BLUE EARTH - Rich Schneider wanted to make more of an impact, so he is now the principal at Blue Earth Area High School.
"I think I can relate to a majority of the kids because I've been in many of their shoes," he said.
He likes Blue Earth because it reminds him of where he was raised.
"Very similar," Schneider said. "One of the things I enjoyed [on the visit], the rural nature and agriculture-based economy."
Schneider grew up on a farm near Spencer, S.D. In fact, he farmed in his late teens.
"In high school, I rented land with my dad and farmed until I was a sophomore in college," Schneider said. "I had intentions of becoming a farmer."
Midway through college at the University of South Dakota, he realized his calling was education.
"I was a biology major and looking at different things I could do with the degree," Schneider said. "Someone suggested I shadow a teacher. I shadowed my favorite teacher and he got me hooked."
Schneider earned his bachelor's degree at USD and his master's at South Dakota State in 2001, so he could move into administration.
"I think it's great to help students on a much broader spectrum," Schneider said. "In administration, we have greater affect on the entire program for students, not just science or math, but to develop them for post-secondary success, whether college, vo-tech or work.
"I absolutely love helping teachers develop and grow," he added.
He was a math and science teacher for 12 years, all in South Dakota schools. He was middle school and high school principal in Hayti, S.D., for eight years, and has been a middle school principal for the past three years in Harrisburg, S.D.
Schneider still serves in the South Dakota National Guard. One of the reasons he joined was he "liked the idea of service to my country." He sees that reflected in Blue Earth Area.
"When I interviewed, I was very impressed with the school and community and the support they had for each other," Schneider said. "Obviously, a great place to work and grow. Everything I've seen has been very impressive: school, community and staff. The school is proud of the community and the community is proud of the school."
Schneider plans to live in the area with his wife, Sheri, a special ed teacher in Winnebago; and daughter, Melanie, who will be a junior. Their son Phillip is a Notre Dame grad and just finished his first year of med school, while daughter Danielle is a graduate of Creighton University and lives in Colorado.
Schneider is looking forward to becoming a part of Blue Earth Area.
"I've heard great things about Blue Earth Area and hope to continue that success that Mr. [Jack] Eustice has established," he said. "Success is due to great community, great parents and great staff.
"There is not a more rewarding profession in the world than teaching, education in general," he said. "I love the opportunity to work with students, see the successes and help them through the struggles; see them come into their own."