Robbinsdale Interim Superintendent Reflects on Pandemic Year
Dr. Stephanie Burrage became the District 281 interim superintendent in August of 2020, during the pandemic. As she leaves the district, she tips her hat to the teachers and staff members who got the district through an unprecedented time.
“We did a great job of working together,” said Burrage. “I always say Team 281, because we do come together.”
Burrage says teachers, administrators, union representatives, parents and even students worked with the district to plan and evaluate.
“We took the approach of how are we going to make it through this, because it was a lot, let’s be honest,” said Burrage. “Our graduation rates were strong. It was a challenge for families to work through isolation. That was not great for families and for kids. To be able to still have strong grad rates, yes, I’m very pleased about that.”
Burrage also saw the approval by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to expand the Robbinsdale Virtual Academy to K-12. The online school option graduated eight students this year.
“Our families said this is what is needed and we addressed that need,” said Burrage.
Students and families must be approved by MDE to participate in the virtual academy.
Burrage also had to address a school shooting incident at Plymouth Middle School during her time as interim superintendent.
“Whenever there is an incident in a school, the best lesson is care for your students, care for your staff, care for your families. It is always is about the human spirit,” said Burrage.
She says the district is still reviewing data to see what processes can be improved upon. After the event, when people were allowed back on campus, the district had extra support in the building. Parents showed up to hand out snacks and cheer on students.
Students Bring Joy
The theme of caring for people and having strong relationships with the community and within the district is a common theme of Burrage’s. She enjoys talking and interacting with students.
“I can tell you what brought me the most joy,” said Burrage. “I am really big on student voice. I love when students can have a voice and they can share their voice.”
Burrage says students routinely brought her ideas about the district, and she liked it.
“For me, that brought me joy to know we are teaching our kids to have a voice,” said Burrage. “They are our next generation to lead us. If we don’t teach them, we aren’t doing our job.”
Burrage’s last day on the job will be June 22. She will then start work as the state’s deputy education commissioner. See that story here.
To read about the Robbinsdale School District’s next superintendent, click here.