As the calendar continues to roll forward, there is no question we are at the start of another school year!  Activities are underway as all of the fall sports have started with games and contests.  I would like to cover some issues related to the starting process in this week’s space!



Staff members were back to prepare for the school year last week with Back to School Workshop time. Prior to the full staff, new staff members reported to school beginning on August 22 for training and introduction to the district.  The new teachers had three days of opportunities to learn about the district, each other, and about the programs we have to offer. 

With the return of all staff, we had several days of building preparations and district in-service to help plan, organize and get ready for opening day.  Tuesday and Wednesday focused on building meetings, classroom and lesson preparations.  Open house across the district on Wednesday allowed students and families to walk through buildings and gather information prior to the start of school.

We have had a great couple weeks of preparation for the new school year.  The first day of school for students occurred on Tuesday, September 5! 



On Thursday, August 31, our back to school day was dominated by district issues and topics.  We typically have a district breakfast, a welcome to the school year, some core topics or themes to address, and a luncheon with our business community. 

The luncheon has been conducted for nearly a decade. The Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond Civic and Commerce members are invited to the school for a luncheon with all of the school staff.  It is a wonderful opportunity to bring many leaders of the business community together with our school staff.

For the last several years, our food service staff has worked hard to prepare a typical “school lunch” for everyone.  The past couple years the meal has been a taco bar—softshell tacos, “Cowboy caviar” and related items!  The meal is well-received and gives community members a little idea of how the lunch program works.

After some introductory remarks, the members of the business community are extended an opportunity to introduce themselves, their business, and to make a few comments to the staff!  Although the “presentations” are brief, they help our staff to know more about the businesses in the community as well as to learn ways in which we might be able to partner!  It is fun to hear about each business and the perspective brought to the community!

This year, we were able to add two additional highlights.  The Cold Spring Area Chamber recognized the recipient of the Summer “Employee of the Quarter.”  Jeanie Sprenger, from Your Tax Team, was nominated and recognized with this award!  The award included certificates for the recipient and the business, gift cards to The Great Blue Heron and the Red River Inn, and opportunity to attend the annual Holiday Party of the Chamber.  Congratulations Jeanie on this recognition!

The second presentation was made on behalf of Pat Donlan who has been very active in the organization of the Community Showcase.  Students from the high school Student Senate. National Honor Society, and RADD (ROCORI Against Destructive Decisions) organizations had volunteered assistance with different parts of the Showcase last spring.  The Chamber board, and the Showcase committee, had determined the three organizations should be offered some of the proceeds from the Showcase!  Brian Herrig, Craig Lieser, and Dean Kron received recognition for the donations from the Chamber.

The luncheon proved to be a very successful event.  It is always a pleasure and privilege to bring the school staff into connection with our business community!



As we opened the year, I shared some thoughts with our school staff about how we, as a school organization and institution, should approach the year.  I would like to share the same thoughts here!

Although I won’t be able to go into extensive detail, we continue to reinforce several messages.  Our mission statement declares that our purpose is to be “making a difference today to create a better tomorrow.”  I have talked with staff about how each time we intervene or make a difference for a student, parent, visitor or each other, we are making things better for the future.

In addition, our vision statement encourages us to be Central Minnesota’s public education standard of excellence.  We talk about this meaning efforts to do and be our best in everything we do and in every role across the district. 

From several different perspectives, we talked about education not being just a job—it is a calling.  Dr. Sharon Griffin, Chief of Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, shared this thought at the Minnesota Department of Education Back to School Conference in early August.  Yes, educators work and do a job, but effective educators are really called into the field and the work.  It is certainly more than a job.

As a district, we also work hard to reinforce the core elements of being Top 20 in thought and nature.  We encourage staff members to “live above the line”, to “keep your day”, to encourage each other to success, to “honor the absent”, to “see the problem—own the problem,” and to “communicate, ‘you matter.’”

Our task is to take our students, as they are, and make the most of the educational experience for them.  Our job is to grow our students from where they are to where we want them to be!  It takes all of our staff, working at their best, to accomplish our mission and vision!



It has been an exciting couple weeks as we have prepared to open the school doors to students.  We have a lot of great things happening in the ROCORI Schools—with many things for which we can be very proud!  The luncheon with our local businesses was a great celebration of our partnerships!  Our preparations will allow us to meet students and their needs as they come to us!  We trust it will be an exciting and valuable journey through the 2017-2018 school year!