Dresler moves to principal job at Kennedy Elementary

WILLMAR -- Todd Goggleye wasn't looking for a new job, and he had been turning down inquiries from recruiters for some time. But then the call came about the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul. Just talk to us, they said. So Goggleye, prin...

Todd Goggleye
Kennedy principals are Todd Goggleye, left, who is leaving, and Kristin Dresler, who is moving from assistant principal to principal for the next school year. (GARY MILLER | TRIBUNE)

WILLMAR - Todd Goggleye wasn’t looking for a new job, and he had been turning down inquiries from recruiters for some time.

But then the call came about the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul. Just talk to us, they said.
So Goggleye, principal of Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar, agreed to talk. He is of Native American descent and has always been interested in working with Native children.
Eventually, the St. Paul school won him over - “It’s hard to find Native American principals.” Little and big things kept happening that eventually made him think that moving to St. Paul was meant to be, he said. However, part of him is still tied to Willmar. Just talking about leaving brought him to tears Monday.
“Willmar’s going to have a special place for us, for my family in our heart,” he said. “We have great memories, and we have great friends here now, too.” Goggleye, his wife Megan and their daughter Sadie, 9, will be moving later in the summer.
“These students have a special place in my heart,” he said. “In Native culture, we don’t say, ‘goodbye,’ we say ‘until we meet again.’”
Goggleye said he plans to have things out of his office by Friday, and that’s when new Principal Kristin Dresler will be moving in.
Dresler, the current assistant principal at Kennedy, is “a natural fit for taking over,” Goggleye said. Dresler said she and Goggleye share a vision for the direction of Kennedy.
“It’s very exciting, and I’m a little nervous, too, of course,” she said. “I’m excited to keep moving Kennedy in the right direction.”
Dresler has worked in education for 25 years. “I’ve been here just one year, but I know the district is a good fit,” she said.
In his three years at Kennedy, Goggleye has led a turnaround of the school’s academic standing, from being ranked among the lowest 5 percent of schools in the state to being named a Celebration School. The state now classifies Kennedy as an example for other schools to follow.
The school’s work with Response to Intervention, a method of addressing children’s individual needs, and with teachers’ Professional Learning Communities has contributed to the success.
Dresler said she has worked in the past with Professional Learning Communities and is anxious to see how they can grow in the coming years, helping teachers deepen their understanding of teaching strategies. Both principals, old and new, said the teachers in the building have a strong work ethic and are already talking about the next steps to take.
“They’re not ready to sit back and relax,” Dresler said.
Goggleye echoed that.
“The teachers work crazy hard. … She’s inheriting a great staff.”
The first time Dresler heard Goggleye address the staff, she said, he told them, “One thing we’re going to do every day is love up those kids.”
It’s something the staff has taken to heart, she said, and she expects that to continue.
At this point, she said, she doesn’t anticipate making lots of changes. Her plan is to continue to build on the staff’s strong work to this point.
Dresler, 51, grew up in St. Paul and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree from the University of St. Mary and a specialist degree from the University of St. Thomas. She taught in Texas 11 years and in the Osseo School District for 14 years.
Her husband, Steve, was always interested in living in a more rural area, she said, and she’s happy they finally made the move. They have four grown sons and a daughter, Erin, who is 8.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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