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Breaking the Mold: How one Educator is Transforming How We Connect with Students

As educators, we know that the first step to reaching your students is to make sure they know that you care about them. It doesn’t matter if you’re staring at 30 preschoolers as I once did or leading a high school as Jessica Cabeen does each day.

Now, imagine creating that sense of community and belonging when a good percentage of your students you only see through a screen. 

As you can see, Austin Public Schools has managed to create a education pathways system that opens doors for young people across the state of Minnesota. 

In their school, they care about you as a person first and focus on building relationships with students. To ensure student success, their first step is an intensive onboarding. In that session, both the student and their learning coach – a parent, grandparent, or other trusted adult – works with an educator at their school to first talk about their interests, what they like to do outside of school, and help them set up a schedule, a healthy learning environment, a plan for a typical week and more. The key to success is the foundation that they build – where learners are actively engaged and supported both at home and at school.

Every other week, students meet with their advisory teacher to ensure that their studies are going well and that they are on track toward their goals. 

But their school leader takes it a step further, Jessica, or PrinciaplCabeen, as she’s known on TikTok connects with her students right where they are! 

Principal Cabeen is up on the trends with her fun videos but she’s also sharing critical information in others. 


Why FASFA? Why Not!! This week’s episode features our current and previous interns helping us understand the importance of FASFA. Need help? Come down to the career center or email Mrs. Carlson for help.

♬ original sound – PrincipalCabeen – PrincipalCabeen

This involves ensuring that all students have fair access to post-secondary opportunities. Jessica collaborated with District Level Leadership to establish a partnership with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Direct Admissions program in Minnesota. She firmly believes that it’s our duty not just to offer meaningful learning experiences in high school, but also to remove obstacles for students as they consider college. The Direct Admissions program offers students a list of 2 to 4 private or public schools committed to admitting them. It eliminates the uncertainty of whether they will be accepted and empowers students to confidently affirm their readiness for college.

Principal Cabeen proves that it doesn’t matter whether your pathway through high school is within the four walls of a brick and mortar high school, on a community college campus for part of the day, or via Zoom, everyone can be successful with the right kinds of supports.

Principal and Author

What is one piece of advice you have for first-year principals?

Ask yourself, “how are you, as a school leader, evolving practices to ensure that all learners receive meaningful learning experiences?”

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Rebeca Shackleford

Director of Federal Government Relations

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