CROSBY -- From dressing up like Superman to being dunked in the dunk tank to digging through the garbage to look for a student's mouth retainer, Cuyuna Range Elementary School Principal Mark Redemske will miss it all.
After 16 years at the school, Redemske handed in his resignation as principal. His last day was June 9. Redemske resigned to become superintendent of the Maple Lake School District, a district of about 900 students, beginning July 1.
Redemske landed a job as a fourth-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Crosby in the fall of 1987. He said a number of things intrigued him about the job in Crosby, and he wanted to go somewhere where there were a lot of lakes.
Crosby had plans to build an elementary school in 1988, which Redemske found attractive. He also was able to be head coach for football and assistant coach for basketball.
"It was a wonderful opportunity for me," he said. "Then I didn't know how long we'd (he and his wife, Paula) be here and now it is 16 years later."
When the new school opened, Redemske became the fifth-grade teacher. And in 1997, when CRES Principal Jim Pierson retired, Redemske was hired.
"The whole concept interested me," Redemske said about the role as principal. "I was thrilled when I found out I got the job. Jim would be a tough act to follow so I had to think over my decision very thoroughly. I decided that I would not try to be a carbon copy of Jim. I learned so much from him and his way of thinking molded into my way of thinking."
Redemske said at first he was concerned about the transition of going from a teacher to an administrator, but it went smoothly. He received a lot of support from the staff and community. He just had to look at things in a different way as an administrator.
When asked about his accomplishments, Redemske said, "I see myself as a conductor and I had to provide assistance. The staff and the kids had a lot of accomplishments."
Redemske said dealing with budget cuts in past years has been difficult. He said trying to figure out what and who to cut is tough.
"Every position comes with a face with skills to educate the kids," he said. "You feel completely awful (when people lose their jobs).
"I have learned a lot the hard way going through the process."
C-I has had five superintendents in the past four years, and Redemske said he uses many techniques of Dale Wain, interim superintendent in 2001. One technique is to be open with the staff and ask for their recommendations on what needs to be cut.
"I laid everything out on the table," Redemske said about budget cuts. "Teachers appreciate knowing (what's going on) and give their ideas. Then we were able to establish a solid way to provide a quality education for kids."
Redemske said his experience in Crosby will help him in Maple Lake.
Redemske, 43, graduated from high school in Staples in 1978. That's where he developed an interest in elementary education. He said Staples offered a program where the students were able to assist teachers two hours a day in the elementary school. He was able to work a lot with the kids and enjoyed it.
So he decided to earn an elementary education degree at Concordia College, Moorhead, which he did in 1982. A month after graduating, he taught sixth grade with the Campbell Tintah Public School. He also taught fourth grade in Clarissa and fifth grade in Litchfield.
He then attended Winona State University and earned his master's degree in 1988. He also earned a specialist certificate in education policy and administration from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 1997.
Redemske said a superintendent post always had been in the back of his mind.
"I can only do one thing for so long," he said.
Redemske found out about the superintendent position in Maple Lake by accident. He was supposed to attend a meeting on referee rules in Wadena, but he couldn't make it because there was a fine arts concert at CRES that same day. There was another meeting in St. Cloud that he attended and he ran into a college friend, who is the activities director at Maple Lake. This friend told Redemske the superintendent was going to retire and he would let Redemske know when the job was posted.
"I started checking on Maple Lake, including its financial status and I was impressed with what I saw," Redemske said. "The more I looked into the school the more I began to like it."
Redemske said one of his concerns about being superintendent is the day-to-day contact with the students. However, he said in Maple Lake the elementary and high schools are connected by a hallway in one building with the administration so it should be easier for him to adjust.
In fact, Redemske enjoys spending time with the students so much that at CRES, he came to work early to finish his paperwork so when the students arrived they would have his full attention. The students have been the highlights of his career.
Redemske shared several memories from the school and all involved the students.
When the weather was nice, Redemske said he was happy because the students were able to go outside to get some fresh air.
During the winters, Redemske wore a big blue snowsuit to try to encourage the students to dress warmly.
"One time I played soccer with the kids and kicked the ball and slipped and fell on my back (with the snowsuit on)," he said. "The kids didn't know if they should help me or laugh."
Another memory Redemske shared was of a kindergarten graduation, when his daughter was a kindergartner. He said it was brown bag lunch day and all the students were given a fudge popsicle.
"That was stupid on my part," said Redemske with a laugh. "They all had on their cute little dresses and shirts with fudge popsicles on it."
Redemske said he will miss all the people in the community.
"It's been a good 16 years," he said.
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