Spartan Shield

Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

Superintendent+Dr.+Jim+Spelhaug+proudly+stands+with+his+appointed+replacement%2C+Brian+Strusz.
Superintendent Dr. Jim Spelhaug proudly stands with his appointed replacement, Brian Strusz.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Spelhaug proudly stands with his appointed replacement, Brian Strusz.

Maya McClain

Maya McClain

Superintendent Dr. Jim Spelhaug proudly stands with his appointed replacement, Brian Strusz.

Maya McClain, Photo Manager

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






After 41 years in education, 29 of which have been with the Pleasant Valley School District, Dr. Jim Spelhaug, the district’s superintendent, has decided to conclude his career this June. The district’s assistant superintendent, Brian Strusz, has been unanimously selected as his replacement. Strusz is both excited and hopeful that his experience and knowledge has prepared him to serve the district in this important role. 

 

Superintendent Spelhaug to pass the torch

Dr. Jim Spelhaug spent seven years as principal of Pleasant Valley High School, and another seven as assistant superintendent before spending fifteen as the district’s superintendent. “I’ve had a long career,” Spelhaug said. “The baton has got to be passed at some point and I think the district is in a good spot.”

Spelhaug looks forward to spending more time with his children in retirement. “It was a good natural dividing point, as my youngest daughter will be graduating high school, and it’s an opportunity to enjoy that aspect of my children’s life without the constraints this position puts on me,” Spelhaug added.

The Pleasant Valley community acknowledges the countless constraints that go hand in hand with the position of superintendent and believes Spelhaug certainly did it justice. He attributes his successes as a superintendent and as a district to the faculty at PV. “We have been blessed with a really good group of professionals that is the PV faculty, administrative team, and board of education–people who really understand that role and have good minds and good hearts.”

Beyond the classroom, he credits the members of the school board with always making decisions for the district with the students’ best interests in mind. “Their leadership and the execution of their roles as board members has been a fundamental building block to our success and that stretches over decades,” he said.

During his time as superintendent, Spelhaug experienced many challenges and successes. “Education is an intensely human enterprise; everything we get done is through people. It’s always a challenge attracting and retaining really good people. And it’s always a challenge, as we are a larger district, addressing all the variant needs of all the variant students,” commented Spelhaug.

“You measure success in what we do by the lives that you impact. I’m really proud of the lives that we, the institution of the PV community, have impacted across these almost three decades. I think we have done that well,” Spelhaug said.

He reflected on the many educators who aided in his and the district’s growth before he became a leader. “I was pretty young when I got the opportunity to join the PV School District and follow some really good folks to build on what they did in their careers. I’m proud to have added to that,” Spelhaug said.

All four of Spelhaug’s children were educated in the PV District, with his youngest, Carli, in her senior year. While some parents might consider that a potential hurdle, Spelhaug has always seen it as a positive. “I would struggle to work in a [district] where my kids were not. I would ask myself, ‘If I wouldn’t want this for my children, how could I ever want this for someone else’s children?’ I think that the opportunities my children and all of our students have received by being in this system is a great blessing,” he said.

During his first year as high school principal, Pleasant Valley had a total of 826 students. Since that time, the number has almost doubled. “When I first came, we would grow by maybe 20-25 kids as the average in a year, and that was almost all at the secondary level. Since then, we have grown to the 50-75 average [annual student growth] and now to over 100 in a year,” he said.

Over the course of his service to the Pleasant Valley District, Spelhaug has influenced and supported countless students and staff members. Those he positively affected would say the mark he is leaving on his district will be one that is not soon forgotten. For 29 years, he has been devoted to the well-being of the Pleasant Valley District and the people in it. Spelhaug is leaving with pride in what he and his faculty have been able to accomplish for their students, and he hopes for an even brighter future for the district. Those who know Spelhaug best understand that he’ll surely be watching the district’s successes as one of Pleasant Valley’s all-time biggest fans.

 

Brian Strusz to take over position of superintendent

Brian Strusz has no nerves when thinking about transitioning from assistant to superintendent. He said, “Having had the opportunity to be a part of the district for the past 20 years, I’ve had the chance to watch that transition of being committed to excellence evolve.” Strusz understands, however, that running a successful and fast-growing district is not a walk in the park. “There’s definitely challenge involved in making sure we keep moving forward, but it’s not as scary because I believe we have people who are committed to that mission,” he said.

“I think what’s exciting for me is continuing to work with the PV team–all our teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and students. I’m excited to continue working with them. As we look to the future, Pre-K through 12 is not the end; the future is past high school. I want to make sure we have given students the hope and success to move on into the future,” said Strusz.

Like Spelhaug, Strusz also attributes the district’s success to its faculty, along with its dedicated students. “It’s the hardworking people and being committed to excellence. Our goal is teaching and learning, but what’s so cool about PV is that kids are engaged and actively involved in fine arts, extracurriculars, sports, and after school programs. The number of kids actively involved is amazing,” he said.

Strusz is looking for ways to improve the district and areas on which to focus. He says the key to that is, “making sure we never become satisfied with what we have or where we are.” He believes progress is made when the status quo is challenged. “As students go through their years of school, their needs continue to change. We need to make sure we keep all students engaged in learning and school to make them successful. In order to be committed to excellence, we can’t have complacence,” he said.

“Dr. Spelhaug has done an amazing job looking to the future with all our facilities because of the growth,” Strusz said. He provided examples of that future outlook in referencing the high school’s new addition and the plan for Forest Grove Elementary to open for the 2021-2022 school year. “What this will allow me to do is look at our curriculum and instruction, and assess what are we doing to prepare our kids for post-secondary success,” Strusz said.

Strusz wants to focus on improving programs within the high school, such as the art programs or computer programs. Adding new necessary courses will allow administration and students to look more towards the future and will help to better prepare students for success.

Strusz also plans on focusing on faculty, as well, by meeting with teachers and listening to all the different groups of PV. “I’m very proud of the teachers we have who work hard and help students succeed. We need to make sure teachers are collaborating and working together to move our district forward and to help students move forward as well,” Strusz commented.

After holding 14 open door meetings in the community, speaking with dozens of teachers and district staff, inviting countless students to provide input and thoroughly interviewing the candidate, the school board was confident in their decision.

After serving in the Pleasant Valley District for 22 years, it was unanimously decided that Brian Strusz is the best candidate for the job. Strusz has already made strong connections with faculty and is eager to strengthen them as they look for new ways to ensure student success. Under his leadership, students and faculty can be sure the Pleasant Valley School District will continue to thrive.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent”

  1. Suzy VenHorst on October 11th, 2018 3:59 am

    So glad Brian was chosen for this position. With his guidance and dedication, the PV School District will flourish. All the different facets of the job will be a welcomed challenge for Brian as he continues on the policies of today and make sure that these goals are communicated throughout the district. Excellent choice to lead PV forward!!

  2. Evan on October 12th, 2018 8:10 am

    That is a great choice!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    ALICE drill procedures

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    The new ALICE drill

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    News

    P3 campus implemented at Pleasant Valley schools

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    News

    District paper shortage sparks classroom changes

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    JUUL-ing

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    News

    Solution to PV’s parking problem

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    New restaurants break ground in PV area

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    Troupe 856: the Myatt returns

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    Model UN-ification

  • Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent

    PV News

    Drunk driver crashes into Bettendorf home

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School
Passing the torch: PV selects new superintendent