Since we came to the school district in 2002, I have had the opportunity to communicate with the ROCORI School District community through the space provided by the Cold Spring Record.  It has been, and continues to be, a tremendous privilege to be able to share thoughts and issues in this format. 


With the completion of this week’s article, I plan to take a short break from the writing process, but should be back in August.  I want to wrap up the 2012-2013 year with some final notes of thanks!




Throughout this past school year—and the previous ten years—the Cold Spring Record has opened space in the paper to allow me to share thoughts and ideas related to the school district.  The Record has been very gracious in providing space to accommodate the notes each week.  I very much appreciate this means of communication with the ROCORI School District.


The Record does not need to offer space for these writings, but Mike Austreng and the staff have been very receptive to the idea.  They never really know how much they will get or what topic will be covered.  They never really know when they will get the article either.  But they always work with whatever they get!!  Thank you for the space, the freedom to write, and the flexibility to accommodate the information!




The district mission statement includes the phrases, “to be Central Minnesota’s public education standard of excellence” and “making a difference today, to create a better tomorrow.”  These statements are a very appropriate description of our district and our activities—especially within the past school year. 


The 2012-13 school year, as we reviewed at the end of the year gathering with staff, witnessed significant growth and progress in both parts of our mission statement.  We experienced our second academic year in our new facilities—still adjusting to some of the benefits of our new space.  We also asked staff to continue to adjust what we have been doing academically by focusing and reorienting to the Common Core Standards, by framing work around our Tiered process of intervention, and by implementing lessons built upon the “Understanding by Design (UbD)” principles. 


The bulk of our academic work has been invested in shaping our core curriculum to reach most of our students.  This is done through alternative methods of instruction, examination of the kinds of work in which students are asked to engage, and in looking at the strengths each student brings to school.  The academic work is resulting in the ROCORI School District setting the standard for performance in Central Minnesota.


While all of that was happening, we also found time to have one of our most successful years in regard to athletic, fine arts, and academic activities. with state level success in all three areas including state level competition in many areas!  Again, these efforts are helping us to be Central Minnesota’s public education standard of excellence.


With this kind of success, we clearly have many talented people working hard every day to make a difference in the lives of others.  That outcome could not be more evident than it was during this past school year—we had many, many examples of success across the district!  The end result of those efforts is that we will, on many different levels, create a better tomorrow for everyone.


The ROCORI School District possesses a very professional staff in all areas of assignment from administrative to teaching to support positions. It is a pleasure and privilege to work with a staff that is talented, dedicated, and effective.  I want to say thank you to our entire staff for the professionalism and commitment to excellence.  Each member of the staff does, indeed, make a difference today and those efforts will allow the creation of a better tomorrow.




It continues to be a great privilege to work with the administrative team in the ROCORI Schools.  Our building principals are part of the administrative team and include Eric Skanson (Cold Spring Elementary School Principal), Shelly Muth (John Clark Elementary Principal and Richmond Elementary Principal), and Mark Jenson (ROCORI Secondary School Principal).  Judy Martinez-Sones (RHS Assistant Principal) and Barry Voight (ROCORI Middle School Assistant Principal) have been great additions to our team this year.


Many in the community see these administrators at work on a regular basis as they lead the individual buildings or programs.  The administrators may be part of a committee at the building level or may interact through parent opportunities.  We have a very seasoned and experienced team of quality individuals who care about the work that they do, the people with whom they work, and the success of the teams around them!


Ken Kraemer (Buildings and Grounds Director), Joel Baumgarten (Activity Director), Mindi Jenson (Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Director), Lynn Parker (Director of Business Services), Brian Michalski (Technology) and Mark Grelson (Community Education) are administrators on our team.   


These professionals may not be quite as “visible” as administrators because their roles are normally not as public or apparent in the buildings.  They are, however, very important leadership roles in the district as we look at the work that has been done this past year—our success in the organization of the district, the activity programs, and the academic work across our curriculum would not be possible without the efforts of these administrative team members.


I believe we have a very positive, insightful, and effective administrative core.  Each member of the team works long hours, many days, and brings special qualities to the district.  Thanks to each of you for your contributions.




Another note of thanks is extended to the district office staff for their excellent work during the 2012-2013 school year. 


Barb Fuchs serves as Executive Assistant and works directly with me, the demands of my schedule and position, and the responsibilities of the School Board.  Mary Rothstein is a Business Office Assistant who works with purchasing, bill payments and processing of business records.  Ellie Hondl works primarily with issues of personnel and payroll on a daily basis to be sure that employee records are complete and accurate.  Michelle Evenson is a district accountant who works with a variety of business services including critical elements of reporting, maintaining accuracy and completeness of records, and verification of information. 


All of the members of the district office staff have done an excellent job in completing responsibilities and handling our duties throughout the year.  This team in the district office accomplishes duties, tasks and responsibilities that very few people witness, understand, or fully appreciate.  Yet, the work is consistently done at the highest possible level.   It has been a professional pleasure for me to work in a district office that is as effective and efficient as the staff at ROCORI.  Thank you, to each of you, for your dedication, commitment, and performance.




Finally, but most importantly, I need to take this time to thank my wife, Julie, and our children, Rebecca, Christine, Andrew, and Timothy, for their support.  Although our family activities continue to change with each stage of life, it means a great deal to me to have the support from each member of our family. 


My family continues to be an incredible source of encouragement, strength, hope, and support.  Each member of my family has been very supportive of my role in the district.  Each one truly enjoys the ROCORI community.  Their support allows me to fill my duties as a servant of the district and to extend help to others whenever possible. 


There are often long days with additional time required even when I am at home, attending some other function, or enjoying an activity away from the school setting.  Attendance at meetings, involvement in school and community events, and many of the responsibilities of the position will frequently impose upon our personal or family time.  Although the demands of the position are often difficult to understand, my family has accepted that the position of superintendent of schools has unique demands. 


To my family, I just want to note that my hope is that I can be a model of professionalism and commitment for each of you as family members.  Your love and respect mean more to me than you will ever know.  I love each of you with all my heart and appreciate all the support you offer!