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It’s like coming home

Pete Nusbaum, the newly hired St. Croix Central Elementary principal, is pictured with his family. (From left) Wife Kathy Jo, daughter Charli Jo, son Noah, Nusbaum and son Brody. (Submitted photo)

At a special meeting Thursday, April 17, the St. Croix Central School District Board of Education unanimously voted to appoint Pete Nusbaum as its next elementary school principal.

Nusbaum is currently the principal of Ellsworth Middle School. He has held that position since July 1.

However, Nusbaum is a familiar face in the SCC School District. He taught business education at SCC High School for 17 years after graduating from Minnesota State University-Mankato. He also coached football, wrestling and girls softball in the district.

“I’m very excited,” Superintendent Tim Widiker said of Nusbaum’s principal appointment. “I think he’s a perfect blend of student leadership and administrative leadership. He will have a very positive effect on the school’s culture. He is exactly what we need.”

Nusbaum is equally enthusiastic about taking the helm at SCC Elementary. Though he grew up in Waterville, Minn., he described SCC as his “new home.” He and his family live just five doors down from the elementary school in Roberts, which will certainly cut down on his commute.

“I refer to the Hammond and Roberts area as home,” Nusbaum said. “The fact of being able to go back home and work is really like coming home to me. Tim Widiker is a great leader and it’s a great administrative team. I know many of the elementary teachers, and I know it’s a great staff.”

While Nusbaum is thrilled to return to SCC, he has enjoyed his time in Ellsworth immensely. He praised parents, staff, students and administration alike.

“I’ve developed a lot of neat relationships already, in just a year,” Nusbaum said. “That made it a tough decision in that my year here (at Ellsworth) has been a very positive experience.”

Before taking the job at Ellsworth last year, Nusbaum served as St. Croix Falls High School’s principal for seven years. He said leaving teaching at SCC was hard, but he enjoyed the new environment and new challenges that St. Croix Falls offered.

Nusbaum said the things he enjoys most about being a principal are getting to know the kids, visiting classrooms and learning from the teachers.

“At St. Croix Falls if I was ever having a bad day, I would just go into the classroom,” Nusbaum said. “As a principal, I have the luxury too of meeting every kid, not just the ones from my classroom.”

Nusbaum said he feels confident of his new role at SCC Elementary. He plans to meet personally with staff and teachers before the school year is done. He wants to have conversations about what they love, cherish, what they would change and not change, and where he can help the most.

“My only plan is to come and observe, see what’s going on,” Nusbaum said. “I want to get a feel for the atmosphere, what they need. At the open house next fall, I will probably know at least half of the parents, and the kids too, which is a huge advantage.”

Nusbaum is also looking forward to walking into the school with his kids. He and his wife, Kathy Jo (“K-Jo”), who is a reading teacher in Stillwater, have three young children: Noah, 8; Charli Jo, 6; and Brody, 3.

Widiker said after the decision was announced last Thursday, he and Nusbaum both received many texts and emails from people who are elated with the choice.

“This is his dream job. He has lived here the whole time, knows many people and has always been a part of the community,” Widiker said. “He’s a good fit both ways: for him and for us.”

In moments of spare time, Nusbaum enjoys throwing the ball around with the kids, camping with the family and helping his brother with the family business, Nusbaum’s Meats, back in Minnesota.

Nusbaum was selected from an original pool of 20 candidates. The job was posted in late February/early March. An administrative team of seven members screened the applications and narrowed them down to the top six. This was done using survey information from teachers and the community as guidelines. Then, three teams of seven people, which included a cross section of school staff -- such as counselors, teachers, principals, administration, nurses and teaching specialists -- conducted interviews and narrowed the group even further to the top three.

This included Nusbaum; Dan McGuire, current principal at Tomahawk Elementary School in Tomahawk; and Nick Kaiser, current principal at Tiffany Creek Elementary School in Boyceville.

Nusbaum will officially begin July 1, but will spend time with Widiker, teachers and interim elementary principal Steve Sanders before then to ensure a smooth transition.

Nusbaum accepted a contract of $95,000 per year for two years, with a third year extension option. This was the same contract Heidi Weisert-Peatow, the school’s former principal, accepted one year ago on April 22, 2013. The school board accepted Weisert-Peatow’s abrupt resignation during a closed session meeting Jan. 20.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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