St. Mary School hires a new principal
For the last few years, Terrence Lizakowski has been teaching and working as an administrator at various non religious schools throughout the Twin Cities metro area. But one day, while sitting in church, Lizakowski decided that he wanted to get back to teaching at a religious institution, such as St. Mary School in New Richmond.
“I was in church one day and there was a children’s choir singing and I thought that I wouldn’t mind helping out the church again,” Lizakowski said. “I wanted to go back to use my skills as an administrator and teacher to develop a community. So I was fortunate enough to see the job here at St. Mary and I’m happy to be the new principal here starting next year.”
Lizakowski, who would like his students to call him Mr. Liz, signed his contract to become the new principal at St. Mary on May 15. According to Lizakowski, the search for a new principal at St. Mary started back in early May.
“I believe strongly in ‘Work, Respect and Belong,’ meaning you work hard, you are respectful of yourself and others and you belong by contributing to the community,” Lizakowski said. “I believe that all students can succeed and will succeed. I believe that we provide the environment and the resources, the modeling and the character to build their confidence in who they are and build the skills to see what they can do.”
Lizakowski earned a double Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and physical education from the University of North Dakota. After completing college he married his wife Sue, who is an intensive care nurse. From there, Lizakowski taught in many places, including Rockford, Ill., Milwaukie, Ore., Portland and Vancouver, Wash. While teaching on the West Coast, Lizakowski received his master’s degree in administration and principalship from Portland State University.
Lizakowski was a teacher and principal at multiple Catholic schools while living on the coast, but eventually he and his wife felt it was time to bring his young family, including three children, back to the Midwest.
“With three young kids, we decided to bring them back to this area, close to family,” Lizakowski said.
Once back in the area, Lizakowski got a job as a sixth-grade teacher in Newport, Minn., and then became principal at Cottage Grove, Minn. After that, he spent a year planning the opening of a school called Liberty Ridge, which is in Woodbury, Minn.
“I spent that year planning everything, from buying every pencil to handling all the communications for the school,” Lizakowski said. “I did that for a couple years and then ended my career there in June 2013. I wanted to get back to teaching and look at other opportunities. For this last year, I was a substitute teacher for kindergarten to ninth-grade, from physical education to high school science. My real love for school has been in the primary grades. I enjoy working with elementary kids.”
Over the last year, Lizakowski subbed for multiple Minnesota school districts, including Stillwater, Mahtomedi and North St. Paul/Oakdale, which has given him some insight into some of the differences in the communities those schools are in.
“Subbing in those different districts helped me get a keener perspective as to the needs of students and the challenges that they have and the success they are looking for,” Lizakowski said.
One of the things that drew Lizakowski to New Richmond was the rural feel the community had as well as the closeness of the community.
“Another reason I liked St. Mary was that it is a parochial school that is pre-K through eighth-grade, which means there is a lot of different learning going on in this building,” Lizakowski said. “I like that the kids here have known each other since kindergarten and have been together through eighthgrade, so there is a sense of belonging for these kids and they are responsible to each other.”
For now, Lizakowski and his wife will continue to live in Lake Elmo, Minn., but he has not ruled out the option of moving to New Richmond in the future.
“I think as time moves forward we will be more interested in the more rural way of life because we are getting a little tired of all the things that go with living in a bigger town that is close to the Cities,” Lizakowski said.
Outside of work, Lizakowski enjoys collecting antique toys, fishing and hunting, reading, working out and is an avid gardener. He also loves sports of all kinds, professional and college level, and just getting outside to enjoy nature. Lizakowski also has a journal, which he tries to write in on a daily basis.
“I have a huge vegetable garden and about two acres of land where I grow flowers and move things around,” Lizakowski said. “I love getting out into nature and doing a lot of stuff outside, like long hikes and stuff like that. I’m more of a solitude guy, so I like going camping where we find an island where there is only our campsite.”
Above all else, family is one of the most important things to Lizakowski. Every Fourth of July, his family hosts a family party and invites all the relatives over to stay with them for the holiday. “Family is very important to me, and I really like to stay close to my family and stay connected,” Lizakowski said.
Although he won’t start as principal at St. Mary until this fall, Lizakowski has already started to get to know the staff and teachers at the school while also taking the time to think about what he wishes to accomplish once school starts up again.
“I haven’t been here long, but I’m just starting to get to know the people around here and learn about the community,” Lizakowski said. “My plan is to come here and build community, build a strong formation for faith and family, ensure academic success and inspire and light a passion for all of our stakeholders to feel good about what they are doing and make the school a better place. Coming to this school is going to give me more fulfilment both professionally and personally. I’m going to jump in with both feet and try to make an impact immediately.”