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FHS administrators look forward to year two

ABOVE: From left to right: elementary school co-principals Michelle Rosen and Brian Grensteiner, superintendent Andy Traetow and high school co-principals Chad Brusky and Alex Schmidt.

FAIRMONT- Fairmont Area Schools Superintendent Andrew Traetow, high school co-principal Chad Brusky and elementary school co-principal Brian Grensteiner have now completed their first year in their current roles.

Both the superintendent and all of Fairmont’s principals will remain in these roles for the upcoming school year.

“This will be the first year since the 2018-2019 school year that we’ve had two consecutive years of the same principal team district-wide in place. With that the expectation is that we see significant growth,” said Traetow.

When reflecting on their first year, all three administrators highlighted community support for the education and the benefits it had for students.

“We are extremely fortunate to work in a community that supports the school district like Fairmont does,” said Traetow.

“When I had the opportunity to join the team it was really exciting. The amount of resources and people who are passionate about kids is phenomenal in this district so that was probably the biggest learning curve for me taking over in the high school,” said Brusky.

The on-boarding process for these roles was complex, but all three administrators gave credit to their peers for making it more manageable.

“Any time you transition into a new school system it’s really important to listen, to hear about the positive things that have been done, and identify through your team what barriers you’re trying to overcome,” said Grensteiner.

One of Traetow’s key objectives was to improve communication within both administration and the district as a whole. Over the course of the 2021 school year the district held three all-staff meetings rather than just one, conducted weekly reflections with administration, and sought additional feedback from staff members.

The goal of improved communication was improved coordination. Brusky said working in a district that was small and cohesive made it easier to improve learning outcomes.

“If there’s something that we see as principals that we think we can do to help our kids in the building, we have that ability to make that change,” he said.

One of Brusky’s goals in the previous year was to generate a larger social media presence for the high school. This was accomplished by both principals publishing weekly updates online. During this upcoming year Brusky hopes to incorporate more students into these updates.

Brusky also highlighted a survey conducted at the high school which asked students about its climate, inclusivity, and what they wanted in their school day. Based on the results of that survey Brusky hopes to incorporate more student enrichment into the upcoming year. Some examples of this are a fishing club, a peer helper group, a walk and talk group and having students paint some statues for Going Hog Wild.

Over the course of his first year Grensteiner also focused on learning outcomes and the school’s culture.

“Our primary goals (were) high levels of student achievement as well as a great, positive, collaborative environment,” said Grensteiner.

This upcoming year Grensteiner plans to continue working in these areas, specifically by emphasizing social-emotional learning and collaborative teams.

“Those are the things we look to build in the future, to build on the past successes to make this an even more welcoming and higher achieving school community,” said Grensteiner.

In addition to improving internal communications, the three also tried to make more connections with community members and organizations.

“Our HVAC program is a prime example of community support and building that relationship,” said Brusky.

Because a high school HVAC program was not offered anywhere in the midwest, administration communicated with area professionals to identify what areas to emphasize within the new program’s curriculum.

“I want to continue to connect with community members, parents, students, staff, and anyone who’s connected to Fairmont Area Schools,” said Traetow.

Although they acknowledged there was always room for improvement, all three were largely satisfied with the previous school year.

“There are definitely instances (where) I personally would’ve made adjustments to different things, but I look at them holistically as opportunities to learn and to adjust moving forward,” said Traetow.

Brusky said looking back he didn’t know what he would change, but moving forward he hopes to be more conscious of the needs of students and staff.

“Maybe now I see it more because I’m not learning an entire system, and I can focus on people a little more in year two,” said Brusky.

Grensteiner said he was also working towards improving his ability to receive feedback from students and community members.

“Each day I’m trying to be a better team member, I’m trying to be a better collaborator, I’m trying to make sure I’m hearing what our stakeholders need and want so their kids can be at their best,” said Grensteiner.

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