Education runs in the family for MAHS principal Craig Peterson
MORRIS - By January, new Morris Area High School Principal Craig Peterson hopes that he will know every student at MAHS. With more than twice as many students as Peterson's last school, he knows the project will be a challenge.
"I've been looking through the [yearbook] probably each night, trying to get faces and names," said Peterson.
Education runs in the family for Peterson - his father served as superintendent of Peterson's high school, Eden Valley-Watkins, and his mother worked as an elementary school teacher.
"I've always wanted to be a principal - I say I have six years [of experience], but I've probably had 25, talking with my father and my mother," said Peterson. "Even this last weekend when I moved to town, my mom and dad and I were talking about school stuff all the time."
Peterson attended the University of Minnesota, Morris with a major in social science and concentration in political science. He taught social studies at Marshall County Central High School in Newfolden, Minn., until 2006 when he took a job as principal at New Rockford-Sheyenne High School in New Rockford, N.D.
For the last five years, Peterson has served as the high school principal and activities director at Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School, home to about 220 students in grades 7 through 12.
Peterson's transition from WAO to Morris has been fast-paced. The open principal job in Morris was posted in early July and candidates interviewed late in the month. WAO begins their registration and back-to-school activities the first week of August, so Peterson was already started with the school year in WAO when he was offered the position in Morris.
Peterson said he wasn't concerned about shifting gears academically, but did want to be in Morris as quickly as possible while ensuring WAO was not left in a tough spot.
In the first week of school, Peterson said he has worked to emphasize both his high expectations for students and staff and his focus on student achievement.
"I expect us not only to be good, but we need to be great," said Peterson. "I think we can take it to a different level. We have very good test scores, and I think we can get higher, we can get better. Every kid can get better. I expect A's and B's out of all of our kids."
To help meet this goal, Peterson plans to work on structuring academics better to be sure everyone is on the same page. This means updates to the student handbook with a handbook committee, establishing teacher leadership and parent committees, and increasing community involvement.
His other goals for the year include improving school climate and culture, improving consistency and follow through, communication, and student interventions. Peterson said he intends that every student will graduate this year.
Peterson said he also hopes to be more visible in the community: "I'll be at all the games, I'll be living in town ... the public can ask me questions at any time."