The Henton Headlines: April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Did you know Governor Walz has proclaimed April as the Military Child Month?

Here is a link to a brief article with some ideas on how you might honor students in your schools who have a parent serving in the military:

LAST CALL: Are you interested in becoming one of the two MASA representatives on the MSHSL BOARD?

Letters of interest for the two MASA representative openings on the MSHSL Board of Directors are due by the end of the day, Friday, April 16, 2021.  Please address your letters to the MASA Board of Directors and Executive Director.

*Added feature to Henton Headlines*

Each week there will be a section at the bottom of the Headlines dedicated to upcoming “Dates to Consider.” There will also be a link to the MASA calendar that is easily accessible from the main page of the MASA website. If there are dates you think we should add, please let me know.  A huge thanks to MASA staff member Jeanna Vohnoutka who maintains the calendar!

Leadership Matters: 

"Uncertainty is a permanent part of the leadership landscape. It never goes away." - Andy Stanley 

Screen Shot 2021-04-15 at 12.48.51 AM

Detailed information may be found at
and the MASA Calendar.

April April Military Child Month
April 13 Observation of Ramadan begins
April 15 DUE: MDE Seclusion Report Quarter 3 (January 1-March 31)
April 15 MASA Foundation Board Meeting (1 - 3 pm)
April 21 Rama Navami Celebration
April 21 Great Start Cohort
April 22 Administrative Professionals' Day
April 20 Orthodox Good Friday
April 20 MASA Women’s Leadership Network (10 - 11 am)
April 20 DUE: MDE STAR (Staff Automated Reporting)
April 22 MASA Master Class (10 - 11 am)
April 29 Region 1 Virtual Capitol Visit
April 30 DUE: MDE Federal Title Grant Applications


The Henton Headlines: April 8, 2021

April 8, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Call to action will be coming...

I will be sending a “Call to Action” email regarding the need to contact your legislators about the basic funding formula.  I am not ready to say when that is as the work of the legislature is progressing and the timing of our advocacy is important. Key legislators will need to hear from members of all MASA component groups across the state. 

*The House Omnibus Bill has an increase of 2% for each year of the biennium. The Senate Omnibus Bill has zero for both years.  Each omnibus bill has various pots of money for other areas-many of which we support and are grateful to see included.  That said, as we know money on the formula is essential so we will need all hands on deck to let our representatives know our position on the formula.*

Reading and TedTalk on addressing racism:

One of our members has shared the following link and information about Dena Simmons who recently left Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence to start her own non-profit. She is a brilliant scholar and a very good writer. She also has an impressive TedTalk.

Are you interested in becoming one of the two MASA representatives on the MSHSL BOARD?

Letters of interest for the two MASA representative openings on the MSHSL Board of Directors are due by the end of the day, Friday, April 16, 2021.  Please address your letters to the MASA Board of Directors and Executive Director.

Have you voted for MASA Executive Officers and Representatives for the Board of Directors?

There have been a number of reminders to vote sent to you by Dave Christians and I am happy to report that voter turnout is higher than it has been for years-thank you!  If you have not voted, please continue to do so as some of the races are oh so close! Check to see if you are eligible to vote here.

Leadership Matters: 

Danny Steele (@SteeleThoughts) Tweeted:

Every school has essentially the same mission: “Preparing kids for their future… “ What matters, though, is not the quality of words in the frame, but the quality of relationships in the building.

The Henton Headlines: April 1, 2021

April 1, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Repost of MDE resources of support as the trial of Derek Chauvin moves forward, as we grieve the loss of those to mass murder and learn of the violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

On Monday, March 29, Dr. Heather Mueller shared the following resources “ a starting point” in helping to support your students, families, staff, and communities:

Additional resources are available on MDE's Responding to Trauma and Tragedy webpage.

While the resources Dr. Mueller shared were in response to the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, they may also be valuable as we remember other recent tragedies and their effects on our entire learning communities. 

As we know, Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd is the first of three. Thus, there will be a protracted period of time when you may need to support your learning communities with the many resources found at the sites above.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or MASA staff if we might also be of assistance. Your needs are equally important as the needs of your school communities and these are deeply emotional times.

Letter to MDE regarding the next round of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA):

Late last week Dr. Mueller asked the education organizations for input on how the state might allocate funding from the ARPA to school districts. I sought input from the MASA Board of Directors and with assistance from colleagues at MASBO, AMSD and MSBA drafted a response and sent this letter to MDE on March 30. The aforementioned organizations are also signatories. Let’s hope allocations and guidance are released to school districts very soon. Please feel free to use this information in your advocacy efforts.

Justice Page and President Kashkari to speak at MASA Fall Conference

In order to learn more about the Page Amendment to the state constitution, we have invited Justice Page and President Kashkari to join us in Duluth on September 27, at 1:00 pm. MASA has not yet taken a position on the amendment and wants to ensure members have the opportunity to learn more, directly ask Justice Page and President Kashkari questions, and discuss with colleagues their thoughts on the proposed amendment.

Deadline for letters of interest to be considered for the MASA/MSHSL representatives:

Letters of interest for the two MASA representative openings on the MSHSL Board of Directors are due by the end of the day, Friday, April 16, 2021.  Please address your letters to the MASA Board of Directors and Executive Director.

Leadership Matters: 

Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) Tweeted: Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education. 

The Henton Headlines: March 25, 2021

March 25, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Sometimes it feels there are no words to express the challenges of this past year and what lies ahead. Do you need confidential support?

MASA’s Professional Assistance Team is here to help and can be trusted to remain confidential.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any one of the members listed below. As well, MASA’s staff is always available to assist you confidentially.

Joe Gothard
Saint Paul Public Schools
Cell: 651-587-2895
Office: 651-767-8152

Jeff Olson
Cell: 507-340-0628
Home: 507-934-9195

Patty Phillips
Cell: 651-357-0996

Gary Prest
Cell: 612-202-4684
Office: 612-626-8647

Jerry Nesland
Cell: 218-640-0267
Office: 218-894-2439
Home: 218-385-3194

Aspiring Superintendents’ Academy begins March 26 with 39 participants!

Thank you to the superintendents listed below who have agreed to be coaches, the presenters who will provide important information to the cohort members throughout the next 18 months, retiree Jane Sigford for assuming a leading role, and the MASA staff for all their work with this initiative, especially Director of Professional Learning Mia Urick!

  • Tamara Champa, Pine Island
  • Jeff Elstad, Owatonna
  • Reggie Engebritson, St. Louis County and Mountain Iron-Buhl
  • Bill Gronseth, St. Peter
  • Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, Hopkins
  • Chris Mills. St. Stephen-Argyle Central
  • Astein Osei, St. Louis Park
  • Scott Thielman, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose

Interested in becoming an MASA Rep on the MSHSL Board of Directors?

Watch for an email with more information that will be sent by MASA staff member Deb Larson on my behalf tomorrow, March 26. 

Leadership Matters

damonwest7 (@Damon West) Tweeted: “The better part of communicating is listening. Everyone wants to feel like they have been heard.”  #BeACoffeeBean 

The Henton Headlines: March 18, 2021

March 18, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Belief statements...Strategic Plan...Continuous Improvement Plan...What is MASA doing?

The current MASA Strategic Plan expired in 2020.  In preparation for the next MASA Strategic Plan, the following has occurred:

  • When I started my new position as MASA Executive Director in July, the Board of Directors received my transition plan.  My plan included convening focus groups with the following goal as an initial step toward creating a new Strategic Plan:
    • “Listen and gather input from representative groups within the membership to learn what support services should be sustained to meet current needs, where there are opportunities for growth and innovation, how to advance equity for all, and to continually improve the practice of MASA.”
  • All MASA members were surveyed in September, 2020 about their thoughts regarding the expiring strategic plan.
    • Results were shared and discussed at the Board of Directors meeting in September, 2020.
  • Ten focus group sessions were held in October and November with one session for each MASA component group, retirees, retired female leaders, leaders of color, leaders who are female, regional leaders, business partners, and one additional session that was open to all.
    • The results of the focus group sessions were shared and discussed with the MASA Board of Directors at the December board meeting. 
    • The results were shared via email with all MASA members in December.
  • The December Board of Directors’ meeting featured a review of the planning steps to date and a plan for continuing the development of a strategic plan that would be approved by the Board of Directors at its late September, 2021 board meeting.
    • The Board discussed developing belief statements for MASA using feedback from the focus group sessions. The belief statements would be foundational for developing goals and action items included in the strategic plan. The expired strategic plan has five belief statements. The Board planned to review draft belief statements and member feedback at their March meeting.
  • In February, 2021, all MASA members were invited to respond to a survey of 15 draft belief statements, which were based on feedback from the focus groups and some belief statements carried over from the previous strategic plan.
    • The results of the survey were shared and discussed at the March 2021 Board of Directors meeting and will be sent to all members soon.
    • The Board of Directors decided to continue the discussion on belief statements at the June Board of Directors meeting.

There is much work ahead and MASA thanks all of you who have participated in focus groups, responded to surveys and provided feedback in countless ways, helping to inform the Board of Directors and me throughout this journey. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your representative on the Board of Directors or me if you have thoughts on what should be included in the plan. I often refer to the next plan as a Continuous Improvement Plan that will be reviewed annually. No matter the name, I am confident the Board of Directors will approve a plan that will be both aspirational and supportive of all of our members.  

Aspiring Superintendents’ Academy acceptance letters mailed to 37 applicants!

Thank you for helping to recruit the most applicants we have ever had for our Aspiring Superintendents’ Academy! This year’s cohort begins its first session on Friday, March, 26. Together we will assist our aspiring superintendents to learn what some of the essential elements are to becoming a successful superintendent in Minnesota. 

Resource for addressing learning loss:

Recommended to me to provide to you:

Leadership Matters: 

"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be." - Rosalynn Carter

The Henton Headlines: March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

A call to action: MSHSL ballots due tomorrow, March 5:

Abundant thanks to all of you who have cast your ballots and the regional leaders who have been tracking who has voted and contacting those who have not.  Please note the deadline of March 5 if you have yet to vote. I urge you to cast your ballot and to vote yes!

Leading the learning: See you at the MASA/MASE Spring Conference?

I hope you are able to attend this annual event where we honor our colleagues receiving awards and where you will have the opportunity to attend some informative and interesting general sessions!  

MASA has reduced the conference fee in half and will also offer free Master Classes during the month of March.  Let’s hope this is our last virtual conference!  Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Here is a link to register:

Colleague seeking your input as part of his National Superintendent Certification Program:

Caledonia Area Schools Superintendent Craig Ihrke is collecting information from school administrators regarding what has worked during the pandemic and what changes have been made that might be beneficial moving forward.  He would be grateful if you entered your thoughts here.

New MASA offerings a success!

Three new opportunities developed in response to the focus group input received this fall are off to a great start!  Look for more information to come about MASA’s network for female school leaders, network for leaders of color, and another network focused on equity and excellence in education. Participants have provided positive feedback and the goal is to sustain all three groups and others desired by members moving forward. MASA serves you!

Leadership Matters: 

"A great leader never expects you to read their mind. They always let you know what they are thinking."@LollyDaskal 

The Henton Headlines: February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

Have you cast your MSHSL ballot?

As of this writing, just a little more than 300 ballots have been cast. This includes public, private, and homeschool ballots. To reach the required 75% quorum we need to have 405 schools vote. If you have not received a letter from the MSHSL sent postal mail dated February 18 that includes ballot information specific to your school/district, please email Lynne Johnson at

Here’s my sports analogy for the day - we are in the red zone. It’s second and 7. Let’s get this ball in the end zone before it’s fourth and inches!

P.S. I’m not sharing the name of the quarterback, but a certain animal comes to mind!

Your school board may be asked by your teacher’s local to pass this ED MN resolution

Some school boards have been asked by their teachers’ local to pass this resolution which does not align with MASA’s platform.

Education assessments in the time of COVID-19 and beyond

Donna Roper, Director of Research and Assessment for Edina Public Schools, shared this comprehensive report with me and it’s a good one to have on file. Don’t be scared off by the length-read the entire piece, or scan for sections relevant to your audience. Basic information to detailed analysis. Either you, or the staff in your system dealing with assessments will be glad to have this information. Thank you, Donna!

MSHSL Financial Advisory Committee includes three superintendents!

The MSHSL has created a financial advisory committee that will meet over the course of the next 18 months. A huge thanks to the two superintendents identified below who went through the MSHSL application process and were selected to serve in this capacity, and Superintendent Tom Jerome of Roseau Public Schools the current Vice-president of the MSHSL Board of Directors who will also serve on the committee.

Keith Kottke, Springfield Public Schools

Brandon Lunak, Moorhead Area Public Schools

Leadership Matters: 

"Weak leaders have the luxury of looking after themselves. Great leaders have the honor of looking after others." - @Simon Sinek 

The Henton Headlines: February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

IMPORTANT CALL TO ACTION: Superintendent representation on the MSHSL Board of Directors

The MSHSL sent a mailing to Superintendents/Presidents/Heads of School including the link for member voting today, Thursday, February 18. MASA has shared an up-to-date email list of all superintendent email addresses to the MSHSL as recently as last week so all superintendents should have received this very important message today. 


  1. The voting portal will open on Monday, February 22 at 8:00am CST for designated school representatives, or their duly designated alternate to submit the one member school vote.
  2. Here are talking points for your use with additional information!

Confusing language on physical distancing in the latest edition of the Safe Learning Plan?

Immediately following the phone conference on Wednesday, February 17 with Deputy Commissioner Mueller, I received a text from a superintendent noting that the language on p. 9 of the Safe Learning Plan stating students must maintain six feet of physical distance from one another throughout the school day whenever feasible might be better understood if “must” was replaced with should. I sent a quick message asking if the language might be changed before the plan was widely distributed. I received a response that the language is what is stated in the CDC guidance.

What has become of the Learning Model Transition Group?

You may recall that months ago Deputy Commissioner Mueller formed this group to assist in discussions about school districts transitioning between learning models. The group dissolved this week; however, Deputy Commissioner Mueller continues to consult with the eight superintendents who were members of the group. She mentioned consulting with these superintendents during the Wednesday call with superintendents.

The group of superintendents has met on barely a moment’s notice with the Deputy Commissioner to provide feedback on whatever the topic of the call/meeting. Sometimes that has meant late afternoon calls on Saturdays, or Sunday evenings. While not all suggestions from this group have made it into the Safe Learning Plan, these superintendents are being consulted and are making a difference. They advocate on your behalf!

Here are the eight superintendents who are deserving of our support and gratitude:

Theresa Battle, Burnsville

Sherri Boderius, MACCRAY

Jeff Elstad, Owatonna

Matt Grose, Grand Rapids/Big Fork

Laine Larson, Brainerd

Sandra Lewandowski, Intermediate District 287

Cory McIntyre, Osseo

Jeff Ronnenberg, Spring Lake Park

Leadership Matters:

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” - Harry S. Truman


The Henton Headlines: February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

CALL TO ACTION: Superintendent representation on the MSHSL Board of Directors

As the MSHSL circulates information across the state regarding the MASA effort to amend the MSHSL Constitution, it is important that we remember and share the following:

  1. The superintendents’ effort to amend the MSHSL Constitution is to increase the MSHSL Board of Directors from 20 to 22 members.  Should the amendment pass, two seats will be added for superintendents appointed by MASA. If the amendment passes, no membership currently represented on the MSHSL Board of Directors will be displaced if the two seats guaranteed for superintendents are added.  
  2. The MSHSL will send a mailing to Superintendents/Presidents/Heads of School including the link for member voting on Thursday, February 18.
  3. The voting portal will open on Monday, February 22 at 8:00am CST for designated school representatives, or their duly designated alternate to submit the one member school vote.
  4. Here are talking points for your use with additional information!

ED MN Letter to Governor Walz and Commissioner Ricker

For your information-I received a copy of this letter that ED MN President Denise Specht sent to Governor Walz and Commissioner Ricker.  

Leadership Matters:

"Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship." - Benjamin Franklin 

The Henton Headlines: February 4, 2021

February 4, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week…

CALL TO ACTION: Superintendent representation on the MSHSL Board of Directors

The MSHSL has informed MASA of a new process to change the MSHSL constitution to guarantee two seats for superintendents on its Board of Directors. The two seats would be added to the current board made up of 20 representatives. No current representatives would be displaced. The board will change to a 22 member board with two superintendents identified by MASA. 

This change will require a vote among MSHSL members. All MSHSL high schools will have one vote. Information will be sent by both email and postal mail beginning next week. As of this writing, it is unclear if the ballots will go to the high schools or district offices. Stay tuned...

The current MSHSL Board of Directors President is Superintendent Blaine Novak from New York Mills, and the Vice-president is Tom Jerome, Superintendent of Roseau. Both Blaine and Tom were voted into their positions by their MSHSL regions. They have been instrumental in helping develop this process and have led through extraordinarily challenging times at the League. Please give them a shout-out for their leadership when you can.

Your MASA Board of Director representatives also deserves kudos for their work in taking a firm line with the League. They will be contacting you reminding you to vote. Please help them spread the word. This cannot be done without you.

Expect a full court press from MASA on communication about this opportunity. This is our time!

Here are talking points for your use with additional information!

Letter to Governor Walz and Commissioner Ricker

The following superintendents sent a letter on behalf of their school districts that you are invited to read here.

  • Carly Baker, Superintendent, Brooklyn Center Community Schools
  • Jason Berg, Superintendent, Farmington Schools
  • Renee Corneille, Superintendent, St. Anthony-New Brighton Schools
  • Beth Giese, Superintendent, St. Francis Schools
  • Joe Gothard, Superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools
  • Kim Hiel, Superintendent, Fridley Public Schools
  • Wayne Kazmierczak, Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools
  • David Law, Superintendent, Anoka-Hennepin Schools
  • Chris Lennox, Superintendent, Mounds View Public Schools
  • Julie Nielsen, Superintendent, South Washington County Schools
  • Jeff Ronneberg, Superintendent, Spring Lake Park Schools
  • Zena Stenvik, Superintendent, Columbia Heights Public Schools
  • Josh Swanson, Superintendent, Eden Prairie Schools


I received the following from Don Lifto of Baker Tilly, “Absolutely amazing that in the midst of a pandemic, our schools were able to raise 882 million dollars. That’s practically a quadrillion – in just a single election!” Don is right on. What you accomplish in your positions cannot be overstated.

A time to tap because the list of superintendent vacancies continues to grow!

We are confidentially aware of 24 superintendencies open for the 2021-2022 school year. 

If you know of someone who has the experience and skills necessary to become a superintendent, please tap that person/s on the shoulder and share the information found here The Academy consists of five 2-day sessions (Fridays and Saturdays) and each participant is supported by an experienced superintendent coach. Additional information has been emailed to you and will be available on the MASA website. The application deadline is Monday, February 22, 2021.

Leadership Matters: 

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion." - Dale Carnegie