District 518 welcomes three new leaders to its ranks
WORTHINGTON - As District 518 seeks to meet the positive challenges of growth in student numbers and a need for improved, expanded facilities, three people are poised to take the plunge in administrative roles, effective Aug. 1 - although each of them has been working steadily through much of July to become familiarized with the jobs they will fill.
"We will have two new assistant principals - one at Prairie Elementary and one at Worthington High School - this fall, as well as a new district activities director," District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said. "I'm thrilled to have these qualified people in their positions, and I know they're looking to support our students and staff in what they're doing. They'll be good additions to the district."
Josh Dale, District 518 Activities Director
Although he grew up in Willmar and has spent the past seven years teaching developmental adaptive physical education (DAPE) in Alexandria, Josh Dale's first teaching job was in Worthington from 2003-06.
"I was the DAPE teacher for District 518, so I was in all the buildings and know a lot of the staff who are still around from those years," Dale explained.
Dale played basketball at Ridgewater Community College before earning his B.S. (majoring in physical education and minoring in DAPE) at St. Cloud State University. Later, he earned a master's degree in education from St. Mary's University, as well as his administrative certificate there.
"I always knew I was interested in an activities director position," said Dale, who will live in Worthington with his wife, Katie, and 18-month-old daughter Savannah. "I did my internship under the activities director in Alexandria.
"One thing I learned my first time in Worthington is what a family-oriented town this is, and that the school district is outstanding."
Dale said he enjoys the variety guaranteed to activities directors.
"I love being around activities and enjoy going to different events, seeing teens be successful," he said. "Whether it's fine arts or athletics, these activities are an extension of the school day for students.
"They learn so many skills from extra-curricular activities - teamwork, communication, dealing with adversity - and research suggests the more things students are involved in, the higher their GPAs are."
Dale aims to familiarize himself with District 518 and its coaches, directors, parents and other administrators in the weeks ahead.
"I have some ideas, but they are more long-term for now, and I want to keep things going in the right direction," Dale said. "Mike Traphagen [who retired in May as District 518 activities director] did a fantastic job and has been so helpful in getting me started here. He's made it much easier for me to begin in this job, and I can't thank him enough."
Dale stands ready to entertain questions and ideas from students and parents as the school year gets under way in August.
"I'm excited to be here, and I look forward to this opportunity to keep District 518's activities program strong," Dale said.
Reed Sather, Assistant Principal at Worthington High School
Coming from a solid background in special education is an advantage for a new administrator, Reed Sather believes.
"As a special education teacher, I have always worked with every teacher in the building, and have encountered every subject at all grade levels," said Sather, who has 18 years of experience in the field of education.
"Being involved in special education also meant I worked with nearly every person in the district and many in the business community as I developed different projects for my students, so it's a good background for administration."
A native of Watertown, S.D., Sather studied mass communications at Moorhead State University before deciding to become an educator and transferring to Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.
"I earned my administrative and special education licensure at St. Cloud State, and I've been teaching special education in Benson for the last 12 years," Sather explained. "I was looking to move into an administrative role."
Sather's wife, Amy, is an art teacher who has accepted a teaching position in Adrian. The family includes three daughters: Rachel, a student at University of Minnesota, Morris; Jessica, who will be a third-grader at Prairie Elementary; and Meagan, an incoming Prairie Elementary first-grader. All three of the girls are avid swimmers.
"We're in the process of moving to Worthington, and we've been trying to throw away things I don't even remember buying," Sather said with a chuckle.
Sather and his wife have also taught in Wyoming and the Black Hills, and Worthington will likely be the most diverse community in which the family has lived to date.
"I'm really looking forward to working with all of the different cultures here," Sather said. "I'm really excited to learn about the different cultures represented and meet the students.
"With the Internet and advancing technology, our world has never been more global, and living among people from so many different backgrounds is a great first-hand way to learn about so many customs and cultures."
Sather said he has already begun getting acquainted with several of the WHS teachers this summer.
"I've met them little bits at a time, and I'm excited to meet everyone," he said. "This is a bigger school district than Benson, with a lot more opportunities."
Landgaard is pleased with Sather's commitment to Worthington.
"He comes with a very good background, and it seems like Reed will be a great addition to the high school staff," said Landgaard. "He's extremely excited and enthusiastic about the job."
Zach Dingmann, Assistant Principal/Targeted Services Coordinator at Prairie Elementary
Zach Dingmann will be joining the Prairie administrative team that already includes Principal Josh Noble and Assistant Principal Heidi Meyer.
"I feel very fortunate to come into a building where we have two great leaders already in Josh and Heidi," said Dingmann, who just finished his fourth year as an elementary teacher in District 518. "They are both very knowledgeable and respected leaders, and the staff here is self-motivated and sets the bar high for themselves to achieve and work hard."
Dingmann is tasked with coordinating Targeted Services and Title I programs based at Prairie Elementary.
"This will tie a bridge between what's happening during the school day and our after-school program, and I'll be working with our teachers and Professional Learning Community to help get the extra intervention and support some of the kids need in our after-school program," Dingmann explained.
Three days a week, from mid-September through mid-April, nearly 25 percent of Prairie's roughly 1,200 students receive additional instruction from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in an effort to provide them with additional opportunities and help close the achievement gap.
"Those students are also looked at and re-evaluated to see if they continue to need extra help," said Dingmann. "They may also be enrolled in our summer school program, which this year ran five days a week for four weeks during June."
Dingmann grew up in the small town of Belgrade before attending St. Cloud State University, where he received his bachelor's degree in elementary education.
Thereafter, his horizons broadened significantly, as his student teaching was performed in south Minneapolis before he moved to Las Vegas, Nev., for two years.
"I taught in Las Vegas - again working with very diverse learners - before I decided it was time to come home, because I'm a Minnesota boy at heart," Dingmann said, smiling.
In Worthington, Dingmann taught fifth grade for one year and has taught fourth grade for the past three years, while also serving as an assistant varsity boys' basketball coach at WHS.
"That's been a great experience," confirmed Dingmann. "I played basketball when I was in high school, and there was a spot open on the coaching staff when I came here, so I was lucky to have that position, though with my new job, I won't be coaching this coming season."
Dingmann earned a master's degree in education at St. Mary's University, as well as his administrative licensure.
"I always knew I wanted to head into administration, and I have been fortunate to work with great leaders both here and in Nevada," Dingmann said.
"Among the challenges for teachers now is that kids don't always arrive at our doors school-ready," he observed. "They come with more needs, and wide-ranging diversity -- both culturally and from a learning standpoint -- and teachers have to be prepared for those different levels of abilities and readiness and change hats to meet the needs of the students."
Dingmann has enjoyed playing amateur baseball with the Wilmont Cardinals, and he likes spending time with his family, which includes three older sisters, three nieces and one nephew, all of whom are in the greater St. Cloud area.
Even so, Dingmann's enthusiasm for Worthington and Prairie are evident.
"Worthington has a lot to offer," he said. "I've had the opportunity to meet some great people here, and I'm excited to continue working with the staff and students at Prairie."