Getting to Know You: New District 833 Superintendent Keith Jacobus
How do you think Keith Jacobus will do as the new administrative leader in South Washington County Schools?
Dr. Keith Jacobus is getting to know South Washington County Schools.
In a hurry.
The district’s new superintendent said he plans to hold 100 meetings in his first 100 days on the job.
“Build a trust level. That’s important for us to function well as a team,” Jacobus said. “I believe that leadership happens one person at a time.”
In meeting with teachers, students, residents, city leaders and other stakeholders, Jacobus said he’s already been struck by the enthusiasm those in the community have for area schools, and more than once during an interview quoted the district’s motto: “Igniting a passion.”
Things have been “wonderful” so far, Jacobus told Patch last week in his office at the district’s Central Services building in Cottage Grove. It’s a superintendent’s job to shape the vision and direction of a school district, he said, and for him that means making sure each student “will love going to school.”
That was the case for Jacobus growing up, though he admitted he struggled academically.
“I was not the best student. But I loved going to school and I loved learning,” he said, crediting a “phenomenal” biology teacher as his inspiration for going in to the profession.
Formerly an assistant superintendent in the Osseo school district, Jacobus said he wants to challenge District 833 students in the classroom and ensure students and teachers have the tools they needs to be successful.
Academic rigor is important, he said.
“I’d like our students to be wrung out, so to speak, when they learn, and in a positive way,” said Jacobus, whose education includes a Ph.D. from the University of Denver, a master’s in Education from Lesley College and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University.
Still getting acclimated with the specifics of a large—and steadily growing—school district, Jacobus said he hasn’t identified any areas in which the district can cut costs in the future. The school board cut more than $5 million from its budget last year and is still looking for ways to close a funding gap in its transportation budget.
He is also wading through a new state rating system for students and determining how that may impact operations for the district moving forward.
And, of course, there will be more visits. Jacobus said he plans to have coffee meetings at parents’ homes as he continues to learn about the district and its people—and hear what’s working, and isn’t, from those in the community.
Still, Jacobus said he’s been excited by what he’s heard so far.
“People are passionate about the district,” he said.