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School Choice Fair aims to highlight diverse options at St. Paul schools

St. Paul Public Schools
Courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools

by Sheletta Brundidge

The St. Paul School District is inviting families to take a look at the educational programs offered at its upcoming School Choice Fair. It will be held on Dec. 10 at the River Centre in downtown St Paul. Free parking and transportation are available.

From pre-K through high school, the district is emphasizing the array of classrooms and academic approaches that parents can choose from.

“We offer a wide variety of programs to keep families engaged in what they believe is the best education for their children,” said St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard.  “There is something for every learner in the St. Paul public schools.”

Many St. Paul school district employees—teachers, principals, and students— will be on hand at the fair on to explain programs and share their experiences.

Cherise Ayers, the principal at Central High School is “so excited” about meeting with parents and students that day.

“School systems can be confusing and difficult to navigate. The beautiful thing about the School Choice Fair is that any question you have can be answered in that room,” she said. “Parents know about the school they attended but they may not know about the amazing, diverse opportunities and options we have as a district.”

Ayers likened the fair to a place where families can “shop” for a program for their individual students, from Montessori classrooms to schools with the rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum to work-based programs that prepare students for careers as well as for college.

“Some children thrive at a smaller school, others are best served at a larger one,” Ayers said. “We want to have the conversation, what best meets your family’s needs? What program or staff works for your child?”

The district allows St. Paul parents to look beyond their neighborhood schools to many programs that serve students from across the district. The School Choice Fair will welcome families who do not live in St. Paul as well as city residents. Through the open enrollment option, families living outside the district boundaries can opt to enroll their children in St. Paul schools.

Ayers and her family live in Maplewood but all three of her own children attend public schools in St. Paul through the open enrollment option. Her youngest is enrolled in the Mandarin Immersion Program at Highland Park Middle School, where she is fluent in the Chinese language.

“She needed this challenge. Learning in another language is such an asset,” Ayers enthused.

The St. Paul district also offers immersion track programs in French, Spanish, and German. Students can learn Russian, Japanese, Hmong, and Ojibway.

Families do not need to sign up to attend the School Choice Fair. Each child who enrolls on-site that day will get a free backpack. In addition to learning about St. Paul schools, there will also be free on-site screening for pre-schoolers.

“It’s a proud day for us, to open our doors to the entire community,” said Superintendent Gothard.

The St. Paul School District School Choice Fair takes place on December 10, from 9:30 am to 2 pm at Saint Paul RiverCentre, located at 175 Kellogg Boulevard West, St. Paul, MN.

Free parking is available until 2:30 pm at the Science Museum of Minnesota Parking Ramp, 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. St Paul

Free ​continuous park-and-ride shuttles (starting at 9 am) will be provided at:

  • Harding High School – 1540 E. Sixth St. St Paul
  • Washington Technology – 1495 Rice St. St Paul
  • Humboldt High School – 30 E. Baker St. St Paul
  • SPPS Administration – 360 Colborne St. St Paul

Download a ​free Metro Transit 1-day Ride-Pass Language interpretation will be available in Hmong, Karen, Spanish, Somali and American Sign Language.

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