Patricia Driscoll 

Age: 62

City: Cottage Grove

Family: Husband Patrick; three adult children

Occupation: Retired elementary principal and Title 1 director in Lake Superior School District in northeastern Minnesota

Related school district experience: 20 years as a teacher and 19 years as an administrator

 

During her years in the Lake Superior School District, Pat Driscoll did just about everything except drive the school bus.

As principal of Minnehaha Elementary School, she also served as Title 1 director and wrote the annual report on curriculum and instruction. She also worked as a special education teacher.

“In small districts, you wear many hats,” she said. 

“She did just about everything,” husband Patrick said.

Driscoll retired earlier this year after working 20 years of teaching and 19 years as an administrator. Born and raised in St. Paul, she moved from northeastern Minnesota to Cottage Grove in June to be closer to her four sisters and a daughter.

Presumably, she can count on their vote Nov. 3 when she stands for election to the South Washington County School Board. 

“I feel it’s a way I can serve my community,” she said. “And I can be an asset to the board with my current knowledge and skills.”

Retirement has given her more time to pursue such passions as quilting, baking and watercolor painting. She’s also a self-described techie who owns several computers. She wears an Apple watch that colleagues in Two Harbors gave her as a parting gift.

But retirement is apparently a tougher job than she expected.

“It’s too much of a shock,” she said. “I feel like I’m on vacation so I needed something more.”

Driscoll said she favors the district’s three-part referendum, which includes a $10.3 million operating levy increase.

“If I don’t win, I’m still going to help out with the operating levy,” she said.

The referendum also includes a $96 million bond for construction of a new middle school and an additional $46.5 million bond to pay for upgrades and expansion of the district elementary and high schools.

“It’s an investment in the future of the community,” Driscoll said.

Asked what she would do to narrow the persistent achievement gap in the district, Driscoll said she would need to review student data more closely before determining a course of action. “Typically, what other districts have done is they analyze their data and create a plan,” she said. “It almost always requires some staff development.”

She addressed similar issues when she analyzed test scores as assessment coordinator in School District 381. 

“You analyze the assessments,” she said. “Then you gather other attendance data, discipline data, parent and student surveys, demographic data, and you look at all of that. Then you decide what areas you can improve upon.”

Driscoll notes that many districts have successfully narrowed their achievement gaps in part by using formative assessments, where students are evaluated at various times in the learning process. It differs from summative assessments, which involve test scores and other data.

Driscoll said she has turned down all requests for endorsements for her candidacy.

“I want to run on my merits and not my affiliations with organizations,” she said.