Principal Jessica Messerich is not a stranger to Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School. She is starting her eighth school year there, where she has served in a variety of roles. She began her career in the school district in 2012 as Dean of Students and Activities. After two years as a dean, she was hired as an assistant principal, a role she held for four years until she served as the interim principal during the 2019-2020 school year. This fall will mark her second year as the middle school principal. Prior to her work at Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School, Messerich was a special education teacher for over a decade, teaching and helping students with emotional and behavioral disorders at the high school and middle school levels.
Messerich’s previous experience has helped her understand one important truth: change is often an opportunity for new beginnings. She will definitely keep that perspective in mind this fall, as educators, students and communities everywhere face a school year like no other. Messerich says, “I hope Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School students are able to adjust to the inevitable changes that we will experience. I hope that they are able to continue to learn and grow and know that with change comes new experiences. This year will be different and that is about the only thing we know for sure!”
There is another thing that Messerich knows for sure, and that is the caring, competent district staff will see students and families through whatever this year’s back-to-school may bring. “I want our students and families to know that we are working hard—even through the summer—to make sure their experience is a positive one. I believe there is no better staff than the one working in our schools, so we will get through this together and come out stronger in the end.”
Messerich’s caring, competent middle school team includes Assistant Principal Johnson who has a background much like Messerich’s. Prior to teaching, Johnson worked with adults and adolescents with disabilities. He taught at St. Paul Public Schools as a middle school special education teacher and then at Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools with sixth graders and in the PRIDE program. He was a lead special education teacher here before transitioning to his new assistant principal role.
Johnson, like Messerich, sees that the year ahead may be challenging—yet as promising as always for middle schoolers and their families. He says, “I hope our students have a safe and incredible experience. I hope they are able to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, expand their friendships circles and grow their skills to be successful learners. These are unprecedented times and school is going to be different, but we will do the best we can to make the most of it. It is very important that we stay positive and support each other.”
Both Messerich and Johnson are always passionate about supporting students and families. “I care about the middle schoolers and truly look forward to seeing their faces every day. As a principal, I want to support our students, families and the community, as we navigate these middle school years,” says Messerich. Johnson echoes those sentiments: “My goal is to support all of our middle school students as they grow, and I am looking forward to being a part of their journey. I also want to work closely with their families. A partnership between home and school is essential, so if there is any way I can help, my door is always open.”
Outside of work, Principal Messerich says she loves to be around people and stay active. She has a busy family made up of husband Chris, along with two kids, two dogs and two cats. Her family loves to travel and their trips often involve hiking, camping and fishing. Messerich also likes to work on crafting projects of all kinds during her free time.
Assistant Principal Johnson and wife, Kara, have two young daughters and like spending time with family and friends. They, too, enjoy the outdoors and try to find any opportunity they can to spend time on the water, especially to fish.
Principal Messerich and Assistant Principal Johnson welcome all new and returning students and their families to Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School for the new school year. While this time may not look like any other, both are confident the Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School community will stay #StormStrong and get through any challenges together.