Regular Election: President-Elect – Region 9 (2022-2023)
Joe Gothard, Superintendent, Saint Paul Public Schools
Darren Kermes, Superintendent, SW Metro Intermediate District 288-06
Dr. Joe Gothard has been superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) since July 1, 2017. He is the educational leader of the school district, which serves approximately 36,000 Pre-K-12 students and employs over 5,500 staff. SPPS is the second-largest and most diverse school district in Minnesota, with students who speak more than 125 languages and 70% who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Gothard launched the SPPS Achieves strategic plan in December 2018 to set aspirational and attainable goals for student achievement, guide decision-making, and focus the district’s efforts on long-term student outcomes. In 2020-21, he led the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring decisions met the needs of students and families, prioritized community well-being, championed equity, and were fiscally sustainable. While superintendent at ISD 191, Gothard led the district’s successful Vision One91 referendum campaign to redesign the district to make students real-world ready.
- Superintendent of Schools, Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, Burnsville, Minn.
- Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison, Wis.
- High School Principal, Robert M. La Follette High School, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison, Wis.
- Middle School Principal, Akira R. Toki Middle School, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison, Wis.
Gothard believes in the power of public education to foster relationships, build community, and inspire students to achieve beyond their highest expectations. In 2021, he was named to a two-year term on the Executive Committee of the Council of Great City Schools, which comprises leaders from the 76 largest urban public school districts in the United States. He is also a member of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, American Association of School Administrators, co-chair of the Generation Next Executive Committee, serves on the Executive Committee for the Greater Twin Cities United Way, and sits on the Board of Directors for Genesys Works Twin Cities and the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, which named him a Regional Administrator of Excellence in 2021.
Gothard received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in education from Edgewood College in Madison, WI where in 2021 he was presented a Distinguished Alumni Award. He lives in St. Paul with his wife, Mary. They have three grown children.
A quick look at the list of past Presidents of MASA shows people I consider mentors and friends. As I reflect on my early years as an administrator over 30 years ago, I recall being simply in awe of these people. Over the years, as I got to know many of them/you, that did not change in terms of respect but it did change in terms of even greater appreciate for what they give to students and families in Minnesota every day.
Now, as I reflect on my career, I realize two things: First, I owe the legacy of leaders who mentored me and who did the hard work that helped propel our educational system to where it is today a debt that I can never repay. I can only try to make a deposit by stepping up and offering to lead through the chaotic times we live in. Second, I am officially old…
As for my background, I am a farm boy from Hayward, Minnesota and a proud product of Albert Lea High School. I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse and my Master’s and Law Degrees from the University of Arizona. I completed my doctoral coursework at both the University of Arizona and University of Minnesota. I have been a school psychologist, special services director, executive director and superintendent along with supervising the Division of Accountability and Compliance at MDE for over 7 years.
I currently serve as the Region 9 Superintendent Group representative on the MASA Board of Directors where I am completing my second term in that capacity. Prior to that, I served 6 years as the MASE Component Group representative on the MASA Board. Through this time, I have served more than 15 years on the Legislative and Federal Advocacy Committees of both MASA and MASE.
Along the way, I have served through the tenures of three MASA Executive Directors. This has given me unique insight into the organization and its governance.
I watched Charlie Kyte craft MASA into a dominant voice at the legislature. I then witnessed Gary Amoroso work to build strong partnerships with MASE and other component groups. And now I get to see first hand the skill Deb Henton brings in realizing the vision of MASA to be the leading voice for public education in Minnesota by partnering and collaborating with all other educational associations helping steer Minnesota forward.
Today, we are presented with ongoing challenges with regard to equity and with regard to representing voices from the metro and greater Minnesota—voices that occasionally are at odds due to funding formulas and community needs.
Joe Gothard is a leading voice in the equity conversation and I am honored to share the stage with him as we both seek this role and your vote. I have no reservation whatsoever regarding the leadership of MASA regardless of which of us secures the most votes in this election.
That said, the thing I bring to this conversation is experience in urban, rural, and suburban educational settings. A key piece of moving the equity conversation forward involves ensuring all are on board and all share in a common belief of optimal outcome. I am uniquely qualified both through my years of experience and my current role to blend and harmonize these voices.
As the superintendent of one of Minnesota’s 4 Intermediate Districts, I endeavor to support district leaders in small, medium, and large districts with widely varying political and demographic backgrounds. Yet through my years in these roles, and through a true consensus driven approach to problem solving, I have yet to ever have a less than unanimous vote from our school board.
It is that spirit of collaboration, partnership, and bridge building I bring to MASA and I offer to you as President-Elect.