By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Steven Heil has been hired by the Delano School Board as the next principal of Delano High School.
Heil is currently the principal at Casa Verde High School in Casa Grande, AZ. He is a Rochester native, and graduated from John Marshall High School.
“During high school, I was a ski instructor at Mt. Frontenac ski area and loved teaching people to ski,” Heil said. During his senior year of high school, he coached a fifth grade basketball team.
“That is where I figured out I wanted to become a teacher and coach,” he said.
Heil received his bachelor of science degree in teaching from Winona State University, a master’s in educational leadership, and his principal certificate from Northern Arizona University. He is in the process of completing his doctorate in educational leadership through Northern Arizona University, and will be defending his dissertation in the near future.
Fresh out of college in Winona, Heil and his wife, Katie, decided to move somewhere else to see what another part of the country was like. Heil began teaching at Casa Grande Elementary School District as a seventh/eighth grade science, eighth grade math, and sixth grade physical education teacher. He also coached football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, and track.
“After five years, I wanted to move to the high school to teach and coach in the Casa Grande Union High School District,” Heil said. “I taught physical science and was the assistant varsity football, assistant varsity girls basketball, and head track coach.”
In 2008, he became the principal of Casa Verde High School.
“We built a strong focus on college preparation, technology, and the fine arts,” he said. He was also the district federal grant writer at Casa Grande Union High School.
With his Minnesota roots, Heil said he is looking forward to returning to his home state in this new position.
“Delano is known for strong academics and excellent education,” he said. “As a child, I had been through Delano a lot because I have family in Willmar. My wife’s grandmother and great aunt were also born in Delano. My wife and I feel a strong family connection in Delano because of past family history.”
Katie’s great grandmother was Kathryn Cooks, who married Fred Strauch. They owned a broom barn and factory in Delano, and had three children. One of the children, Clara, married Theodore Zeyher, whose father was the pastor of the German Lutheran church in Delano.
Heil describes his leadership style as democratic, meaning he believes in teamwork.
“I will bring to Delano a wide range of experiences,” he said. “I’ve helped schools increase test scores, use data effectively in instruction, implement one-to-one student-to-computer ratio, implement twenty-first teaching strategies, and create a strong focus on college preparation.”
He also said he sees a benefit in that his predecessor will be a few doors down in the district office. Current Delano High School Principal Matt Schoen has been hired as the district’s next superintendent, taking over for Dr. John Sweet upon his retirement June 30.
“I am looking forward to working with Matt,” Heil said. “The benefit for both of us is we get to build our leadership together, in our new roles, along with the rest of the administration team in Delano.”
Heil said the transition will take place in June so he can be in Delano ready to go by July 1, or sooner.
Heil and Katie have been married 12 years, and have four children two boys and two girls Tseh, Sonny, Savannah, and Torrey.
“Everyone is very excited to join the Delano community,” he said.
The other finalists for the high school principal position were Chris Moore, the assistant high school principal at Mahtomedi, and Heather Fitzloff, high school principal at Richland Center, WI.
Heil’s contract is part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Delano Public Schools Principals Association and is for $92,200, according to Superintendent Dr. John Sweet. That CBA is for two years, and expires June 30, 2012.