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Berg is new Farmington High School principal

Farmington High School assistant principal Jason Berg has been selected as the new FHS principal, starting with the 2014-15 school year.

Jason Berg has seen a lot of change at Farmington High School.

How much? Consider that when Berg came to the school as a math teacher and varsity boys basketball coach in 1993, his first playoff game was against Randolph High School.

These days there’s a new high school building, and the school is getting ready to move into the South Suburban Conference with teams a bit more formidable than the Rockets.

Berg has come and gone in the years since then, but he always seems to find his way back to Farmington. After his first five years at FHS he spent eight years as an assistant basketball coach and girls golf coach at Luther College before realizing the college coaching life wasn’t as glamorous as he imagined. He came back to FHS for another five years as a teacher and math coach before taking a job as principal at an elementary school in Owatonna. After a year and a half there, he returned to FHS during the 2012-13 school year as an assistant principal.

On Monday, Berg was introduced as the next principal at FHS. He will replace Ben Kusch, who has accepted a job as principal at Shakopee High School.

“I’m either a fan (of FHS) or they can’t get rid of me,” Berg joked Monday. “You always get drawn back to your true passion.”

School administration wasn’t originally in Berg’s career plan, but his work as a district math coach and on his specialist degree helped convince him that by helping teachers he could help more students than he could in the classroom.

In introducing Berg at Monday’s school board meeting, superintendent Jay Haugen said he heard right away that there was no need to look outside of FHS to find Kusch’s replacement. He said there were “a couple of” internal candidates for the job.

The changes at FHS aren’t likely to slow down once Berg moves to the principal’s office. All Farmington schools have spent time in recent years looking at how they can use the district’s strategic plan to change the way they teach students. The district is part of Minnesota’s first education innovation zone, a designation that allows some flexibility to pursue new ways of doing things.

The most obvious example of the district’s new approach has been putting an iPad in every student’s hands.

“Jason has been a big part … of creating the change we have in our schools,” Haugen said Monday.

Berg looks forward to continuing to guide that change.

“When I started, school was all about compliancy,” he said. “You do this because we tell you to do it. If you weren’t compliant there would be some kind of punishment. Now it’s more about, let’s have a conversation.

“The fun part is, it’s just a chance to grow. We know we don’t know what the answers are, but I think our strategic plan has given us the opportunity to try things and not really be beholden to the old paradigms of education.”

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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