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Stillwater superintendent search down to three

The Stillwater Area School District is on its way to having a new, permanent, superintendent.

District 834 School Board members on Thursday named the top three finalists for the position.

The finalists, chosen from seven, are Dr. Corey Lunn, superintendent for Montgomery Lonsdale, Minn.; Dr. Brad Meeks, superintendent for Farmington Minn.; and Dr. Rod Thompson, superintendent for St. Anthony- New Brighton, Minn.

The new superintendent will begin July 1, 2011.

The Stillwater Area School District has been without a permanent superintendent since last July when then-superintendent Keith Ryskoski took a position as the assistant superintendent for secondary education with the South Washington School District.

Current Interim Superintendent Tom Nelson was hired in August.

The three finalists

The first of the three finalists, Lunn, said he was drawn to the Stillwater position after seeing that the position would be a good place for him both professionally and personally.

"I believe I have the tools I would need to be a very successful superintendent -- I've worn a lot of different hats," he said. "Plus I am looking for a place for my family."

Currently Lunn, 44, is the superintendent of the Montgomery Lonsdale School District, but he has also worked in the Prior Lake-Savage School District.

Lunn said he would bring training in strategic planning, experience with building projects, experience with building bonds and experience with different grade configurations to Stillwater.

"I make decisions for kids and I think outside the box," he said. "I find unique solutions to unique problems."

The second of the three finalists, Meeks, said he was drawn to the Stillwater superintendent job after reviewing the district's strategic plan.

"It's a plan that I professionally and personally support and believe in," he said.

Meeks, 50, is currently the superintendent of the Farmington School District.

Meeks said he believes that his past experiences will help Stillwater realize its strategic plan.

"I think I can bring energy and experience to the job," he said. "The thing that's exciting about education is that it's an opportunity to bring people together to work collaboratively for the common good for the school district."

The third of the three finalists, Thompson, said he was drawn to the Stillwater opening after seeing that his views fell in line with the Stillwater Area School District.

"There was this extremely strong match that fit with my skills sets and experience," he said. "It's so critical to find that fit to be a real effective leader."

Thompson, 45, is the current St. Anthony-New Brighton School District superintendent. He said his experience there would add a lot to Stillwater in terms of its goals of increasing student achievement.

"Currently I'm in one of the highest academic schools in the state," he said. "I've learned how to be a part of an already good district and take it higher."

Thompson said he has also worked at a district on the Iron Range that included 10 communities.

He said those experiences will be a benefit in Stillwater where there are roughly 18 communities.

"I am able to understand the uniqueness of a district that has these individual identities," he said.

The superintendent search

The initial seven finalists in the superintendent search were presented to the School Board by consultants from the executive search firm School Exec Connect. The finalists were chosen from a pool of 34 applications.

The finalists were measured against a list of attributes that the School Board and the community developed.

The three finalists will participate in a full day of question and answer sessions with staff, students and community members and a formal interview with the School Board March 22-24.

The School Board hopes make a choice by March 24.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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