Continuing the legacy of former Pleasant Valley Superintendent Jim Spelhaug and showing passion for education are the goals of new superintendent Brian Strusz. “They’re big shoes to fill on that front,” Strusz said.
Strusz will take over as superintendent following the retirement of Spelhaug after 16 years of holding the position. Strusz has already begun working as superintendent over the summer in preparation for the next academic year.
Strusz, an employee of the district for 23 years, hopes to continue Spelhaug’s work creating growth in the district and providing students with opportunities they can use during their time in school and after they graduate.
“Training someone from within the district, they know what (the) history has been,” Strusz said, “which is so important because you stand on the foundation of people before you to keep your history moving forward.”
After being selected by the school board to take over the position early this year, Strusz worked with Spelhaug to make the transition into his role easier. At the same time, Strusz selected Mike Zimmer, former Pleasant Valley High School Principal, to take over as Assistant Superintendent and Director of Secondary Education.
“It isn’t ‘oh well Dr. Spelhaug is done, let’s close that chapter,’” said Zimmer. “No, all we’re doing is turning the page so to speak because it’s the next page to get to where we’re going.”
This summer, the two administrators have been working together to discuss the vision for the district and help each other transition into their new position. While they want to continue providing the highest quality of education they can, Strusz hopes to work to provide students with experiences that help them figure out what direction to go after graduation, said Strusz.
Strusz hopes to help students understand that having a four-year degree is important, but so is getting a certificate or two-year degree, he said. He wants students to figure out what they want to do while in high school through possible internships, externships and job shadowing.
Another focus will be on building relationships with faculty, staff, students and parents while maintaining the relationships Spelhaug had, Strusz said.
The district will continue its work with other area school districts on vocational education and making sure that no matter where a student goes, they’re getting the same experiences and developing the same abilities, Zimmer said.
“This is something that we’ve been working on, and I think that is the beauty that, yes, when a new person comes in they’re going to have a different approach,” said Zimmer. "But overall the vision of where we’re going, we’re not losing that momentum with starting fresh.”