REGIONAL — With school started or just around the corner, two new school superintendents continue to adjust to their new roles in their respective districts.
New Jackson County Central Superintendent Barry Schmidt and new Sibley-Ocheyedan, Iowa Superintendent James Craig took over their official duties July 1. The JCC Board of Education hired Schmidt following the resignation of former superintendent Todd Meyer. Craig takes over the role from his predecessor, Bill Boyer, who retired at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
A veteran of education, Schmidt joins the JCC school district with more than 25 years experience in a variety of roles. Having most recently served as the superintendent for West Central Area School District in Barrett, Schmidt has served as superintendent, principal and physical education/health teacher at different stages throughout this career.
A longtime resident of southwest Minnesota, Schmidt said he was familiar with the JCC school district and was drawn to apply, in part, because of the community and district's passion for kids.
In just less than two months on the job, Schmidt's first impression of the district is that a talented group of staff is present, which gives the district potential to do many great things.
"I believe every person working for the district has tremendous value because of their ability to impact the lives of our students — teachers, counselors, custodians, administrators, administrative assistants, paraprofessionals, cooks, committee and school board members and so on," said Schmidt, who described his leadership style as team-oriented.
One of the challenges Schmidt sees the district facing is maintenance and repair of facilities. The school board has recently commissioned and reviewed a public survey, which it has reviewed and intends to take action on, Schmidt said.
Schmidt is excited for the school year to officially start, as he wants to continue building relationships with people.
"I'm excited for the school year to begin so I can continue forming and developing relationships with our students, staff and members of the community," he said.
Jamie Craig joins Sibley-Ocheyedan school in his first superintendent role. He's no stranger to education, though, as he taught instrumental music for 17 years prior to taking on a high school principal role at Southwest Valley High School in Corning, Iowa, where he most recently served.
As someone who grew up in a small town in southern Iowa, Craig was drawn to S-O's rural education environment, which he sees as an opportunity to allow him to grow as a new superintendent.
"There is a great group of people in place here that aren't going to let me undo the great work that has happened to get the district into the strong achievement and financial positions we are in," he said.
Craig has had positive first impressions of the district during his first eight weeks on the job. He's witnessed the custodians working hard around summer construction, and school secretaries have been a tremendous help with navigating the new landscape, Craig said. Board of Education members have met in committee and one-on-one to talk about the future of the district.
"Everyone is willing to allow me to bring my ideas and help shape the vision moving forward," Craig said. "The community is full of wonderful people that have welcomed me and my family, and we enjoy the communities and different activities we have experienced so far."
As leader of the district, Craig said he has the goal of uniting stakeholders in doing whatever it takes to increase achievement. He's there to support the needs of other staff members, who are accountable for completing their jobs to the best of their ability.
"People should feel empowered to do what they were hired to do in the best way they know how," Craig said. "I should support that work, provide available resources to enhance that work, and help develop quality professional development to encourage continuous learning."
Craig said he believes the school's vision and mission need to be updated, which he envisions being accomplished by creating a stakeholder group to help guide the district's work going forward. The guidance may be applied to strategic planning for facilities, finances and athletics.
Another challenge he foresees is addressing district needs while maintaining the district's strong financial position.
"That will take time to learn, creativity and planning to make happen," he said.
School started Friday at S-O, which Craig had anticipated. He's excited to see students in classrooms, attend games and performances and help lead a culture that staff, students and community members can positively participate in and be proud of.