Bob Driver, who has served as St. Michael-Albertville High School’s principal for the past nine years, will move to a new position within the STMA district office this summer. He’ll begin working as the Director of Curriculum and Student Programming on July 1.
Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said they created the new position using staff development dollars, which are restricted by the state and cannot be used for general education funding. Nevertheless, Foucault said his new position will directly benefit students and staff in grades Pre-K through 12th grade.
Foucault said the district completed an organizational assessment of the Teaching and Learning Department, and she said a broad mix of school stakeholders determined that the department is understaffed compared with comparable metro school districts. In addition to curriculum planning, the student programming portion of the position will encompass high-potential students, English language learners, interventions, and on-line learning, among other things.
“I have worked with [Driver] in numerous capacities, and each experience affirms my belief that he is a multi-talented leader who continuously does what is best for kids while always working towards the district’s mission and vision,” Foucault said. “I am positive that he will be extremely effective in this new position and his large repertoire of knowledge and skills will strengthen our strong tradition of excellence.”
Driver has been at STMA High School since 2008, where he served as an assistant principal for three years before taking over as head principal. He began his career 24 years ago, teaching high school English in Richfield and Buffalo for a total of nine years before moving into an administrative role in Buffalo in 2005.
He said a strong presence of educators in his family drew him toward the profession as a college student. Driver’s father and grandfather were both Minnesota teachers, along with several other family members. He said he’s excited that three generations of Driver teachers will soon become four, with his daughter currently completing her student teaching in Monticello.
Driver said he’s thankful for the support of the district’s parents and the entire STMA staff over these past nine years. He said the pre-k through eighth grade teachers prepare their students well for the rigors of high school, allowing high school staff to continue moving them forward.
“They’ve been educated extremely well, and it’s been a delight to have them come in to the high school,” he said.
Driver said he has seen numerous changes within the high school and the district over the past 12 years. STMA High School was still housed at what’s now Middle School West when he arrived, with a student body nearly half the size of today’s.
“There’s so many more opportunities for kids from 12 years ago to today,” he said. “Within fine arts, student groups, student clubs, trapshooting, bowling, a three-act play. It’s just so fun to see those students put on that blue and gold and support and represent the school. I have a lot of pride in the district, the school, and the community.”
Jolene Herfel, one of three STMA High School assistant principals, said she has worked alongside Driver his entire tenure as principal, and she said she feels “incredibly fortunate” to have learned from his leadership.
“He has been a driving force to push our staff, students, and community to see ourselves as one of the leading schools in our state,” she said. “Mr. Driver was essential in creating many of our current student opportunities and successes. These will remain for years to come, and thousands of students will be better for it.”
Thankful Amidst Challenges
Driver said the current COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing school closures has been the most challenging time of his career so far, with the closures forcing a complete change to their educational systems and platforms within a span of eight days. However, he said the teachers’ tireless efforts and the heartening show of community support have been amazing to witness.
“The community support has been amazing, and the parent support,” he said. “I don’t think there’s another district today that has more community support than STMA, and I take that as one of the reasons why I’m excited about staying in this district. I’ve always wanted to stay here and continue my career here, because the support here is second to none.”
The search has begun already for a new high school principal, and Dr. Foucault said she plans to bring a candidate forward to the school board for approval in mid-May.