New leadership is coming to the Waseca Public School District.
Eric Hudspith is taking over as the new superintendent starting on July 1. He will be taking over for retiring Tom Lee, who has been with the district for seven years.
“I really had a pretty smooth transition,” Hudspith said. “Tom (Lee) has been very gracious, allowing me to meet with the board members, all the administrators and talk about what’s currently going on in the district.”
Coming to the school district Hudspith has been able to meet with administration, staff, faculty and some students to learn about the community.
“I think that it’s really important as the superintendent to be professionally a part of the community, but also just to be personally a part of the community,” Hudspith said. “And so that is something I intend to do is to become personally a part and my family as well to become personally a part of the community as well as professionally.”
Part of his transition plan that the school board looked at when he was hired involved Hudspith making community connections in July and August.
“Eric is going to do a great job in Waseca,” Lee said. “He has taught two different grades, been a principal and has held a few different district level jobs. He is known to be a great person to work with. He and I have met several times to assure a smooth transition. He is ready.”
Hudspith is coming from the Mankato School District where he was the director of human resources and organizational development. Through this position he has worked closely with the superintendent where he was able to gain experience and knowledge. Prior to working in Mankato he was in the Albert Lea school district for 10 years.
From his past experiences and his knowledge of Waseca, Hudspith has set a few personal goals that he plans to strive for long-term in his position at Waseca schools.
“Well, I’m still learning a little bit, but I’m looking forward to continuing to make sure that the district is a leader in the community and I think they already are in a lot of ways,” Hudspith said. “The only thing that I have learned about the community of Waseca so far is that the community is really supportive of the schools and also has really high expectations of its schools. I embrace that.”
One goal he spoke of is continuing to make sure that every student that leaves the school district has options for what they want to do in life.
Some ways Hudspith said this could be done is through what has been learned from distance learning to offer more opportunities for students through online courses that they didn’t have access to in the past. Part of this for Hudspith is he cares about providing the environment for students to grow and succeed at whatever path they choose.
Waseca is already embracing what students want to gain out of their education through personalized learning and Hudspith plans to continue developing this practice in the schools.
“If I had to say what’s my goal, it’s going to be the best district in Minnesota,” Hudspith said.
Something that Hudspith will have to tackle immediately is how to handle COVID-19 and how to plan for the beginning of the school year.
“I think it’s (starting during COVID-19 preparations) allowed me to get to know the teaching and the operations of our district faster or more efficiently than maybe I would in some years,” Hudspith said. “So as we’re developing our plan for the fall, developing our three plans that our committees are working on now, Superintendent Lee has brought me in on that and so I’m up to speed on that planning for the fall, more so than I would probably be in many transitions.”
Hudspith has been able to collaborate and work with the school board, administrators and other staff to create the three plans required for the beginning of the school year. One thing that Hudspith said about all of the schools that he has worked with in his career is the importance of meeting all the needs of all learners especially during distance learning and the holes in it and how to fix that for students.
“It also helps me build immediate trust with my team,” Hudspith said. “Because right now I have to trust that my team knows what they’re doing and I have complete faith that they do and we have smart people who are doing great work. So this is my opportunity to get to know them better by them showing their stuff and expertise right away.”
His work in Waseca has already started through the plans for COVID-19 and meeting his team and the community members.
“I’ve got the good fortune to look where I wanted my next career adventure,” Hudspith said. “I wanted to be here because of the high level of academic achievements and high level of activities they have. ...
“One of the observations that I have about Waseca is that this is a high functioning district that really serves its community well and so that is one of the things that attracted me to this district.”
Hudspith spoke highly of his impressions of the Waseca Public School District.
“This is an incredible district that’s really doing a lot of great things for kids and families and for staff,” Hudspith said. “So I chose to be a part of this district for that reason and I always really had a high respect for Waseca and its schools.”
Waseca is only Hudspith’s third district in his years of teaching, administration and district employment.
“I’ve got a pretty wide range of experience in education, but only in two different school districts because I like to stick around,” Hudspith said. “I want to invest in where I am. That was another thing that I liked about Waseca is it was very clear to me that the school board was interested in someone who was going to invest in the community and that’s what I want to do is invest.
“In my opinion, one of the things that drives me or that I appreciate is being able to see some of the things through that you implement so that when you get to the challenging part of it or it gets hard you’re there to work your folks through it or you can celebrate with people when things go really well. So I don’t intend to start something and then go. It’s just not my personality and it’s more of an investment in the long run.”
Hudspith got into education because of his family background in education.
Both his maternal and paternal grandparents worked for schools and were role models for him growing up. Having this background led him to get a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
He continued his education at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he obtained his master’s degree in education technology before getting his specialist degree in K-12 administration at the University of St. Thomas. Hudspith furthered his education again and got his superintendent licensure at the University of St. Thomas as well.
“I had some great role models in that regard from family but I always knew that I wanted to help kids,” Hudspith said. “I always knew I wanted to support kids. And again this is a little bit cliche but it’s about my career trajectory.
“When I was in the classroom I loved impacting those 30 kids. Then I got the opportunity to be a building principal where I could impact 500 kids. Then I got to the district level where I am now I am helping support one part of the whole district staff, human resources and now to move to a superintendency where my skills and experiences and personality can support the entire district and community. So it kind of goes from the classroom level that you support to now I can support the entire community. My goal or part of what drives me every day is using my skills and talents to support the entire community.”