Ranked as the number one high school in Minnesota by US World News and Report in 2017, the Math and Science Academy is an innovative and sustainable model of academic excellence in Woodbury. The school aims to create well-rounded, lifelong learners and global citizens by providing accelerated curricula in all subjects, with an emphasis on math and science. With 48% students of color, the school is an educational resource to students of a wide range of cultural backgrounds. “I would say that…our strong school districts are also critical to attracting diverse populations,” states Eric Searles, Woodbury’s City Planner. The Math and Science Academy’s small class sizes help promote community by encouraging an exchange of ideas from people from all backgrounds, allowing students to learn from each other’s unique backgrounds.
Math and Science Academy
Photo credit: Christine Morrison of Math and Science Academy
According to the Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, “Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities” and is impacted by factors that range from water cleanliness to the nature of our social relationships. Woodbury THRIVES is a collaboration of civic, service, education, business, and healthcare leaders that help families build a strong foundation; expand access to affordable health services; invest in leaders who can help build a culture of health, and transform Woodbury in ways that make it easier for everyone to live a healthier life. “These players…coming together to understand how can we make a healthier community and defining community in a variety of ways, but also defining healthy in a variety of ways,” says Janelle Schmitz, Assistant Community Development. Woodbury THRIVES operates out of The Reserve, a coworking space in the midst of a vibrant community.
Photo credit: Simi Patnaik from Woodbury THRIVES
Central Park is a multi-use indoor park that provides a focal point for the City of Woodbury. The park links to the Washington County branch library and the YMCA, and houses School District 833 Early Childhood Family Education. With activities for children, teens, and seniors, the park is designed to bring a cross-section of the community together. The park allows residents to remain active and continue to gather in the winter months, enhancing residents’ well-being. At the same time, it provides rental spaces for community events that range from weddings to meetings, strengthening community connections.
Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a non-profit that focuses on hunger relief for children all over the world. Community volunteers typically pack meals at one of their warehouse locations. However, FMSC also goes “mobile” as part of the MobilePack event where supplies and staff move closer to communities. An example is the HealthEast Sports Center’s 90,000-square-foot indoor field house in Woodbury, where over 25,000 community members will prepare 5 million meals to combat global hunger. “We can mobilize volunteer groups and partners and come together to build community around this social need, and it really started from…. how do we build community,” reflects Janelle Schmitz, Assistant Community Development. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 35.4% of Minnesota residents volunteer, ranking Minnesota 2nd among the country for its volunteer rate.
The global innovation company, 3M employs over 500 individuals at its Woodbury location, many of whom are Asian immigrants. Close to 14.7% of the residents in Maplewood identify as Asian, the largest racial group after White. The jobs at 3M tend to be upper-end tech positions. Woodbury is well positioned to support these high-earner immigrants and their families through its diverse housing stock, high-performing school district, and well-maintained and connected parks and trails system.
The Woodbury Citizens’ Academy is a free, eight-week program that engages residents in their community. The Academy develops future leaders, who are important to assuring a strong Woodbury in the future, by exposing residents to government, history, city works, and cultural competency and diversity. Each week the Academy takes place in a different location, utilizing existing community resources. “It’s still free [and] they get 30, 35 people a year and I’m always surprised at the diversity of the group…there are a variety of ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities,” reflects Janelle Schmitz, Assistant Community Development. The program expands the knowledge of residents in a way that encourages more involvement in the community.