When it comes to education, Bob Tews has experienced the gamut from spending time in the classroom, serving as a coach, driving bus and climbing the ladder to work in administration as both a principal and superintendent.
What makes his experience unique is he did all of that in the same school district.
Tews, who grew up in Litchfield attended Jamestown College in North Dakota. While he played football and was a member of the wrestling team at the college level, Tews also earned a degree in education.
In 1979 he got his first teaching job in Walhalla, N.D., which is about as far north as one can be and still call the U. S. home. Tews taught seventh and eighth graders there for one year before he made a move to get closer to home.
Tews accepted a job in the Morgan school district in 1980 as a sixth-grade teacher and assistant wrestling coach.
“Back then it was just Morgan,” said Tews, adding from the beginning he believes to this day the chance to move to Morgan was the best decision he could have made. “It was the right fit for me.”
It has always been the right fit, he added.
For the next seven years, Tews taught sixth graders and was there when the Morgan school opted to consolidate with the Franklin school district to create what is now Cedar Mountain. When that transition occurred, Tews made the move to Franklin to continue his role as a sixth-grade teacher.
For Tews one of the highlights of sixth grade was the annual trip to the Capitol in St. Paul.
Then in 1987 a leadership change took place.
“The elementary school principal left,” said Tews, adding at that time he had been pursuing a Masters degree.
Tews was asked if he had any interest in moving into an administrative role. No, said Tews, serving in an administrative role was not part of the initial plan when he earned his education degree.
“I did not see myself leaving the classroom,” said Tews.
Pursuit of his Masters degree and administrative certification was expedited, and Tews said he made a lot of trips to Mankato State University.
“I think there were times when the car actually drove itself,” he said with a smile.
Tews was hired to take over the role of principal for the elementary school in Franklin, which is a job he continued in until 2000 when he took over the role of school superintendent.
For the past 19 years, Tews has served in that leadership position.
Over the 39 years Tews has been in education he has seen a lot of changes in school, in the community he calls home and in his personal life. Tews met his wife, a fellow educator, in the school district, and their children are Cedar Mountain graduates.
He has been involved in construction projects and has seen a number of faces come and go over the years who spent time in the classroom or in leadership roles as fellow administrators or members of the board of education.
In the end, said Tews, the decisions that were made always had the best interest of students in mind.
“The years have just flown by,” said Tews.
Education is not the same as it was in 1979, agreed Tews, who said while the students are the one constant the way they are taught has changed. Technology is a big part of that.
Tews said a job like his is not one that can be done without great support, and he expressed his appreciation to those who have worked alongside him during his career and who helped make his job a lot easier.
He also said behind his success was an understanding family who knew there would be times when he might miss some of their events because of a meeting or some other job commitment.
For Tews, the goal in education is to provide what students need to be successful for the next stage of their life, and he believes that is what Cedar Mountain has been all about during his time.
“There have been so many successful students who came from Cedar Mountain,” said Tews, adding on a regular basis he will run into someone who is a Cedar Mountain graduate who is doing great things.
Tews is retiring from his role in the Cedar Mountain School District, adding he believes the district is in a very good place right now. For him, it makes sense to go out on top, rather than leave when things are not going so well.
“Our enrollment is good and the finances are good,” said Tews.
Tews also believes he is leaving the school in good hands. This last year as an administrator for Tews has been a good one, as he has filled more of a part-time role, which has given him the chance to do some other things.
That has included sitting in the classroom once again, not as a teacher but as a student. This year Tews has been taking the Dakota language class with other high-school students, adding he has been welcomed and encouraged by them.
“I wanted to be able to introduce myself in Dakota,” he said, adding that task was accomplished.
Not one to just sit out on the deck, Tews plans to stay plenty busy. He has taken on a part-time role as an administrator for the Lynd School District for the 2019-20 school year.
Tews knows he is going to miss the people, students and staff alike, adding in the final days he intentionally spent time greeting them in the morning. There were days, he added, when his face hurt from smiling so much.
Tews intends to continue supporting the students of Cedar Mountain at their events proudly continuing to call himself a Cougar. The roots for the Tews family have been deeply established in Morgan, and there are no plans for that to change.
For Tews, the past 39 years have been a wonderful experience, and he is glad he had the privilege to be part of the lives of so many people.
“I am looking forward to seeing all of the good things that happen in the future at Cedar Mountain,” he said.