Pequot Lakes School District’s new superintendent, Chris Lindholm, has hit the ground running this summer and he’s looking forward to the start of the school year.
Lindholm recently moved to Breezy Point with his wife, Kristin; two children, son Sam, 12, and daughter Annie, 9; and the family’s golden retriever, Bear.
Lindholm is the former assistant superintendent for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District. He got his start in education as a social studies teacher, was assistant principal and then principal in Shakopee and was dean of students at Edina High School.
Lindholm plans to have an impact in Pequot Lakes and he couldn’t be more excited with his new position.
“I’m hard-wired to make a difference, and I believe that’s my calling. The question becomes, how do you make the biggest difference you can?” he said.
As a teacher, Lindholm said, he was able to reach out to 150 kids in a year. As a principal, he could change the lives of 1,000 students a year, and as a superintendent, he hopes to make an even bigger dent.
Lindholm said that while he needs to be a dad and a parent first, he still plans to be visible in the community at school events. This will be the first time in his career that his children attend the district he works in, which he said makes it easier to be both a dad and a superintendent at the same time.
One of his first initiatives as superintendent will be to establish a strategic long-range plan leading the administration and staff to improvement. Work sessions have already been scheduled with the board in the coming months to start work on the plan.
He not only wants to establish the plan but “implement the strategic plan with fidelity.” While many districts write a plan, he said, they often don’t stick to it.
He expects the plan to include high expectations that all students leave the district ready to succeed.
“Pequot Lakes is a really good school district. You look at the (test score) averages, it looks pretty good. But pretty good and average means there are some kids not ready to be successful,” he said. “If three kids are not ready to be successful, we haven’t done our work, done our job.”
Lindholm said that formerly, the bar set in education was that every district show improvement. That bar has risen to the expectation that every student succeed, he said.
“That requires a significant shift in how we use our time, money and how we meet the needs of kids,” he said.
“Leading the conversation on how to do that will be forefront for the next five, 10 years, and may be never-ending.”
Lindholm said he’s been nothing but impressed with how well the district has been managed. He said the facilities are top-notch — better than some of the districts he’s worked at in the metro.
The people he’s met at the district, he said, are people who are passionate about helping kids.
“I’m extremely grateful to help lead the movement of the school from really good district to really great district,” he said.