New BEA superintendent is ready
It has been a long and winding road for Mandy Fletcher to reach her next destination as the new superintendent of Blue Earth Area Schools.
The Elmore native graduated from Blue Earth Area in 1999 and now returns to lead her alma mater starting on July 1.
“I actually attended Elmore through the sixth grade,” Fletcher explains. “I started seventh grade in Blue Earth in 1993.”
Though she left home for college, and to pursue her career, she still had strong roots in the Blue Earth area.
“My parents, Craig and Rhonda Lloyd, my brother Jason and my sister Shanna are all in the area,” Fetcher remarks.
She went on to get a bachelor of science degree in marketing from Mankato State University and returned to Blue Earth for her first job.
“I worked in sales and advertisements at KBEW in 2003,” Fletcher says. “I also was hired as the head volleyball coach at Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial.”
Fletcher had a history of success in volleyball as a player. She was a member of the 1998 BEA team which was seeded fourth in the sub-section and ended up finishing fourth in the state.
“Mandy was determined and a hard worker,” Brenda Smith, her high school coach, remarks. “The more you pushed her, the harder she would work.”
The next year, 2004, brought some big changes to Fletcher’s life.
She moved to the Twin Cities and worked in sales and sales support, but six months into her year of employment, she realized it was not where she wanted to be, both in her personal life and her career.
During her time in the Cities she had started dating her future husband, Tom Fletcher. They were married in 2008 and have two children, Peter, who will be a fifth grader next fall, and Harper, who will be starting second grade.
Her career desires had also undergone a change.
“I knew I liked coaching and working with the kids more than what I was doing in business,” Fletcher comments.
So in 2005 she returned to MSU to work on her master of arts in teaching. She received her teaching license in 2006.
In the fall of 2006, she lived in Blue Earth, taught part-time in Fairmont and coached volleyball for the Cardinals, Fletcher recalls.
She was hired full time at Kenyon-Wanamingo as a business education teacher for the second semester of the 2006-2007 school year. She also earned her masters degree during this time.
The distance between Kenyon and Blue Earth proved to be more than she wanted to deal with so Fletcher headed back west and landed at Le Sueur-Henderson beginning in the fall of 2007. She was there for two years. She also began teaching at Rasmussen College in Mankato.
But it was also the beginning of economic trouble and uncertainty in the United States.
“A lot of schools were cutting programs and unfortunately business classes were some of the first to be hit,” Fletcher says.
She got caught in budget cuts and her position was reduced to half-time.
“Living in Blue Earth, it didn’t make sense to commute for a part-time job so I stayed home with Peter and continued teaching at Rasmussen,” she explains.
An opportunity at Le Center opened up and Fletcher took a job as a business education teacher and a Business Professionals of America supervisor beginning in 2010.
Fletcher’s daughter, Harper, was born in March of 2012. It was also at this time Le Center decided to consolidate with Montgomery-Lonsdale which would have increased Fletcher’s commute from Blue Earth.
She found a job closer to home and began teaching business classes at Granada-Huntley-East Chain in 2012. A year later she was back at Fairmont as a full-time business education teacher. During her year in Fairmont, she made the decision to pursue her administrator’s license, she explains.
She returned to GHEC in 2014 as the dean of students and a part-time teacher.
“I could complete a lot of the course work through my position as dean,” Fletcher explains.
Bob Grant retired as principal at GHEC before the 2015 school year and Fletcher was hired to fill the K-12 principal role.
“Dale Brandsoy was the part-time superintendent at GHEC and one day he walked into my office and put the superintendent competency outlines in front of me,” Fletcher says. “I chuckled and said no way.”
But by the fall of 2016, Fletcher found herself traveling to the Edina campus of MSU one night a month for 10 months to obtain her superintendent’s license.
She was hired as the superintendent/principal at GHEC for the 2017-18 school year.
“I wanted to wake up and feel a sense of fulfillment in my job,” Fletcher notes. “That is why I loved coaching. To be able to teach kids, and then see them go on the court and put into practice what they have learned I thought I could make an impact in kids’ lives.”
The hiring of Fletcher to be BEA’s superintendent beginning July 1, has, in effect, brought the Buccaneer graduate full-circle, becoming the leader of the district she graduated from.
“There are so many good things going on in the district. We have excellent teachers. I have received a ton of support, especially since I got the job,” Fletcher notes. “There is a strong desire among the teachers, school board and community to see growth, progress and improvement in the district.”
She recognizes the challenges the school district faces in rebuilding the fund balance.
“There will be change. Change can be good and necessary, but change can be hard,” Fletcher comments. “The challenge is to navigate through the change and get to a point of stability.”
One of the side benefits of her new position is being in the same school district as her children.
“I will be able to see my kids more often, sometimes in the hallways of the school,” Fletcher remarks.
She also is thankful for the job interim superintendent Dr. Jerry Jensen did at BEA.
“Jerry is great, phenomenal,” Fletcher comments. “He put his heart and soul in preparing the district for growth, I appreciate him so much.”
She also keeps in mind some words of wisdom Brandsoy once shared with her.
“Dale taught me to stick to your core values and do what is right for the kids,” Fletcher explains. “And realize you are not going to win them all.”
Ironically, Fletcher’s resignation from GHEC led to the hiring of another BEA graduate, Doug Storbeck, to take over her position at GHEC. Storbeck, a 1997 graduate, also begins his new job July 1.