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Lifelong Learning

Administrative team focuses on safety and well-being of Robert Asp Elementary students

September 13, 2017

An experienced principal and a new assistant principal are working together to create a caring learning environment at Robert Asp Elementary School.

“Students need to feel safe and cared for in their learning environment,” said Chris Triggs, principal at Robert Asp Elementary since 2011. “We want kids to love coming to school every day. We have to be willing to work hard every day to make sure teachers can be successful in leading students and maintaining safe and caring environments.”

Triggs began his teaching career in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After teaching physical education in Winnipeg, Triggs moved to Thompson, N.D., where he taught social studies, world history and physical education.

Triggs moved to Fargo, N.D., in 1997 where he taught three years of physical education at Jefferson Elementary School before working as an assistant principal/activities director at Agassiz Middle School in Fargo for a year. He was the principal at Fargo’s Madison Elementary School for 11 years. In 2011 Triggs was hired as principal at Robert Asp Elementary School.

“This has been a great fit for me because of the student population at Asp and the desire to work in the same place as my children go to school,” Triggs said. “I love where I am at and am blessed with a great staff and students.”

This fall, Triggs is joined at Robert Asp Elementary by new assistant principal Erika Engelking.

Prior to coming to Moorhead Area Public Schools in July, Engelking worked for Fargo Public Schools. She has experience as a first-grade and third-grade classroom teacher, a student performance strategist, and an assistant principal intern. While in her student performance strategist role, Engelking served as an instructional coach, Response to Intervention coordinator, and data coach.

Engelking is excited to wear orange and black as a Moorhead Spud.

“I am excited for this new opportunity,” she said. “I look forward to being part of the Robert Asp community.”​

As an administrative team, Triggs and Engelking are responsible for the safety and well-being of their students.

“My responsibility is to guide all staff members to work together to meet the differing needs of our students,” Triggs said. “It is important for me to provide quality training for our teachers so they become great at working with all children. All of our classroom and support teachers have to become strong teachers of reading, writing and math. This requires a great deal of coaching and training and hiring of strong people. Teachers are so important to the lives of children, and I will continue to do my best in supporting them to be great for kids.”

Triggs said his position includes day-to-day responsibilities that vary widely with student, parent and staff matters plus scheduling, testing, staff evaluation, student plans for success, developing and maintaining a school improvement plan, and meeting district, state and federal requirements.

“As challenging as this position can be, it is also the most rewarding because of the children we are impacting every day,” he said. “The best part of my job is that I get to spend time helping children become better people and learners. I love the challenge presented by our most difficult students, and it is most rewarding when they become successful in the school environment. ”

Engelking also has a variety of responsibilities as assistant principal at Robert Asp Elementary.

“My main priority is to use leadership, supervisory, and administrative skills to assist Mr. Triggs and the staff at Robert Asp so we provide the best possible positive learning environment,” Engelking said. “I will serve as a facilitator for our building’s committees/teams and provide professional development by facilitating book studies and participating in coaching cycles. ​I also will oversee curriculum improvement, use teacher evaluation to promote continuous improvement, and encourage effective teaching practices and student engagement.”

Triggs enjoys recognizing students each month for their individual work in and out of the classroom.

“It is important for them to feel safe and successful at school, and that school is a place they are connected to,” he said.

His passion is working with the most challenging students and serving as an advocate for students who come from poverty.

“I have observed the power of great teaching and its impact on those students who move from poverty into a college education and professional career,” Triggs said. “In my 23 years in education I have observed many success stories and know that if we can get a student believing in their teacher and in the power of learning they can have success.”

Engelking is excited to create positive learning environments for students.

“My goals are to get to know the students, staff, and parents of the Robert Asp community and to promote and support a positive learning environment,” she said. “I want students and staff to know how important they are to our community and that they matter.”

Triggs also wants to welcome their new students and staff and help them become successful.

“We want them to learn how we do business in our school community and to value a nurturing environment that places students first,” he said. “In our building we have placed great value in teaching social skills and becoming great teachers of reading. This will be something we will continue.”

Photo caption: Erika Engelking, Robert Asp Elementary School assistant principal, and Chris Triggs, principal at Robert Asp Elementary, review data for the school year during an administrative meeting.

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