New principal at Royal Oaks ElementaryNew Royal Oaks Elementary principal Susan Risius started at the school July 9.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
You might say that being a teacher is in the blood of new Royal Oaks Elementary Principal Susan Risius.
Risius’ mother was a teacher, her grandmother was a teacher and her great grandmother was a teacher.
Risius also has two nieces and a nephew who are teachers.
Additionally, her youngest daughter recently graduated with a teaching degree and is currently looking for a teaching job.
“It’s definitely in the family,” Risius said. “There was a good role model in my mother.”
Risius, who lives in Apple Valley, started in her position as the new Royal Oaks principal on July 9, where she replaces Theresa Blume-Thole, who took a principal position at Cottage Grove Elementary.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the children,” she said.
A 34 year career
Risius said she decided on elementary education because of the amount of eagerness and excitement elementary students bring to the classroom.
“They’re inquisitive,” she said. “Learning is exciting for them.
“There’s so much for them to learn at those early ages.”
Risius received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and music education from Northwestern College in Iowa, her master’s degree in education leadership and her doctorate in education from Iowa State University.
Risius has worked in education for a total of 34 years.
“I believe every child can learn, just not on the same day and in the same way,” she said. “We have high hopes for every child that comes into our school but yet we need to differentiate.”
Risius worked as an elementary teacher for 20 years in Iowa before taking a job as an interim principal in 2000.
“I still wanted to work with children, but I also really liked the learning of adults,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of an elementary school, but be able to really have the big picture as well.”
In 2006 Risius began working as the principal of Vista View Elementary School in Burnsville.
Developing a vision for Royal Oaks
Risius said she decided to take the principal position at Royal Oaks because she was ready for change and had heard such wonderful things about District 833.
“I think I was ready for a new challenge,” she said. “For several years I had just heard positive things about the district, so I just thought this would really be a good match.”
Risius said she is not coming in with any preconceived ideas of how Royal Oaks should function or ways she wants to change the school.
“First I need to be here and I need to see really where is the school at, what is it that makes Royal Oaks be Royal Oaks – then that vision is created together,” she said.
One element she is going to incorporate into the daily routine at Royal Oaks is interaction with students.
Risius said she intends to give all students birthday bookmarks and pencils and have a principal’s board where student work is displayed with comments from Risius.
She said she also wants to go into classrooms to read stories and share in the student’s days.
Risius said she is getting excited for the first day of school so she can start making those connections with students.
“I think it’s very important from a principal’s point of view that we make those connections with every child and be sure that the children know that we are here for them, we are here to help them learn and we are here to keep them safe.
“I want them to know that I’m not a scary person – I’m interested in what they’re doing.”