Jeff Elstad
Owatonna Public Schools
MASA President

We have made it to the end of a school year like no other. To say our teachers, students and families have been through a lot would be an understatement. I liken the end of a school year to running a race – and in this case, it’s been a marathon. As a former track and field coach, the best advice I could give my athletes, other than run fast and turn left, was to start every race strong, maintain your pace during the middle, and finish strong. And that is exactly what our staff and students have done!

Given the challenges the pandemic created for schools, I hear people wonder if students lost learning. I can assure you that our students learned a lot this year – in new ways and about new things. Dealing with adversity can bring out the creativity in people, young and old alike. Our teachers and administrators learned how to juggle changing schedules, new uses for technology and engaging with students at a distance. To that end, we have learned to live by the mantra, “we will know more, when we know more.”  Although this has been frustrating to say the least, it has created a new resilience within each of us to rise up and lead when the “chips are down.”

Although this school year has not been exactly what we had planned and hoped for, I can tell you that our educators have risen to the occasion and made this the best year it could be. Our passionate and caring teachers, administrators and staff have kept this school year strong and have kept our students engaged in learning while making them hungry for more as we think ahead to next school year.

Through this difficult year, our organization has remained steadfast and strong.  I have heard many colleagues indicate that the advent of virtual meetings and the need to connect has made our professional ties even stronger.  We also have much to be proud of as we have gained key seats on the MSHSL Board of Directors and are forming a purposeful path forward to ensure equity for our leaders and for the students and families we serve. I look forward to working with Dan Bittman and Laine Larson as they transition to the roles of president and president-elect.  Our organization will only continue to grow and prosper under their courageous leadership.

I see amazing growth and resilience every day in all of you – even under these strange circumstances. Thank you for the honor of being your president over the past year. On even the most difficult of days, I have been proud and humbled to lead this great organization. I continue to be grateful for the collective intelligence and bold leadership it provides. I look forward to my continued growth and commitment to MASA and to working with all of you to provide our next generation the opportunities they deserve.


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