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Fridley Public Schools superintendent to retire at end of school year
Posted 02/12/2018 12:24PM

When Fridley Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Peggy Flathmann began her career as a teacher, she never imagined she would eventually serve as superintendent. From an early age, her passion to be an educator was apparent. Flathmann remembers pretending to hold classes, setting up a make-believe school in the second story of her childhood farm home.

“Every day, I would go up there after school, and I would reteach everything the teacher had taught me that day. Although, my brother never really enjoyed going to school twice a day,” Flathmann said. “But I just always knew that I wanted to teach and be a part of kids’ lives. This has always been very important to me.”

Flathmann’s nine years as Fridley Public Schools Superintendent follows a 40-year credentialed career in education. She has worked in teaching and administrative roles across the Midwest, as a high school principal, English teacher and counselor. In Minnesota, she previously worked in the Centennial School District, where she was a middle school co-principal, principal and district assistant superintendent. Flathmann earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration at the University of Northern Iowa and Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Flathmann joined Fridley Public Schools as Director of Educational Services in 2005. Upon her arrival, the district was beginning its journey toward becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools district. Fridley Public Schools had joined the Northwest Suburban Integration School District (NWSISD) and was in the process of becoming a magnet school district. Of the three different magnet school strands, IB was chosen because of its framework to provide a unique and rigorous education. The program develops culturally-aware and internationally-minded students who are equipped to take on a rapidly changing world and an increasingly globalized economic market.

The goal of the Fridley School Board was to approve the district’s pursuit of all of the district’s schools pursuing IB World School authorization for the schools in the district. A venture that once completed, would offer all students the opportunity to participate in IB coursework. As the Director of Educational Services, Flathmann helped lead the charge, from launching IB staff training to writing curriculum across all grade levels.

“With our diverse population of students, we knew that an IB education would offer a strong foundation and framework for our kids,” Flathmann said. “It is a wonderful way to prepare our students for success in college and careers, and life in the 21st century.”

Flathmann became superintendent in 2009, following Mark Robertson who held the position for six years. Her transition to the superintendent role was a natural progression in leadership.

Current Fridley School Board Vice Chair Chris Riddle was on the board when the hiring process took place.

“When we hired Peggy to be our superintendent nine years ago, I felt we had someone that could take Fridley Public Schools to the next level,” said Riddle. “What we got was a person who took us several levels higher.”

“She has embraced and championed Fridley as ‘A World Class Community of Lifelong Learners.’ She has built an excellent leadership team, from finance to communications to nutritional services to special education services, that has followed her lead and made Fridley Public Schools an example that other districts hope to emulate,” he said.

While Robertson had started the district down the IB path, Riddle said that Flathmann was “full steam ahead” when it came to securing authorization and integrating the IB programmes across the district’s schools for all Fridley students.

Today, IB coursework is available to all Fridley students. All students participate in the Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme as they progress through the schools in the district. At the junior and senior level, students have the opportunity to continue with IB coursework even if they are not enrolled in the Diploma Programme or Career-related Programme. This allows all students to reap the benefits of participating in rigorous IB courses and develop a strong foundation for college and career readiness.

Additionally, Flathmann has incorporated culturally responsive teacher training and multiple tiers of student support to improve student achievement and foster a positive school environment. Support for students has increased to include school social workers, behavior interventionists and analysts, family liaisons and reading interventionist teachers.

“As our enrollment numbers indicate, Peggy and all of the staff at Fridley Public Schools have made Fridley a desired location for families to send their children,” said Riddle. “I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the job Peggy has done for our district. Her talents, drive, and vitality will be missed.”

“Peggy is a rare leader, in that she is humble, authentic, and well-respected by all who interact with her,” said School Board Chair Mary Kay Delvo. “She has remained deeply passionate about how schools must continue to shift and respond to what all students must have for academic, social and emotional success. She will be greatly missed.”

Delvo described Flathmann as forward-thinking, a steady hand, and a masterful relationship builder.

“One of the most important measures of a leader is what they leave behind for the next leader to build on,” said Delvo. “Fridley is in great shape in that regard. She leaves us prepared to build on her leadership and leverage the great work she put in place during her tenure.”

Although Flathmann will leave an outstanding legacy at Fridley Public Schools, she is humble and fully credits the students and staff for the district’s growth throughout the years.

“There have been so many tremendous achievements that our kids have accomplished over the years,” she said. “I know there will be some incredibly distinguished alumni that are currently in the midst of their academic careers at Fridley Public Schools. I cannot wait to see the great successes that will become of the students who have graduated from Fridley during my tenure here.”

The Fridley Public Schools Distinguished Alumni Awards was established during Flathmann’s tenure and has been an important piece that adds to the legacy of Fridley Public Schools. The annual event honors and recognizes Fridley High School (FHS) alumni who have exemplified themselves in their chosen, as well as those who have made significant contributions in community service. The award ceremony also recognizes a “Circle of Excellence” award winner, which is given to a group who has made an everlasting impact to the district and community. The Distinguished Alumni Awards has become an excellent opportunity for current students to connect with established and extraordinary individuals, all whose successes began at FHS. To date, the award program has recognized more than 60 Fridley alumni who have distinguished themselves in community service and philanthropy and in careers spanning medicine, research, education, healthcare, technology, science, arts, and many more.

Flathmann has also worked and contributed immense time and effort to the Fridley Schools Foundation, a nonprofit that supports students and staff at Fridley Public Schools. The Foundation has raised thousands of dollars for teacher innovation grants and scholarships for graduating seniors throughout the years, ensuring that all students have equal opportunities. As an ex-officio member, Flathmann has worked hand-in-hand with the board to strategize and maximize resources the maximum benefits for Fridley students.

Although Flathmann will be departing from Fridley Public Schools, she is confident in the leadership team that she has put in place.

“We have incredible people in leadership roles across all schools and departments who work so well as a team to make things happen,” she said. “It has been an honor to work with these outstanding people and to help develop and build Fridley Public Schools into the district it is today.”

Come July, Flathmann is looking forward to more family time, especially with her new grandson Ricky. She and her husband, Drew, plan to travel, relax, and of course, continue to support Fridley Public Schools.

 


Photos: 1. Dr. Peggy Flathmann with Hayes Elementary third graders at the annual  Fridley-Columbia Heights Rotary Club “Dictionary Project” event. Each year, the Fridley-Columbia Heights Rotary Club donates a personal dictionary to every third grader in the area. 

2. Dr. Peggy Flathmann volunteers at the annual Fall Kick Off Pie Social hosted by the City of Fridley Senior Program. The kick off event is an opportunity for Flathmann to connect with seniors in the school district’s community.

3. The Fridley Public Schools district has undergone many physical changes throughout Flathmann’s tenure. Thanks to a referendum passed by the Fridley community in 2015, Pictured is Flathmann during a tour of Fridley Middle School following construction in summer 2017.

4. Dr. Peggy Flathmann and Fridley-Columbia Heights Rotarian Steve Klaers at the Fridley-Columbia Heights Rotary Club “Dictionary Project” event in fall 2015.


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