By the time you read this column, our students will have been back in school for only a few days. Words cannot fully capture how excited we are to have them back!

Every educator knows that feeling of the final days of summer, eagerly anticipating seeing students back in classrooms. Our custodians, bus drivers, food services staff, principals and all other staff share the same excitement for those first days of school as we welcome 8,850 Lakers back into our school buildings throughout the Prior Lake and Savage area.

Every year we identify a theme for the year to help unify our staff as we serve our students. This year’s theme is “All In” — to honor how hard our staff have been and will continue to work, regardless of the changing conditions we all face. This theme also acknowledges our students who have been “all in” through their adaptability during the pandemic. And it recognizes that our families and our community have been “all in” in support of our work. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

As we start a new school year, our commitment to our mission remains as rock solid as ever: to educate all learners to reach their full potential as contributing and productive members of our ever-changing global community. Our values help us fulfill that mission, through partnership, innovation, respect, stewardship, accountability and a focus on excellence. I invite you to join me from the comfort of your own home as I livestream a State of the Schools presentation at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22, where I’ll highlight what’s new in the district and where we are headed. Go to for the link.

You don’t need to have children to know that schools have been through a whirlwind since March 2020. While COVID-19 has not gone away, we have learned so much more about it — and consequently how to make our schools safe learning environments for our students.

Last school year our staff transformed the way we delivered instruction, the way we connected with students and the way we think about school safety. As circumstances changed weekly or even daily, our staff rose to the challenges to ensure our students received a high-quality education — all in a safe environment.

This school year we return to in-person learning, five days a week. Because we are committed to a safe learning environment and we want to keep our students in school, we are requiring masks for early childhood through grade 8, and recommend masks at the high school. We will continue to work with Scott County Public Health, the Minnesota Departments of Health and Minnesota Department of Education to carefully track health and safety information to ensure our buildings remain safe places to learn and work.

We are thrilled with how our parents view us — nearly 9 out of 10 believe our schools are a good value for their investment, and also rate the quality of our education as excellent or good!

To continue to provide the education our families expect and our students deserve, our school board unanimously approved placing a technology levy funding request on the Nov. 2 ballot. If approved by voters, funds would support learning, school safety and technology support — through up-to-date devices and curriculum, improved school security systems, technology support staff and more.

While nearly 90% of our community believes that technology is absolutely essential or very important for our students, the majority rate our students’ technology opportunities as good, rather than excellent. A technology levy would enable us to enhance our technology offerings and stay current with ever-evolving technology to benefit classroom learning. Learn more about this important vote at

We are proud to be a destination school district with a number of outstanding school options for families. Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools is the only district in the state to have an environmental education program that grows with students from Early Childhood to high school, through our district-wide E-STEM program (Environmental Education, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

With our community’s support, we can continue to be all in for our students and our staff. I may be biased, but I think they deserve it.

Dr. Teri Staloch is the superintendent of Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools.

Dr. Teri Staloch is the superintendent of Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools.