By Jon Tatting
Brent Stavig wants students to be proud of the culture at Rush City High School. He knows he has to earn the trust of the school and community.
Stavig expressed these words and more shortly after the school board hired him as the new high school principal last spring. It’s his first job in such a role, and he’s looking forward to the transition from his teaching days at St. Francis High School.
Even before he greeted students back to school on Tuesday, Stavig has been busy with getting to know the Rush City community — from local businesses and organizations to regular folks.
He’s a family man with a wife and four daughters including a newborn. He also served seven years in the Minnesota Army National Guard. One deployment sent him on air base security in Turkey.
Rush City can expect Stavig to have a solid rapport with students, as evident through his time in St. Francis. He’s big on trusting a collaborative process with staff in making decisions. And communication is key.
“I’m very reflective,” he said. “I like to communicate as much as possible.”
On how he communicates, Stavig believes in an honest, straightforward, transparent, respectable, everything-on-the-table philosophy.
While some may wonder about his lack of administrative experience, he has an administrative internship under his belt and proven ambition.
In St. Francis, Stavig received a global view on education when he took on more of a leadership role — including administrative tasks — in different areas and opportunities in the community.
That, and “he has demonstrated good judgment, the ability to respond appropriately in difficult situations, and he is eager to learn,” noted Rush City Schools Superintendent Vern Koepp.
Also in previous years, Stavig was chairman of a diversity outreach program where he worked with others in assuring school is a safe place for students. On bullying, for instance, he emphasizes the importance of dealing with the issue before it starts and when it unfortunately occurs.
“I take bullying very seriously,” he stressed. “It has an effect on the school culture. The culture of school is huge.”
When conflict arises, you have to gather the facts, interview the people involved and discern whether the issue is bullying, harassment or intimidation. You also have to follow school policies and procedures, Stavig explained of his approach.
To develop and maintain a healthy culture, he added, there must be partnerships, open relationships and a connectedness between school and the community.
“Students need to feel welcome; students want to be there, to achieve,” he continued.
Overall, Stavig feels prepared for the principal’s desk and role in the community.
“I’m very excited and confident,” he said. “I love the people I”ve met in Rush City.”