Meet Dr. Julia Espe, Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools

I was born in Champaign, Illinois, which is the central part of the state. Shortly afterwards, my family moved to Pekin, Illinois. Pekin, Illinois is a small town close to Peoria, and along the Illinois River. I have always loved school, since I was a child. I also loved music, and I was active in music groups, singing, playing the piano and in symphonies, playing violin and viola.

My first degree was from the University of Illinois, in music education. Then I got a masters degree in Gifted Education from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. I earned my principal and superintendent licenses from Winona State University. Finally, I earned my Doctor of Education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. My dissertation was about organizational change, and the leadership traits found in leaders of Baldrige Award winning institutions and companies, as compared through the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Scale.

My career has led me to many opportunities, including:

  • Being a General Music Teacher for elementary students in Southland Schools,MN and Austin, MN,
  • Teaching music privately in California,
  • Having my own Suzuki violin business in South Beloit, Illinois,
  • Being a Middle School Music Teacher in Austin, MN,
  • Leading choirs in schools at the elementary and middle school levels in Owatonna, MN,
  • Assisting with choir at the high school level in Owatonna, MN,
  • Being a teacher of gifted children at every level in Owatonna and Austin, MN,
  • Being the K-12 Coordinator for Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) in Rochester, MN,
  • Teaching courses for the University of Minnesota, Hamline, and Winona State University,
  • Being the Curriculum Coordinator (Austin, MN) and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction (St. Cloud Area Schools, MN) ,
  • Being the high school principal at two high schools (Austin High School, Lakeville High Schools/Lakeville North High School),
  • Being an Assistant Superintendent (St. Cloud Area Schools, MN), and
  • Being the Superintendent at Princeton, MN.

Some highlights of my career are:

  • Representative for Minnesota at the White House for the Maker Faire,
  • Influential Leadership Award from Resource, Training and Solutions,
  • Leadership Award in Advanced Placement Programming from the St. Cloud Foundation LEAF,
  • Dakota County Technical College Technical Education Advocacy Award in Nanotechnology,
  • Co-Founder of Math Masters of Minnesota,
  • First State President of MEGT (MN Educators of Gifted and Talented),
  • MEGT State Award: Friend of Gifted,
  • President of Rotary Club in Lakeville, MN,
  • President of PDK in Rochester, MN,
  • Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Club,
  • Distinguished Educator, Austin Public Schools,
  • Executive Officer, Safe Schools of the United States,
  • Breaking Barriers Award for offering opportunities to young women,
  • Blandin Community Leadership Program,
  • Lakeville Faith Organization: Leader of Excellence in the Community Award,
  • Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Challenge to Change (Chemicals Prevention),
  • Senior Citizens’ Outstanding Educator of the Year, Austin, MN

My family is important to me. My husband, Brian, and I have five adult children and eight grandchildren. We live on a lake, and we enjoy our time there, with family and friends. My parents still live in Illinois. They were both in education, and they instilled in me the belief that public education is the great equalizer in our society.

I am so fortunate to have landed in Princeton, where the community supports their children and teachers are committed continued excellence. Since I have been in Princeton, I have seen that support by the passage of a bond referendum which will set up our district for the future. Our teachers and staff are courageously working on our instructional model, and we have already seen some rewards of the work that they have tackled, by improving student achievement. We have a new five year Strategic Plan, which is setting the course for our work. Life is good in Princeton, Minnesota, where we show Tiger Pride AND Princeton Pride!


Julia A. Espe, Ed.D.
Proud Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools

Letter from the Superintendent