‘Really excited to serve’: New Lakeview principal ready to build relationships

Published 4:01 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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Finding a job can be challenging, and even after being hired a person can soon learn the job wasn’t what they expected it to be. That is not the case for Zack Kruger, the new principal at Lakeview Elementary School.

“I was finishing up my admin licenses and was starting to search for jobs, and this one opened up,” he said. “After going through the process of interviewing, etcetera, I came to find that I was really excited about the opportunity of working in Albert Lea.”

The Owatonna resident, who admitted to not being terribly familiar with the area, decided Albert Lea would be a good fit after combing through the district website and learning about the community. And the more he learned, the more excited he became.

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“I have a few people I know that live here, but as I went through the interview process and got to know some of the staff during the interview and just learning more about the school, it really became apparent that Albert Lea has some awesome things going, and that’s something I definitely wanted to be a part of,” he said.

Describing elementary school as his passion, he said he loves the energy only an elementary school can bring.

“The smiles, the hugs, the high-fives, the conversations about what TV show they’re watching or video game they’re playing,” he said. “It’s the joy about being in school. I think that atmosphere is so appealing.”

He described his leadership style as serve, smile and support. He also hopes to bring energy and felt smiling could do that. He wants to serve staff and students while supporting staff by providing them what they need to support students.

His first goal in the position: Build relationships with staff, students and families.

“That will be my fundamental big rock for that first year of just figuring out how I can build those relationships and foster them and grow those as the year continues,” he said.

While he hasn’t heard much, based on the conversations he’s had people have expressed excitement and were welcoming. This will be his first time serving as a principal.

In the meantime, he’s learning new systems, structures and tools, though he admitted the district was “incredibly supportive” in his learning.

Prior to his new role, Kruger served as both a third- and fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Owatonna Public Schools, an instructional coach and — for a brief stint — as a consultant for schools around the Midwest at what was formerly known as Tierney.

“In that work I got to travel around and work with a bunch of schools as they rolled out one-to-one programs,” he said.

In his free time, he enjoys running, being outdoors and going on adventures with his wife, Erin, and their children Lucy, Millie and Dax. He described himself as an avid coffee lover and enjoys watching sports. He’s also a woodworker.

Kruger grew up in Sibley, Iowa, and played basketball at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

He started his new role July 1.

“I’m really excited to serve in this role and serve the staff and students at Lakeview,” he said.