Eagan High School
Eagan High School in Eagan, Minn., serves students in grades 9 through 12. AFT President Randi Weingarten visited the school in 2010.
Students begin each school day in their People Achieving Wildcat Success (PAWS) homeroom where they “build culture, community, friendships, and academic success.” Freshmen can take advantage of the Link Crew, which trains juniors and seniors to mentor freshmen and help ease their transition to high school. The Eagan Academy provides additional support for struggling students who fail required academic courses, offering three sessions of targeted help in fall, winter and spring. Career development courses are provided in the areas of hospitality and aviation. A career-mentorship program matches students with individual career mentors and places qualifying students in the “field” of an occupational area of their choice. Eagan is equipped with an excellent broadcast studio and produces a regular schoolwide program, “Eagan AM.”
As for academics, the school is home to a robust language department that does not confine its instruction to the classroom; rather, it offers field trips, skits, speakers, technological applications and even opportunities to travel abroad. For its progress in closing the achievement gap, Eagan was named a Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation Spotlight School in 2009. The National Forensics League named it a School of Excellence every year from 1999 to 2009.
Dan Lange, an English teacher, credits Eagan’s success to dedicated teachers and an excellent administration. Lange has spent 21 years at Eagan, and in that time he’s worked with only two principals. “We’re able to retain people because it’s such a good place to work,” he says.
Lange especially appreciates that principals have empowered teachers to innovate. For instance, teachers in the math department are working with technology such as interactive white boards and how best to use them in the classroom. Also, a teacher earning her master’s degree is working with colleagues on assessing student learning—and allowing students to assess their own learning—with electronic responders that students hold during class.
Teachers at Eagan care about students’ needs outside the classroom as well. This suburban school has fewer low-income students than many urban schools, but it goes above and beyond to support students in need. To that end, teachers have created a “Random Acts of Kindness” fund in which teachers donate money to help students pay for food, if they don’t have any at home, and to pay for books, if they can’t afford them. Lange says that counselors oversee the fund, and teachers constantly raise money for it. At Eagan, there’s a “culture of giving and service to others that makes you feel good,” he says.
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