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The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

July 20, 2017 Supt. Mike Jorgensen brings new vision to Highland
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

Riverside

When Highland interim superintendent Mike Jorgensen introduced himself to staff two months ago during their staff appreciation event, he noted that he had recently had the first “school dream.” Now that he has started full-time, those dreams have become more prevalent.

“When I was working, I would go through bouts of insomnia thinking about work, and school, and everything else,” he said. “It seemed like every year as it got closer to the start of the school year, I’d have that dream about the start of school.”

“My sleeping patterns have definitely changed in the past few weeks. The insomnia has come back.”

The question then becomes, why give up the consulting and go back to the full time grind of running a district, even if it is only for one year. The answer, in part, lies in the fact that when Jorgensen was hired at Washington, it was by an interim.

“It made things much easier for me at Washington,” he said. “So I thought, ‘You know, this is maybe something I could do for somebody else.’”

The experience gave him an appreciation of what the position could do. He admitted that if you would have asked him about the possibility a decade ago he would have refused.

“The thing about an interim superintendent coming in is they tend to be very direct, very open with their opinions because they obviously had nothing to lose,” Jorgensen said. “They can be objective from somewhat of an outsider’s point of view.

“I think when you have a period of transition, particularly if that transition has not been particularly smooth. The interim superintendent is a nice bridge to try to calm things down because you really don’t want to find a full-time person, or your next person, in the middle of controversy.”

A major goal of Jorgensen’s for the year is helping the district better market itself. He hopes to improve communication throughout the district. A large part of that is making the district more transparent.

“I think transparency is important, which I think this district has had some questions about in the past,” he said.

“The more that you get information out there, the less you have of rumor mills and misinformation going around. So, I have always operated on the belief that I’d much rather flood the area with information, rather than people wondering and starting inaccurate rumors.”

He is also looking forward to spicing up the district’s curriculum where possible.

“Something that makes your district stand out. Something that’s different than what somebody else is doing,” Jorgensen said.

“That’s the kind of things that I’m looking for. Something that will make Highland standout as being unique or different and potentially attractive to someone who was looking to move, or relocate, or for a place to raise a family. That this is the place they want to be.”

Jorgensen pointed to his work at SE Webster Grand, his first superintendent posting for examples of how he made that work. The district was one of the first in the state to do dual credits, which was not as common as it is now and allowed his daughter’s to graduate with nearly a semester of college credits.

He also said the district became the first charter school high school during and was the first to work with High Schools at Work.

“It’s a program that works at strengthening the career and technical areas, while at the same time raising expectations in math, science, and literacy,” Jorgensen said of the latter.

Jorgensen is eyeing a possible reunion with the program as they are looking for a district to pilot an aerospace engineering program.

Jorgensen said as he’s taken over full time, he’s been appreciative of all the staff that has come in to introduce themselves, as well as all of those who have helped him get his feet under him in his new district by answering all his questions.

Jorgensen is planning on meeting with local businesses to begin networking within the community.

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