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Farmington's MVES celebrates a decade of learning

Meadowview Elementary School students learned how to play African drums as part of an Artist in Residency program in 2010.

Meadowview Elementary School celebrates its 10th anniversary this week, and having several inflatables blown up outside the building might just have students jumping for joy.

But to the administrators who have spent part of the last decade with those students, the anniversary is a special moment. A lot of learning goes on in 10 years. Students come, students go. Teachers try new things. Education methods change. And all of it happens subtly, over time.

MVES has had three principals in the past decade. Karen Bergman opened the school and remained there for five years. Jon Reid was transferred in from Farmington Elementary School, and he retired from Meadowview last year. Lisa Edwards is completing her first year as principal, and she's looking forward to the great things to come.

"I feel that we're really a community school. Parents are really involved in their child's education. We're definitely a high-achieving school. We have a really great staff who are always collaborating and always trying new things," Edwards said.

Back then

Bergman has been principal at Countryside Elementary School in Edina since 2011, but she remembers well the challenges of opening Meadowview a decade ago.

"It was such a special place because of the journey it took us to get the building open," Bergman said. "All the planning, all the roadblocks we encountered with the construction."

Meadowview was a special project for a couple of reasons. First, School District 192 needed a new space for community education, and it also needed a new elementary school. The idea of combining both into one building presented an opportunity.

Bergman worked closely with then-community education director Bill Patterson. Having the preschool programs and the elementary classes together in one building offered families a natural transition, she said.

"I think it gave the staff and parents and students of Meadow-view a really good chance to see how community ed supports us. It was a win-win for everybody," Bergman said.

The bigger challenge, though, came in the building's construction phase. The building's original plan had it positioned diagonally across the lot. However, during construction, the pad underneath the building wasn't installed correctly, and one corner in community education was off the pad. That pushed the project back several months because the structure of the building had to be tested several times to make sure it was all stable.

There were a few other problems that popped up with the construction, too.

"We knew, several months in advance, that something wasn't right and we weren't going to be able to meet all of the deadlines," she said.

The beginning of the 2002-03 school year brought Meadowview Elementary students to school, just not at Meadowview. MVES students were spread out in other buildings around District 192. Kindergarten students were placed at the then-Kindergarten Center, first and fourth grade students were at Farmington Middle School West; second and fifth grade classes were held in open spaces at Akin Road Elementary; and third graders were located at Farmington Middle School East.

The MVES building was not ready for students until November, 2002. Starting a school year with teachers in different buildings, but then trying to come in and set up classrooms, was an experience Bergman will never forget.

"I think that even though we weren't in that building together, you really felt that camaraderie, because we had survived this interesting experience together, and now we were able to make it work like it would normally be done," she said.

Students arrived for their first day of classes at Meadowview Elementary on Nov. 25.

"I still remember the day we stood out front and watched the buses come for the first time. I remember crying that day, on the sidewalk. It was like, we're finally here. We finally get to have a building," Bergman said.

Ten years later

Though she hasn't had quite a full year there yet, Edwards feels at home at Meadowview, and she's looking forward to the future.

"This has been an excellent fit for both myself and my family. My own children go here, too, so I feel very invested in the school as a whole. It's really great to be part of this community because it is so strong and so supportive."

That's important to Edwards, because education methods change rapidly and it's good for her to know she has the backing of teachers and parents. Integration of technology into the classroom may lead to new methods of teaching, and Edwards is confident MVES students will benefit.

But all that's still to come. For now, the students and staff are getting ready to celebrate the 10th anniversary on Thursday.

Phy-ed teacher Joe McCarthy has set up a fundraiser walk for students, and then they'll be able to go outside and use the inflatables that will be set up. Music teacher Erica Winters has been working on a song in honor of the anniversary and they'll sing that as part of a ceremony in the afternoon. Before it's over, the whole school will come together for an aerial photograph.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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