New school superintendent to begin in July

Photo by Tucker Henderson
New York Mills School Superintendent Blaine Novak will be retiring from the school district he has called home for the past 35 years at the end of June.

By Tucker Henderson


After 35 years of service to the New York Mills school community, Superintendent Blaine Novak will retire at the end of June.

Novak grew up in Foley, Minn., graduating with the class of 1985. He then attended the University of Minnesota for his Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, graduating in 1989. From there, he and his wife, Lisa, took student teaching positions in New Zealand.

Novak’s tenure in NY Mills began during that summer of 1989 in New Zealand when Jerry Nesland, superintendent in NY Mills at the time, called Novak and offered him a job. The couple had interviewed in the district prior to setting off for their stint in New Zealand.

“A lot of it was family,” said Novak of why he wanted to become a teacher. “Just enjoying my kids. I think part of it is that our parents put such an emphasis on education that a lot of my family followed education.”

That first position was as Elementary Science Specialist, which he held for 10 years. In 1999, he split his time between being the Activities Director and teaching science. He remained in that post until 2008 when he became the high school principal, a position he held for five years until 2013, when he succeeded Todd Cameron as the superintendent.

“I love serving the community,” said Novak. “When you’re superintendent, you’re serving your board, but you’re also serving the community, your teachers and your students. When you embrace the fact that you’re serving the community, and you have that opportunity, I think that’s pretty powerful, I enjoy that.”

Over his years of teaching and learning alongside District 553, Novak furthered his education through St. Cloud State University for his Masters Degree in Curriculum Instruction and his certification in leadership associated with that degree.

“I think being able to watch the whole workings of the district and how we are doing things that are supporting students and student learning,” he said, “It’s really about serving your people.”

Novak said that his highlights over the years has been the multitude of opportunities that the community has provided him and entrusted to his care.

“First of all, just having the opportunity to be a teacher,” he said. “I got into education when getting a teaching job was really tough. Then to be afforded the opportunity and the faith to do the activities director job, then to be provided the principal job and now to do the superintendent job is really cool.

“For me the highlight each year is graduation,” he continued. “Just watching the kids coming across the stage and just knowing that each one of those kids has a unique story and just being able to be a very small part of their unique story.”

As he enters retirement, Novak emphasized the importance of retiring into something new and keeping busy.

“You should never retire from something, you should retire to something,” he said. “If I am going to say that my priorities are my faith, my family, my wife, my opportunity here is to be able to go work part time with my sons and to be able to make some memories alongside with them. To me that is really important. I don’t think a person can retire from something and do nothing, they’ve got to do something.”

Though his career is soon coming to an end, Novak remains grateful for his long tenure in the NY Mills School and its community. As a member of the local community for 35 years, he has no intentions of leaving anytime soon.

“Thank you,” he said. “I am so appreciative of living in this community, raising my family in this community, being able to work in this community, serving this community, and I will continue to be in this community.

“As I move on to another adventure,” he continued, “I just have so much appreciation for NY Mills and the school community in NY Mills.”

A retirement party will be held in the NY Mills School Commons from 3:30-5 p.m. this Wednesday, May 15. The community is invited to stop by and visit and to give their well wishes as Novak starts a new chapter in his life.