McKittrick looks forward to role as Superintendent

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

Since he was hired in March as the incoming Superintendent of the Montevideo School District, Wade McKittrick has made a point of traveling from his current home in Wabasso to town each week to begin work on making connections with the community members. “As much as anything, right out of the chute I need to get to know the community. The job of the Superintendent or really anyone in education is about relationships and one of the ways to build relationships is to get out there and meet people,” says McKittrick. “I’m excited to do that whether it’s when I’m out for a walk talking to people in the street or meeting with the Lions Club, I’m just looking forward to finding out who everybody is.”

McKittrick and his wife Cindy grew up in South Dakota. His teaching experience began as a Social Studies teacher there, where he also served the school district as an Athletic Director and coach for Football, Basketball, Track, and Baseball along with working in the Summer Rec. program. In 1996, the couple moved to Minnesota, settling in Albert Lea where McKittrick served as the Assistant Principal and Activities Director, while his wife was also employed as a teacher. From there, McKittrick moved to Pipestone where he held the position of Principal for grades 5-12 for just one year before he was hired as High School Principal in Marshall after a conversation with the school’s Superintendent. For the next 13 years, McKittrick continued that work until he decided that his love for the idea of being an entrepreneur was leading him to open McKittrick Consulting Group. “Our focus was on strategic planning, leadership development, and leadership coaching,” he says. “That was a great great experience.” 

During that time, one of the services the company offered was to provide Superintendent Services for small school districts that couldn’t necessarily afford to fill that role full time. “We went in and took care of finance and policy and also important management roles that really couldn’t be filled inside the school,” he says. “During that time, one of the clients was Clarkfield Charter School in their second year of operation. It was a lot of fun, but in doing that I really discovered that I loved the superintendent role.” When their youngest son graduated from high school in 2012, the McKittricks decided to close the consulting firm as Wade wanted to pursue a full-time Superintendent position. He accepted a position in Wabasso where he spent the last nine years before his recent hire in Montevideo. 

Wade and his wife Cindy, the Executive Director of Hope Harbor, have already purchased a home in Montevideo and are preparing for their move in June. They have three children and three grandchildren. “They’re all teachers,” McKittrick says. “Our son’s wife has a teaching background as well and our daughter’s husband is a high school teacher. It’s kind of the family business.” Location in relation to family was part of the appeal of applying for the position in Montevideo, he says. “Geographically, when you look at Monte we are smack dab in the middle of family - where our son is where our daughter is where our parents are - it just was too good to be true both on the personal and the professional side,” he said. Professionally, McKittrick says that he’s known a lot about Montevideo for quite some time, being well acquainted with the outgoing Superintendent Luther Heller. “There’s a reputation the district has carried for a long time that’s very positive. The size of the district was really almost to a T what my wife and I have discussed for the last couple of years as being a direction that I wanted to go, and to end my career in a school district the size of Montevideo,” he says. “When Monte’s position opened up, we were so excited. The district being in the Innovation Zone was a huge attraction to me, and when I had the chance to interview and meet the school board I was impressed with the people I would be working with. It seems we are very like-minded in what we see for education and what we can develop.”

McKittrick believes the time he has spent in Montevideo getting to know people so far will be a valuable experience that’s necessary before officially beginning his duties on July 1. “ I think it’s important for me to get out and talk to people and find out what their perception of the school is so that I have a very balanced view of things,” he says. “I’ve been meeting people, attending the administrative meetings just to see the functioning of how things are working and operating right now. To get those first impressions on what people are thinking about the school district, what’s important to them, and what people’s hopes and desires for the school are…what I’m finding is a lot of people have similar thoughts to mine. Ultimately my goal is to do this so that on July first I’m not starting, instead, I’m hitting the ground running.”

McKittrick has also been considering some of the challenges the district faces in the next year. “The district just went through $700,000 of budget cuts, so addressing the financial future is a high priority,” he says. “Whether it's the idea of looking at programs and how to live within the current dollar structure that’s coming in or does the community want those types of programs back and are we willing to support that in an operating referendum - those types of questions need to be answered. I don’t know the answers to those questions right now and the only way we’re going to find out is to go out and talk to people and find out what the hopes and desires of the people of the community are. Those are all things that we need to understand as a school district because, in the end, it's not my school, it’s not just your school, it’s the whole community’s school and there has to be intentionality on our behalf of understanding what the community wants and then it’s our job to provide that.” McKittrick has plans to review the district’s strategic plan and seek the answers to those questions from the community before taking any action on a plan to address the issues. “There are also facility issues that we need to deal with. We need to be looking at the way the district’s been growing the last several years. There are some space concerns in some of the buildings so we have to be able to look at our current structure and if that makes sense or if that is all driven by building space. Those are things I think we need to pay attention to and get good answers for,” he says.

During his time so far in Montevideo, McKittrick has appreciated how welcoming community members have been. He also notes that he’d appreciate opportunities to meet with community organizations to hear their thoughts about the district. “My dream is really for Montevideo public schools to be the centerpiece of this community,” he says. “I want to be able to walk down Main Street and see people wearing school colors. I want our school to be one of the first things that people from out of town talk about because it was supported by the community and because of the excellence that the school has operated underneath.”

McKittrick also appreciates the work Dr. Heller has done for the district and wants to share how excited he is to become a part of the community and school district. “This is an incredible opportunity for me and my family but I also hope that over time people can look back to my entrance into the district and say that it was a good point in our school district history,” he says. “Fifteen years from now when it’s time for me to retire I want people to be able to say our school district and our community is better because the McKittricks came here. If we can accomplish that, then that’s time well spent.”