By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Joe Vieau of Delano High School was recently honored by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals as Minnesota’s Assistant Principal of the Year.
“We couldn’t be prouder to see Joe get this recognition at the state level,” Superintendent Matt Schoen said. “He has a diverse set of job duties, which is one reason he deserves this recognition.”
Vieau will now be in contention for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Assistant Principal of the Year award, which will be presented in Washington D.C. in April.
When Vieau got the call informing him of his status, he remembers being “absolutely surprised and shocked.”
“I actually told my wife, ‘I hope I didn’t dream the whole thing up,’” he laughed. “I felt a little better when I saw the official letter.”
Other Minnesota administrators awarded this year include Principal of the Year Erich Martens of Rice High School in Sauk Rapids, and Middle Level Principal of the Year Jennifer Kelly of Albertville Middle School East in St. Michael.
The process started in the spring, with Vieau being named one of eight finalists. Other assistant principal finalists included:
• Rebecca Bierman of Lakeville Public Schools,
• Lonnie Seifert of New Prague Public Schools,
• Brent Colligan of Bemidji Public Schools,
• Jeff Dahline of Mankato Public Schools,
• Connie Hyde of Cloquet Public Schools,
• Evan Gough of Red Wing Public Schools, and
• Joshua Haag of Sebeka Public Schools.
From there, Vieau was selected through an application process.
“Joe is a wonderful person, community member, educator, and friend who is much deserving of this honor,” Delano High School Principal Steven Heil noted. “This award is a tribute to his dedication to the students and staff at Delano High School, Delano Public Schools, and his career as an educator.”
As a 1983 graduate, Vieau has a long-standing connection to Delano High School. His first teaching job, though, was in western Minnesota at Dawson-Boyd Public Schools.
After 11 years teaching math there, Vieau accepted a position at Watertown-Mayer Public Schools.
A year later, Bruce Locklear, who was Delano High School’s principal at the time, asked Vieau if he’d be interested in applying for the position of assistant principal.
“I hadn’t really considered it before,” Vieau said. “I thought long and hard about it, because I really, really loved teaching.”
As an administrator, though, Vieau realized he could “help students out in a different way.”
His first six years at Delano High School (until he got his assistant principal license), Vieau’s title was student services coordinator/curriculum director, although his job duties were the same.
“I love what I do,” he said.
From enforcing disciplinary measures to supervising lunch times, Vieau has many opportunities to make a difference in students’ lives.
“One of my things is to give them high fives on the way out of school every day,” he said. “It’s a little way to make contact with the kids, and send them home with a smile on their face.”
Vieau also works closely with teachers to implement strategies to make Delano High School a better place, whether it’s by improving student attendance or reducing class failure rates.
“Joe has been an integral part of the entire school system for Delano Public Schools,” Heil noted. “His leadership in the areas of discipline, curriculum, and staff development has helped him develop into a very successful administrator. He spends countless hours reading, researching, and working with other educators to aid them in improving their teaching skills.”
Vieau’s wife, Karla, also has a passion for education, and teaches Title 1 at Delano Elementary School. Their son graduated from Delano High School in 2007 and now works in car sales in Brooklyn Park, and their daughter graduated in 2008 and is a second-year pharmacy student at North Dakota State University.
Vieau remains humble about his time at Delano High School, giving credit to those around him for his success.
“I have great students and a great staff to work with,” he said. “With that combination, it’s pretty easy to do a good job.”