District 282’s new superintendent prepares for upcoming job

When Dr. Rob Thompson arrives at his new post as superintendent of schools for District 282, he’ll be coming to a bigger district than the one he left. The St. Anthony-New Brighton School District, which is approximately 1 mile wide and 3 miles long, is still larger than the Greenway School District where Thompson has been superintendent for the last two years. Greenway consists of a grouping of towns right outside of Grand Rapids, Minn.
“The best way to describe it is you can’t find Greenway on a map,” Thompson said.
Thompson, who was appointed to his new position by the District 282 School Board at its meeting March 21, will take the reins from retiring superintendent Dr. Bob Duncan. Thompson holds bachelor’s degrees in social studies, physical education and health from Concordia College in Moorhead; master’s and specialist degrees from Minnesota State University-Moorhead and a doctorate in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.
Thompson began his career in education as a social studies teacher for Elmore Public Schools — now Blue Earth Public Schools — in 1988. His first job was as a K-12 teacher.
“It was a real, real small school. I had the opportunity to get my feet wet,” he said about teaching students of such a wide age range.
After that, he served as an administrative intern at a school for at-risk kids and became the assistant principal at St. Cloud Apollo High School before becoming the principal — and later superintendent — of the Greenway School District.
As for his favorite part of being an educator, Thompson said it’s all about the relationships with staff and students.
“Unquestionably it’s that day-to-day interaction with the kids and the staff,” he said.

Challenges ahead
Thompson visited St. Anthony several times during the interview process. He had the opportunity to meet staff and parents and to see a band concert.
“I was blown away with the quality of the music,” he said. “It certainly got the fires and juices flowing. It made a first impression.”
During the interviews, he met Board members as well as an interview team made up of parents and community and staff members. Overall, he was very impressed.
“You kind of get a feel for the tone of a community by the folks who have volunteered to step up and help with the interviews. It was fantastic. Everything about the process was fabulous.”
Thompson’s next task is to get to know the school district.
“One of the things that is most important is to get a deeper understanding of the history of the school district, to learn where the school district has been and where they are.”
He will also work with the community, staff and students to make sure the district defines a vision and goals, and he will continue to work on the Blueprint for a Bright Future — the district’s strategic plan — to help that process along.
“I would like to spend a significant amount of time on the Blueprint, meet with those groups and have them give me some direction on where they would like to go.”
Thompson said open enrollment will be his biggest challenge upon arriving in the district.
“I do believe that is going to be something that would be helpful for me to get a better handle on, the challenges of that legislation. That is clearly something that needs to be done to help St. Anthony-New Brighton.”
Right now, he is focusing on finishing strong where he is.
“We’re already in April,” he said. “It’s very critical that I give my current job the respect and the 100 percent attention they deserve until I’m done so I finish up strong, and at the same time get acclimated so I can hit the ground running at St. Anthony-New Brighton.”

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