Leaving the Eagle’s nest
Superintendent Jeff Bertrang to leave the district.
It’s a summer of big change for the New Ulm Public School district. Superintendent Jeff Bertrang is stepping down from his position after 10 years at District 88. He will be unaffiliated with the district effective July 1st, and hand over the school system to the new Superintendent, Sean Koster.
Bertrang has been working with students for 33 years as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in multiple different districts. During his time in education, he has been a witness to the first use of personal computers in classrooms, the introduction of personal student email accounts, and the vital use of online learning, despite starting his career with only a chalkboard and paper for teaching.
During his time at District 88, Bertrang has been a significant help in growing the school system and making changes for the better. “I was fortunate enough to be a part of the school when we passed the referendum to build a new high school and remodel the other buildings for the new programs we brought in,” said Bertrang. “We were also able to develop and create a career and technical education center to provide students with advanced courses in the CTE areas. This past fall, the community voted to renew the operating levy that will continue to bring additional funds to support ongoing programs.”
The current high school started construction in 2015 after it was approved and passed by district voters. In 2017, the first class graduated from the building, marking a new beginning for the district. During that same time, the old high school was converted into a middle school (5-8), Jefferson Elementary School changed to a 1st- 4th, and Washington Elementary School changed to a kindergarten and pre-k building. Adding this new building to the district allowed more room for growing student populations and better opportunities to help those students learn and grow.
In August of 2021, the CTE (Career and Technical Education) center was added to the district to allow more options for students who want to become educated in certain trade skills. The CTE center holds courses for upper-level trades classes and is home to Eagle Enterprise, internship, and CAD (Computer-Aided Design). Bertrang said he wanted to offer these classes to give students real-life, hands-on experiences that will help them make connections in the community, and have a better understanding of the way businesses work.
After 33 years in education, Bertrang says that the school district is in a good place with great staff and community support. After his retirement, he is looking forward to summer bike rides and working in his shop while listening to Johnny Cash. “We are planning a bike trip to Lake Itasca this summer with all of the free time he [Jeff Bertrang] will have,” said his wife, Wendy Bertrang. “Since he will have his evenings and weekends free, we can enjoy more time outside and plan more bike trips, along with him fixing up the house of course.”