Brustkern to take over as PV Director of Secondary Education


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North Scott Director of Curriculum and Instruction Bernadette Burstkern will be taking over Mike Zimmer’s job as Director of Secondary Education in the fall.

Jae Jepsen, Copy Editor

Students don’t often recognize the hard work of administrators. While teachers are familiar and accessible, admins tend to take a backseat role in the running of the district. But as Director of Secondary Education Mike Zimmer steps into retirement, new changes might put the position in the spotlight. 

Zimmer has worked at PV for almost 14 years, having orchestrated and overseen extraordinary developments within the district. As a Director of Secondary Education, he is responsible for a wide array of duties, including updating curriculum, supporting teachers and administrators across the district and providing evaluations and feedback to teachers.

Zimmer’s accomplishments in his position are vast, but his personal highlights include establishing the only high school ASL program in the state, creating apprenticeship programs for students and making various improvements to the school. In his time as Director of Secondary education, Zimmer has overseen the renovations to the student commons, indoor track, weight room, art room, cafeteria and black box theater.

Of course, the job has not been without its difficulties. Maintaining programs and making consistent improvements in a growing district has been challenging, yet Zimmer has persisted. 

Pleasant Valley High School principal Darren Erickson is among the PV administrators who will certainly notice Zimmer’s departure. “He is as passionate and dedicated as an educator as I’ve ever worked with. He brings a great amount of knowledge and experience, but more importantly, he brings a heart of gold to this position,” Erickson explained, sharing more of Zimmer’s contributions to the PV. “He is so dedicated to trying to meet the needs of every single student in this district. He is willing to help out with everything and the district is losing a true mentor for all of our administrators.”

While PV will be sad to see Zimmer leave, there is a lot to look forward to. North Scott Director of Curriculum and Instruction Bernadette Burstkern will be taking over the Director of Secondary Education in the fall.

Brustkern has worked hard to gain the skills needed for this job. She got her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from UNI before earning a graduate degree in Educational Leadership and a certificate in superintendency. After spending her entire career at North Scott, Brustkern is prepared to make real change at PV. 

Erickson eagerly awaits Brustkern’s arrival to the district. “She is an incredible educator. For all of the knowledge and experience we are losing in Mr. Zimmer, we are also gaining new knowledge and ideas with Ms. Brustkern,” he remarked.

She is equally excited to begin at PV. Brustkern’s duties in this district will be far less broad than those at North Scott. “In my current role at North Scott, I serve grades Pre-K-12. Being the Director of Secondary Education at PV will allow me to focus on 7-12. This is a change I am very much looking forward to,” Brustkern shared, explaining that she can be much more hands-on here. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to visit classrooms on a regular basis and work with the instructional leaders at the secondary level to support teachers.”

Brustkern recognizes that there may be obstacles in the beginning, “Something I am concerned about in being new is lacking knowledge of the district – past initiatives, the stories, history, etc. However, I know that there is a great support system in place at PV. There are a lot of people I can turn to when I have questions or need to be filled in,” she said.

Zimmer also is uniquely equipped to give advice to the new administrator. If she ever struggles, he wants Brustkern to know that “PVCSD has great teachers and staff that work very hard and always want to get better. As with any family, we have our differences in opinions but if we listen to each other the resulting outcome is often better than what is offered individually.”

Regardless of any concerns, the excitement for this next step at PV is palpable. Just like her predecessor, Brustkern is sure to make innumerable improvements to the district. What does she want students to know? It’s simple: “Your voice is important, as teachers and administrators work to make your experience positive each and every day.”