Changes and challenges for new MVES principal Lisa Edwards
Lisa Edwards hasn't really taken the time to decorate her new office just yet. She's been too preoccupied with getting through the beginning of a new school year at a new school in a new community.
It probably won't take too long before Edwards, the new principal at Meadowview Elementary School, has time to personalize her office. But these days, she's concentrating on other things, like students and education.
Edwards isn't new to elementary education or administration. She comes to Independent School District 192 after several years as the elementary school principal in Windom, Minn. While Windom is smaller than Farmington, Edwards is no stranger to the area. She taught kindergarten about 10 years ago at Cedar Park Elementary School in the Rosemount-Apple Valley Eagan School District.
Still, the new position is an exciting challenge. Windom is a community of about 4,500 people, so Farmington is considerably larger. The elementary school there has a student body of approximately 530, so Meadowview's average of 620 for a student body is a little bigger, but she's comfortable with the size difference.
In her old district, Edwards was one of a handful of administrators, and she was the lone elementary school representative. Now, she's got four other elementary school principals to work with and learn from.
"Elementary issues are elementary issues," she said. "I look forward to deeper collaborations on topics and ideas with them."
She replaces Jon Reid, who retired at the end of last school year after four decades with Farmington schools. Edwards knows she's stepping into some pretty big shoes, but she's not too worried about that. From what she's come to know about MVES, Edwards sees some similarities between Reid's style of leadership and hers. Yet, she's also quick to point out that she is her own person, and she's got her own ideas about how to lead an elementary school.
"Change is not always a bad thing. Change is often a good thing. It helps to keep everybody on their toes," she said.
She has spent a lot of her time so far getting to know the people in her school - the staff, the parent-teacher partnership members, the parents and, of course, the students. She met a lot of students and their parents during the school's open house a few weeks back, but now that the school year is under way, Edwards is trying to get out and meet more.
Her first week of school went smoothly, she said. She made her way around to every classroom at Meadowview and talked to the students. She took time to read a book for younger students. By Monday, students recognized her and gave friendly waves and smiles.
"I try to be visible. I want students to see me not as a disciplinarian, but as someone who will help them and support them in their learning," Edwards said.
Edwards is a firm believer in empowering her staff to try new things, be it researching new curriculum or writing grants. She likes to be supportive and encouraging to teachers, but she also plans to challenge them at times. Likewise, she hopes the staff will challenge her.
With one week of school down, and a whole school year left to go, Edwards is excited for her future in School District 192.
"I just would like to thank everybody who has welcomed me here," she said. "They have made me and my family feel just great that we moved here. The welcome we received has reassured us that this is the right place for us right now."
Edwards and her husband and two daughters are living in an apartment in Lakeville until the construction of their new home is complete. Her oldest daughter is a student at MVES.