By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
After seven years seeing Principal Nate Swenson at the Little Falls Community Middle School (LFCMS), Wade Mathers has taken charge of the chalk and erasers.
Mathers said he has met with the LFCMS staff and has learned they are proud of what they have going at the school. He has no immediate plans to change a thing.
“I need to learn the culture of the school; get my own perception of how it runs, plus get feedback from the staff before I even consider changes,” said Mathers. “What Nate had was good and I want to keep that. But growth is good, too. I want to keep a growth mind set. If we are good, we need to learn how to become great. If we are great, we need to build on that.”
Mathers also want’s both students and staff to know it’s ok to fail. He wants to change, “Kids who don’t raise their hands and teachers who don’t try new things.”
He said failure should be embraced because it’s a form of learning.
Mathers came to Little Falls from Redwood Falls where he worked for 16 years. While there, he taught middle school art and eighth grade reading before becoming the principal of the middle school for 11 years.
Mathers’ first job teaching was in Lemmon, S.D. After five years, he and his wife, Mary Margaret, thought Redwood Falls would be a better choice to raise their daughter, Samantha, plus be closer to shopping areas.
Lemmon has a population of a little more than 1,200 people.
While working in the Redwood School District, Mathers continued his education. He received his master’s degree in education at Southwest State University in Marshall; his k-12 principal’s license from St. Mary’s University and his superintendent’s license from Mankato State University.
“The choice to apply for the Little Falls position was family driven,” said Mathers. “It was the only position I applied for and did so because of family in Brainerd and in the Fargo Moorhead area.”
Mathers wasn’t sure teaching was where he wanted to end up when pondering his education. He said he knew he wanted to work with people, so maybe social services or education. But he also loved art. When he took an art class, discovered it also fit with teaching, so he taught art for 10 years.
“I had no specific medium that I used, so I taught and I loved it,” he said. Mathers has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including air brush, pottery, caricatures, photography, crafts and more.
“The principals of art can help in other parts of life,” he said. “(People) need to learn how to see. People tend to be afraid of art and they shouldn’t be.”
Mathers and Mary Margaret, a special education coordinator with the Freshwater District, love being with their family most of all. They also enjoy being outdoors fishing, hunting and participating in archery. They also love to camp, read and walk their dog around town.
About Little Falls, Mathers said he and Mary Margaret love it.
“Redwood is laid out (in a grid). We have discovered all sorts of hidden areas in Little Falls. The river is beautiful and the downtown is active. We love to walk around town,” he said.
Mathers said that he and his wife are from small towns, but also like to be close to both Brainerd and St. Cloud.
“Little Falls is between the prairies and the woods, a perfect spot,” he said. “Each day validates our decision to move here.”
Mathers also said he is blown away on how approachable the people are and looks forward to becoming more involved with the community.