Superintendent job goes to Westrum
Lee Westrum and his family have a reason to be excited about their future.
The 43-year-old superintendent of the Benson Public School system was offered the Wadena-Deer Creek superintendent's post Feb. 16. Pending an agreement between Westrum and the District 2155 school board, there is a moving day, a new home and new challenges ahead for the Westrums.
Westrum and his wife, Jennifer (Carter) Westrum, already have a history with Wadena. They were married in Wadena and have spent a great deal of time in the community.
Jennifer graduated from Wadena in 1989, and is presently a psychologist and the clinical director of counseling associates of west-central Minnesota, a department of the Swift County Hospital.
The Westrums have two daughters, Abby, a 12-year-old seventh-grader, and Allison, a 6-year-old first-grader.
Lee recalls his family was actually on their way to Wadena for an all-class reunion June 17, 2010, when a tornado destroyed the old WDC Secondary School.
"I just want to say how impressed we were by how the community responded," he said.
Lee is a native of Clearbrook, Minn., a community around 90 miles north of Wadena. He received a bachelor's degree in social studies education from Bemidji State University, and earned his educational administration degrees from St. Cloud State University.
He has been in Benson for the last 21 years and has held a number of different jobs in the Benson school system. Lee has been a social studies instructor, coach, activities director, principal and prom director. He has served as superintendent in Benson since 2007.
Lee said he is very impressed with the new middle/high school and WDC's use of technology.
"WDC has a real good reputation for being a progressive school district," he said.
Lee also said he will be renewing ties with two fellow educators, Sebeka Superintendent Dave Fjeldheim and Park Rapids Superintendent Lance Bagstad.
Fjeldheim, who has been in Sebeka nine years, was the principal for grades 7-12 in the Lakeview school district when Lee was a high school principal in Benson.
"I think he is going to be a real nice fit for the district," Fjeldheim said. "He has a lot of the values the rest of us have, including hard work and dedication."
Benson Principal Dennis Laumeyer has worked with Lee for seven years.
"He has been a very good mentor to me both professionally and socially," Laumeyer said.
Laumeyer also likes the way Lee handles his work.
"He is very dedicated to the success of students," Laumeyer said. "He treats people with respect and with dignity.
Lee's hobbies include reading, fishing and hunting.
If a contract agreement can be reached, it will begin July 1. Dr. Virginia Dahlstrom, who has served as WDC superintendent since 2008, will see her contract with the district end June 30.
Lee is optimistic about a future at WDC.
"I think a new challenge will be exciting for me," he said.