Dave Orlowsky

Dave Orlowsky

I recently accepted the role as the interim superintendent for Shakopee schools. I accepted the role because I care deeply for the students and adults in our school community, and I love this district.

Like everyone who knew Superintendent Gary Anger, I was very sad when he passed, and I wanted to help in any way possible. I have worked in the district as a principal at Sweeney Elementary and Pearson 6th Grade Center, and most recently as the data and testing administrator. At the end of this school year, I will return to that position.

My start in this new position was a very unique and humbling experience. I had teachers, board members, community members, students, family members, and staff in many, many roles across the district support me.

I cannot tell you how many times I had someone ask “what do you need?” or “how can I help you?” I had people saying “you got this!” and “I’m glad it is you!” I received cards, voicemails, emails, and personal greetings all letting me know people were behind me, and wanted me to succeed. This was all happening at the same time a large percentage of our staff were moving schools, joining new teams and changing assignments. Their support of me mirrored the dedication they show to their students and their craft!

The whole experience (shifting positions and receiving this overwhelming support) got me wanting to openly do the same thing for everyone else. I want others to know I am behind them, support them, and want them to be successful! It’s not that I ever thought people did not want me to succeed in other roles, but this was open, sincere support unlike anything I have experienced before. It also made me wonder why we don’t do this for each other all the time. How nice would it be to hear how your colleagues, students, parents, administrator, boss, family… all want the best for you, trust your intentions, and support you when you needed them? When you did great work, and even when you struggled. It would be tremendous!

Soon, I will have the chance to work with a new superintendent and a group of new school board members. I will let them know that I will be there for them. I will let them know that I want them to be successful, and that I will do what I can to help them, and I believe, before even knowing who they are that they want the same for me.

We have 10 community members running for the open school board seats. I believe you do not run for school board (or any public office) unless you are driven to try and make things better for others. The job of school board member is not glamorous. A person will not get rich doing it, but the opportunity to make a difference for the students and adults in our community is great. When I was a principal hiring teachers and other staff for our building I used to look for people of whom I could say their “heart is right.” By that I mean people that are wanting to work in schools for the right reasons. It doesn’t mean that they will be perfect all the time. It means that they will be driven by a goal to make a positive difference within our school and district for both the children and adults. I believe that those running for public office have hearts that are right! I believe that about the 10 candidates running for the board, those still serving, and those that are leaving the board.

Our current school board members all joined the board with the goal of making a positive difference for Shakopee Public Schools. They all got way, way more than they could have ever imagined or bargained for. I have watched them up close for years. I have watched them agonize over tough decisions. I have seen them put in hundreds and hundreds of hours. I have seen them be praised and criticized. I have seen them carry on when it would have been easier to move on.

They are well versed in so many areas of school oversight it is staggering. They sit on committees, attend board meetings, policy meetings, finance meetings, curriculum meetings, advisory councils, and serve as liaisons to other community organizations. They attend school events, they recognize teachers, they take calls and emails at all hours of the day and night. They are 100 percent committed to the success of the school district, and without a doubt I can say about every one of them their “heart is right.” As a number of our board members leave the position it is time to say thank you to the entire group, and recognize their hard work and accomplishments. Thank you so much for helping us get better, supporting our work, persevering, leading with your hearts and minds, and serving the students and adults in our school community!

Dave Orlowsky is interim superintendent of Shakopee Public Schools.


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