Joe Silko has been a key member of the Itasca Initiative for Student Success since its inception. We wish him well as he looks towards expanding his role in the success of all students in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota!
September 19, 2013

Joe Silko

Joe Silko, superintendent of Independent School District #318 (Grand Rapids), has been named the first executive director of Education Innovation Partners (EIP), a new regional partnership of more than 20 school districts and five community colleges across Northeastern Minnesota created to provide a 21st Century education for youth and adult learners throughout the region.

Silko will assume leadership of EIP in mid-October, 2013.

“Education Innovation Partners’ vision to work cooperatively to create a new era in education is tremendously exciting and challenging,” Silko said. “As educators, we have a responsibility to provide the best education possible to every child – regardless of district boundaries. EIP will help us meet that responsibility for our kids and, ultimately, for our region.”

The seeds of EIP were planted in 2010 during a series of conversations among regional superintendents and College provosts working together to create a homegrown, regional, integrated learning model to ensure high-quality education to learners throughout the region, regardless of location.

The Education Innovation Partners was formed in 2011. In 2013, with support from the Blandin Foundation and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, EIP developed their roadmap to begin implementing the integrated regional model, starting with three initiatives:

• Creating a Teaching, Learning and Leadership Academy

• Focusing on personalized learning, and

• Developing and implementing a Regional Technology Plan.

“Joe Silko brings incredible vision, passion and depth to Education Innovation Partners,” said Wade Fauth, Vice President of Blandin Foundation. “His demonstrated success in helping to create a regional educational model in Itasca County will make him a powerful champion for educational excellence throughout the region.”

Northeast Higher Education District’s President, Dr. Sue Collins, applauded Silko’s hire as a major step toward implementing the roadmap. “Successful economic development – especially in the 21st Century – demands excellence in education,” Collins said. “Joe is the kind of inspirational, hands-on leader with the passion and drive to make EIP’s vision a reality.”

St. Louis County School District Superintendent Teresa Knife Chief commented, “Joe’s experience and understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing both secondary and post-secondary education in rural areas will be invaluable to the success of EIP.”

Silko has been superintendent in Grand Rapids since 2005. He began his teaching career in Adrian, Minn., and started teaching at Grand Rapids High School in 1983, where he ultimately served as assistant principal and principal. Silko also helped found the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) in 2005, a partnership among seven school districts and one community college in Itasca County to increase educational opportunities for students.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and did graduate work through Bemidji State University and St. Cloud State University.

EIP member institutions include:

• Aitkin Public School District

• Hill City School

• Northland Community Schools

• Cook County Schools

• Crosby-Ironton Public Schools

• Greenway Public Schools

• Deer River Schools

• Independent School District 318

• Nashwauk-Keewatin Schools

• International Falls Public Schools

• Lake Superior School District

• Chisholm Public Schools

• Ely Public Schools

• Floodwood School

• Hibbing Public Schools

• Virginia Minnesota Public Schools

• Nett Lake Elementary School District

• Mountain Iron-Buhl Public Schools

• St. Louis County Schools

• Eveleth-Gilbert Public Schools

• Mesabi East School District

• Northland Learning Center

• Hibbing Community College

• Itasca Community College

• Mesabi Range Community & Technical College

• Rainy River Community College

• Vermilion Community College