our efforts to improve long-term student outcomes.

Overall, I am excited about our continued implementation of SPPS Achieves. One example is the progress we have made in our renewed focus on college and career paths for our students. 

Thanks to the work of the team leading SPPS Achieves Initiative 6A, our commitment to creating personal learning plans for all SPPS students is gaining momentum. Examples of some of the work to date include:

  • Counselors are introducing students to opportunities available to them in SPPS, and after high school, through developmentally-appropriate content and instructional strategies;
  • Students are learning about how their years in elementary school are important steps in college and career planning;
  • Students in 7th and 8th grade completed the “StrengthsExplorer” survey, a tool that supports students in understanding personal strengths to aid them in career exploration;
  • SPPS is introducing a new planning guide for high school students (we anticipate will be available in April 2020), that will summarize a student’s progress toward graduation and include a variety of options for students to consider in their postsecondary planning.


The Office of College & Career Readiness has prepared a Personal Learning Plan Pilot that provides additional details about this important work.

Another area of emphasis is our work to build a positive school and district culture.

The SPPS Achieves 2A Initiative Team has developed a definition of a Positive School and District Culture.  It takes each staff member, working collaboratively as part of a larger team, to build and sustain an environment of trust that is critical to our success.

Later this month a survey designed to measure culture, engagement and workplace environment will be sent to staff at 13 SPPS sites. Results from that survey will be used to generate questions for a survey that will be sent to all staff later this year. I will be providing details in The Bridge next week.

Thank you for all you do for our students, families and community. I wish you all the best in the new year.

In partnership,

Joe Gothard, Superintendent