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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • New principal chosen at Bert Raney Elementary

  • With the hiring of Melissa Hesch, the Yellow Medicine East School District has filled both high school and elementary principal positions with a  about a month remaining before the start of school. Early this week Hesch and her husband, Kelly, were in Granite Falls, hoping to have purchased a...
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  • With the hiring of Melissa Hesch, the Yellow Medicine East School District has filled both high school and elementary principal positions with a  about a month remaining before the start of school.
    Early this week Hesch and her husband, Kelly, were in Granite Falls, hoping to have purchased a residence for themselves, their 17-month-old son, Grady, and 100-pound, lab-chesapeake mix, Eddy, before returning to their home in Montrose. For a break from the hunt as well as the heat, the pair stopped at the local Dairy Queen to grab an ice-cream where the Advocate Tribune managed to catch up with the new elementary principal for an introduction.
    According to Superintendent Al Stoeckman, the big grin, bright eyes and infectious enthusiasm would have been present with or without the moral pick-me-up inherent in a mid-afternoon DQ stop. During his interview with Hesch, it was her positive energy that stood out more than anything else, he noted.
    “I liked her energy and her candidness. You know her personality from the start,” he said. “It wasn’t like you had to guess who the real Melissa is.
    Over the past few weeks, the district whittled down a pool of 15 principal candidates, three of whom were interviewed. Hesch, her energy and her vision proved the district’s top choice, leaving Stoeckman and others feeling they nailed the hire.
    “I think she’ll be a good fit for YME,” he said. “She’ll bring a new and fresh perspective from her experiences in Annandale, and with her strong background in literacy she should also help us build on the steps we’ve taken the last couple of years.”
    Hesch earned a degree in elementary   education in 1997 from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Later on, she received her Masters in Education and principal certification from St. Mary’s of Minnesota in Minneapolis, in 2005 and 2010, respectively.
    After earning her initial degree, Hesch began her career with two single-year stints at Monticello Middle School and Henry Hill Intermediate School in Glencoe before settling at Bendix Elementary in Annandale, where she has taught third through sixth grade since 1999. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she also involved herself as summer school administrator, assistant coach of the girls tennis team and in a number of other committees and activities.
    After fourteen years in the classroom, Hesch said she had come to desire the opportunity to make a greater impact on students that she believes is provided within the responsibilities of an administrative post. Her mother, Jean Dezeeuw, taught first grade for 40 years while her father, John Dezeeuw, served 25 years as principal in Springfield, providing her even more experience on such matters than her resume implies.
    “I saw my father’s impact on students. I saw that you can still be principal and approachable. You can still have expectations in your building, you can still have accountability and you can still have wonderful relations with kids––it doesn’t have to be: Oh, it’s the principal, and it’s a bad thing,” said Hesch. “I love teaching, I love kids but I want to take what I know and what I can do and help others bring that same element to the classroom and create an environment in a school setting.”
    Page 2 of 2 - For Hesch, the foundation of success  begins with building a life long love of learning in kids––and this all begins with an emphasis on reading.
    “I’m a believer that every student can read, but they have to be guided and encouraged to open that door. They’re not all going to be voracious readers, but they will all find their love of reading. It may be a newspaper, a magazine or a graphic novel, but we have to open their love of reading so we have to show them different avenues. And I want to bring that passion for literacy and expand it into non-fiction––into science and the social studies curriculums,” Hesch said.
    “I always thought it sounded kind of trite but [school] should be a place where kids walk through the door and say: what am I going to learn today? –– in a passionate way. If I can turn the key for them all to read, it would be my ultimate goal. Truly.”
    Hesch begins her duties at BRE on August 1, and says she’s can’t wait to get know the students and staff. Since her first interview, she said everything has seemed the perfect fit in terms of the school and the community. “It’s been a very warm, welcoming atmosphere,” she said.
    Hesch noted that she expected to benefit from the vast experience of the veteran staff, and that she looked forward to meshing her vision with the passions of the teachers.
    “I want to make sure I listen to their desires as well as putting my own in there,” she said, adding that the most important thing she learned from her father is, “You have two ears and one mouth; listen more than you talk. I’m not afraid to talk, but listening is important.”
    Growing up in Springfield and her husband –– who makes his living as a contractor –– in Aitkin, Hesch says the two are accustomed to small town living and that it has always been their desire to raise their  child amongst the type of community unique to quainter areas.
    “We love the community feeling here,” she said matter of factly. “It’s a place we want to be a part of.”
     

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