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Pequot Lakes: Rankin to become superintendent in Minnewaska - final day June 30

After seven years at Pequot Lakes High School, principal Chip Rankin will step down from his position at the end of the school year to become superintendent of the Minnewaska School District.

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Chip Rankin

After seven years at Pequot Lakes High School, principal Chip Rankin will step down from his position at the end of the school year to become superintendent of the Minnewaska School District.

His final day as Pequot Lakes principal will be June 30.

Rankin has looked for a superintendent position in the past, but wanted to ensure it would be a good fit not just for him, but his family as well.

"Like anybody in any profession, you are going to look at different opportunities," Rankin said. "I have four children and my wife is a professional, so it had to be the right opportunity for me and my family ... (Minnewaska) is a pretty good school that has a good facility and a good community. It just seemed like a good place to look into."

Rankin announced his decision to the school staff Monday, Feb. 27, and was met with bittersweet excitement from district administration.

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"I am very proud of him and I am very excited for him that he has landed in a district that is an outstanding fit for him and his talents and skill set," Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. "He has made an exceptional mark on Pequot Lakes and the community and students over his seven years here. There is no doubt he will be missed, but I would never hold a strong leader like him back. He is ready, and he has found the right fit for him."

Rankin feels he can bring a leadership quality to Minnewaska that could potentially improve student achievement, which he credits his current superintendent for instilling in him.

"Chris Lindholm has been great at helping me grow as an instructional leader, and I think what I can bring to this - between my 23 years in the military and 10 years as a principal - is organizational leadership as well as the instructional leadership to help kick that achievement rate up another two or three notches," Rankin said. "With Chris' help and my experience, I think I can bring that to the table there."

Though his workload will increase as a superintendent, Rankin does not anticipate his new job interfering with his role in the Army National Guard in a significant way, and said the Minnewaska School District supports his role in the military.

In choosing Minnewaska, Rankin was drawn to qualities within the district that remind him of the district he is leaving.

"They have made a pretty significant investment in technology and facilities," Rankin said. "I have four kids in Pequot and you don't want to go backwards in your kids' education. (Minnewaska's) achievement levels are at or above Pequot ... and the community has a lot of resources. To have a larger community like Alexandria not too far from you, is kind of like Pequot with Brainerd. It's nice having access to a bigger town without having to live there."

In his time in Pequot Lakes, he said he is most proud of the opportunities the district has been able to provide its students and families, particularly with its college-level courses.

"We have been able to reinstate a seven-period day, which doesn't make sense to a lot of people, but you provide four additional opportunities in a kid's four years of high school," Rankin said. "That's kind of a big deal. It allowed for things like our STEM classes and makes it so kids don't have to choose between a foreign language and band.

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"In my time at Pequot, I think we have had more than 50 kids get their A.A. degree while attending Pequot Lakes High School.That is a great deal for our families and kids. Families are saving two years' worth of tuition. This year, we have 161 kids taking a college class, and that is tuition that families are not paying and our students are getting a little more rigor."

He attributes those opportunities to a community willing to invest in its students' education, which he said he may miss most about working in Pequot Lakes.

"When I first started here, we had to pass a referendum," Rankin said. "The community support and engagement that I have witnessed ... Our community supports its schools, kids and teachers, and I think that is really neat. There is proof when you walk through the campus. We have built a facility to meet our community's needs. A lot of communities struggle to do that."

Lindholm said the district is now accepting applications for the high school principal position. The district plans to review applications over spring break next week in the hopes of approving a new principal at the April 17 school board meeting.

"I hope it's not goodbye," Rankin said. "I hope it's, 'Let's stay in touch' and 'I'll see you soon.' ... This is really an opportunity for me and my family, but I will always look back to my years here and I hope to come back some day. I truly love the Brainerd lakes area and the community around our school district."

Chip Rankin
Chip Rankin

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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