Albert Lea High School principal hired

Published 10:53 am Thursday, May 22, 2014

By Hannah Dillon

A new principal has been hired for Albert Lea High School.

St. Paul native Mark Grossklaus is prepared to make the school the best it can be during his time as principal, he said.

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Grossklaus comes to Albert Lea from the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. He worked as academic director there for six years. Grossklaus explained that the academic director is basically the same as a high school principal.

Albert Lea Public Schools Superintendent Mike Funk said that during the interview for the position, every one liked Grossklaus. The interview committee consisted of a parent, four teachers, four administrators (including Funk), the high school principal’s secretary and a school board member.

Funk said Grossklaus has a lot of common sense and a calm demeanor and said he will take Albert Lea High School “to the next level.”

The high school principal makes just over $111,000 per year.

Grossklaus grew up in the Twin Cities and went to St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul. He played football for four years and “attempted to play basketball,” he said.

His bachelor’s degree in history is from Gustavus Adolphus. Originally, Grossklaus wanted to go into athletics but decided during his senior year that wasn’t the direction he wanted to go.

Grossklaus then went to Bemidji for his education degree in social studies and got his master’s degree in learning technology from University of St. Thomas.

He received his education specialist principal licensure also from St. Thomas.

Since then, Grossklaus has worked for 15 years in St. Paul, starting out his career in the South St. Paul Public School District. After that, he went to the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and performed many of the same tasks as a regular principal, including dealing with student enrollment and maintenance staff.

One of the main reasons Grossklaus applied for the job at Albert Lea High School is the size of the school. Huge high schools like the ones in the Twin Cities make students seem like just a number, and smaller schools like Albert Lea have a more personal experience, he said.

He said his theory for Albert Lea High School is to look at the school’s strengths and weaknesses; he said he will work on advancing the school’s successes and resolving the school’s weaknesses through discussions about testing, school spirit and moral, to name a few examples.

“Kids come first. The student comes first. Every decision we make has to be what’s best for the kids,” Grossklaus said, explaining that students are his main focus.

He is solution-oriented and will have an open-door policy, Grossklaus said. Anyone can come forward with a problem and talk to him about it, but he said he will also expect a suggestion for a solution to the problem, too.

Grossklaus has visited Albert Lea three times in the past week and a half, and thinks it will be a good fit for him and his family. He has a wife who worked in the school district he worked in, but she hasn’t decided what she will do once she moves to Albert Lea. He also has a daughter who will be going into middle school.

While others might look at this position as a building block to go to a higher position, Grossklaus said his job in Albert Lea is going to be a long-term commitment and that he is coming to stay. He isn’t looking to move farther up and Funk said that Grossklaus said he wanted to make the school the best it could be.

“I’m excited for him to start, and I’m excited to start working with him.” Funk said.

Grossklaus starts as the new principal on July 1. A photo of him was unavailable by press time.