Inclusion and equity. Those are the main priorities for new Lincoln Park Middle School principal Brian Kazmierczk.
Kazmierczk comes to the Lincoln Park from Barnum, where he spent six years as the seventh through 12th grade principal at the high school. Before that Kazmierczk spent six years at Pequot Lakes as a teacher and technology integrationist.
Kazmierczk started his career in Deer River, Minn., where he taught social studies. But since leaving Deer River in 2005, Kazmierczk said he’s missed working with a diverse student population, which is what led him to apply for the Lincoln Park position.
“I apparently have been talking about it for 14 years because when I told my wife that the Lincoln Park position was open she pointed out to me that I’ve been talking about working at a school with a diverse population for 14 years,” Kazmierczk said. “So she told me to just apply for it and see what happens.”
Kazmierczk started at Lincoln Park on Aug. 6. Since then he has been learning as much as he can about the school, staff and students. Kazmierczk replaces Brenda Vatthauer, who left to take a job at Hutchinson Middle School.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity to be successful here,” Kazmierczk said. “I know Lincoln Park has its challenges, but I also think that work the staff has done and what Brenda has left behind over the last few years has really laid a good foundation for a really positive impact on students. Creating a very inclusive school environment is one of my top priorities.”
Kazmierczk said a school can have as many initiatives as it wants, but what's important are the relationships adults have with the students and the relationships students have with each other.
“This is a diverse school, but a school is everybody’s building. Everybody’s a part of it,” Kazmierczk said. “If you take one kid out of this building the whole school is different, and we need to make sure that is always communicated to everybody, that they all matter. Everybody matters here.”
Kazmierczk said one of the ways the school will continue to be inclusive and equitable is through PBIS, or positive behavior intervention and supports. He said the school already has PBIS in place and he wants to build on it to make the school even better.
“It’s a great framework for a lot of other things to fit in,” Kazmierczk said.
Along with the behavioral elements, Kazmierczk said another positive he sees in Lincoln Park are the dedicated reading and math interventionists in the school.
“I think one of the things I talk about with people already is there are a lot of good puzzle pieces on the table and we just need to work to put them together,” he said.
Kazmierczk said being the principal at Lincoln Park is a big job that he’s really excited about. He said it’s really easy for a principal to come in and just start making changes, but he has a different approach.
“I’m going to do a lot more listening than anything. I’m going to ask a lot of questions and get to understand the Lincoln Park community and the Duluth school district,” Kazmierczk said. “I’m going to get to know the students, get out in the hallways and in the classrooms. I’m going to really take things in.”
Kazmierczk has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of North Dakota and a master’s degree from Southwest State University in teacher leadership. Kazmierczk also has his superintendent and principal licenses from Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
“I don’t think you can talk about anything else that we have going on unless you also talk about equity and being very deliberate in all that we do in our school,” Kazmierczk said. “When you have a welcoming school and inclusive school it has to be equitable.”