Here are candidate Interest Statements for serving on the MREA 2020 Board of Directors, representing the North Central Zone:

Administrator Candidates

Vern Capelle, Superintendent, Upsala Schools

I have been an educator in this district for 35 years, moving from high school science teacher and coach to principal and now as superintendent in my 5th year. very productive. Having worked in a rural school district my entire career, I have a very good understanding of rural school district challenges and have first-hand experience providing equitable educational and co-curricular experiences for our students to prepare for success after high school. My experience as a Superintendent has added to my understanding of budgets and policies and the need for strong rural school advocacy.

Jeff Drake, Superintendent, Fergus Falls Schools

I have nearly 20 years of experience as a school administrator in rural Minnesota schools. As a former Minnesota Middle Level Principal of the Year and a past president of the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals, I have demonstrated a strong commitment to my profession. In my present role as the President of the United Way of Otter Tail and Wadena Counties and prior service as a Lions Club member and economic development commissioner, I have also demonstrated my commitment to community involvement. I am a proud product of rural education (Deer River Public Schools) and would be honored to serve on the Board.

Brandon Lunak, Superintendent, Moorhead Schools

MREA’s mission of serving rural school districts aligns directly with my values. I see the challenges that all schools face. My current position combined with my past role as superintendent of schools in Waubun-Ogema-White Earth leads me to believe that I would a positive addition to the MREA Board of Directors. My past experiences as a teacher/coach and school administrator would also contribute to being a productive member on this board and make a lasting impact on education across the state of Minnesota.

Jonathan Moore, PreK-12 Principal, Ashby Schools

For nearly a decade I have worked in Minnesota rural schools as a para, classroom teacher, coach, community education director/dean and most recently a Pre-K12 Principal. I have seen many positives to working in small schools and communities and also have seen its limitations. We need to find creative ways as teachers and administrators to network and stay in touch to keep up with advances in current teaching practices as well as new initiatives in social/emotional learning, project-based learning, equity in education, etc. We ask a lot of our teachers and I want to find creative ways to meet their needs and our students’ needs. We need good teachers throughout the state and need to think outside the box to motivate them to stay in a profession that increases its demands year after year. I have a passion for helping students and staff reach their goals and am willing to take the steps necessary to ensure that their goals are met.

Aaron Nelson, High School Principal, Pequot Lakes Schools

As a teacher and assistant principal for 17 years in Roseau, now as a principal in Pequot Lakes for 3 years, I am very familiar with the issues and concerns of districts in greater Minnesota.  I have networked with numerous principals through my participation in the Minnesota Principals Academy, completing the 2-year program in Thief River Falls and two years in Staples.  I have also connected with several principals statewide through my participation in several principal forums and organizations in Minnesota. My interest in supporting the needs of schools whose student populations may not exceed 200, or schools whose tax base is largely agricultural, or schools who struggle to recruit qualified teachers, is what drives my interest in being a member of the MREA board.

Rob Nudell,  Superintendent/Elementary Principal, Norman County East Schools

With 12 years of Elementary School Principal experience, 6 years of High School Principal experience and now 3+ years of Superintendent experience, I have a solid understanding of K-12 Education in Minnesota. Rural Minnesota districts continue to have financial needs as they provide a quality education. I would like to “give back” by helping to support our schools, our students, and their education.

Mike Schmidt, High School Principal, Staples-Motley Schools

I’ve pursued my education goals from the beginning of my own “restart” — my first career in law enforcement wasn’t the right fit. Through volunteering in my children’s schools, I was drawn to education and returned to higher education to earn my teaching degree(s). From there, my interests grew to administrative pursuits. One of the first organizations I was introduced to was MREA. I was impressed with the diligence of the organization, the reputation, dedication and call-to-serve mission for those in greater Minnesota. I’ve attended, ever since. I’ve served on committees and boards with the MSHSL, MNIAAA, MASSP and various local ventures. I’m in my 8th year at Staples-Motley High School as the former Activities Director and current Principal. I’m here….and not looking to be elsewhere.

Aaron Sinclair, Superintendent, Sauk Rapids-Rice Schools

The opportunity to be more closely involved in the outstanding work that MREA does excites me and offers a welcomed challenge. Based on my administrative and leadership experience I possess the skills needed to effectively fill this position. As Superintendent I am involved in district strategic planning, policy review, building referendums and overall district operations.  My past work experience include: English teacher, head football coach, activities director, human resources director, and assistant superintendent. I am dedicated, innovative, professional and have a strong work ethic.  These attributes would be an asset to the MREA Board of Directors.

Scott Vedbraaten, Superintendent, Browerville Schools

I have been in education for the past 26 years, 9 years as a teacher in northwest Minnesota, 2 years as a principal in northeast Minnesota, and 15 years as a superintendent in north and central Minnesota. I represented the rural districts of our regions on both MREA’s Legislative Action Committee for 6 years and MREA’s Board of Directors for 8 years, serving as president in 2013 during the transition of our last executive director. Given my service as a teacher, administrator, and member of MREA board member, I wish to continue serving the needs of rural education in the North Central zone. My experiences developing platform issues through the unique structure of MREA’s board comprised of teachers, school board members, and administrators will allow me to hit the ground running and to assist with the legislative efforts as we bring our concerns forward. Remember, Students First.