Thirteen may not often be considered a lucky number, but it is for Pequot Lakes High School Principal John McDonald.
For the past 13 years, McDonald has served as principal in Pequot Lakes and each year the sun was always shining for graduation. The same was true last Friday when he graduated his final class, the PLHS Class of 2010.
Pequot Lakes High School Principal John McDonald spoke with a staff member in the hallway at the high school Tuesday. After 13 years as principal at the school, McDonald has accepted a position as superintendent in the Kingsland School District in Spring Valley.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
McDonald has resigned from the school district and has accepted a position as superintendent for the Kingsland School District in Spring Valley. His last official day is June 30. He begins his new job July 1.
"I will miss Pequot, very much so, with the students, staff, people, relationships that have been built," said McDonald. "I've enjoyed every moment at Pequot Lakes."
McDonald said he'd always wanted to become a superintendent. Finally, this year he was able to complete his superintendent licensure at St. Cloud State University.
McDonald, a 1971 Brainerd High School graduate, decided to go into teaching, like his father, John McDonald Sr., who had taught biology for 30 years at BHS. Some of McDonald's teaching staff in Pequot Lakes now had his father as a teacher, he said.
McDonald attended Moorhead State University, earning a teaching degree in math and special education, as well as certification in coaching and driver's education. He began his teaching career in Warren in the fall of 1976, where he worked for 20 years. During his tenure at Warren, he taught middle, high school and college level math, and special education for elementary and high school students. He also taught driver's education and coached varsity football, served as head track coach, both for 20 years, and for 14 years he coached girls' basketball. For three years he coached cross country.
McDonald also was named athletic director, and for the last few years at Warren he served as both athletic director and principal after completing his administrative licensure. He was so busy at the time that he was unable to complete his superintendent licensure.
In 1997 McDonald was hired as the Pequot Lakes High School principal. His wife, Kristil, is principal at Pine River-Backus High School. They have three children. He said for now they will have a 4-1/2-hour commute to see one another.
"It's been something I always wanted to do," McDonald said of becoming a superintendent. "I've been very pleased at Pequot but it always has been in the back of my mind."
McDonald said Pequot Lakes High School has been progressive in increasing opportunities for its students, such as College In Our Schools classes through Central Lakes College at the high school and programs for struggling students who need additional help. The high school recently became certified to offer Project Lead The Way courses in engineering and the district is just starting a gifted and talented enrichment program for all grade levels.
Kingsland School District is about half the size of the Pequot Lakes School District with about 700 students. Pequot Lakes High School has about 525 students alone.
McDonald said Kingsland also has been a progressive district in education, especially with the use of technology. He said he's looking forward to his new role.
Pequot Lakes School District has posted the position and is now searching for a new high school principal.
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