The students at Pillsbury Elementary in Minneapolis come from several different countries, and more than half of the students are English language learners. Principal Laura Cavender describes her students as "delightful," and says teachers are always thinking of new ways to connect with the kids.

"Being a good teacher is being able to work with others," says Cavender. "It's no longer about being with your kids by yourself in a room. It's really about collaboration."

Cavender has been the principal at Pillsbury for four years, and says the school atmosphere is so positive because of strong relationships among staff and significant parent involvement. Staff at the school have come together to plan unique opportunities for students, including organizing physical activity units around biking and cross-country skiing, taking advantage of their location in Northeast Minneapolis to explore the city.


Cavender says student teachers are an integral part of the school. She recently hired two University of Minnesota students right after they completed student teaching.

"By the second semester, they're here all day, every day, and they're comfortable leading the classroom. It's like having two teachers and that's wonderful for the students."

Cavender adds that she values the connection between the University and K-12 schools.

I think anytime we do that we learn from each other and it makes education better," says Cavender. "Relationships with my students, staff, parents and the University: these relationships are the key to everything."