Featured Story in EP Lifestyle Magazine
Eden Prairie Schools: 100 years of Inspiring Each
Since Eden Prairie’s earliest days, its residents have believed deeply in the power of community and the importance of education. In fact, the town board of Eden Prairie held its first meeting in a log schoolhouse on May 11th, 1858 – the same day Minnesota became a state. That log schoolhouse would remain a hub of community for decades to come.
As Eden Prairie’s rolling agricultural fields bloomed into thriving centers of business and community, its school grew as well. The one-room schoolhouse came and went, and the city joined others as part of a joint school district. However, in March 1924, the Eden Prairie Consolidated School welcomed students back to their hometown in the brick building at the top of School Road (now known as the Administrative Services Center).
The school continued to be an important gathering place for all residents, providing space for movies, voting, weddings and clothes ironing as it was one of the first electrified buildings in Eden Prairie. This new, consolidated school and the community supporting it laid the foundation for the Eden Prairie Schools we know and love today. That’s why throughout the 2023-24 school year, Eden Prairie Schools will celebrate 100 Years of Inspiring Each.
“This is really a celebration of community,” says Superintendent Dr. Josh Swanson. “I’ve been a part of this district since 2012, and to see the continuous partnership between our schools and our community over those 11 years has been beyond inspiring. For our 100th anniversary, we want to recognize and honor the legacy of our growth, achievement, and excellence together.”
Though that early Consolidated School building is still in use today, it would be a little small for 9,000 students. Thanks to the strong support of Eden Prairie residents and businesses, the district’s footprint has grown significantly since 1924.
Today’s students learn and grow in a districtwide preschool; six in-person elementary schools, including a Spanish immersion option; a newly renovated and expanded middle school; and a 750,000-square-foot high school equipped with classrooms and co-curricular spaces that the earliest Eagles could have hardly imagined. Students ages 18-22 with additional learning needs can continue their learning after graduation in the TASSEL Transition Program, and more than 500 students from across Minnesota have joined the Eden Prairie Schools community by choosing EP Online as their educational home.
This exciting growth would not have been possible without partnership with the broader Eden Prairie community, which after 165 years still believes in the value of an excellent education for its children. Countless people have invested time, energy and resources to nurture this outstanding school system. Along the way, the district’s schools and students have sought to give back, too. This past school year, students at Central Middle School and Eden Prairie High School volunteered with several local organizations to make an impact in the community that has supported them so strongly. Becoming a destination district with strong schools has led to strong home values throughout the area.
The district’s 100th year will be guided by a strong roadmap. Starting in fall 2022 and continuing throughout the spring, district and school leaders asked the Eden Prairie community to share its hopes for students over the next five years. Data collected from multiple surveys and in-person and digital forums showed three clear priorities for the future: personalized and authentic learning experiences, wellbeing among all students and staff, and inclusive learning environments that foster a sense of belonging.
The new Eden Prairie Schools Strategic Plan, which centers around these three priorities, will be in place from 2023 to 2028.
“The timing of our strategic plan couldn’t be more perfect,” says Dr. Swanson. “Building on our community’s deeply held belief in the importance of education, and looking to our next 100 years, we’re honoring the successes of our district while also seeking ways to constantly do the best we possibly can for our students. It’s an exciting time to be an Eagle.”
Celebrating in Community
One Hundred Years of Inspiring Each means a lot to celebrate – and the whole Eden Prairie community is invited to join the party!
The district plans to partner with the City of Eden Prairie and the Eden Prairie Historical Society to honor its impactful legacy with activities and events for the whole family. Watch your mailbox and edenpr.org for more information about happenings throughout the 2023-24 school year.
As it embarks on an exciting centennial year, Eden Prairie Schools will remain a vital pillar of the Eden Prairie community and continue inspiring each student every day. The next century is sure to give rise to many more Eagles who contribute purposefully to their communities, the world, and each other – just like those who have gone before them. Go Eagles!