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Pequot Lakes District hires new Eagle View Elementary principal

The Pequot Lakes School District selected its new elementary school principal for the next school year.

Melissa Hesch, currently principal at Bert Raney Elementary School in the Yellow Medicine East School District, was chosen from a field of nearly 40 applicants after three rounds of interviews.

For Hesch and her family, it is somewhat of a homecoming. She told the school board Monday that she wanted to share her “enthusiasm and family’s enthusiasm of returning to the lakes area.”

Hesch’s husband, Kelly, grew up in Aitkin and was living in the Brainerd area when the couple met.

She grew up in Springfield, Minn., and earned her Bachelor’s degree in teaching at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She went on to earn her Master’s in teaching and in administration from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Hesch worked as a teacher for 15 years before moving into administration, first as a long-term substitute in the Monticello School District, and then as a fifth grade teacher in Glencoe-Silver Lake before settling into 13 years at the Annandale Elementary School, where she taught third through sixth grades. She also coached tennis and speech in the Annandale district.

Both of Hesch’s parents worked in education; her mother as a first grade teacher her entire career until her retirement three years ago, and her father as both a teacher and administrator.

Hesch said she loves working in elementary education because of the opportunity to watch children learn something new.

“It’s so much fun to see them tackle something that they don’t necessarily understand,” she said. “Seeing the moment where the learning becomes theirs.”

She said that one of the most important things about education is teaching children that learning is fun, and that it never quite stops.

“Students need to see that we love to learn just as much as they could love to learn,” she said. “We have to celebrate the fun and excitement of learning.”

Literacy is a particular passion of hers, and it’s a goal of hers to help students become lovers of reading, “finding authors that they want to read over and over.”

Hesch introduced herself to the school board at their Monday, April 21 meeting.

“I am very much looking forward to the transition early this summer,” she said.

She, her husband, and their 3-year-old son Grady will make the move to the area before her career in Pequot Lakes officially begins July 1. Hesch said she is “deeply honored” to join the district and is excited to be moving back to a small lakes area community that reminds her of Annandale.

“The district definitely has a reputation for excellence,” she said.

Superintendent Chris Lindholm said he employed a group interview process for principal selection, beginning with narrowing the field to 23 candidates for the first round. Those candidates were evaluated by a district team at the high school on April 1. Lindholm said the group interview process “allows face time with a lot more people.”

The district brought back seven candidates for the second round, which took place April 8. These met with a group of 10 from the elementary school, including five teachers, a secretary, custodian, paraprofessional and two parents. From this field, the evaluation team selected three final candidates, who met with Lindholm and school board member Valarie Wallin on April 10.

Lindholm said although it was a difficult choice between the three, he is confident they selected the best candidate in Hesch.

“We were splitting hairs between three very good candidates,” he said.

Lindholm said the elementary principal contract includes 210 work days in a year.

Hesch will replace current Principal Dave Endicott, who in February accepted the superintendent position with the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District. Endicott has been the principal at Eagle View since 2011, and he told the Echo Journal in February that he intends to continue living in Pequot Lakes while commuting to Walker.

Chelsey Perkins can be reached at Follow her at and on Twitter @PEJ_Chelsey.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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