Story by Meghan Gutzwiller
Corey Lahr and Charlie Bakker may be new to the St. Michael-Albertville school district’s leadership team, but neither is a stranger to the schools or to the community.
Lahr has taken over the principal position at St. Michael Elementary after Sheila Bichler’s retirement last spring, and Bakker joined Middle School East’s staff as assistant principal after Chad Libby’s one-year stay in the position.
Lahr’s wife is a teacher and basketball coach at STMA High School, and they are moving to St. Michael this weekend. Bakker and his family live in the community and his three daughters attend school in the district.
STME’s Corey Lahr
Lahr entered college with plans to major in computer science, but coaching experiences during his time in college led him to change his major to elementary education. He taught third and fifth grade for 10 years before becoming Delano’s dean of students/assistant principal five years ago. When he found out that STMA would be hiring an elementary principal, Lahr jumped at the chance to work here, where he and his wife would feel happy to move to and send their three young boys to school.
“This was the only place I applied,” Lahr said. “I wanted to be in a good school district … and I got lucky enough to get the job.
We are looking forward to living in the community and having our kids be involved in activities here,” he added.
Middle School East’s Charlie Bakker
Bakker grew up in a small town as the son of two teachers.
“I kind of grew up with school being a lifestyle,” he said.
It was an easy decision for Bakker to choose a career in education for himself as well, and he spent 13 years teaching English: first in his hometown of Rockford, then in STMA for eight years. He left the STMA district for two years, when he got his first administrative job as an assistant principal in Sartell.
“I’m thrilled to be back,” he said. “I wanted another challenge, and getting into administration was that next challenge for me. I loved the community of Sartell, but it’s hard to share your heart in two places, so to speak. I’m a relationships type of person; I like to make connections with kids and families. It was good to do in Sartell but harder to do when you are going back and forth all the time. Being back here where I live is a great thing.”
Both Bakker and Lahr said they plan to use this first year as a time to learn routines, build relationships with staff, students and parents and to continue with the successful things their buildings are already doing.
“There’s so much that’s going well here,” Bakker said. “We are lucky to have great facilities, but what gets me wanting to come to work here is that there are good people working here and good families sending their kids here. That’s an absolute recipe for success.”