A career in education is in Chuck Arns' blood.
Arns, Pequot Lakes Middle School principal, followed in his father's footsteps in education. Arns has spent 33 years as a teacher and an administrator in private and public education, and his career path continues to move forward.
Arns, 55, will leave his post in Pequot Lakes on June 30 to become superintendent for the Pillager School District. Arns' first day in Pillager is July 1. Pillager Superintendent Phil Johnson is retiring after 35 years in education, including nine years as Pillager superintendent. Johnson's last day is July 31.
The Pillager School Board approved a three-year superintendent contract with Arns. He will earn $91,000 in the first year of the contract, $93,000 in the second year and $95,500 in the third year.
"I'm excited to be in Pillager," Arns said. "I have high regard for the two principals there. It's quite a thrill to have gotten the position."
Arns said the Pillager district appealed to him because it is a smaller school district and he will be able to stay in touch with students. He also said the district is financially sound and has quality teachers.
Once Arns takes his post in Pillager, he said his goal is to get to know the school and the community.
"I have to make sure teachers are comfortable coming to school and that the people are happy," said Arns. "The school is an extension of the community and I need to learn what the climate is between the school and community."
For the past five years, Arns has been the middle school principal in Pequot Lakes. Arns will miss the community there. He said the Pequot Lakes community supports the school and 95 percent of middle school parents attend teacher-parent conferences.
"This is a high number," said Arns. "I hope to see this in Pillager."
Arns said accomplishments in Pequot Lakes include developing and updating the middle school curriculum and keeping small class sizes. He also is proud of starting the National Junior High Honor Society at the school four years ago.
"I believe in positive reinforcement," Arns said.
Arns graduated in 1967 from North St. Paul High School, where his dad was principal. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 1972.
"I really love kids," Arns said, which is why he wanted a career in education. "My dad influenced me a little. Education was very important to my parents. ... Going to college was never a question and when I went into education they were thrilled."
After college, Arns and his wife of 35 years, Rita, moved to Merrifield on Campbell Lake, where they have lived for 32 years. Arns said they moved to the area for the lake and trees. Arns and his wife have six adult children.
Arns began his education career as a substitute teacher in the Brainerd School District for one year. He then taught mathematics at Franklin Junior High School in Brainerd for five years.
In 1978, Arns switched gears in education and became an administrator at Lake Region Christian School in Brainerd.
"I have to blame my dad," said Arns. "I wanted to have more of an influence in education as a whole. I knew I could influence more kids as an administrator."
After 20 years at LRCS, Arns wanted to get back into the public school system and he wanted to further his education. He taught mathematics at Brainerd High School for two years while earning a specialist degree in educational administration at St. Cloud State University to be a superintendent.
After earning the administration degree, the Pequot Lakes Middle School principal position opened. Arns said the position was appealing and he got the job. He has been principal for sixth- through eighth-graders at the school for the past five years.
Last year, Arns said he was ready for a new challenge and he applied for the superintendent position in Pequot Lakes when former superintendent Jim Oraskovich retired. However, he did not get the job.
When the superintendent position opened in Pillager, Arns said he gave it a chance and won. Arns said before he knew about the superintendent position, he and his wife built a home in Sylvan Township, about seven minutes from Pillager.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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