Though he isn't officially a Minnesota resident yet — he and his wife Jackie will close on their new home in Audubon at the end of this month — Tim Godfrey is already settling into his duties as the new superintendent of Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools.
"I couldn't be more happy with the vibe of the community," he said during a Wednesday interview at his new office in Lake Park. "It's a beautiful home, in a beautiful area ... we're very excited."
His first day on the job was July 1. Prior to coming to LP-A, Godfrey spent two years as superintendent of the Kenmare (N.D.) school district.
He had considered applying for the post at LP-A last year, after the departure of longtime superintendent Dale Hogie, but felt he was not quite ready to make the move at that time. The position went to Paula Henry, who resigned earlier this year and left the district last month.
"I felt I wasn't ready — I'm a strong leader, but I didn't feel I had experience yet to lead the (LP-A) district," he said of that decision.
One year later, he reconsidered — in part because of the district's advertisement that it was looking looking for an "innovative" leader.
"That really tripped my heartstrings," Godfrey said, adding that he feels innovation is one of his strengths as an administrator.
"I feel it's so important to build 21st century skills in our students," he said. "Students face a lot of challenges after graduation — one of the major challenges is navigating life."
While some school districts have the viewpoint that it is parents' job to teach their kids life skills, Godfrey says he feels it is a partnership between school and parent.
"I feel it is our duty (as a school district) to create community members and citizens," he added. "I also believe that we need to create leaders in our classrooms, so we can collectively lead together.
"One of my passions is project-based learning (PBL)," he said. "It teaches through the process ... by doing."
When a child learns a new skill through doing, instead of merely absorbing the information, "they own the knowledge of that process," he explained.
One of the things that attracted him to Lake Park-Audubon was the fact that it is in the middle of some prime hunting and fishing territory, Godfrey said, adding that he feels it is important to be as self-sufficient as possible.
"I hunt, I fish, I garden, I can my own food, I make my own bacon and brew my own beer," he said, adding that he has tried his best to teach those survival skills to each of his four children.
He and his wife Jackie, who married just two years ago, have a blended family of six children and five grandchildren, "with one more (grandchild) on the way."
They are in the process of relocating to the district: Godfrey said that they close on the sale of their old home in Fargo, and the purchase of their new one in Audubon, on the same day.
"We also own a home in Kenmare still," he said, adding that they hope to sell that one soon as well.
Once they are settled into their new home, Godfrey said, he plans to become an active member of the community.
"In Kenmare I was on several community boards, and I plan to do the same thing here, as opportunities arise," he said. "I think public service — giving back in all aspects of what you do — is a very high virtue."
In fact, that's one of the reasons he and Jackie decided to make the move to Audubon.
"The school board here has approved moving forward with a bond referendum (in November) for building renovations — some here (at the high school in Lake Park), but mostly in Audubon," he said. "I want to help bear that tax impact as well as other members of the community."