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Take Time to Celebrate You

Dear colleagues,

It’s hard to believe another school year is coming to an end this week. Realizing this time was approaching faster than I ever remember, I made a point to visit as many schools as possible. Over the past 5 weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to visit 40 of our schools. At each and every one, I talked to and observed students, staff and administrators, and came away with even more pride and respect for the amazing things that happen in SPPS every single day.

Student's work

In some cases, I was able to hold listening sessions with staff before or after school. At others, I visited classrooms during the school day. After answering the students' questions about how tall I am and why I don’t have any hair, what I enjoyed most was how proud our students were to share their work, like the piece shown here (right). When I asked students what they liked most about third grade, kindergarten, or middle school, the themes were clear: I like learning math, reading and RECESS. Older students may not have expressed the same joy with their words, instead they showed me their work. I saw plays performed, incredible student murals, and participated in a Foundations lesson.

It was so nice to connect with so many staff members. A quick hello, sharing new equipment, presenting unique challenges, and even meeting a new puppy named Bruno. I was also able to share a few embraces with retiring teachers, one who began her career in SPPS when I was 12 years old. Thank you to ALL of our retiring colleagues in SPPS.

Seeing your work in action this year has brought me incredible perspectives in supporting SPPS staff, students and families. In a year like no other, I am PROUD of you and thank you for your commitment through all of the ups and downs.

Bridge View graduation

I have also gotten to take part in several of our graduation ceremonies, with the majority still to come this week. This is the first year since 2019 that we have had “normal” graduations, and there are few things more joyful than seeing our students receive their diplomas with their friends and families cheering them on, imagining the bright futures that lie ahead of them.

This summer, even if you are a 12-month employee or working in our summer programs, I urge you to take some time to celebrate yourself. The pandemic and its many lasting effects are still with us, and that’s only one of the things that has made this year one of the hardest for educators and everyone involved in public education. 

But you got through it, and you are stronger for it. And most importantly, you helped your students and their families get through it, too. As educators, we take on so much in service to others. Now it’s your turn to dedicate that same level of love and care to yourself. 

If you’re looking to stay connected and enhance your own development over the summer, consider attending the Culturally Responsive Instruction Expo, June 21-23 at Washington Technology Magnet. Attendees will learn from each other and guest speakers, and come away with resources you can take back to the classroom. Those eligible will also receive in-service clock hours toward re-licensure and be compensated at the workshop rate. Learn more and register at

Thank you for all you have done to make this an incredible year for Saint Paul Public Schools. Enjoy the summer, take some time away, and I know we will bring this momentum and energy with us into next year and beyond.

In partnership,

joe gothard signature

Joe Gothard, Superintendent