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REGIONAL- A new year will bring new leadership to two area schools, as North Woods Principal John Vukmanich and Northeast Range Principal Kelly Engman will swap roles beginning Jan. 1.North Woods …
REGIONAL- A new year will bring new leadership to two area schools, as North Woods Principal John Vukmanich and Northeast Range Principal Kelly Engman will swap roles beginning Jan. 1.
North Woods parents were notified of the surprising development by Vukmanich on Friday via the district’s Campus Messenger system:
“Our Superintendent, Dr. (Reggie) Engebritson, has looked at the needs of our schools and the leadership styles of our principals, and has made the decision that as of Jan. 1, I will be reassigned to Northeast Range School in Babbitt. Current Northeast Range Principal Mrs. Kelly Engman will be coming to North Woods to be the new Principal.”
Engebritson told the Timberjay on Monday that switching Vukmanich and Engman now would facilitate future staffing changes at both schools.
“I am making this change mid-year because we are hiring an assistant principal for North Woods and looking at some changes to the support team at Northeast Range for the next school year,” Engebritson said. “Having two new administrators start at the same time at North Woods would not be beneficial and so making this change now will allow each principal time to learn about their new school and then be involved in the hiring process for additional staff.”
Engebritson acknowledged that some might disagree with her decision, but that she believes it is the right one from the perspective of the students. The Timberjay did reach out to other school district staff for comment on the job change, but none were willing to speak on the record.
“I do not make this decision lightly,” Engebritson said. “I feel that more growth can occur in each school with this change in leadership and as the superintendent, it is my job to make sure that we are providing the best opportunities for our students in each of our five schools.”
Last April, concerned North Woods parents and teachers convened two community meetings in Cook to bring attention to problems including bullying, vaping, and disrespect from students toward staff. The Timberjay asked Engebritson if this contributed to her decision. She did not address the question specifically but talked about the decision from the perspective of school culture.
“Having fresh ideas and different perspectives can be beneficial for the school culture and I see this move as a positive one for both schools,” she said. Both principals will still be working under the umbrella of the district’s goals and missions but will be able to come into the buildings ready to listen and learn about what is working well and what might need some additional support. Then, they can work collaboratively with the staff to help support current programs or procedures and/or find new solutions to problems that might be occurring.”
Vukmanich has been principal at North Woods for seven years and Engman has been NER principal for ten, and they have already had conversations and have been planning for the transition, Engebritson said.
“Both principals have a growth mindset about this change and have shared with staff that they will be in good hands with the incoming principal,” Engebritson said.
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