Chelsea Brown with students

Chelsea Brown, the new instructional dean at Litchfield Middle School, greeted fifth-grade students Tuesday morning.

Litchfield Public Schools has three new deans of students this year, each a valuable asset to the inner workings of the schools, according to principals in their respective buildings. The three new deans are Chelsea Brown, Litchfield Middle School, Stephanie Hansen, Lake Ripley Elementary School, and Craig McKechney, Litchfield Middle School.

CRAIG McKECHNEY

Craig McKechney is the new behavioral dean of students at Litchfield Middle School. Born just north of Winnipeg in Powerview, Manitoba, McKechney attended college at Bemidji State University. He got his start in education as an elementary physical education and developmental adapted physical education teacher in Red Lake, Minnesota. In 1998, McKechney applied for an opening in Litchfield and was hired on to teach physical education/health and to coach hockey.

What does your job entail?

My current job as behavioral dean of students gives me an opportunity to work with students to correct problem behaviors. I also have a lot of communication with families of Middle School students.

What has been your favorite part of the job so far?

My favorite part of my job so far is working with students and families on a different level than I previously did. I get a chance to really get to know and help students be better prepared for their school day.

What are you most passionate about regarding your job?

I am passionate about helping students succeed. Correcting mistakes and making good decisions is something we have all learned along the way. It is important to be patient and help students grow.

STEPHANIE HANSEN

Stephanie Hansen is the new dean of students at Lake Ripley Elementary. A Litchfield native, Hansen earned her bachelor’s degree at St. Cloud State University and got a Master’s of Education from the University of Minnesota. She got her start as an elementary teacher in Litchfield.

“I was excited to have the opportunity to be part of the community I grew up in as an elementary teacher,” Hansen said.

What does your job entail?

My job allows me to work with students every day. I support staff with students needs including behavior and academic concerns. I am in the lunchroom, playground, hallways and classrooms building relationships with students each day. Helping to create a positive school climate is another way this position benefits the staff and students at Lake Ripley.

What has been your favorite part of the job so far?

Teachers and teaching assistants refer kids to my office that are great examples of "doing the right thing" at Lake Ripley. I pick them up from their classroom and get to spend some time with them playing a game of their choice, they get their picture taken with a Positive Office Referral Award and the photo goes on the TV in the main hallway. That is definitely one of my favorite parts of this job.

Is there anything that could use improvement?

I think we are doing a great job investing in Litchfield Public Schools and I am excited to what the future holds for students. There are so many great opportunities for students to succeed and we are continuing to build on what is already a great place to go to school.

What is the biggest issue in schools today that concerns you?

Two of my biggest concerns are equity in school funding and keeping high standards for teacher licensure in Minnesota.

What are you most passionate about regarding your job?

I am passionate about creating meaningful relationships with the students at Lake Ripley.

CHELSEA BROWN

Chelsea Brown, from Spicer, Minnesota, is the new instructional dean at Litchfield Middle School. She spent two years at North Dakota State University before transferring to Mankato State University. She received her Masters in Educational Leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University, and earned her principal licensure at Hamline University. She spent the past 15 years teaching in Willmar before coming to Litchfield.

Inspired by the positive atmosphere in the schools and the “infectious” Dragon pride, Brown’s husband, Justin Brown, who is in his third year as Litchfield High School’s assistant principal and activities director, also spoke highly of the school district.

“When I first came to the Middle School, students were greeting me in the hallways and shaking my hand,” Brown said. “This says everything about how our teachers are preparing our students for success. When the Dean job opened up, I knew that Litchfield was where I wanted to land for my administrative career. It was a no-brainer.”

What does your job entail?

In this role, I assist with the day-to-day administrative duties in the building. I also help create staff development opportunities for our district staff.

What has been your favorite part of the job so far?

I love conversing with our students. Middle School students are absolutely fabulous! I also enjoy conducting mini observations in classrooms. We have such an amazing group of educators in our building, and they truly care about the success of each and every one of our students. It is fun to watch our teachers and teaching assistants in action.

Is there anything that could use improvement?

Our District Staff Development goals this year are:

  • Providing a guaranteed and viable curriculum equals strengthening student achievement
  • Providing mental and emotional support for our students

What is the biggest issue in schools today that concerns you?

The biggest issue in schools today that concerns me is ensuring that we, as educators, assist in providing our students with the necessary mental and emotional support they need. This is why we have the goal listed above for our staff development.

What are you most passionate about regarding your job?

I am most passionate about instructional leadership. I enjoy assisting in creating opportunities for all staff to enhance their craft. We are all lifelong learners.

Molly O'Connor is a reporter who earned her B.A. from Winona State University.

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