Superintendent Brad Bergstrom began officially serving Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools on July 1, taking over for former Superintendent Aaron Sinclair. Although this is not his first transition into district leadership as a superintendent, Bergstrom’s first weeks in the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District certainly cannot be described as usual. He, like school leaders across the nation, have been engaged in intense planning and preparation for various back-to-school learning scenarios this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This critical work, along with relationship-building and forming community connections, have been Bergstrom’s primary focus.
Superintendent Bergstrom recently shared about his background, professional experience, values and how he hopes to nurture new, organizational growth within the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District.
I recently celebrated a 30-year anniversary with my wife, Lisa. She is a reading interventionist and has taught kindergarten for 17 years. We have two daughters. Breonna lives with her husband, Jake, in Minnetonka, and is currently getting her MBA at the University of St. Thomas. Hannah lives in Northfield. She is a dental hygienist and her fiancé, Cody, works for the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller out of Farmington.
I grew up in International Falls and went to college at Concordia College, Moorhead. My first job was teaching social studies at Indus School near Birchdale, Minn. This town is on the Minnesota-Ontario border and is about halfway between International Falls and Baudette. After eight years at Indus, Lisa and I moved to Fergus Falls, where I taught social studies, was a dean of students and ran an alternative program at the high school. We then moved to Austin, where I was an assistant principal at the high school, then principal and my final two years there were as the director of human resources. We then moved to Thief River Falls where I was the superintendent for four years.
Family is very important to us and we are excited to be living closer (but not too close) to our children. We already feel embraced by the Storm community. Sauk Rapids and Rice left a great impression upon us when we first visited. We wanted to work and live in a community where students and education were a priority and it was very apparent that the staff and community here are committed to making sure that students get a quality education. When you live in a place that is committed to providing the resources necessary to have a high-quality school district, along with staff who are committed to providing all students with quality education, it is a win-win for everyone.
I was also very impressed with the district’s commitment to taking care of their facilities. The buildings and grounds are in excellent condition which, to me, indicates a sense of pride in doing things the “right way.” I was also very impressed with the student questions during my interview process. You could sense their pride in their school and I got some of the toughest questions I had to answer throughout the interview process!
I do see the dedication of all involved in educating our students in this district. I have shared with people for years that those who work in education don’t see their positions as jobs. Instead, they view their work as a calling to help all students achieve their goals and dreams. The difference that all who work in education make across this district, state and country every day is helping to make our society a better place to be.
I want the community to know I will lead with the knowledge that there is a strong foundation that has already been established here. Understanding and respecting the traditions that make the district a great place for students to learn and for staff to work is extremely important. I hope to build up a sense of collaboration here so that the talents each person brings to the table can far exceed the talents that any one individual brings.
An important part of this work rests on developing strong relationships through clear and consistent communication. A feature of good leadership is a sense of transparency. While data privacy and legal perspectives can prevent some information from being shared, timely and accurate information helps build the trust that is needed to help an organization continue to grow.
Finally, I hope the staff feel valued and appreciated for the work they do each day in our district. I desire to have people feel like they are listened to, respected for their viewpoints and in the end, feel like they are a valuable part of this wonderful school district.
Welcome to our #StormStrong family, Superintendent Bergstrom!