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Red Lake’s new superintendent settling in just fine

 

Red Lake Superintendent Steve Wymore

RED LAKE — In late July, the Red Lake School Board hired its new superintendent, Steve Wymore — and he is already making a good first impression.

“So far he’s been doing really well,” said Red Lake School Board Chair Arnold Pemberton. “The teachers I’ve talked to think he’s going to do well.”

Pemberton, a veteran of the school board of nearly 40 years, said Wymore stood out from the other candidates. “He answered the questions faster and knew everything that we asked him,” Pemberton said. “He didn’t hesitate.”

Pemberton also saw value in Wymore’s connections to the state Capitol. “He knows a few people down there in the Legislature,” Pemberton said in a phone interview with the Bemidji Pioneer last month. “He knows his stuff.”

Wymore has a 34-year career in public education, serving 26 years as a teacher and eight as a school administrator. During the job-interview process, Wymore — formerly of the Lake of the Woods School District in Baudette — told the board he was interested taking the step up to a district Red Lake’s size.

“It was a larger district and it had more finances under management,” Wymore said when asked what drew him to the Red Lake job. “The idea that the district had two ‘turnaround’ schools also attracted me because my experience (at a previous job) in Willow River was to get that district out of statutory operating debt, so I had the opportunity to study the financial part of administration in-depth there. Focusing on the curriculum side and enhancing student achievement is something I’d like to augment my professional career with right now. Red Lake offers me that opportunity.”

Wymore said he was very happy to be offered the job and that it’s been “a very nice change for me and positive for my family.”

“So far I’ve been very busy,” Wymore said. “Everyone’s been very welcoming and very kind. The staff is terrific. The school board has been very encouraging.”

Wymore has hit the ground running. His first Red Lake Board meeting, held August 17, lasted for more than three hours. “The meeting went well … we had some issues that needed to be discussed at length and the board took time to do that,” he said.

One of Wymore’s primary goals is to improve student achievement at Red Lake.

“We have ‘turnaround’ schools, so the big issue for us is raising student achievement,” he said. “We’re working with a number of consulting agencies to assist us in restructuring our leadership and identifying exemplary classrooms that can serve as models for our entire district and raise our student achievement levels, particularly on the MCA-IIs and MCA-IIIs.”

Wymore and the board are also looking to improve their schools’ facilities. The district is seeking a capital loan from the state of Minnesota for more than $32 million. On Friday, Aug. 26, the board passed a resolution requesting the Minnesota Department of Education fund a request in that amount.

That loan would cover classroom additions and a remodel of the vocational school. Pemberton said the plan is to set up a vocational system in the district in order to provide training for students looking to enter the workforce right after high school. Pemberton said Wymore is on the same page as the board with those plans.

Wymore has already made the rounds with parents and community members, most recently at an August 23 open house.

“He called and told me he was pleased with the big turnout,” Pemberton said, noting that more than 300 students attended the open house.

Background

Wymore is a native of Mayville, North Dakota. He graduated from Mayville State College with a composite music degree. He put that degree to good use teaching as a vocal and/or instrumental teacher at Tolna, N.D., Argyle, Grygla and Warroad. He also taught computers during his 15-year tenure in Warroad and served on the city council for eight years.

In 1998, Wymore got a masters degree from Bemidji State University. After that, he earned his administrative certification from St. Cloud State University.

Wymore’s first superintendent job was in Herman, where he also served as K-12 principal of the 115-student district. “That job had a learning curve that was straight up,” Wymore said. “I had almost too many ‘hats’ to wear.”

He then did the same superintendent/principal double duty at Willow River before completing a run in Lake of the Woods (Baudette), where he worked most recently until applying at Red Lake.

Steve and Carolyn — his wife of 31 years — have two grown children: son Seth (28), and daughter Katy (25).

“I’ve been very grateful for the welcome I’ve received and I look forward to a long tenure in Red Lake.”

 

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