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Nisswa Elementary School principal hired

A second-year elementary school principal from Madelia will be the next principal of Nisswa Elementary School.

Molly Raske, principal at Madelia Elementary School in south central Minnesota, will join the Brainerd School District on July 1.

“We had three wonderful candidates and we think we made a great choice,” said Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo.

He said the district received a large number of applications for the position — more than 40 — and a committee conducted six interviews and then brought three people back for a second round of interviews. Those finalists were Raske; Laurie Wig, director of curriculum, assessment and technology for the Pequot Lakes School District and former Brainerd middle school science teacher; and Jason Kuehn, elementary dean of students with the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District

“We are very proud to have these people. It’s always so hard to make a decision,” Razidlo said.

He said the hope is for Raske to be able to meet the Nisswa School staff, students and community before the school year ends. Nisswa students will conduct the first turtle races of the season May 30, and Raske said not only will she be there, she’s excited to attend her first-ever turtle races.

Raske and her husband, Travis, will move to the area with their three sons. Next year, son Bailey will be an eighth-grader at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, and Kaiden a first-grader and Jonas a kindergartner at Nisswa School, Raske said.

Before serving as principal in Madelia, Raske was a first-grade teacher at Sibley East Elementary School in Gaylord for three years, and then became a seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher with that school district.

“I’ve had a span of 6-year-olds all the way to 13 in my teaching career,” she said.

“I grew up in education. This is a way of life for me,” she added, noting her father was a middle school counselor and her mother taught high school math at Rocori in Cold Spring, where she grew up.

Raske obtained her undergraduate degree at St. Cloud State University, a master’s degree in special education at Kaplan University, and a specialist degree/principal license from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She is currently obtaining her superintendent license from Mankato as well.

She looks forward to living closer to home, and has a brother who serves in the Coast Guard and lives in Pequot Lakes.

Raske will succeed current principal Erin Herman, who has been principal in Nisswa for a total of 14 years. Herman and her husband, Steve, will leave in July for Paraguay, where they will work at the same American-sponsored school in the capital of Paraguay, Asuncion, for two years.

Erin, who has been in education for 34 years, including as principal at Pequot Lakes Elementary School from November 1994 to June 1997, will be the elementary school principal; Steve will teach high school math.

The Brainerd School District also chose a new superintendent last week. Klint Willert, Marshall Public Schools superintendent, was selected Wednesday, April 9, to succeed Steve Razidlo. The school board agreed to enter contract negotiations with Willert.

Razidlo also is headed overseas. He accepted a three-year contract as superintendent at The American International School in Vienna, Austria, effective at the end of this school year.

Nancy Vogt can be reached at Follow her at and on Twitter @PEJ_Nancy.