New principal at Valley CrossingNew Valley Crossing Community School principal Julie Hartmann started July 2.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
It’s been a summer of changes already for Julie Hartmann.
She moved to Woodbury after moving from Sioux Falls, S.D., where she left her old job for a new one at Valley Crossing Community School.
Hartmann, who started July 2, is replacing former principal Mary Anderson, who took a job with the Stillwater Area School District.
“I see that there’s a whole lot of great things going on here,” she said. “I foresee that we will be continuing things as they are with changes that are there to make the school a better place.”
Education wasn’t always the career path Hartmann saw herself following. In fact, she had originally wanted to be a nurse.
But one day in high school that all changed.
“It goes back to an experience I had in high school in a home economics class when we had an opportunity to work with kids one day,” she said. “I absolutely fell in love with the little preschoolers I was working with that day.
“That was what really got me interested in going into education. Prior to that I thought I was going to be a nurse – education and teaching little kids just sparked an interest that day.”
Hartmann said she was drawn to elementary education because not only did she enjoy the age group, but she liked the opportunity to make an impact on young lives.
“I really love the ability to make such an impression on young children,” she said. “If you can provide that strong basis, when they’re just learning to learn, it will carry with them the rest of their lives.”
Hartmann received most of her schooling in South Dakota where she earned an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. She eventually finished up her doctorate at the University of St. Thomas.
Until now, Hartmann worked exclusively in South Dakota. She worked as an early education and fourth grade teacher before moving into administration, and three separate school districts, over the past 21 years.
“I had started an interest in all of the decisions that make schools great schools,” she said.
Hartmann said her favorite aspects of education are the teachers, the students and the parents.
“I love working with teachers because there’s something about a teacher that makes them very special people,” she said. “I love working with kids because it’s so much fun to watch them learn and I also like the community of the school.
“It just kind of completes the triangle – the teachers, the parents and the children all working together.”
Hartmann came to Valley Crossing after deciding it was time for a change. She also wanted to move to Minnesota to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law.
When Hartmann heard of the job opening at Valley Crossing, she knew it was the right fit.
“I was hooked immediately,” she said. “It was a for-sure sell.”
Hartmann said the aspect of Valley Crossing that drew her to the position was the school’s focus on what’s known as “responsive classroom” – a research-backed approach to elementary education that increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction.
“I had worked in a school that focused on responsive classroom, so I was looking for something similar to that,” she said. “My heart leapt out of my chest when I saw that Valley Crossing has that.”
Hartmann said she is a fan of responsive classroom because it falls in line with her principles.
“I believe in a holistic philosophy that we have to look at reaching the child where they’re at,” she said, “and teaching kids to learn to get along in life and become productive citizens.
“I love the idea of teaching kids how to be social, how to get along with others how to be kind, how to be giving, how to act and how to communicate – it teaches across cultures and teachers across ages.”
Hartmann said she has no immediate plans for Valley Crossing, but she did say that she wants to maintain the school’s integrity.
“I just love everything about the school, so I’m just looking forward to meeting everyone, meeting the students and getting to know their names,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting my arms around everything this building represents.”