Challenges that St. Paul Public Schools has never Dreamed of Navigating


You never know what you can accomplish until you are forced to try. In the case of Saint Paul Public Schools, that axiom was put to the test like never before when the pandemic hit last March. On February 26, 2020, following nine months of contract negotiation with their teacher's union, Dr. Joe Gothard, the Superintendent at Saint Paul Public Schools received a rather unpleasant notification. “I received a notice that I hope no educator, no leader has to either compile or receive,” said Gothard. “And that was a notice of intent to strike. We had long mediation sessions, or contract negotiations, for nine months, and then mediation sessions leading up to that notice of 12 to 18 hours, marathon sessions, days on end. When you get that notice there's a 10-day cooling off period of time for the parties to come together and try to figure out a pathway to prevent the strike.

“That week, the governor encouraged us, actually directed us, to get back to the table on that Thursday. So on Thursday, March 12th, we came together and Friday morning at 4:30 am, all one session, we signed the end of strike document. It was, in so many ways a relief and those were by far the most difficult moments I ever experienced as a professional. We met that morning after just a little bit of sleep and held a press conference. The entire board was with me, myself and our board chair provided statements. And then we stood for Q and A, and I thought for sure, that this was going to be the most difficult thing I'd ever faced, and we're going to turn the corner. I had no idea that difficult experience was soon to be rewritten. In fact, rewritten a few times, with what I'm about to share with you.”

Time and time again, Gothard and his team faced the improbable and sometimes seemingly impossible and found the strength and where-with-all to succeed. Listen to this amazing (and amazingly inspirational) story about the school system that could. St. Paul faced the challenges they never thought they would face, and navigated the waters to a better future for their children.


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