Touring, talking, listening and learning

This past week has been another blur. But if one could qualify blurs, I’d say it was a good blur of a week.

It involved some door knocking and hearing from residents — about facilities, taxes, classroom activities, classroom sizes and start and end times.

It also involved meeting up with some notables in the community — current and former electeds. Really interesting to hear about what our community has done (and how easy or difficult it was to change things) and hear about how we might be able to change things so we can meet our needs in the future.

And, one night this week, I and two of my fellow candidates for school board sat in on a joint school board-city council meeting. The topics ranged from facilities updates to community education to vaping to housing. It was motivating to see all these people gathered together and thinking about these issues that don’t just affect one or the other.

The Tour of Schools event on Saturday was great. I think the great weather kept a few people away as they worked on raking leaves, cleaning up yards and just enjoying it while we can. But, for those of us who made it, it was well worth it.

Beyond seeing what the facilities looked like with upgrades, it was a great opportunity to talk about the schools — with staff and students.

Students were eager to show off the technology and great new furniture.

Staff looked comfortable in their new spaces and still seemed impressed with all the spaces offered. One of the teachers at Aquila showed off the microphone technology that allows a teacher to wear a simple microphone around their neck that would then amplify sound around the room.

I spoke with a couple of long-time teachers at Park Spanish Immersion. One teacher had been with the district for 21 years. She was still buoyant and high spirited about working for St. Louis Park Schools and teaching our children.

And, some of the staff did take the opportunity to show what wasn’t working just right and what could be better as we continue to make improvements — which I love. We’re not always going to get it exactly right — just like we don’t expect our kids to get it exactly right. And, if we don’t call it out, we can’t address it.

I knew we had done a lot at Aquila and PSI, but I was less familiar with what improvements had been made at the high school.

I was really impressed with how they reimagined some existing space and made it work for today’s needs. It was light and bright and offered places for a variety of needs — like small meetings with parents and staff, meeting with external support staff (think mental health providers), for students to just “chill” when things get to be too much and more.

It was interesting in that I never felt like things were too fancy. Sure, it’s new and modern, but that’s different.

But what I really enjoyed at the high school was talking to the staff who were there. They seem smart, knowledgeable, engaged, positive and just right for what you want at a high school.

It’s about a week to the actual election day. So, there’s still more places to see, people for me to talk with and things to do. And, it’s tiring, but it’s also incredibly inspiring to see what gets done when we work together, see people engaged about what is going on now and talk with others about what we can do about all that we face in the future.

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