Schools notebook // After two decades at Barton, DeLapp to retire

After two decades at Barton, DeLapp to retire

EAST HARRIET — After a four-decade career dedicated to the open education philosophy, and two decades leading Barton Open School, Principal Steve DeLapp has announced plans to retire at the end of the school year.

“I’ve always said I have the best job
in Minneapolis,” DeLapp said. “I love being here.”

Nonetheless, 40 years is, he acknowledged, “a long time,” and DeLapp, who turns 65 in April, said he is ready to take a step back. He expects to stay involved in the district as a mentor — as many retired principals do — and plans to work with his successor for at least part of the 2012–2013 school year.

DeLapp said he made the announcement several months in advance of his last day to “give some time for the community … to get involved in terms of hiring a replacement.”

DeLapp recalled first reading about the open education philosophy of student-driven, active learning in 1970 while studying at Yale Divinity School. He left Yale to enroll in a pioneering program at the University of North Dakota.

Asked what attracted him to the open approach, he said: “Some of it had to do with not being particularly enamored with my own education and thinking there should be more, and the more had to do with real, authentic engagement on the part of the learner.”

He said he also appreciated open education’s acceptance of different learning styles, an approach that didn’t view students as “being these receptacles where you fill them up with knowledge.”

DeLapp worked exclusively at open schools throughout his career. Minneapolis offers three open programs — at Barton, Marcy Open School and South High School — but they are becoming scarcer nationwide, he said.

“I think we’ve retained the best of what the progressive underpinnings of the open school movement were about [in Minneapolis] and so have remained vital and thriving,” he said.

DeLapp is also the son of a Minneapolis principal. His father Roland “Rollie” DeLapp, who died about one year ago, opened Anthony Middle School in 1958 and then went on to work at North High School through most of the ’60s and Washburn High School in the ’70s.

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Doug Mann to seek School Board seat

(CORRECTION: The original version of this article misstated School Board candidate Doug Mann’s proposal to reduce the turnover rate of non-tenured teachers. It is an issue best addressed administratively, Mann said, and not through changes to the teacher contract.)

Perennial candidate Doug Mann announced his intention to run for a citywide School Board seat in the fall election via the online Minneapolis Issues Forum in February.

Mann lives in the Stevens Square neighborhood and is a licensed practical nurse who currently works in group homes for adults with respiratory illnesses. This marks his seventh attempt to win a School Board seat, he said.

Mann has maintained a consistent message in all of his campaigns.

He said high turnover among non-tenured teachers has a disproportionate impact on district schools with high populations of minority students, contributing to the district’s racial achievement gap. If elected, he would work with district administrators to reduce that level of turnover, he said.

Mann finished sixth out of six candidates with just over 10 percent of the vote in the 2008 general election, an almost identical outcome to the 2006 general election. He did not make it out of the primaries in 2010.

Mann resides in Park Board District 4, one of three districts set to elect a School Board representative this year, but plans to run for an open at-large seat, instead. In January, Fulton resident Alex Phung, an attorney working for Cargill, announced plans to seek the District 6 seat.

The candidate filing period opens in May.

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Whittier principal to lead North High School

WHITTIER — Whittier International Elementary School Principal Shawn Harris-Berry was named the new principal of North High School Feb. 10 and will start in that position March 1.

Harris-Berry takes over leadership of North from Principal Peter Christensen, who came out of retirement to accept the posting about one year ago. Christensen will continue to work at the school through 2015, the district reported.

Harris-Berry was named Whittier principal in 2007. She previously served as an assistant principal at Anwatin and Northeast middle schools, as well as Ramsey Performing Arts Magnet and Folwell Elementary School. She started in Minneapolis Public Schools in 1987 as a business teacher at Sanford Middle School.

District spokesperson Emily Lowther said on the day of the announcement an interim principal likely would serve out the remainder of the school year at Whittier.

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Get FAFSA help

Minneapolis Public Schools scheduled a series of FAFSA information and help sessions in February and March with the aim of increasing the number of district students who complete the college financial aid forms.

The district reported only about half its students completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in 2011. It aims to increase that number to 68 percent of district students over the next four years.

The final FAFSA session is 2:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. March 8 at Southwest High School, 3414 W. 47th St.

Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com.