There’s never been a more challenging year to step into a new job in school administration, but St. Michael-Albertville High School’s new principal, John Reeves, has hit the ground running to help navigate the waters of this unprecedented school year.
A Move From Monti
Reeves has spent his entire career working in the Monticello school district until this point, serving as a high school social studies teacher, basketball coach, and vice principal over a span of 17 years. He also graduated from Monticello High School.
“We counted out the years, and it was 27 in total that I was involved in Monti schools,” he said. “Monticello public schools really made an investment in me, and it allowed me to be, in a lot of ways, the person I am today.”
This sense of investment, he said, led him to decide on a career in education for himself. He also comes from a family of educators: his father was a teacher, his mother a paraprofessional, and his brother and sister also teach.
“We’re passionate about it,” he said of his family’s commitment to educating.
Looking back, Reeves said teaching was his favorite job he’s ever had, because of the platform it gives to make a difference in students’ lives.
“You have an opportunity every day to re-write the script in some way with a kid,” he said. “I loved that.”
However, doors to new opportunities opened up, and Reeves said his passion for connecting with kids and developing relationships remains the same, no matter where he is.
“The one difference here is that I don’t have that built-in equity like I did at Monti, where I taught in that school and people and families knew me,” he said. “There’s going to be a timeframe where I have to prove myself a little bit. I get that, and that’s a challenge I’m ready to take on.”
Unlike teaching, working in school administration doesn’t provide the same daily interaction with the same group of students. But Reeves said he’ll work hard and be intentional in his way of reaching out to kids. As principal, he said he’ll seek to be approachable, model citizenship, and show empathy for students and families.
Looking Forward to STMA
Reeves said he has a lot to learn about the culture of STMA schools and the high school, and starting out during a global pandemic hasn’t hastened that learning process. He said he hopes the community will allow him grace as he learns what STMA is truly about, beyond the outside platitudes that people hear.
“I don’t want STMA High School to be the next Edina or Minnetonka,” he said. “I think it has to be the best version of itself, because this is a unique community. You’ve got this sort of small town clash with a large school, so it’s unique in that regard.”
Reeves said he’s grateful his predecessor, Bob Driver, and his administrative staff have done a fantastic job, allowing him to step into a very positive role. He said his main goal now is to get to work creating connections with kids and putting a focus on developing the whole child from a social, emotional, and citizenship standpoint in addition to academics. He calls the job a profession of the heart, and he said he wants to help ensure students feel there’s a deep sense of care for them.
Reeves said he sees this job as a continuation of the lessons students are learning throughout all of their school years, not as the high school working as a single entity.
“It takes every single school, from the time a kid enters kindergarten to get to the end goal of handing that kid a diploma, it takes all of us,” he said. “That’s a pretty big investment on the part of everybody. We just happen to have the final four years where we get to have a little bit different investment than middle school had. Each one’s unique and each one is special, but we’re all part of the same team.”