New Mpls schools super gets ‘official’ welcome

Ira Jourdain, meeting attendee, with Kerry Jo Felder and MPS Superintendent Ed Graff
Ira Jourdain, meeting attendee, with Kerry Jo Felder and MPS Superintendent Ed Graff Charles Hallman/MSR News)

New Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Ed Graff promises to get as much information as possible from community members, students, families and others so he can best serve the city and the district. He was officially welcomed last week prior to the July school board meeting at Davis Center.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of this community,” said Graff during the July 12 community reception at MPS headquarters. He told the MSR afterwards, “People are very thoughtful, and I feel real good about the support. I look forward to having more conversations with people.”

During the one-hour reception, the MSR talked to several attendees after their brief opportunity to shake hands with Superintendent Graff. Abdi Abdulle, a counselor at Best East Academy, Minneapolis said he first met Graff earlier this year during the interview process. Abdulle said that he would like to see more teachers and other professionals of color: “Those are the things I hope and advocate for, and I want to see that in MPS,” he said. “We need some change and he promised me that. I wish him good luck.”

“I felt a sense of ease [and] energy that he will be a good superintendent,” said Rosa Bogar after she met Graff.

“I wanted to look him in the eye,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden after her first meeting with Graff. A good relationship between MPS and the city council is very important, she pointed out. “We need to be on the same page to serve our kids better.

“I want a strong relationship with Minneapolis Public Schools. I’m invested as a parent, too. I’m excited for the district,” said Glidden.

Minneapolis School Board Member Don Samuels told the MSR that he is hopeful that Graff will be successful in improving graduation rates, especially among Black students. “I have a lot of confidence in his emotional intelligence. He’s a perfect fit for a diverse community.”

Asked how the new MPS superintendent can help close an achievement gap that the last two superintendents weren’t able to change, Samuels of Graff, “The expectations are there. I think it’s great to have a person of color who can deliver…but it’s not so encouraging for me when we are not delivering for children of color. It’s the goal that we have to keep in mind, not the person.”

“I’m excited about the direction he wants to take us in,” said Board Member Kim Ellison, who told the MSR that she advised Graff, in her initial meeting with him earlier in the summer, to reach out and meet Black parents “and don’t wait on the people to come to him. He wants to go to the schools and talk to parents,” she noted.

“I think Ed Graff is a breath of fresh air for Minneapolis Public Schools,” said Kerry Jo Felder, a community member. “I am very excited that he was chosen to help us make change for the future.”

MPS has scheduled six start-of-school community receptions for Superintendent Graff:

  • August 17, 6 pm at Elliot Park Recreation Center
  • August 25, 5 pm at Edison High School
  • September 7, 6 pm at Brian Coyle Center
  • September 10, 9 am at Turtle Bread and 1 pm outside Davis Center
  • September 18 at noon at Nicollet Open Streets event

“It feels real now,” proclaimed Graff as he thanked the crowd prior to last week’s school board meeting. “The reception I had has been very positive.”

“We must do right finally…” said Samuels, “to bring equal outcomes for the boys and girls in this district.”

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.

 

About Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at challman@spokesman-recorder.com

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One Comment on “New Mpls schools super gets ‘official’ welcome”

  1. I have been sharing with many about a curriculum should be published to teach” slavery in America” in the elementary schools. Trust,me this will lead to a more humane society in the future.If this teaching starts with third and fourth graders These same students would one day wondered what was wrong with us of not thinking of these tools much sooner for a better understanding!! of this country and the world!! Thanks, for your attention on this topic. I worked in the Mpls. Public Schools for thirty years and I learned a lot from the children!!

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