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Preisler expresses gratitude for 7 years as TCU superintendent

Teri Preisler has a lot to be thankful for as she reflects on her seven years as superintendent of Tri-City United Public Schools.

As she approaches retirement July 1, Preisler recalls how the School Board took a chance on her, even without prior experience as a superintendent. Along with that she includes the district’s families, passion-filled staff and curious students on her gratitude list.

“‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem like a strong enough word, but it really is heartfelt,” said Preisler. “… It has absolutely been an honor to serve this school district. And I know I’ve been a better person for it, and for that I’m very, very grateful, and we can all be proud together for what we all have created.”

In January, when Preisler announced her retirement, she hadn’t yet developed plans beyond TCU. Since then, she has accepted a one-year position as an assistant professor in the teacher preparation program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her contract begins in the fall, tentatively on campus.

Preisler’s career in education began as a music teacher for Norman County West and Faribault schools. She later earned her master’s degree and administrative license and gained experience in Owatonna, Le Sueur-Henderson and Faribault as an elementary school principal. She worked as a district-wide administrator in Owatonna before replacing former TCU Superintendent Matt Helgerson in 2013. Her tenure at TCU began not long after the former Montgomery-Lonsdale district consolidated with Le Center schools to form TCU Public Schools in 2012.

Tri-City United Schools Superintendent Teri Preisler spent a few minutes during her first day on the job in 2013 getting to know Cristian Mejia. (News Review file photo)

Having lived in Le Center prior to the consolidation, Preisler said she knew the discussion, the emotions and why the districts consolidated. So stepping into her role as superintendent, she knew she needed to honor and build off the pride of the two former districts as they merged into one.

“We needed to find our new way, and I’m proud that we have,” said Preisler. “There’s still work to do and there always will be, but I am proud of the progress we’ve been able to do on behalf of kids to become our TCU way.”

In the past few years, Preisler was instrumental in implementing learning opportunities like Project Lead the Way, project-based learning, AVID and career pathways. A major victory for the district came in the form of a voter-approved $22.1 million bond referendum in February 2018. The bond referendum has funded facility updates across the district and increased programming opportunities in Early Childhood and agriculture among other departments.

TCU Superintendent Teri Preisler shares information on the district’s building bond referendum at an April 2016 community meeting. After seven years with the district, Preisler is retiring July 1. (Leader file photo)

Superintendent Teri Preisler, pictured in 2018, showed new teachers in the district where construction begins for the TCU Lonsdale Elementary addition, which was completed last year. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

But when Preisler reflects on the ways TCU has evolved since the start of her tenure, she credits the district as a team — staff, teachers, parents and students — for working together to establish TCU’s culture and identity.

“I think when all is said and done, and even as I’ve begun reflecting now, the thing I will take away the most is how people came together to do great good for kids,” said Preisler. “It truly has lived that ‘united for success’ part of the mission. That’s been powerful.”

Even while wrapping up her tenure in the midst of a pandemic, Preisler recognizes the bright moments that shined through “a tremendously unusual conclusion to the school year.”

“… I’ve just been amazed and honored to work with Tri-City United staff through all my seven years, and particularly so during this difficult time,” said Preisler.

TCU High School Assistant Principal Jeff Eppen, who will step in as TCU Le Center’s principal starting July 1, said Preisler served as a great role model during the start of his administrative career.

“She certainly has high expectations for all people, students included, but she goes about it in a way that’s certainly done with a caring spirit,” said Eppen. “She pushed us to do our best, but does it in a very supportive and encouraging way. She’s very good at asking the right question to make us as administrators consider different perspectives a little bit broader than what our initial thoughts were.”

Eppen also recognizes Preisler as a driving force behind improved school curriculum, which has pushed students to grow and prepare for the next steps in their education and lives.

TCU Superintendent Teri Preisler advocated for the success of her students. Pictured, Preisler delivered a speech to the class of 2019. (Leader file photo)

School Board member Kevin Huber, who served on the board before the consolidation, said Preisler took the district to places he didn’t expect. Whether advocating for post secondary options or criminal justice classes, she followed through with her visions. Her integrity, said Huber, is “second to none.”

“She’s always been very transparent,” said Huber. “She treats you with respect and won’t make promises she can’t keep. If she says she’s going to look into something, she does.”

Preisler made everyone in the district feel a sense of belonging, said Huber, and she guided staff members to success by working with them to find their unique place in the schools.

“In my opinion, her leadership, abilities and style were the best I have been exposed to in our district,” said Huber. “She is one of the biggest reasons TCU is what it is today. She will be missed greatly.”

Northfield Hospital + Clinic reopens Lonsdale office

Lonsdale residents who want to set up an appointment through Northfield Hospital + Clinics no longer need to venture out of town.

For the first time since late March, the Lonsdale care team for Northfield Hospital + Clinics has returned to their home office and opened the doors for patients. The Lonsdale branch of the clinic reopened Wednesday, June 24.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Gregory Randall and Dr. Mary Ann Sheid were moved to the Northfield location temporarily. Now that they’ve returned to Lonsdale, the local clinic will accept patients and continue following guidelines of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health.

Nicole Strusz-Mueller, director of clinics for Northfield Hospital + Clinics, advises patients to first call the Lonsdale clinic to schedule an appointment. The care team will ask the patient questions over the phone and also do an in-person patient screening the day of the appointment. Patients will have their temperatures taken and be asked to wear a mask. The clinic will provide masks to patients who don’t have one.

“We were incredibly fortunate we had many many community members help with making homemade masks,” said Strusz-Mueller. “They can take them home and use them somewhere else if they want to.”

Patients who screen positive for one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to return to their vehicle and call the clinic to be triaged. A registered nurse will then ask the patient to complete a further assessment of symptoms and then determine where the patient should go from there depending on the severity of their condition.

Strusz-Mueller said the care team has arranged the lobby to allow for social distancing between patients and increased the frequency of cleaning often-touched areas. Staff members have been screened on a daily basis before they begin their work day.

Visitor restrictions still apply, but in the case of a minor patient, one parent or guardian is allowed on site. This protocol may change in the future depending on the direction the pandemic takes.

If patients are still uncomfortable visiting the clinic in person, the Lonsdale clinic also offers Video Visits. Detailed information on preparing for a Video Visit is available at northfieldhospital.org/video-visit-instructions.

“We’ve really taken all precautions in the clinics for people to come in and get their care,” said Strusz-Mueller. “… We’ve set it up so they can do that in a safe way.”

Council approves Wold as contractor for new police station

The Lonsdale City Council checked off another box in the planning process for a new police station at its Thursday meeting.

After interviewing construction firms, the council unanimously approved Wold Architects to provide architectural and planning services for the police station.

Wold was previously selected as the architect for the proposed Lonsdale City Hall expansion project in 2018. The company has developed new police stations in Alexandria, Lakeville and Cottage Grove; a police station and city hall in New Hope; and police station and city hall renovations and expansions in Burnsville, Richfield and Sartell.

Other contractors considered for the job included BKV, 292 DesignGroup and Oleson + Hobbie Architects. The City Council interviewed three of the four candidates during a special meeting June 18 and arranged to interview Oleson + Hobbie before Thursday’s regular meeting.

The planned police station will be a 6,000-square-foot building, and the design candidates provided in their proposals a master plan for future additions, such as a city hall, library and spaces for public use. The city negotiated a purchase agreement earlier this year for two parcels at the 15th Avenue NE and Commerce Drive SE intersection.

In reviewing the architect’s proposals and interviews, City Administrator Joel Erickson broke down the project costs the candidates estimated. Based on a $1.6 million project, Wold’s total cost would be $103,500 — the lowest cost of the interviewed candidates. BVK’s total cost was $113,800, not including 3D renderings at $750 per view, and 292’s cost was $126,700. Oleson + Hobbie’s total cost was $109,000.

Apart from having the lowest bid, Erickson called Wold the candidate with the most experience for the position.

Councilor Kevin Kodada pegged Wold as a strong candidate because most of its services, if not all, are in house. Councilor Cindy Furrer agreed, “Everything in house is a key piece.”

Lack of space is a primary concern for the current police station, located at 115 Alabama Street SE. The seven officers and one administrative staff member utilize rooms that should be delegated to work tasks for storage, eating and changing into uniforms as a result of the tight quarters.

During Wold’s interview, architect John McNamara told the City Council the project should portray a positive image of the Lonsdale community, present a safe space, include vehicle storage and provide enough space for handling evidence.

McNamara said the city’s proposed schedule would allow for the project to be bid in October with construction beginning in November. According to Wold’s proposed project schedule, occupancy of the police station will happen in July 2021.


Kyle Johnson

Connor Flintrop, Max Krautkremer and Reggie Vosejpka play catch in getting warmed up during practice at Montgomery Memorial Field. (Photos by Pat Beck/St. Peter Herald)