Martinez enjoying job as Waubun principal
It may not have been an easy decision, but now that Eric Martinez is a semester into his new position as principal at Waubun Public Schools, he knows he made the right choice.
"Things are going very well," Martinez said early this week. "This is a great community, with lots of support, great kids and a super staff. They are focused on change, on making a difference, which I really like."
That's not to say he didn't enjoy his old job.
"I did love my job in Detroit Lakes," Martinez said of working as an assistant principal at Detroit Lakes High School, a position he held for seven years.
"I had contemplated coming here (to Waubun) a few years ago," he said, but added that he wasn't ready to make the move at that time.
Instead, the job went to Michael Carey. But when Carey left Waubun to accept a position in Bismarck, Martinez said, "I thought, why not throw my hat in the ring?"
This time, everything fell into place, and Martinez started this fall as the new principal for grades 5-12 at Waubun.
"It's been a very good move," he said.
A native of Mission, Texas, Martinez has been a resident of northwestern Minnesota "on and off" for the past 20 years, since earning his degree in social studies from Moorhead State University (now Minnesota State University Moorhead).
He taught social studies, first in Wahpeton, N.D. (though he lived in Fergus Falls at the time), and later in Detroit Lakes.
He taught social studies at Detroit Lakes High School for four years, while finishing up his degree in educational administration, and started as assistant principal there in 2005.
One of the things Martinez likes about his new job is that the staff's motto is, "One team, one goal -- to make sure every student succeeds."
In the spring of 2010, the district received a shock when Waubun was named by the state as one of Minnesota's lowest-performing schools.
Since then, both students and staff have been focused on changing that perception through continued improvement -- and according to Martinez, it's working.
"The school is in the third year of a school improvement grant, and we're showing a lot of good progress," he said.
The teachers administered some local assessment tests this fall, known as the NWAs, which are used as a tool to determine what areas need improvement prior to this spring's state testing
The students' initial performance on the tests was good, Martinez noted.
"We've also seen some improvement in attendance," he said.
"Our goal is to get these kids to a higher level -- either college, or career ready," Martinez said. "The staff is clearly devoted to that, and to our students."
While Martinez still lives in Detroit Lakes with his wife, Nicki, and daughter Mia (son Tre is attending college at Augsburg), much of his spare time this fall has been spent attending Bomber athletic events and school activities.
"Most of the time you'll find me at high school and middle school events," he said, adding that occasionally he also still attends Laker activities as well, when his daughter is involved.
Overall, Martinez said, he's finding the transition from Laker to Bomber to be a fairly smooth one.
"The people here are phenomenal," he said. "I'm very lucky to work with them. They're very dedicated."
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.