From coach to principal

MANSON – Manson Northwest Webster school officials looked inward to find a replacement for the Junior/Senior High principal this year.

The new principal is Kevin Wood, who started working for the district in 1997 as a paraprofessional and coach. He got his undergraduate degree during this time and joined up as a teacher in 2002.

He graduated from MNW in 1995.

“It’s nice to stay in the home town, and watch things evolve from where they’re at,” Wood said.

Wood was the assistant football coach and special education teacher. He also taught 10th grade language arts, algebra I, and other lower level math classes. He spent his first two college years at Iowa Central Community College, and got his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and K-12 special education from Buena Vista University.

He’s now completing his master’s degree from the University of South Dakota, and has one class left.

“I took quite a few accelerated courses this summer,” he said, “knowing I had the opportunity to apply to this.

“The position opened up in late May, and they didn’t advertise it until June. I was to the point where I had my conditional license, so I was able to apply for the position. Everything pretty much fell into position in a hurry.”

Wood’s connection with the students and the schools was a factor in his hiring, said school Superintendent Mark Egli.

“He was already seen as someone the kids could turn to,” Egli said. “As a teacher and as a football coach, there were many things he was involved in.”

“Another thing that won it over for him is, we have quite a few initiatives started at the high school, so his learning curve will not be as steep as if we had to have someone start over from the beginning.”

Wood said he’s been busy all summer setting up professional development for the year, preparing for the new behavior policy and getting the new student management system up to date.

The new system, Infinite Campus, handles everything from student grading to lunch money to paying fees on the Internet.

It can also send a text message to parents when a student is late to class, Wood said.

MNW continues to offer more online classes and blended learning options, he said. Having experience with online classes through USD helps.

“Talk about technology- driven,” he said. “Everything is online, and there’s a lot of collaboration.”

He also has relationships with the teachers that someone from outside would have to build.

“Not only do I want to lead, I want to bring teachers on board, and let them know this is our building,” Wood said.

He wants to be as involved as possible, going to the games.

“Kim Keller does a great job with speech. If her kids make it to the state level, I want those kids to perform for us as a building, and do things like that have never been done in the past. I think those things need recognition as much as anything else,” he added.

Egli said Wood will probably make his career in Manson, and not leave as many principals have in the past.

“That really helps with the stability of the program,” he said.

“Manson has always been a stepping stone for a lot of administrators,” said Wood. “I grew up in Manson, and my family lives here. My kids – I have three of them right now in the educational system, and one 19-month-old, and we’re here to stay.

“I think that kind of sold it to the interview committee. I’m a hometown guy. They know my values, they know where I came from, and I think that gave me an up on some of the other candidates.”