My Greatest Triumphs Have Always Come Through Adversity

Milnor Public Schools  |  Superintendent Chris Larson

Milnor Supt. - Chris Larson Nine years in education. Five as a teacher and four in administration. Chris Larson is now in his second year as superintendent of Milnor Public Schools overseeing 225 students K-12.

Originally from Northern Cass, Chris Larson started his career in education in Sargent Central as a secondary social studies teacher in 2007. Over the years, he taught various classes in high school social studies, coached a variety of sports and served as an activities director. Larson began his graduate work while teaching and happily found a secondary principal position in Milnor in 2013. After two years as principal, Milnor’s past superintendent retired and he moved into the new role.

Now, with almost ten years into his education career, he explains why education was the right path for him.

In high school, I umpired youth games and helped in my hometown little league program after a shoulder injury prevented me from playing baseball. Although I was disappointed at the time to be out of the game, it really was the jumpstart to my career. I realized how much I enjoyed working with kids and teaching them the game. From then on I’ve coached various sports which led me to pursue a life working with young people. I also had some phenomenal teachers that had a big impact on my choices. Without the great role models I had when I was in high school, I would definitely be doing something different. I was inspired by the difference they made on me and had some opportunities come my way that I was able to take advantage of and enjoy.

 “Evolving”

The word used to describe his district. ‘Evolving.’ Larson proudly shares how thankful he is to have a resilient staff.

We have been implementing changes and programs over the last few years. I’m extremely proud of our teachers and administrative team as they continue to work toward making the best programs and frameworks possible for the students of our district.

The district is currently in the process of reworking and implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) to help all its students achieve greater levels of success. Although still in the early stages of our their new system and continuing to work on implementation, Larson explained that there is already evident success and growth. The new structures and leveling systems have allowed staff to reach kids at the level they are at and push them forward as a learners.

Milnor’s implementation process began by looking at a new set of interventions for Tier 2 and 3 supports. At the time, most were being done through Title I and special education programs. Staffing is a tough obstacle Milnor is faced with,

Having various groups and levels in a particular grade, you need a lot of hands on deck. We got creative with our para schedules and we are continually working on ways to refine what we are doing.

Now, as the system and staff have evolved and the district is further into the implementation process Larson said they’ve definitely been able to reach more kids.

We also took a long look at our testing structure and made decisions about what data we were using and what we weren’t. We’ve modified accordingly to ensure we keep the best and get rid of what we didn’t need or use. There are still growing pains, but we have placed a lot of faith in our data structure and are also working on a way to use the information our teachers bring to the table with their students.

SEEC involvement

Larson mentioned that the SEEC has had a lot of involvement in the implementation process this year, plus Milnor has a school team participating in the SEEC’s MTSS cohort.

We lean on our team that is taking part in the SEEC MTSS cohort and tweak our process as we navigate our way through these changes and learn how we can best bring things to our district and community.

With Milnor being a small district that doesn’t always have the means to secure ongoing training opportunities on its own, as stated by Larson, SEEC has been instrumental in bringing PD to its administrative and teaching staff on the latest initiatives and best practices in the field of education.

Through our involvement with SEEC we’ve been able to support our staff with resources and training materials that have incredible impacts on kids. My favorite thing about SEEC is having a network of resources and people to lean on. There are other schools going through the same training and implementing programs that we are. It’s a big help to be able to pick up the phone and call someone at SEEC or a neighboring district and talk about things we may have missed or help each other along the way.

Words from the coach:

Be patient. You won’t implement any sort of meaningful changes in your district without experiencing some heartache. As any coach will tell you, every play works on the whiteboard. You have to be willing to work through some of the trials and tribulations to get to a goal. You have to adapt things so they fit your district and community. That also means you’re going to screw some things up! Be upfront about that and keep your eyes on the prize.

Larson told us that his biggest triumphs in all aspects of life have always come through adversity. He said the ability to be willing to work and improve as you go and admit when you are wrong or when something isn’t working is key to success. And finally, one last reminder from Superintendent Larson,

Remember that navigating through change is difficult as it takes time and puts stress on everyone involved, BUT always remember that to make big impacts you’re also going to have to live through some adversity!

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