New superintendent is ready to lead
A new face greeted Stillwater Area Public Schools’ staff as they returned to school this week. The district’s new superintendent, Dr. Mike Funk, took to the stage at Pony Stadium for the districtwide kickoff event. The veteran superintendent and retired Army officer addressed staff - from teachers and paras to nutrition services staff, custodians and support staff - to introduce himself, share some of his core beliefs and highlight his goals for the year.
Dr. Funk, who has more than 17 years of superintendent experience and 30 years of leadership in the Army National Guard, told staff that he has 3 core beliefs as a leader: expect the best; do the right thing; and do what is best for kids. He also encouraged staff to focus on relationships, work smarter not harder, rely on the wisdom in the room and have fun.
During his remarks, Dr. Funk reflected on the district’s proud tradition and reputation for having very good schools. But he also expressed his desire to work with people throughout the district to take it to the next level.
“I want us to be great for our staff, our students, and our wider communities,” he said. “Excellence is not easy, but it is a tremendous feeling when you have achieved it.”
Working with the community to develop a strategic plan is one of his main goals for the coming year. A strategic plan would help outline district priorities and define a path to create excellent schools. Other goals for the district include stabilizing the organization and putting trust back into the district.
To close his comments, Funk reflected on some of the challenges that the district has faced in recent years - including the turnover in leadership. As he pulled out a Pony football helmet, which he said was handed to him during his first week on the job, he questioned why it was given to him.
“I wasn’t sure if it was because of our great Pony tradition here … or if they were preparing me for school board meetings,” he joked. “Either way, I’ve got to tell you, I’m ready!”
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