The Eastern Carver County School Board gave Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams her one-year review on July 19.

Sayles-Adams started in the district a year ago.

To Board Chair Jeffrey Ross, that almost seemed impossible.

“In some ways I can’t believe it’s already been a year. In other ways it seems like it’s been five years,” he said.

All in all, the board was impressed with Sayles-Adams’ leadership and welcomed her with open arms into the next year.

Going into the 2020-21 school year, the board had three goals for the superintendent.

The first was to acclimate Sayles-Adams to the district, which Vice Chair Lisa Anderson said she did exceptionally well, as summarized from closed session board feedback.

“This is an unusual year, (and) Lisa created relationships via Zoom and behind masks and just in seeing and waving,” Anderson said.

The board recognized she meets regularly and often weekly with district stakeholders and community leaders. In addition, Sayles-Adams meets often with parent advisory boards and visits school buildings.

Sayles-Adams also helped hire a large influx of new employees, what Anderson called a “very rigorous process.”

The second goal was a proper COVID response.

“We really feel like our district fared well under Lisa’s leadership,” Anderson said, noting her clear communication throughout that “calmed everyone down.”

That’s thanks to her decision-making amid changing pandemic protocols, which 72% of the community was satisfied with, Anderson said.

“As a first-year superintendent, that’s pretty darn good,” Anderson said.

The district’s final superintendent goal was to set strategic planning for next year. That boils down to redefining personalized learning and “bringing the district together,” Anderson said.

“The board has found Lisa to be a no-nonsense, data-driven, action-oriented leader. When she is given feedback, she responds immediately. When there is a problem, she identifies a plan and process to solve it,” Anderson said.

Sayles-Adams was also praised for her collaboration, professionalism, and clarity.

“She was a rock in a year that challenged even the most seasoned superintendent, so we are richly blessed to have her as our superintendent,” Anderson said.

Board members offered similar sentiments following the public report.

“When we have had to make tough decisions, your approach and the way you’ve communicated it … . I think made it easier for people to understand and go along with and even if they necessarily did not agree with all of it,” Director Sean Olson said to Sayles-Adams.

Ross spoke to the quality of the staff she hired this year, as well as her solid direction.

“Many times you look back and say, ‘Did we make the right choice?’ and I can say 100%, absolutely. And that’s not just based on a gut feeling. Look at the data,” Ross said. “I am very happy that as a board we made an incredible decision, and that continues to play out. So thank you for all your hard work.”

Next year, Sayles-Adams’ goals are to accelerate learning, pass the referendum, and finish the personalized learning plan.

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