Bates: 'We want to take a chance to get excellence.'

    Jason "J.J." Vold, currently the director of a charter school in Hutchinson, Minn., has been hired as the new principal of Crookston High School, Superintendent Chris Bates announced Thursday.

    “We want to take a chance to get excellence," Bates told the Times. "He'll bring an excitement and a freshness to the district, I believe."

    Vold was interviewed along with five other finalists on Tuesday by three different committees at CHS. Longtime industrial technology teacher Chris Trostad was the only local candidate to seek the position, made available by the resignation of Lon Jorgenson, who's becoming the superintendent in the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo School District.

    Bates said when he told Trostad of the decision Thursday, "He handled it like those who know Chris think he would handle it, with dignity and class," the superintendent said. "He's a great person, a great friend and a tremendous servant to this school district."

    Vold is director of the New Century Academy charter school in Hutchinson. He's a graduate of Brainerd High School and earned his bachelors degree in Secondary Education - Social Studies from the University of North Dakota. He earned his masters degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and his K-12 Principal and Superintendent Certificate from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.

    According to the New Century Academy website, the charter school includes students in grades 7 through 12, and for the past two years, as part of the Minnesota Department of Education school report card grading system, has been a "Celebration Eligible" school, which means it's among the top performing schools in the state when it comes to student academic proficiency. The NCA has seen consistent enrollment growth, according to the website.

    "Charter schools have no students, they start with no students," Bates said. "They have to go and out get them, and his school has really done that. Those students must be going there for a reason."

    Bates said the fact that Vold's experience in the public school system is limited was considered by the groups who interviewed him. But the thoughts of CHS senior McKaela Larson, a member of the student committee who interviewed the candidate – delivered to Bates over lunch between interviews – stuck with the superintendent. "She said he had so many great ideas," Bates recalled. "She didn't think they'd all work here, but she was impressed by how many great things he has dancing around in his head."

    The interview process was tough on all of the candidates, Bates said, a process that made them think like the CHS principal. "He survived it," he said of Vold. "He spoke to the issues, he had answers on teaching, test scores, teacher evaluation, discipline...all of the issues."

    Bates said he spoke with the school board's Personnel Committee and is confident there will be no issues regarding the board's approval of Vold as the new CHS principal when the board meets on May 13.

    Prior to his tenure at the charter school, Vold taught middle school social studies, reading and language arts for three years, and taught three years of high school social studies.

    He also has a great deal of hockey coaching experience, serving as assistant girls' varsity coach of a state tournament team, and as head boys' varsity hockey coach in Detroit Lakes. Vold was also Section 8 hockey president, two-time mid-state conference coach of the year, general manager of the Section 8 Elite II League, and was an assistant and head coach of the USA Hockey Select 16's Festival.

    Vold and his wife, Kelly, have two young sons, Alex and Austin.