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Principal likes Nisswa's passion for school

Molly Raske was born to be an educator, and she is excited for her first year as Nisswa Elementary School principal. Raske grew up in Cold Spring, where her dad was a middle school counselor and her mother a high school math teacher at ROCORI sch...

Molly Raske is the new principal at Nisswa Elementary School. Her two young sons will be in kindergarten and first grade at the school, while her older son will be an eighth-grader at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, where her husband, Travis, will teach fifth-grade math.Photo by Nancy Vogt
Molly Raske is the new principal at Nisswa Elementary School. Her two young sons will be in kindergarten and first grade at the school, while her older son will be an eighth-grader at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, where her husband, Travis, will teach fifth-grade math.Photo by Nancy Vogt

Molly Raske was born to be an educator, and she is excited for her first year as Nisswa Elementary School principal.

Raske grew up in Cold Spring, where her dad was a middle school counselor and her mother a high school math teacher at ROCORI schools.

"One could say that I know what it is like to spend your weekends and evenings at school eating supper as your parents 'finished up,' which I now know our job is never, ever done," Raske wrote in a narrative about herself that she shared with Nisswa School staff.

While in high school she taught Dads Make a Difference to middle school students and German to elementary kids. "So through high school opportunities I got the bug and knew that was what I wanted," she said of a career in education.

Raske earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education with an emphasis in language arts from St. Cloud State University in 2003, and a master's degree in education with an emphasis in special education from Kaplan University. She then received her administrator's degree from Mankato State University in 2011 and just recently earned her superintendent's license.

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Her teaching experience includes three years as a first-grade teacher and four years as a seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher, both at Sibley East in Gaylord. The past two years, she was an elementary school principal in Madelia.

Then the trees called her back from the plains to be closer to home.

"I love the trees. I feel like I can breathe when I hit the trees," Raske said.

So the Raske family made the move north. Her husband, Travis, whom she met while both taught in Gaylord, will teach fifth grade math at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, where son Bailey will be an eighth-grader. Sons Kaiden and Jonas will join their mom at Nisswa School as a first-grader and kindergartner, respectively.

In her narrative, Raske shared three defining moments in her life:

• When she was 13, she was in a car accident where she broke her back. She had to learn how to walk, dress, feed herself and care for her teenage body again. "During that time, I learned that I have to work at things and have grit in order to function in this harsh world," she wrote.

• When she was 16, she went through the ice on a snowmobile with a friend. They were both in the water for more than 15 minutes but made it out. "This experience not only gave me a very strong fear of ice, it taught me to help others, keep swimming, and with enough perseverance, grit and keeping your eye on the goal, we can all make it to shore," she wrote.

• At age 19, while a college sophomore, Raske gave birth to her son, Bailey McMahon. He even attended a few classes with her. "So we kind of went through college together," Raske said. "That was a challenge. He taught me grit. He probably got me to where I am today."

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In her narrative, she wrote, "After he was born, I looked at him and promised him that he and I were going to meet all of our goals together, and I have, and he is working on his."

Some of Raske's values stem from the 2003 school shooting at ROCORI High School.

"Both of my parents were there during that time, and being a very close community, we know all the parties and it is something that is very difficult to talk about to this day," Raske wrote in her narrative. "Therefore, school security, knowing the students and families, bullying and being ultra aware of the climate within the school is something that is very important to me."

Raske is busy preparing for the school year, learning what the Nisswa community values, the school's history and just what the school is all about.

"I spent a lot of time with Erin (former principal Erin Herman) just learning from her," she said. "We're still in contact."

Herman and her husband, Steve, are in Paraguay, where Erin is an elementary school principal and Steve a high school math teacher at an American-sponsored school in the country's capital city, Asuncion.

As for learning about Nisswa, Raske appreciates Main Street merchants' support for Nisswa School, as well as resident Mark Ronnei's passion for the school and students' access to books.

"I can't believe the kind of love this community has for this school," she wrote in her narrative.

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"There is definitely a Nisswa kind of philosophy. We have 'pretty good shopping,' but we have pretty superior people," she said in an interview. "So I have a pretty big learning curve because it's not like this everywhere."

She admits Nisswa is a great school, but said, "Just because we're doing great doesn't mean we can't do better."

Related Topics: NISSWA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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