Dayton Elementary School welcomes new principal, Jessica Wippler

‘Who dares to teach should never cease to learn’


By Megan Hopps
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Jessica Wippler knew she was destined for a career in education from an early age.
Born June 13, 1984, to parents Jan and Tom Moll, Wippler grew up watching her mom, a first grade teacher, influence the lives of young learners.
“I was exposed to the impact teachers can have as a young girl,” Wippler said. “I think that’s when I fell in love with teaching.”
Wippler grew up in Brooklyn Park and attended school in the Osseo School District. She graduated from Park Center High School in 2002 and credits her success as an educator to her “brilliant parents, teachers and mentors.”
“Having good mentors makes all the difference,” she said. “It’s been really inspiring to have such fantastic educators.”

Education, Career
After Wippler graduated from high school, she went on to pursue a degree in elementary education and middle school science from Winona State University.
“I’m licensed to teach kindergarten through eighth grade,” she said. “I started teaching in the Anoka-Hennepin School District right out of school.” She student taught for half a school year at L.O. Jacob in Coon Rapids and finished the school year at University Avenue Elementary School in Blaine. There, she taught third, fourth and fifth grades.
Wippler said she never had a favorite age she liked teaching.

New Dayton Elementary School Principal Jessica Wippler with her husband, John, and their children, Nolan and Audra.

“In every aspect of education I would think, ‘This is the best.’ And then I would try something new and think, ‘No, this is the best,’” she said smiling. “I’ve just really enjoyed every aspect of teaching.”
With a fire to learn more about education, Wippler wasted no time in finding new ways to teach young minds.
“I wanted to continue to learn so I became an instructional coach for the district,” she said. “And I went back to school and got my master’s degree from St. Kate’s in curriculum and instruction.” Eventually Wippler pursued an educational leadership principal license through Minnesota State University Mankato.
“I wasn’t sure at what point I would use my administrative license, but that’s what led me here,” she said. “Every experience I had I loved and it was propelling me to this role.”
After obtaining her administrative license, she completed an internship at Jefferson Elementary School in Blaine. From there, she worked at Ramsey and Rum River Elementary Schools as an assistant principal before coming to Dayton Elementary and serving as principal. Collectively, Wippler has served in the Anoka-Hennepin School District for 12 years.
In terms of her career, Wippler said one of the biggest things she’s learned from transitioning from teacher to administrator has been the “big picture.”
“Being in an administrative role has taught me the ‘why’ behind some of the decisions that are being made district-wide,” she said. “I even have a better understanding of the big picture in terms of the functioning of the school.”
Wippler said it’s been an honor to be a part of different administrative teams. “All have that common thread of doing what’s best for kids but doing that in different ways,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to just being there for my staff and students to not only answer day to day questions, but also foster personal growth, skill building and confidence in students. I really just want to be a positive role model for them — to give them the skills they need to be successful but also to build their confidence so they feel motivated to pursue their dreams.”

In preparing for the upcoming school year, Wippler is laser focused. She posted a list of three goals she hopes to achieve this year. Those goals serve as a reminder to her everyday to be an example for students and faculty.
“We have a rigorous curriculum here in Anoka-Hennepin and that is fantastic, but that can’t stand alone,” she said. “Learning happens through building relationships with students and families which gets kids to perform to the best of their abilities to achieve at the greatest level.”
In fact, Wippler stressed relationships as a top priority. “Reading a book with a child just grounds the work we do,” she said. “Even talking to parents when they hear that we care that’s the most important thing. Of course, they want their student to thrive, but to have people within the building that care about their kids is reassuring that we all want what’s best for that child.”
Wippler’s first goal? “Make connections with staff, students and families,” she said. “That’s what I’m most excited about — to make sure that I can continue to support the teachers, families and students to the best of my ability, just like Joan Iserman did before me, so they can continue to do the great work that they do and really flourish. I really believe the best learning occurs when you’ve built those relationships.”
Secondarily, Wippler plans to continue to be rigorous in teaching and learning and, in doing so, promote growth and motivation in the classroom.
“Who dares to teach should never cease to learn,” she read. “That’s motivating for me. And a reminder that no matter where my career path takes me, I’m never too old to learn something new. I want to make sure that I’m committed to my professional development and make sure that’s visible to staff and students.”
Beyond setting an example for students, Wippler’s third goal is to share positive stories.
“We need to make the positives so loud that the negatives are almost impossible to hear,” she said. “That’s a quote from one of the educators in our district that recently provided some staff development training, George Couros.”
Wippler said she’s optimistic when looking ahead to the start of the school year. “We have such fantastic educators here in Anoka-Hennepin and at Dayton Elementary School that I know these goals will be met and exceeded.”
When asked if she recalled a memorable moment in her career when she watched a student make the connection and have that “Ah-ha!” moment she said, “I love this profession because those moments happen everyday. It’s incredible.”
Wippler recalled a time throughout her education where she was faced with choosing a career path. For a time, she thought briefly of going into the business, legal or medical fields, but in the end, her heart was set on education. “What I love about this role is that there are students that have all these different things going on in their lives and you get to be a part of that,” she said. “And some of it might relate to those other fields. This role, for me, is really a dream.”