by Mike Knaak
At the end of the June 21 Sartell-St. Stephen school board meeting, Board Chair Jeremy Snoberger read a statement from the board thanking retiring Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert for his seven years of service to the district. The district hired Jeff Ridlehoover to replace Schwiebert.
“As a board we want to take a moment in this your last board meeting to thank you publicly for all the ways that you have impacted the Sartell-St Stephen School District these past seven years. Your passion and investment, not only in education as a whole, but in the Sartell-St Stephen School District has been evident to all in the ways you have shared your experience and leadership with us as well as in the relationships you have built. We want to say thank you for the way you have led and equipped us for the road ahead as well as the way you have supported and built a strong foundation here in 748.
Your knowledge and experience in the entire building project from planning to development, bonding to building, and budgets to implementation was such a gift to our district. Your hands-on time spent working with contractors and bid packages and project teams was a huge part of the success of these projects. I know you would be quick to say you had some great budget support from both Steve and Joe, and you did! You also built a great relationship with Lee and John, and the Bradbury-Stamm team, and I bet there were times they thought maybe the new HS was your main office, but that boots-on-the-ground time was so helpful.
Not only that but helping our administrators and staff prepare for the moves that were to come and considering curriculum and technology needs, and then helping each group to connect with each other as the pieces fell into place was a huge role you played. You worked with the city and other area leaders from the get go. From the community planning team that helped design the scope of the project, to the many community meetings, chamber meetings and other gatherings you attended, you were always reminding us why this was needed and helping us see the road ahead. You were always willing to be wherever you needed to be to share the vision of the district and the building project.
Your ability and gift to speak to senators and representatives, business leaders and government leaders, large gatherings or small was a huge strength in your role. However we also saw you teach in elementary classes, talk with children in our schools and connect with students about the needs they saw in our buildings and district, and that was maybe your best communication. You always were student focused, and you cared deeply for our staff and community. Sartell-St Stephen was not another stop in your full career, it was your community, your home, and you cared about us all, as we know you still do.
One of the long-lasting gifts you shared with us was in the team you assembled to serve around you. From Kay, Krista, Joe and the entire district team, to Sasha, Sarah, Zach, Laura and Jason and the amazing staff that they serve with to meet the needs of our students, you built a great team. Great teams don’t just happen, and we are excited to see what will continue to grow as these leaders, along with many who are still to come, grow in the foundation you helped build as our superintendent these past years.
As a board, we have experienced first hand your leadership, your friendship and your passion for our district. We have enjoyed working with you to meet the challenges that were set before us as a district head on, from budget crunches to building projects, vision and direction to classrooms and curriculum, and even this past year as we took on the challenge of Covid together, we appreciate your leadership. We know you will have a blast in retirement together with Deb, and we also know the Sartell-St Stephen School District will continue to grow and thrive in this community. But here tonight, we just want to say thank you. Thank you for everything you have done to bring us to where we are today, and thank you for being a part of leading this district!”