Skip To Main Content

Superintendent

The superintendents of schools is responsible for the management of the school district, the administration of all school board policies, and is directly accountable to the school board.

Superintendent Julie Nielsen works closely with three assistant superintendents, Dr. Tyrone Brookins, Kelly Jansen and Kristine Schaefer.

Contact

Julie Nielsen
Superintendent
651-425-6201
super@sowashco.org

Julie Nielsen

Julie Nielsen began as superintendent of South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) in September 2020 after serving as Assistant Superintendent for Academic Excellence and Accountability in the district.

Mrs. Nielsen began as a student-teacher at Grey Cloud Elementary School and Oltman Junior High School in the fall of 1991. She was then hired as an elementary physical education specialist at Middleton Elementary School and an assistant high school girl’s basketball coach at Woodbury High School in 1992. Over the next seven years, she continued her education and moved into an assistant principal role at Middleton Elementary. In 2001, Mrs. Nielsen left the district and accepted a position as an elementary principal within Northfield Public Schools where she remained for four years. Her return to SoWashCo brought her back as the principal at Middleton Elementary where she held the position for eight years.

Most recently, Mrs. Nielsen has served SoWashCo as an assistant superintendent for six years where she supervised multiple schools across grade levels and several departments including Teaching and Learning, Technology and Student Information. Mrs. Nielsen led fall planning to prepare for school during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also served as project manager for long-range facility planning to address student growth and organized community feedback for school boundary changes and managed the 2015 referendum that built the new Oltman Middle School.

Mrs. Nielsen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in K-12 physical education and developmental adapted physical education from Winona State University and a Master of Education degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Mrs. Nielsen also holds K-12 educational administrative licensure and superintendent licensure from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Minnesota Elementary Principals Association, the Metropolitan Principals Academy, the Association for Supervision, Curriculum and Staff Development, the Association of Metropolitan School Districts and the Minnesota Association for School Administrators.

Executive Cabinet

Kristine Schaefer

Kristine Schaefer

Assistant Superintendent
District Service Center
Kelly Jansen

Kelly Jansen

Assistant Superintendent
District Service Center
Tyrone Brookins

Tyrone Brookins

Assistant Superintendent
District Service Center
Pepe Barton

Pepe Barton

Director of Communications
District Service Center

Anna Braun

Anna Braun

Director of Special Services
District Service Center
Bob Lawrence

Bob Lawrence

Director of Community Education
Community Education
Daniel Pyan

Daniel Pyan

Director of Finance and Operations
District Service Center, Finance
Kevin Witherspoon

Kevin Witherspoon

Director of Human Resources
District Service Center

SoWashCo Schools Org Chart

SoWashCo Schools Org Chart FINAL

 

Former Superintendents

Keith Jacobus

2012-2020

Keith Jacobus, Former Superintendent

Jacobus was named superintendent of SoWashCo Schools in July 2012.

During his last year with the district, he was faced with the global Coronavirus pandemic. He along with school leaders across the world were forced to close schools and navigate how to move students and teachers to online learning models in the name of public health.

Before his hiring at SoWashCo Schools, Jacobus was an assistant superintendent in the Osseo school district for two years where he oversaw system leadership in the areas of curriculum, instruction and research and assessment. 

Before coming to Minnesota, Jacobus was the Director of Douglas County Schools in Castle Rock, CO and held various leadership positions within the Lewis-Palmer School District in Mounment, CO.

Jacobus has a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University, a master’s in Education from Lesely College and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver.

Jacobus retired as superintendent from SoWashCo Schools in Sept. 2020.

Mark Porter

2009-2012

Mark Porter, Former Superintendent

Porter worked for SoWashCo Schools for about 30 years at the time he was named superintendent of the district.

He began his career as a math and physical education teacher following his graduation from St. Olaf College. He was also the head football coach for Woodbury High School. Porter later became the district’s activity director.

He left the district for a brief period to work in a private law practice and served as a school board member for the district.

In April 2000, he returned to the district office as the legal services director and director of human relations. Not long after his return to the district he was named an assistant superintendent.

Following Tom Nelson’s retirement, Porter was named Superintendent of SoWashCo Schools in 2009 and served in that role for three years.

Tom Nelson

2005-2009

Tom Nelson, Former Superintendent

Nelson came out of retirement to serve as the superintendent of SoWashCo Schools in 2005. He retired as superintendent of the Buffalo School District in 2004 after 10 years. 

Nelson grew up in Austin, MN and spent much of his life as an educator. He has a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Mankato State University, now known as Minnesota State University - Mankato and a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Minnesota.

During his time with SoWashCo Schools he oversaw the building of East Ridge High School, redrawing attendance boundaries and rearranged grade configurations to make way for the middle school model.

After serving for four years as superintendent, Nelson retired once again.

He came out of retirement several more times and has served as superintendent at several other school districts. Nelson has also served three-terms as a state senator in Minnesota.

John Regan

2002-2005

Regan served 32 years in education beginning as a teacher and gradually worked his way up to an assistant principal and principal.

He has a Ph.D. and master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Minnesota.

Regan served as the assistant superintendent of secondary instruction at SoWashCo Schools for 11 years before he was named superintendent in 2002.

He retired from the position after three years in 2005 and now actively volunteers with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity alongside his wife Judy.

Dan Hoke

1991-2002

Dan Hoke, Former Superintendent

Hoke left Aberdeen, SD to become superintendent of SoWashCo Schools in July 1991.

He began his career in Colorado as a 6th-grade teacher after receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. Hoke then became a principal and teacher at an American school in Venezuela.

Upon returning to the United States in 1971, Hoke received a master’s degree from Tulane University and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

He served as superintendent in two school districts in Nebraska before becoming the superintendent in Aberdeen and then SoWashCo Schools.

Erma McGuire (Interim)

1991-1991

McGuire took over as interim superintendent following Clark Kirkpatrick’s resignation in Feb. 1991.

She immediately had to solve a budget shortfall of more than $3 million due to the predicted zero increase in the state’s per-pupil unit foundation aid formula for the next year.

She served in the interim superintendent role for roughly five months before the new superintendent, Dan Hoke, began in July 1991.

Clark Kirkpatrick

1986-1991

Clark Kirkpatrick, Former Superintendent

Kirkpatrick began his career as a teacher and administrator at the American School Foundation in Mexico City from 1966 to 1973. He then became a superintendent in Honduras until 1976 when he moved to Minnesota to be superintendent at Littlefork-Big Falls and then Esko.

He joined SoWashCo Schools in January 1983 as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction before being named superintendent of the district in 1986. 

Kirkpatrick's education includes a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree from the University of South Alabama and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Alabama.

Richard Trumble

1980-1986

Richard Trumble, Former Superintendent

Trumble became superintendent of SoWashCo Schools on March 1, 1980.

He is a native of northeast Minneapolis and earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin.

Trumble began his career as an elementary and junior high teacher. He served as assistant superintendent in Oswego, Illinois, and Waukesha, WI before assuming the post of superintendent of Austin, MN schools.

He led SoWashCo Schools through a difficult time of revenue shortfalls, cutbacks in staffing and closing schools.

Luther Fjelstad

1971-1980

Luther Fjelstad, Former Superintendent

Fjelstad came to SoWashCo Schools in the summer of 1971 from New Ulm, MN where he served as superintendent.

He graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead and went on to receive a master’s degree in administration from the University of North Dakota in 1950.

Fjelstad then began military service at the Midshipman school at Northwestern University and served as captain of an amphibious landing craft in the South Pacific.

When he returned to Minnesota, he taught high school math before assuming administrative responsibilities in several Minnesota school districts. 

Frank Fox

1956-1971

Frank Fox, Former Superintendent

Fox grew up in Tomah, WI and began teaching and coaching at age 28 in Browns Valley, MN.

He graduated from LaCrosse State Teachers College in 1933 and received a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota.

Fox came to SoWashCo Schools from a superintendency in Morris, MN, which had a very highly regarded high school.

He spent a total of 33 years as a superintendent and retired from SoWashCo Schools after serving from 1956 to 1971.

L.A. Amdahl

1950-1956

Amdahl was named superintendent in 1950 and served in the position for six years.

He oversaw the amalgamation of the district from 16 small districts and the beginning of a building program to accommodate the increase in population.

During his time as superintendent, the district built Oltman School and began construction of the first four prototype elementary schools - Woodbury, Pullman, Pine Hill and Grove.