New superintendent focuses on individual student needs

Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916 Superintendent Val Rae Boe and Principal Jasmine Smith at Karner Blue Education Center in Circle Pines.

After 15 years of working for Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916,  Dr. Val Rae Boe was named the new superintendent in July of the district after former Superintendent Connie Hayes retired.

Boe started teaching special education in the district in 2006 and felt she was making a difference with her students in the classroom. Through the years, she expanded into leadership roles, including working at the district office as the director of education.

“I came to 916 because I wanted to work with the students that we serve,” Boe said. “My desire as an educator is to provide individualized services to students that have significant impacts on their ability to access learning.”

Boe grew up in rural Minnesota on a farm nine miles west of Milan. Her graduating class had only 28 students, and she was involved in basketball, track and choir.

After high school, she went to Concordia College in Moorhead and earned her bachelor’s degree in education. Then, she received her master’s degree in special education at Southwest State University and her doctorate at St. Thomas in educational leadership.

Boe said special education is her life’s work. Her research focused on creating long careers for staff in complex educational settings. “It’s my passion, because it is so hard to find special education teachers in general; but in our settings, you need a high level of training and support to do this work,” she said.

Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916 serves nearly 6,000 students through shared programming that includes career and technical education services, special education services, area learning centers, and care and treatment.

“In order to make sure we are targeting the individual needs of each student, we have to develop an opportunity to really get to the heart of what it is that they need as an individual — Who are they as a student? How are they coming to us? What experiences have they had? What are the skills that we need to help them with to develop, support and grow? Then to build the skills they need to return to their home school — that’s our ultimate goal with students.”

Boe said students are referred to Northeast Metro 916 from 13 member school districts — Mounds View, Centennial, White Bear Lake, Forest Lake, Stillwater, Mahtomedi, Roseville, Columbia Heights, Fridley, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, South Washington County, Spring Lake Park and St. Anthony-New Brighton.

“We provide every student that we serve an individualized education plan (IEP), and we serve the most educationally vulnerable students,” Boe said.

One of Boe’s top priorities as superintendent is equity. She said she knows equity work requires engagement, leadership, partnership and collaboration, and she looks forward to collaborating with families, students, staff and member district partners to create educational communities that uphold the fundamental values of human rights and racial equity.

Boe said that in terms of equity, the goal is to meet every student’s needs and help them grow to be the best person they can be – whether it’s the student’s heritage or students with disabilities. “That is what our building leaders are focused on. Our strategic actions are personalized student learning supported by equity, professional growth and development, and our vision for student learning,” she said.

Boe stated that she is honored to be serving North Metro 916 as superintendent to partner with member districts and stand in service with staff as a trusted educational provider. She is also incredibly proud of the educators she has the opportunity to work with and support every day. Jasmine Smith, principal at Karner Blue Education Center in Circle Pines, has high praise for Boe.

“I truly stand behind her culture of caring, her strategic plan for our district, and really supporting staff,” Smith said. “I feel very supported as a principal in this district. She’s a very approachable superintendent that has the best interests of her staff and students in mind at all times.”

On the weekends Boe likes to spend time with her husband, Barrett, and their two rescue dogs, Sprout and Pippa. “We take them biking, to parks and anything outdoors and in nature,” she said.

Two of their favorite places to go are French Regional Park in Plymouth and Lake Independence Regional Trail, which has 15.9 miles of paved trails. “Both of them have really great bike trails,” she said.

Boe doesn’t have any children of her own but considers the students she serves as her children. She loves going to work every day.

“I’ve loved everything about my job since the first day I started and every role I’ve been in,” Boe said. “My focus is always on the students and their needs regardless of the role I’ve been in, and that has always been my primary focus.”

To find out more about Metro Intermediate School District 916, go to www.916schools.org/home

Noelle Olson is a staff writer for Press Publications. She can be reached at shoreviewnews@ presspubs.com or 651-407-1229.

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