The Wyndmere School Board offered Anthony Morrison the Wyndmere School District superintendent position, which Morrison promptly accepted.
"I offered the position to Mr. Morrison. I said, ‘We've agreed to give you 48 hours, let me know if you need more.’ And he goes, ‘I accept, done deal,’" said Chris Busche, Wyndmere School president.
The Wyndmere School Board interviewed two candidates for the Wyndmere School District superintendent position Monday, May 3.
Morrison was the first candidate interviewed. He is currently a middle school principal at Tohatchi Middle School in Tohatchi, New Mexico.
Morrison has worked in education for 16 years, beginning his career as a substitute teacher.
“I feel like that was a great opportunity. Being able to learn what it's like to go into other people's classrooms. And so I felt that that was a great start,” Morrison said.
Morrison then taught sixth-12th grade social studies for seven years before transitioning to administration, first as an assistant principal and then as an interim chief school administrator.
Next, Morrison became a middle school principal, a position he’s held for six years.
“At each level I’ve had the opportunity to make connections with stakeholders and start forming relationships, getting to know the community. I've been able to implement plans and strategic funds that have been for the benefit of the students,” Morrison said.
Morrison said that data is the most important tool in determining student achievement.
“It's crucially important to know what the students are doing. But data, you’ve got to be careful with that. It's easy to just throw out data as a catchphrase, we can't do that. You really have to get in there, you have to know what's happening,” he said.
Data on student outcomes would be used to implement strategies for student growth.
With regard to empowering staff, Morrison said it’s important to give educators meaningful work and appreciate their contributions.
“Anyone who is willing to work in the education department is doing exactly that, they're working and it's hard work. They need to feel like what they do matters and that they're being appreciated,” he said.
Morrison said he wants to create a positive environment for students where they want to learn and develop personally.
“The students really need to feel that they're welcome and that they're in a safe environment. It's important to have that interaction piece,” he said.
Morrison emphasized that students are the most important aspect of the job and that community outreach is essential.
“My own philosophy of education has focused back on the students and just working together with families to promote the success and excellence of the students,” Morrison said.
Kent Henrickson was the second and final candidate interviewed on May 3.
Henrickson is a physical education and health teacher at Ulen-Hitterdal Public School in Ulen, Minnesota. He’s worked at the school for 21 years and is currently teaching, but has worked in administration.
“I've been the teacher, I've been the principal, I've been the AD (activities director) and the district assessment coordinator. I'd like to try something else with the superintendent's position analysis,” Henrickson said.
Morrison said funding for small schools is an ongoing challenge schools like Wyndmere face.
“The funding is always an issue and keeping up the facilities, that's an ongoing issue. And then last year with COVID, too, with the distance learning and what's going to happen with that. I don't think it's going away and how are the smaller schools going to be able to handle that and deal with that?” Henrickson said.
Henrickson said the solutions to those challenges will require collaboration between all stakeholders in developing a solution.
To improve student achievement, Henrickson said there are a multitude of ways to evaluate students in their education and their character and that it varies.
“So let's find out what those interests are and what their strengths are and work toward that. (There are) different ways to evaluate and they're all important and they play a factor,” Henrickson said.
To empower staff and faculty, Henrickson said it’s important to recognize the effort they put forth.
“They're all valued and they need to feel valued and appreciated. When somebody is doing a good job, let's recognize them. And it's just not the teaching staff or it's just not the administration. You have the support staff, you have your janitorial, your custodian, you have your trucks, you have all these people that make this work,” he said.
The position's start date is July 1 and the board will negotiate a contract with Morrison at a later date.
“I really believe that (as) the superintendent it's really important they provide the district with collaboration, communication and team building. I really, really feel strongly about the team building part. Let's get people involved in this, let's be innovative, let's look for opportunities for other people to work toward the benefit of the students,” Morrison said.