The end of an interimAfter 43 years in education District 834 Interim Superintendent Tom Nelson is taking another stab at retirement. Nelson’s last day in District 834 was June 26.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
After 43 years in education District 834 Interim Superintendent Tom Nelson is taking another stab at retirement. Nelson’s last day in District 834 was June 26.
Nelson, of Woodbury, came to District 834 in August of last year when then-superintendent Keith Ryskoski took the position of assistant superintendent for secondary education in District 833.
District 834’s new superintendent, Corey Lunn, starts this week.
Nelson retired as superintendent from District 833 in 2009 after having spent four years in the district.
Nelson’s retirement plans include golf, watching his grandchildren play high school sports, traveling and staying involved with education in some form.
“I’ll try to retire a little bit better this time,” Nelson said. “I know now that I’ll need to stay somewhat busy.”
A 43-year career
Nelson’s career in education began in 1968 with his first teaching job in Rochester, Minn.
Over the years Nelson has bounced from teaching to administration with a superintendent career spanning 18 years.
Nelson spent three years in Jackson Hole, Wyo., 10 years in Buffalo, Minn., four years with the South Washington County School District and one year with the Stillwater Area School District.
“It’s fun to be around kids and be around schools,” Nelson said. “When you’re around the kids, it keeps you young, it keeps you focused on what you do everyday — it makes it all very worthwhile.”
Nelson said he considers seeing District 833 through its strategic plan –including the construction of East Ridge High School – one of his biggest career accomplishments.
“That was definitely a significant accomplishment in my life,” he said.
‘Very fast, very enjoyable year’
Nelson said the past year with District 834 has been a successful one.
“It’s been a very fast, very enjoyable year,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a great deal in a short period of time.
“I feel very good about what we’ve done and where I’m leaving things as I head out the door.”
Over the past year, Nelson has helped District 834 navigate through its Vision 2014 Strategic Plan, as well as assisted with attendance boundary adjustments.
“We’ve made some changes,” Nelson said, “hopefully for the better.”
Nelson said one of the most enjoyable things about working in District 834 was being able to learn about the district.
“You kind of know the district by reputation, but you really don’t know it,” he said. “I’ve learned that Stillwater and this area has a great deal of history and great pride in their history and a lot of tradition.
“You have to be very careful about how you deal with things because you don’t want to step on traditions and you want to understand the history of a place.”
Additionally, Nelson said he greatly enjoyed working with the school board.
“As superintendent much of the work you do is with your board,” he said.
Working in District 834 was an interesting experience for Nelson, he said, because it was his first interim position.
“When you go in as an interim you can be very forthright and honest with people because you’re not worried about your next contract,” he said. “It’s kind of a relief because you can look at things and make what you think is the best decision.”
Nelson said he is very confident in the new superintendent’s ability to accomplish the goals they set for themselves this year including making sure all students achieve adequate yearly progress, updates to science classrooms, building maintenance and finding a balanced budget.
Nelson gives this advice to Lunn: “Use the people that you have and bring out the talent of the people you have around you — you can’t do it all yourself.”