Why are you running for school board?
My most relevant motivations for running for school board include: 1) overseeing the transition from one superintendent to another and ensuring to uphold the significant traditions and philosophies of the generation before me while driving worthy new initiatives; 2) continue the necessary support for fine arts and agriculture; 3) contribute my years of business ownership and corporate management troubleshooting to inevitable and upcoming large decisions…such as a new elementary school; and, 4) contribute my experience and knowledge of being a former student (Class of 2012), former teacher (high school Ag Teacher 2019-2020), and current alumni of ISD#2897.
From your perspective, what is the role of a school board member?
The role of a school board member is to ensure all major district decisions brought forth are approved by community elects to verify the integrity and success of our students and staff. My role is to ensure all decisions are a result of well-established ideas supported by passion and proper motivation. My role is to support our established and new staff members as they are the GREATEST asset to long-term success of our district and students. To that degree the previous board and superintendent excelled; and, as former 2019-20 staff member, you can take that statement “to the bank”.
How would you balance fiscal responsibility ensuring students receive the services they need?
The level of student success is primarily driven by our greatest long-term asset, our staff members. The maximum potential of each individual is determined by the maximum potential of our teachers, which at this moment is significant. However, at times the ability to retain staff or bring current programs to the next level requires the dispersal of financial resources. Balancing budgets is no new task. I own an agricultural research business and have a combined four years of management experience between NDSU and Bayer (formerly Monsanto) and was regularly involved in the process to determine efficient allocation of funds.
What do you think is the Redwood Area School District’s greatest asset and how would you utilize that asset?
Our greatest asset is easily our staff members. Primarily we think of our excellent instruction staff, however our district also benefits from superior custodians, special education teachers AND “paras’”, food service, and administration leadership! Do not think for a second these individuals are any less impactful, because without them there is no “us”. In high school at RVHS the brightest part of my day was running into Glendon Zachow (former custodian) who was always happy to see you! I still maintain/ed that relationship with Glendon and his late wife Ruth. They taught me kindness, generosity, and to remain humble.
How would you work to collaborate with other units of government at the local, state, and federal level?
Nearly all major funding for the district is a result of government support. This funding assists in successfully getting our students from Pre-K through high school graduation. As a former teacher in the district I know there are grant opportunities available from time to time for special projects and I know our staff are great about sharing these opportunities and taking advantage of them. There is a lot of politics involved in government and as a member of the school board I would continue to assist the team in navigating those channels to achieve the greatest outcome.
Do you think the school district’s current strategic plan is taking the district in the right direction?
As a former teacher, and in conversations with leadership, I believe our strategic plan includes growing adult education from within the Estebo Career Center, supporting and driving innovation related to “distant learning”, and sustaining our excellent staff support in addition to extra-curricular program offering. Leadership strategy concerns as a student, teacher, or alumni are limited. Rick Ellingworth’s style of leadership was through empowerment of great staff on which the district is upheld. This leadership style is a proven concept globally and found in the most successful manufacturing institutes around the world and must be maintained AND grown at all levels.
Other than the above topics, what do you think is the districts most important issue that needs to be addressed and what is your strategy to do so?
I believe the most important issue that has yet to be addressed is continued cultural support for our staff, which inevitably emits to our students. In my few years in private industry my main focus and initiative was “culture change”. The concept is simple in thought, but VERY complicated in application. Over my few years of intensive trainings and culture change initiatives I have learned a significant amount about how great the impact of such a process could be if done correctly. Allowing our staff to conduct anonymous interviews by a third party on the district’s successes and short comings to be summarized into a leadership team “to do” list of sorts would open minds of our leadership and hearts of our staff. As humans we all want to be heard, seen, and acknowledged, however some of us naturally are more reserved and timid. The strength in increased communication and teamwork from a similar process applied in industry would elevate the maximum potential in both our students and staff. In my opinion, this is the next big step for ISD#2897. The next big challenge is finding the right people and funds to conduct the multi-year initiative as these culture changes cannot be forced, but instituted into the very fibers of our districts culture.
Please provide a brief bio of yourself.
Born and raised in Renville County on a family farm I attended all levels of pre-secondary education through ISD#2897. Involved in band, agriculture education, and athletics in addition to my college ready education through the district I graduated with highest honors in 2012. Attending North Dakota State University (yes the one with the football dynasty, GO BIZON!) from 2012-15 I earned minors in “Human Development and Family Sciences” and “Horticulture” while earning a bachelors in “Crop and Weed Sciences”. From 2015-17 I was a research specialist for the North Dakota agricultural extension program in sugarbeet weed control and will be achieving my Master’s degree in “Weed Science”. I returned home to Redwood Falls in 2017, where I established my agricultural contract research business, “Next Gen Ag LLC”. I spent last year teaching in the district as an ag teacher. I have four children, Henry (3.5) and Olivia (2) with a set of twin girls due the end of October 2020. My wife, Katie Lueck, works at city hall in town and is also a 2012 Redwood Valley graduate. Present day we have moved onto a farm site 1,000 feet from where I grew up and are excited at the arrival of our new house and our twin girls!