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Continued: Meet the new superintendent of Inver Grove Heights schools

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 10, 2014 - 1:44 PM

I think we’ve really set teachers up for success over time on large group instruction, and we’re getting better at small group instruction, but we really need to hone the individual instruction.

And now with the tools that are available based on digital content, we can further enhance the meaning of individual student needs and that’s really what we need to work on implementing, so all our kids can be set for whatever their path may be after high school.

There’s multiple ways to do that, but it really starts with the teacher-student relationship, and then providing the content for that student to grow individually. And it involves technology — there’s no way around that.


Q: What is enrollment like in Inver Grove Heights?

A: It’s pretty stable, with slight growth. In any district you have residents that leave for another district, and one of my goals will be to have as many people as we can stay within Inver Grove Heights schools, because of what we can establish with the culture of the district.

One thing about the district is that only 20 percent of residents have kids in school. And I need to reach out not only to those 20 percent but the other 80 percent to help to grow their understanding of what’s taking place in the schools. So one of my big initiatives will be engaging the whole community in the educational process, somehow, some way.


Q: Describe your leadership style. What’s distinctive about it?

A: Relationships are at the foremost, but at the same time I really work to empower people in their leadership capacity, and that means any job that someone does. I’ve also had great success with putting processes in place that bring about widespread involvement from people both within and outside the district.

When I was a principal on special assignment, I put in place some significant processes that allowed anybody and everybody that wanted to be involved to be involved in reshaping what was taking place. And that brings together the community and brings buy-in to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.


Q: What aspects of your time with South Washington County Schools are you most proud of?

A: I had the opportunity to bring about a successful Spanish Immersion program, which began 10 years ago. That format has brought about significant opportunities for students and families. The success of it has been phenomenal.


Q: What lessons from being a teacher and principal will you apply to the superintendent role?

A: My perspective is you have to be the same person you are no matter what job you do. And that’s rooted in being yourself and forming those relationships that grow people in their trust of and belief in you.


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  • Bernhardson


    • Began his career as a gym teacher in South Dakota.

    • Later taught in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district.

    • Was a principal in Inver Grove Heights and then in the South Washington County district from 1999 to 2006.

    • Served as a principal on special assignment, overseeing a series of districtwide transitions, from boundary adjustments to high school schedule changes.

    • Currently assistant superintendent for elementary schools with South Washington County.

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