Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter - February 2021

Local Foundations Support Community Meeting Space at New High School

The ISD 761 Foundation and Owatonna Foundation have each donated $250,000 to the Owatonna Public Schools to construct a large community room within the new high school.

The community room will offer a 2,400 square foot meeting space that will be conveniently located near the activities entrance of the new high school with additional access to the outdoor courtyard adjacent to the stadium. The space is intended to be used for community gatherings, parent night celebrations, award ceremonies and many other possibilities. During the school day, the space will be set for multiple-class presentations and other academic activities.

Read the full press release here.

For renderings of the new high school, click here.

Is this what anyone signed up for?

This article by Superintendent Jeff Elstad appeared in the Owatonna People's Press on January 12, 2021 - Read the full article

Many of us have been eagerly awaiting the day we could turn the calendar on 2020, in hopes of a fresh start in 2021. How many times over the past ten months have you heard someone say, “this is not what I signed up for”? Of course, they’re referencing the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on our personal and work lives. Most of us did not “sign up for” the challenges that we have experienced since last March. That being said, I also believe that with every great challenge comes an enormous opportunity to think and do things differently than we did before.

Over the past two hundred years in public education, we have “tinkered” with innovation by making slight changes here and there. In contrast, from March 2020 to now we have moved mountains to change our learning models. We went from textbooks to chromebooks, from face time to screen time, and from pens to cursors. Our staff had to become incredibly creative in how they taught and how students would demonstrate their learning. We unleashed the opportunity for our “digital natives” - the students - to show their stuff by using technology we may not have even known existed. I can honestly say that creating Tik-Tok videos to demonstrate grammar knowledge was not in my pedagogy training. Let’s all send a HUGE shout out to our educators for their creativity and perseverance in making the changes necessary to do what they do best: teach.

I think we have all found a certain efficiency to meeting virtually and I believe that we may find ourselves using this and other new skills well beyond this pandemic. As educators, that’s exactly what we should do: seek new ways to support our students and then run with them.

Virtual Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent

The community is invited to join Superintendent Elstad for a virtual “coffee and conversation” on Friday, February 12 at 8:30 a.m. Hear an update on what’s been happening within the school district and bring any questions you have.

RSVP by emailing shoffman@isd761.org by 4:00 Wednesday, February 10 to receive the virtual meeting details. We hope you are able to participate!


Mission Moment

Each month at its regular meeting, the School Board of Owatonna Public Schools recognizes individual students and/or staff members who exemplify the district’s mission of inspiring excellence - every learner, every day.

At the January 25 meeting, Superintendent Elstad recognized students Connor Ginskey and Ava Hess who are this year’s ExCEL Award nominees, and students Sydney Hunst and Lane Versteeg who are Triple A Award nominees.

The ExCEL Award – Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership – is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, leaders in their schools, and who demonstrate a strong commitment to community service.

The Academics, Arts, and Athletics Award, commonly known as the Triple 'A' Award, honors high school seniors throughout the state who have a 3.0 or higher-grade point average and who participate in League-sponsored athletic and fine arts activities.

We are #OwatonnaProud of these students who inspire excellence, every day!

Watch the video from the January 25 Board meeting.

MSHSL Announces ExCEL Award Winners

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) announced the State ExCEL award winners.

Congratulations to Ava Hess who was selected as one of the 2021 ExCEL Award recipients. This is a tremendous honor as Ava is one of only 36 Juniors selected throughout the entire state of Minnesota.


OHS School Newspaper Article Recognized

Congratulations to Magnet Writer Claire Heyne! Her story was chosen as a Best of SNO (School Newspapers Online) story. It was edited by Logan McGaheran and Mariah Schroht. This story brings awareness to Person First Language. Read the article here.

Photo below by Olivia Shaw, OHS Magnet: OHS students pose with a banner in honor of Person First Day

Enrollment Information

2021-2022 Montessori

What is Montessori Education?

The Montessori approach to education embraces individualized instruction for children, mixed-age groupings of students, a structured curriculum, and a prepared environment, using specialized Montessori teaching materials. Montessori classrooms provide an environment that supports independent, self-directed learning, and self-assessment.

Dr. Maria Montessori, who developed this educational program, believed strongly that parents play a critical role in their child’s education.

Montessori students display:

  • Self-directed work habits

  • High level of responsibility to work independently

  • Enjoy hands-on learning

There are two Montessori classrooms:

  • E1 - Grades 1-2

  • E2 - Grades 3-5

If you are interested in the Montessori program at the Owatonna Public Schools, please complete the Enrollment form by February 12th and return it to your neighborhood school. Montessori is housed at Washington Elementary, 423 14th Street NE, Owatonna, MN. The administration will review student registrants for grade level balance and instructional needs. However, the primary basis for selection will be first come/first serve.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Beth Svenby at Washington Elementary School: 507-444-8300

Kindergarten Registration

If you haven't registered for 2021-2022 kindergarten yet, there's still time!

All registrations to Owatonna Public Schools, including kindergarten registration, are completed online. The registration form is available in English, Spanish and Somali.

CLICK HERE for more information about kindergarten and to register your child. Please register for kindergarten by February 5, 2021.

Note: Using a cell phone to complete the online registration form is not recommended. If you do not have internet or a computer, you can schedule an appointment to go to Roosevelt Community School (122 East McKinley Street) to complete the online application there. Call 507-444-7900 to schedule an appointment. The student's birth certificate, immunization record, and an early childhood screening is also required.


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