Minnetonka Superintendent to be honored by state communications association with Leadership in District Communications Award
Originally published by Minnetonka Public Schools on April 10, 2014
Peterson has committed himself to high-quality communication with all community audiences in order to build support for Minnetonka’s mission, vision and goals.
That dedication has earned Dr. Peterson recognition from the Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA), which will honor him with its Leadership in District Communications Award during its spring conference on Friday, April 11.
“It’s a nice honor. I appreciate being nominated by our communications staff, Board members and others that were involved,” Dr. Peterson said of receiving the award. “It’s very humbling because I know there are many other superintendents are very good at communications and have good communications plans in their district.”
“Minnetonka is highly regarded in regards to communications.”
Since assuming the superintendency in 2001, Dr. Peterson has been a staunch supporter of a strong Minnetonka communications plan. But, he notes that a plan can only be as good as the programs and initiatives that it’s promoting. For that reason, he has strived to develop and implement a wide array of world-class programs throughout the District. During his time in Minnetonka, Dr. Peterson has increased student achievement by every academic measure, including the District’s average ACT score increasing from 23.1 to 26.3. He has also made Minnetonka a national leader in using classroom technology as an accelerator of learning, improved facilities, rebuilt community pride in schools and initiated open enrollment.
“There’s an old saying that you do a good job, do a good job, and then tell about it,” Dr. Peterson said. “We have to have good things happening that the Minnetonka community, staff and students can be proud of.”
“We have programs that garner a lot of interest and over 2,500 open-enrolled students,” he added. “That traffic alone tells us that people appreciate what we’re doing and how we do it. Communications allow us to spread the word about those programs, how they’re doing, how successful they are and get feedback.”
By opening that two-way communication with the community, Dr. Peterson has been able to build trust and a mutually beneficent relationship with Minnetonka constituents. In turn, the District has been able to move forward on accomplishing its goals for student learning with community support.
In today’s rapidly changing communications environment, he has also been a visionary leader in communications technologies in order to keep those two-way channels open and current. Under Dr. Peterson’s leadership, Minnetonka has prioritized its website as a primary source of information; launched social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and others; and rolled out a fully-integrated Minnetonka App this year.
“Communications technology over even the last 10 years has changed dramatically, and over the last 25 years it’s like day and night,” Dr. Peterson said. “It’s critical for a district to stay current in how people are communicating with each other and to have our message out there. Without staying on the cutting edge, we wouldn’t be resonating with our patrons.”
“We want them to know how things are going, how new programs are doing and how students are doing, as well as challenges we’re facing, so that they may help us overcome them,” he added of the importance of connecting with the community.
“It’s critical to make sure employees and constituents of the District know what we’re accomplishing, what we’re trying to accomplish and where we’re not being as successful as we might like,” he said, “so that they feel like the District is being open and honest with them and progressing towards its goals.”
The 2014 MinnSPRA Spring Conference will take place on Friday, April 10, at the TIES Event Center in St. Paul.
Leadership in communications is not the first award Dr. Peterson has received. He has been recognized with AASA’s President’s Award for Vision and Leadership in Technology (2005), eSchoolNews Tech Savvy Superintendent Award (2006), an Educational Research and Development Institute’s Excellence in Educational Leadership Award (2007), and Minnesota Superintendent of the Year in 2009.