St. Michael-Albertville Middle School East Principal Ben Bakeberg is headed to Maple Grove next school year, where he has been tapped as the new Secondary Principal of Heritage Christian Academy, a faith-based private school in the community.
It wraps up a five-year career at STMA East for Bakeberg, who has been Principal Jennifer Kelly’s “right hand” in building one of the most successful buildings in the district.
“It’s a decision that came with a lot of thought and a lot of prayer,” said Bakeberg, who credits his wife, Lindy, with helping him make the choice to move on. “We really felt that, over the past few years, we’ve seen doors open and doors close, and really they probably closed because God was leading us on a journey to Heritage and this opportunity.”
Bakeberg started his career in the southwest ex-urban area at Jordan Elementary, where he taught fifth grade. he moved on to the middle school there, and then headed north with his family to Milaca, Minnesota, where he was an assistant principal at the elementary school there and also served as District Assessment Coordinator for the Milaca School District.
In five years here, he’s seen STMA East increase its scores each year in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) math test, as well as entrench programs like WEB (Where Everyone Belongs), the TS Prorgram and Math Academy.
“I think, at each place, I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve been able to create with parents, teachers and staff. That’s something that really leads to a successful collaboration and only makes your school better,” he said. “So, I take some pride in that ability to build trust between a school and the community.”
Kelly, who Bakeberg called a “tremendous influence” for him over his five years, said Bakeberg will be missed next fall.
“He’s really someone we valued, everyday, because of his input and his ideas. He’s just a presence here that we’re really going to miss a lot around our building and in the district,” she added.
Bakeberg said he has, of course, seen a lot of change for kids ages 10 to 14 in his years at the middle school. But parents and residents should know the achievement and progress that happens at the building each and every day.
“They’re discussing curriculum and lessons that I was learning when I was at the high school level. Students at the middle school level are facing more academic rigor than ever before, and every day they’re rising to meet the challenge. And they leave here ready to go to the high school and do great things beyond that. I’m excited to see what kind of influence and change the next person can bring to this school, and what the kids can do as they move on.”
Ben and Lindy Bakeberg have three children – Aliyah, Brock and Lincoln. They live in St. Michael, presently, but will move closer to Maple Grove in the near future, Ben said.
“We feel a value in being a part of the community where we work, so that’s going to be another tough transition,” he said. “We love our neighborhood and this area. But I’m really anticipating being able to merge my passion for education with my faith. I think that’s the great part about this next step.”