MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Principal Dave Adney is still puzzled by the media frenzy he started last fall when he asked Minnetonka High School students to refrain from wearing tights and leggings as pants.
“It was just an innocent note to parents,” Adney said.
The incident made Adney an overnight national sensation, and a hero to many parents. It was just one of several unique guidelines Adney created in his 10 years at Tonka.
His “dance like grandma’s watching” rule advised students to stop risqué dancing at school events. The school put together humorous skits and promos to enforce the rule, and it made students listen.
A father to three girls himself, Adney ran a lot of his ideas by his kids.
“They’ll either go, ‘Oh, dad you are so masterful at what you’re doing,’ or ‘Oh my gosh, let’s rethink this,’” he said. “So they’ve help me in many, many ways.”
And their help has worked. Adney’s knack for being the fun, cool principal with the discipline of a caring parent made him popular with students.
“He really…makes it seem like he cares about you and…wants you to do well, which makes you, like, more motivated to do well,” said Darby Flatley, a senior at Minnetonka High School.
The proof is in the numbers. Course failure rates at Minnetonka dropped almost 60 percent. ACT scores are up a point and a half. He made the high school one of the first to start the student iPad program. He also recently created a program that will allow students to have credited experience in the corporate world while attending Minnetonka. That program will start next year.
“If kids feel adults are connected to them, if they’re friendly and if they’re smiling and if they use humor – they will learn more,” Adney said.
Soon Adney’s smiling face won’t be greeting students in the hallways at Minnetonka High School. After ten years serving as principal at the school, he announced he’s retiring at the end of the school year to accept the top post at the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals.
“I think it’s just going to be a big adjustment to find someone else to fill that role,” said senior Alec Norton. “We’re all going to miss him.”
In his 37 years in education, Adney says he hopes students know they have the power to be leaders, and they have influenced him as much as he has them.
“I want them to look inwardly and know they have such incredible power,” he said.