school board

Waseca School Board met on March 26 to name Eric Hudspith as the new Waseca Public Schools Superintendent. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

Eric Hudspith was chosen to fill the Waseca Public School District superintendent position during a continued school board meeting on Thursday, March 26.

Hudspith has accepted the position and will start in the district on July 1.

Current Superintendent Tom Lee is retiring at the end of the school year after serving in the role for seven years.

“Yesterday (March 25) when each of the candidates gave a summary or gave final thoughts I had a particular word that I wanted to hear,” board member Dave Dunn said. “I only heard it from Eric (Hudspith) and I’m not saying the other two don’t have it but the word I wanted to hear was passion. Passion for kids, passion for education, because I believe when you have passion for something, you want and you will put a strong effort into taking it to a different level. I’m not saying that’s the only good thing he said because Mr. Libbe and Mr. Wagner said good things, too and I think all three would do an OK job here in Waseca but again Eric Hudspith was the only one in his summary to us who used the word passion so ... Eric using that word, that term, passion was really important to me.”

Hudspith has a specialist, masters and Bachelor degrees. He is currently working in Mankato Area Public Schools as the director of human resources and organizational development. This will be his first superintendent position.

He started his career as an elementary school teacher for seven years before becoming an elementary school principal.

“Mr. Hudspith, especially after yesterday’s (March 25) interview, I was very impressed with him and I was impressed with him on paper prior to our first interview,” school board chair Julie Anderson said. “I thought his resume was steller. I appreciate the different experiences that he’s had ... I also love that he started his career as a kindergarten teacher. I think that’s really interesting and that brings a level of empathy to the role of superintendent that not everyone would have.”

When the board members were discussing which of the final three candidates, Hudspith, James Wagner or Joe Libbe would be a fit, the members all spoke of things they were looking for.

The members seemed to be in agreement of wanting someone who would stay in the district for a longer period of time rather than jumping after only a couple of years. They felt that spending adequate time in the district is how it could be improved and get items accomplished.

Another thing the board seemed to want was someone who would be active and engage in the community along with meeting the needs of the district.

“With Mr. Hudspith, a slightly more reserved personality, perhaps a little more laid back,” board member Aaron Skogen said. “We all are maybe a little more laid back so I see that as a positive dynamic, but again on those same questions that are true to me I really loved his responses.

“We have gaps in our learning and those gaps are related to race and they’re related to our black and brown students not achieving as well as our white students. And I firmly believe we need to call that out. So I really appreciated Eric (Hudspith) doing just that.”

The decision of who should be hired from the six candidates who were interviewed was made by the school board with the help of numerous committees and groups.

There was a community committee, administration team and community feedback that were a part of the final decision.

“For me, when I looked at the feedback from the community, the staff, the administration and both of the interviews that we did, for me Eric (Hudspith) stood out,” school board member Scott Deml said. “His first interview probably didn’t go as well, he wasn’t my top person coming out of the first interview, but I think he solidified it yesterday (March 25) in his interview that he did. I think he was way more energetic and went a little bit deeper into his answers and that for me kind of solidified it when I was looking at all the other feedback that we got from all the other groups…”

The pool of candidates who applied for the superintendent position started with 19 applications that narrowed down six candidates for the first round of interviews. After the interviews the school board chose the top three to be a part of the final interview process. The three finalists were Hudspith, Wagner and Libbe. Brian Shanks, Michelle Mortenson and Doug Froke were the other three candidates from round one interviews.

The school board members thanked all of the candidates for taking the time to be at the interviews along with thanking those on the committees for helping as well as the community for feedback on who would be a good fit for Waseca Public Schools.

The interviews are on the Waseca Public Schools Facebook page for anyone to watch.

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