WINNEBAGO - "It's been a good run."
So said Kevin Grant after announcing his retirement as principal of Winnebago and Blue Earth elementary schools this month.
Grant has been in education for 34 years but believes the time is right to step aside.
"Just a good time," he said of his reasons. "It's a good thing foar the district. It's time to move on. Let new blood and new ideas come in."
The board is looking for an assistant principal who will serve under Melissa McGuire, middle school principal, according to Frankie Bly, board chairman, noting it will be difficult to replace Grant.
"He's done exceptionally well," Bly said. "He's been a very positive role model for kids. Very active in both communities (Blue Earth and Winnebago). It's always hard to replace someone who's been around, but we will find someone."
Grant will not be leaving the district entirely.
"Next year, I'll still be working in the district, approximately one day a week, with Title I grant [as coordinator]," he said. "Then my wife (Vicki) and I hope to travel."
Maybe to see their children: Laurie and her family in London, Jenny in Mankato, and Jim in the Twin Cities.
Grant began his career as a fifth-grade teacher in Winnebago in 1979. He was a principal for 22 years. One of those years was at Cold Spring's ROCORI High School. He was principal of the Delavan school the year it closed.
"I was principal of Winnebago and Blue Earth the 13 years sixth grade was at Winnebago," he said.
Grant has seen a lot of changes over the decades.
"Changes in the education process," he said, "both for state and federal mandates. Changes with curriculum. Technology. When we first started with computers, they were [Apple] 2Es; now we're using iPads.
"Expectations: What the students used to learn in first and the beginning of second grade, they're now learning in kindergarten," he said.
"Also, expectation of accountability is much more prevalent than in the past," said Grant, citing as an example Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment testing, "which, over all, is a good thing. It is a great challenge."
What Grant will miss most are the students.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my years as a classroom teacher," he said. "Working closely with kids has always been my favorite part. Even as a principal, working with kids."
Kids are special, Grant believes.
"How resilient they are," he said. "They have a natural intelligence and nowadays they seem much more worldly at a younger age."
He thinks that's "in part due to technology and the world seems to be a smaller place than 20 to 30 years ago."