Webster gets ready for first day of school

Updated: August 28, 2015 - 12:21 pm

The first day of school is quickly approaching for Webster — a new elementary school serving children living in the North Loop and other downtown-area neighborhoods.

Students and teachers will soon bring new life to the Webster building in the St. Anthony neighborhood, which has undergone extensive renovations to bring more natural light into the building and improve classroom spaces.

School starts Aug. 24 for the 1st and 2nd graders and Aug. 26 for the kindergarteners.

For the first year, the school will have students in grades kindergarten through second grade along with an early childhood special education program, said school principal Ginger Davis Kranz. The school will then add a grade each of the next three years.

The school will draw students from the North Loop, others portions of downtown, the Nicollet Island/East Bank neighborhood and other northeast and southeast neighborhoods. Enrollment is currently around 100 students.

Kranz has worked in education for nearly 25 years and helped start two other schools. She has also taught grades 5 through 8.

“It’s going to be crazy busy because everything has to be created,” she said, adding she’s excited for the opportunity to launch Webster and has high hopes for the school. “As a baseline, I hope we stick to the commitment we have made to families. I feel we have a passionate group that is committed to the mission, vision and values that we have set forth.”

In a statement posted on the school’s website, Webster’s vision is to strive to help children be “courageous, inquisitive, engaged, growth-minded, persistent, conscientious, caring, autonomous and self-aware.”

“I really hope we honor every child for what they need and we have a team that is ready and willing to do that,” Kranz said.

Another key goal is to forge student connections with the community. For the first hour of the day, teachers will be inviting in volunteers to help the students build their literacy skills.

“We really want to make sure that we’re inviting the community in and the kids are invited out into the community — that they feel part of the community,” she said. “We know that when we create relevance that the learning takes hold much more strongly in our minds and our hearts.”

Webster most recently served as an office and meeting space for Minneapolis Public Schools. It also was an elementary school before then, but closed at the end of the 2005-06 school year because of declining enrollment.

Since then, however, more families are living in downtown neighborhoods.

Minneapolis Public Schools leaders proposed reopening Webster in 2013 to serve the growing population of families with school-aged children in the downtown area.

Downtown’s residential population is roughly 39,000 people, according to the most recent update from the Downtown Council, and strollers are become a much more frequent sighting in the neighborhoods surrounding the city’s core.

After Webster students finish kindergarten, they will be on track to attend Northeast Middle School and then Edison High School.

Downtown families have lacked a community school option so Webster has been an exciting development.

As word has spread and more have learned about the school’s offerings, more people are switching schools and choosing Webster, Kranz said.

“The enthusiasm is really building.”

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At a glance: Webster Elementary

Overview: A new Minneapolis Public Schools’ community school serving children in the North Loop and other neighborhoods along the city’s riverfront. The school will start as a preK–2nd grade school, but will ultimately grow to include PreK–5th grade.

Address: 425 5th St. NE

Principal: Ginger Davis Kranz

Website: http://webster.mpls.k12.mn.us