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

Teacher Candidate

Tammy Roth, Licensed School Counselor, Morris Schools

I grew up in North Dakota and have always lived in rural America. My first teaching job as a K-12 music teacher was in South Dakota during the 1990s  farm crisis. It became clear that rural students had multiple worries that weighed heavily on their hearts. I put aside my music graduate school dreams and took NDSU school counseling graduate courses. My school counselor job in Fergus Falls led to my current job for 25 years at Morris where I have practiced preK-12 school counseling. During that time I have held leadership positions in our teacher’s union and on the Minnesota School Counselors Association’s governing board. I have advocated for the needs of our students and believe my collective experiences align with the MREA’s key issues; as such, I would like to lend my voice to the MREA board of directors, the leading advocate for advancing education for our students in Greater Minnesota.

At-Large Candidates

Rick Bleichner, Superintendent, Herman-Norcross Schools

I am interested in serving on the MREA Board of Directors because I see a real need for this organization to continue to push for rural education. I have served as a school superintendent for 22 years, all of them in a rural district, and have seen what MREA has done to give rural education in Minnesota a voice at the table. I want to see that stay strong especially since our 7-county metro area is now an 11-county metro area. Previously, I served on the MREA board as a member of the North Central Zone.  Due to a job change I was no longer able to continue in that capacity and voluntarily resigned. I currently serve as the MASA Region IV chair and have served on the MSHSL league as a board member and treasurer and on MREA’s Small Schools Committee. I am also a committee member for the MSUM Dean’s Advisory Committee. I would like to be a part of the leadership needed to fight for rural education.

Bob Hennen, High School Principal, Watertown-Mayer Schools

This is my 22nd year in education. I taught for 12 years as a Social Studies teacher and have now been a Principal for 10 years. My interest to serve stems from my desire to advocate for the needs of our schools and students. The programs that we offer our students have a direct link to the future success they will have when they leave school. As teacher and principal, I have been part of College in the Schools advisory boards and have seen the first -and impact it has on kids as they prepare for college. I have also seen the positive experience our kids receive as we have expanded our Work Experience and Mentorship programs at Watertown-Mayer. We are now taking a more personalized approach to our student’s learning and to our teacher professional development. I would love to be part of a group who continues to advocate for what is needed in our schools and to also help schools adjust to the constant change we face in education.

Susan Knutson, Secondary Principal, West Central Area Schools

It would be an honor to serve on the MREA Board of Directors to advocate for creating a wide variety of opportunities for all students in rural Minnesota and fighting for equitable funding.  My 25 years in public education includes: working with special populations as an Emotional Behavioral Disorder Teacher and 504 Coordinator, serving as the CTE/Perkins Coordinator and Concurrent Enrollment Liaison, working as a Licensed School Counselor and running the Eden Valley-Watkins Alternative Learner Program and as WCA 5-12 Principal. I have served on several leadership teams including QComp, ADSIS, Teacher Evaluation/PLC, CTE Regional Advisory Committee and MREA. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a leader with an organization that gives a voice to rural education in Minnesota.

Dennis Laumeyer, Superintendent, Benson Schools

I am interested in continuing my service to the MREA Board of Directors and greater MN school districts. I am in my seventh year as superintendent at Benson and completing my first term on the MREA Board. Through advocacy and leadership, MREA has made significant strides in financial benefits and policy changes to ensure the students in rural school districts are receiving an equitable education to all other districts. I am interested in continuing to assist MREA in any way possible to guarantee that rural schools are equipped with the resources they need to provide students with a high quality education.

Earl Molden, School Board Director, Lac Qui Parle Valley Schools

I am a retired teacher who taught elementary students at Lac Qui Parle Valley for 43 years. I now sub in the district for teachers and paras and am a school board member. Because of my background I can see where different groups are coming from.