Ryan Stewart is excited to begin a new job at Moose Lake High School despite taking over in unprecedented times laced with uncertainty and confusion.

Stewart began as principal July 1, when Billie Jo Steen moved to the superintendent position.

“I am very excited to be principal. When this job opened I knew I wanted it,” Stewart said.

Stewart is a 1991 Esko High School graduate. He taught in Moose Lake, Barnum and Esko before he decided to become an assistant principal. He served as assistant principal at West Fargo High School for six years and said he really enjoyed it.

His career led him to Hibbing High School, where he worked as assistant principal before the Moose Lake High School position opened.

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Stewart said he enjoys helping solve problems and finding solutions. With schools trying to figure out whether to hold in-person classes this year, Stewart is finding the opportunities amid the struggles.

School district officials have a chance to plan for the 2020-21 school year, compared to last spring when they were unexpectedly tossed into distance learning, he said.

“I will be trying to find the ways to best educate our students so we can keep moving forward with rigor,” Stewart said.

The new principal said he has already met about half of the school staff. He plans to invite more staff to come into the school and meet him this month.

“It’s been full steam ahead,” he said.

Stewart's goals are to keep improving as a professional and to keep the school at the forefront of cutting edge education.

One of the bigger obstacles is the pressure on educators and students that was not there in the past, Stewart said. He said distance learning tipped the balance on inequity among students and magnified it. Students and their families are affected differently by distance learning. For example, he said while some students have economic issues, others do not. Most students have access to technology necessary for distance learning, but not everyone.

“One size doesn't fit all,” Stewart said. “We are doing the best we can with the situation we have been handed."

Steen said she worked with Stewart when he was at Moose Lake and Barnum in the early 2000s.

“He is going to be a great addition to our school community, and I am thrilled to work with him again,” Steen said.

Steven Blondo, chairperson of the Moose Lake School Board, said Stewart's enthusiasm was one of the qualities that makes him a good fit.

“Not only was Ryan well qualified for the position, but we believe his approach to — and passion for — student learning and life is a perfect fit with our school and community,” he said.