Donald Petersen is at the helm as Monument School’s new superintendent/principal.
He came on board in early July, picking up where interim superintendent/principal Michael Lane left off. Lane came out of retirement to join Monument School for most of the 2017-18 school year.
Petersen said the moment he set eyes on Monument it felt like home to him. He and his wife, Madeline, will also enjoy living nearer to their six grown daughters, he said.
Petersen was previously the director of EagleRidge High School, a charter school of about 200 students, for five years in Klamath Falls.
Landing the job in Monument, Petersen will have 47 students at the school.
“I’m not going to come in and make a big wave and change Monument, but I’m going to steady the ship and move forward,” he said.
After majoring in agribusiness at University of Nevada-Reno, Petersen began his career working for USS Agri-Chemicals and Simplot Soil Builders.
Having six children in school, he became a member of the school board.
“Watching and supporting great teachers help kids learn how to learn was exciting to me,” he said.
He then began a career in education, teaching economics and business computers in Cambridge, Idaho.
He then received a master’s in educational technology from Boise State University followed by earning his administrative credential through the University of South Alabama through the Nevada Department of Education.
Before working at EagleRidge, he taught in Gold Beach and ran an alternative education program and charter school, then was head teacher/vice principal at McDermitt, Nevada.
Petersen said over the years he’s been a football coach, wrestling coach and produced school yearbooks.
He said his educational interests are mainly agriculture, computers, science and math.
“I hope to share that love with the school community,” he said.
He said he’s looking forward to working with the teachers and staff including Michele Engle, who was given a regional Teacher of the Year award.
“I’m very excited to work with someone of that caliber,” Petersen said. “She’s doing some projects, and I think I can help her with some project-based learning, like rubrics.”
In a letter to the community on the Monument School website, Petersen said he enjoys working with school staff to set and achieve goals.
“This will include working with the community and parents in continuing traditions of achievement,” he wrote.
“I feel a responsibility to parents to be an advocate for their students at school,” he continued. “I believe that being an advocate for students helps support them and builds a strong team approach with parents, students, teachers and administrator all working for successful learning.”
Maria Thomas, the school board vice chairman, said she’s looking forward to working with Petersen.
“He’s very qualified with loads of experience, and he seems like he would be a good fit for our district,” she said.
Petersen has a positive outlook, starting out at Monument School.
“It has been a very fiscally responsible school, so I’m stepping into a really good situation,” he said. “I’m going to have to work hard to keep up with their traditions that way.”