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ISD 181 Viewpoint: The 'Warriors' welcome to school year 2016-2017!

Brainerd Superintendent Laine Larson

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! I hope you spent the beautiful summer relaxing, enjoying time with family and friends, and finding well-deserved time for yourself. As we approach the coming school year, I look forward to meeting and joining you in active participation with the Brainerd Public Schools: Opportunities, Innovation, Success!

I am pleased, honored, and humbled to have been selected by the Brainerd School Board as your incoming superintendent of schools. I am fortunate that my entire career path has been in a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education system, where I can have a small part in shaping the lives of our future. I want to sincerely thank the Board, Bob Gross, Willy Severson, Janet Horn, Steve Lund, Sue Anderson, the administrative team, staff, and community for your unending support during this seamless and positive transition! My husband, Warren, and I are thrilled to have relocated to this wonderful community and look forward to becoming active, visible, and productive members. I am forever thankful to have this leadership opportunity with the incredible Brainerd School District.

During my first two months as superintendent, I have had numerous opportunities to meet with stakeholders and to learn about our school district through one-on-one, "Listen and Learn" meetings. Results from these conversations reaffirm that the Brainerd School District is known for its strong tradition of excellence, incredibly talented staff and students, unending community commitment, and diverse opportunities for all. Let me share a few of the "WARRIORS" highlights that I have learned through my ongoing listening and learning sessions:

Welcome Back—It is my privilege to welcome all new and returning students, staff and families to our Brainerd Warrior Team! We are excited to welcome over 6,600 students to our school district this fall. For information regarding enrollment, please contact the Welcome Center in the Washington Educational Services Building at 804 Oak St., Brainerd or call the office at 218-454-6900.

Academics, Activities, Arts, Athletics—Brainerd Public Schools provides a vast array of well-rounded opportunities for all learners! Stakeholders take great pride in the high quality and diverse opportunities provided to students in the areas of career and technical education, digital learning, all academic curriculums, technology, fine arts, health and wellness, extracurricular activities, and athletics.

Results—Throughout our school district, student achievement measurement results remain well above state average in the areas of mathematics, reading, and science. The district continues to take steps towards closing the achievement gap for all subgroups. Our continued work on refining instructional and assessment best practices is paying off in our consistently high levels of student learning.

Relationships—Public relationships and community engagement are necessary components for continued high quality educational decision-making. Brainerd Public Schools values the relationships we have developed as a result of our community, college, and business partnerships. Together, we create alliances and partnerships that build long-term trust and mechanisms for joint action in current and future endeavors.

Innovation—Brainerd Public Schools provide the innovation and investment necessary for continuous improvement. A district technology plan has been developed to connect students, parents, teachers, and administrators in our ever-changing, global society. The district is investing in a new website which will improve efficiencies while providing easier access, first-hand communication, and additional features for your convenience.

Opportunities—Stakeholders have shared their deep concern for addressing the workforce needs in our region. The school board is committed to providing the relevant strategies, skill development opportunities, and education necessary for meeting our student and community workforce needs. We take great pride in providing our students with a platform to pursue their passions, skills, and abilities.

Responsibility—It is the district's responsibility to ensure that we continue to demonstrate strong fiscal management and stewardship while obtaining high value for our taxpayer's generous investment. Brainerd Public Schools remain fiscally sound while providing the high quality programming and resources necessary for student success.

Safe, Secure, and Successful Schools—The Comprehensive Facilities Plan Committee completed a year-long study analyzing the positive attributes and current conditions of our district buildings. This team, composed of community members, parents, business and nonprofit leaders, elected officials and school staff, developed a comprehensive plan and recommendation to be presented to the Board of Education, prioritizing the safety and security, educational adequacy, space, and instructional environment needs necessary for innovative and successful schools.

We are fortunate to have a school district in which we can be proud of our students, staff, and families coming together on behalf of all learners. As our district mission statement addresses, "In partnership with our community, Brainerd Public Schools will ensure all students achieve their individual potential by providing the highest-quality programs and resources to prepare learners for an ever-changing society." We commit ourselves to providing the very best and highest quality educational experience and opportunities possible for our learners.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve this community and school district as your superintendent of schools. Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful, meaningful, and productive 2016-2017 school year. It is the WARRIOR WAY!